PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) was the first FDA approved laser eye surgery. It uses the same excimer laser as the LASIK procedure to reshape the outer layer of the cornea to correct for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is a more well know procedure, however PRK offers serval advantages over LASIK including a much better safety profile and in some studies better visual outcomes.
Reasons to consider PRK:
Astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea).
Cornea too thin for LASIK.
Pupil too large for LASIK.
Eyes too dry for LASIK
Less risk than LASIK
Potentially better outcomes than LASIK
In preparation for surgery, anesthetic eye drops are administered. Next, a speculum is placed in the eye to keep the eyelids open, which is normally not uncomfortable. While the patient fixes his or her gaze on a target, the laser reshapes the cornea by removing tissue (a process called ablation), which is controlled and closely monitored by the doctor. The laser is actually guided by a detailed map of the patient’s eye which has been programmed into a computer beforehand. The iDesign 2.0 system is the most advanced and up to date mapping program currently on the market for use with the VISX laser. The ablation usually takes less than a minute for each eye, depending on how high the patient’s vision prescription is. Most patients feel no pain during the procedure. After the procedure is complete, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye. The patient may go home shortly after the procedure; however, someone else must drive or alternate transportation must be arranged.
The doctor will likely prescribe pain medication as the post operative period may be painful for 1-3 days. Your vision will be blurry for the first few days and then start to improve slowly over the next few weeks. The doctor will also schedule several check-up appointments to monitor the healing process, followed by periodic visits over the next several months. During the recovery process, you should rest, and refrain from any strenuous activities for at least a week. Most patients can return to work in a day or two, though it is best to take a few days off to ensure a smooth recovery.
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