An effective treatment option to correct myopia or nearsightedness, hyperopia or farsightedness and astigmatism is a laser refractive surgery also called Photorefractive keratectomy or PRK. PRK has been in existence longer than LASIK as a mechanism for vision correction.
Am I a candidate for PRK?
PRK is a recommended course of treatment for patients with dry eyes or thin corneas who are keen to have a refractive surgery and are advised not to have LASIK surgery due to the prevailing eye conditions.
How does PRK work?
During PRK, the cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser that enables light entering the eye to be properly focused on the retina resulting in clear vision without glasses or contact lenses. During PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed after which the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped using an excimer laser. Within a few days of surgery, the epithelium grows back over the corneal surface.
The outcome of PRK and LASIK is comparable but recovery in PRK is relatively slower because the epithelial cells take a few days to regenerate and cover the surface of the eye
Before PRK Eye Surgery
To confirm if you are a candidate for PRK surgery, the eye surgeon will do the following:
1) Vision test: The aim is to check that your vision hasn’t changed as well as whether your refractive error is likely to be corrected with PRK.
2) Check for other eye problems: Ensure that there are no other existing eye problems that could affect your surgery
3) Measure and map the surface of your cornea: Take precise measurements of the corneal surface and also check thickness. This helps the surgeon to accurately set up the computer-based laser for best outcomes.
4) Measure your pupil size: Measure the size of your pupil
The PRK procedure
There are three steps to a PRK procedure:
1.The central area of corneal epithelium is removed with an alcohol solution, a "buffing" device, or a blunt surgical instrument
2.The curvature of the cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser which is a computer-controlled, highly specialized laser that delivers pulses of cool ultraviolet light so as to remove microscopic amounts of tissue in a precise manner
3.A soft contact lens is placed temporarily on the cornea to protect the eye while new epithelial cells grow on the corneal surface which normally takes about four or five days. The contact lens is later removed by the surgeon.
What Is PRK Surgery Recovery Like?
Soon after surgery, the ophthalmic surgeon will place a “bandage” contact lens over the eye to help it heal and you may experience eye pain for 2-3 days. Some precautions you must take are:
1) Don’t drive yourself post the surgery and also ensure that you take adequate rest and relax
2) Take time off from work. Avoid strenuous activity for at least one week after surgery to speeden the healing process.
3) Regularly use eye drops as prescribed by the doctor to aid the healing process.
4) After PRK, wear sunglasses when outdoors to avoid corneal scarring due to excessive sun exposure as this can cause vision problems.
It must be kept in mind that your vision will be blurry soon after PRK. After 3-5 days, vision will gradually improve as the healing progresses. It is common for patients to take approximately a month to experience best vision.