When people think about laser vision correction, the first procedure they think about is usually LASIK surgery. While LASIK is extremely popular, it is unfortunately not for everyone. Luckily, there are still options. This is where PRK comes in.
PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a type of refractive surgery that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The predecessor to LASIK surgery, PRK is still widely used today. The main difference between LASIK and PRK is that PRK does not require the creation of a corneal flap. Instead, the entire first layer of the cornea is removed and will grow back within a week. This makes for a longer recovery time, but is safer for those who cannot undergo LASIK.
The PRK procedure is very similar to that of LASIK. The only difference is at the beginning of the surgery. Instead of creating the corneal flap, your PRK surgeon will remove the outermost layer of your cornea (the epithelium) and discard it. Once removed, your surgeon can reshape the cornea using an excimer laser, just like during LASIK surgery. The epithelial layer will grow back within a week.
LASIK surgery is not a viable option for everyone. This is especially true if you have undergone LASIK previously, or if you lead a very active lifestyle, high combat, and military environments. PRK eliminates the risk of flap complications completely.
PRK does require a longer recovery process. Once finished with your procedure, your surgeon will insert a soft contact lens “bandage” to promote healing and protect your eye. Your cornea will regenerate epithelial cells in about four to five days, after which the bandage can be removed from your eye. After PRK, it is normal to experience some haziness, and improved vision may take several weeks. You will attend several follow-up appointments to ensure everything is healing correctly.