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PRK: An Alternative to LASIK

If you’re tired of dealing with contact lenses and glasses to correct your vision, it may be time to look into other options to help you see clearly. There are many benefits of laser eye surgery and you can read  those benefits in our previous blog. One type of corrective eye surgery is called Photorefractive Keratectomy, or PRK for short. In this blog, we’ll outline what PRK is, how it works, who can undergo PRK surgery, and how to prepare for your PRK procedure.

 corrective eye surgery doctor scrubs

What is PRK?

woman brown eyes mascaraPRK is short for photorefractive keratectomy. It was the first type of laser eye surgery developed for vision correction and was around before LASIK [link to “LASIK: What is it and how can it help you?” blog]. In this corrective eye surgery, the doctor uses a laser to sculpt the surface of the cornea. This contrasts with LASIK, which sculpts tissue deeper within the cornea, under a corneal flap.


How does it work?

PRK is similar to LASIK in that a quick, safe and precise laser is used to sculpt the cornea in order to correct vision. However, in a LASIK procedure, a flap is made in the protective outer layer of the eye and then surgery work is completed underneath the flap, a PRK procedure works around the outer layer of the eye. The exact procedure is as follows:

  • Your eye is completely numbed using “eye drop” anesthesia and an eyelid holder will be placed laser eye surgerybetween your eyelids to prevent you from blinking.  
  • The doctor gently removes the  protective surface layer of the eye. You will feel some pressure, but no discomfort.
  • You will be asked to look directly at a target light while the laser reshapes the cornea, usually in less than a minute.
  • The doctor will apply temporary contact lenses which act as a bandage to protect the eye and to prevent discomfort.

The recovery time for PRK is slightly longer than LASIK because the outer layer of your eye needs time to heal. The average recovery time is about three to five days, during which your doctor will prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and keep eyes from becoming too dry.  

Who is the best candidate for PRK?

PRK is useful for treating low to moderate levels of myopia or hyperopia with and without astigmatism. It is often the laser vision correction procedure of choice for people with thinner corneas and for individuals who may have certain corneal dystrophies,  corneal scars, or a condition called “recurrent corneal erosion.” Prime candidates for PRK are at least 18 years old and have stable vision. PRK is not for those who are pregnant or nursing, have glaucoma, or any medical condition that would interfere with the healing process. The best way to determine if PRK is a good fit for you is to talk to a doctor who specializes in the procedure. It’s important to first have a complete eye exam to find out if you are a candidate for surgery.

How to prepare for a PRK procedure

Your doctor will give you specific directions to follow before and after your procedure. However, the following tips are good general guidelines to follow in order to have a successful and comfortable procedure.eye drops

  • Do not wear contact lenses starting two weeks before the procedure
  • Remove any eye makeup the day of the procedure
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Take omega-3 and flax vitamin supplements to help with eye hydration and healing
  • Find a friend or family member who will be available to drive you home after the surgery
  • Buy a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses to help with light-sensitivity after the procedure


Watch this video of one of our past patients as she describes her PRK procedure and how it changed her life.

Want to find out more?

Web Logo-02At Williamson Eye Institute, we are committed to preserving and protecting our patients’ eye health throughout their lives. To find out more, visit our website or call our office to schedule a personal consultation. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.