Often, individuals seeking visual independence from eyeglasses or contact lenses consider LASIK eye surgery. However, for some, LASIK may not be the most suitable choice. In these scenarios, Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK, emerges as a viable solution capable of unveiling your vision’s full potential.
PRK is a straightforward outpatient procedure that employs an excimer laser to reshape the cornea and bring about vision correction. Unlike LASIK, which creates a flap on the cornea, PRK operates on the cornea’s topmost (epithelial) layer. This layer is momentarily displaced during surgery, following which the excimer laser meticulously sculpts the cornea. The epithelium typically recovers within a day or two.
Is PRK The Right Choice For You?
PRK might be the best choice if you have conditions such as dry eyes or thin corneas and wish to undergo refractive surgery. Unlike LASIK, PRK doesn’t involve the creation of a corneal flap, making it a great option for those leading a highly active lifestyle or job. Consultations with a specialist will help in determining your best choice for vision correction.
There are a few prerequisites for PRK:
- You must be 18 years or older (ideally, over 21 when vision tends to stabilize).
- Your eye prescription should have remained unchanged in the last year.
- Your refractive error must be treatable with PRK.
- You need to have healthy corneas and overall good eye health.
- You must have realistic expectations about the outcomes of PRK.
Certain individuals might not be suitable for PRK, such as those with an unstable refractive error, diseases that can affect healing, significant scarring history, corneal diseases, advanced glaucoma, vision-affecting cataracts, uncontrolled diabetes, and those who are pregnant or nursing.
Navigating The PRK Recovery Period
The initial discomfort following a PRK procedure typically lasts between 36-48 hours. To promote healing and comfort during this period, patients are advised to wear a soft, protective contact lens, or a “bandage soft contact lens”, for 5-7 days. The contact lens will be removed by the surgeon during the postoperative visit.
Potential Complications Of PRK Surgery
As with any medical procedure, PRK surgery carries certain potential risks and complications which are important to consider and discuss with your ophthalmologist. Here are some of the potential side effects:
- Night vision disturbances such as experiencing glare or halos around lights.
- The formation of scars on the cornea.
- Cloudiness or corneal haze on the eye’s front surface.
- Risk of infection on the cornea.
Additionally, PRK surgery may result in either undercorrection or overcorrection of your vision. In such instances, glasses, contact lenses, or further laser surgery can be useful in refining and adjusting the result to an optimal level.
An in-depth eye examination by an ophthalmologist is essential to determine if you are an eligible candidate for PRK. If you’re considering PRK eye surgery as a potential avenue for improving your vision, schedule an eye examination with your doctor to discuss the best choices for your vision.