What Is Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)?
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is a form of eye surgery that is used to fix refractive errors of the eye like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. During this surgical procedure, the ophthalmologist uses a laser to change the shape of the cornea so that the rays of light entering the eye bend correctly and focuses on the retina.
It is similar to laser vision correction procedures like LASIK but there are a few differences and advantages when it comes to PRK.
The objective of PRK, like LASIK and other vision correction procedures, is to fix refractive errors of the eye and reduce dependence on vision aids like glasses or contact lenses.
Who is eligible for PRK?
The following requirements are necessary for undergoing PRK surgery:
- The patient’s age should be older than 18 years old, and ideally 21 years old.
- The eye prescription of the patient shouldn’t have changed in the last year.
- The patient should have a refractive error that is treatable by PRK.
- The cornea and the overall health of the eye should be good.
Some people are not qualified for LASIK due to different reasons. Some of them include:
- Changing refractive error.
- Cornea abrasions or disease.
- Advanced glaucoma.
- History of certain eye diseases.
There are many other factors that can qualify or disqualify a person from being eligible for PRK and if you’re thinking about undergoing the procedure, you should consult your ophthalmologist to ensure PRK is the right type of vision correction procedure for you. As every eye is different, it is hard to create a generalized checklist that applies to every individual.
How is PRK different from LASIK?
PRK was the first form of laser vision correction procedures while LASIK came later. Even though the recovery time of PRK is longer than LASIK, it is still preferred by some patients due to its advantages compared to LASIK.
The major difference between the two procedures is the first step. In LASIK, a special laser is used to create a small flap which is then lifted to expose the cornea. The cornea is then reshaped using an exclaimer laser. The flap is then replaced after the cornea has been reshaped.
In PRK, the thin outer layer of the cornea is replaced by removed and discarded before the underlying corneal tissue is replaced with an exclaimer laser. The thin layer later grows back and repairs within a few days from the surgery.
For people who suffer from dry eyes or have thin corneas, PRK is a better option than LASIK when it comes to correcting their sight. Also, people with an active life or job are advised to get PRK instead of LASIK as no flap is created in PRK as opposed to LASIK.
How Safe is PRK?
Approximately 90% of PRK patients have 20/20 vision without glasses or contact lenses one year after the surgery and approximately 95% of PRK patients have 20/40 vision or better without glasses or contacts.
PRK is a tested procedure that is highly safe and has a proven track record of success.