PRK - Laser Eye Surgery

What is PRK?

PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy was the first technique introduced into the field of laser eye surgery. It involves using a laser to restructure the surface of your cornea.  Today it is still widely used alongside both LASIK and LASEK procedures. However, unlike LASIK and LASEK, no flaps are created in the front of the eye prior to laser remodelling. This does mean that the procedure is faster, however it could be more painful than LASIK.

Why should I have PRK?

PRK is generally used for people who have a steeper or thinner cornea and/or a large pupil. If this sounds like you then this procedure could be ideal. PRK is particularly good for treating myopia and hyperopia, by either making your cornea steeper if you are shortsighted or flattening your cornea if you are longsighted. It is also suitable for use in the correction of astigmatism, by helping to smooth out any corneal irregularities.

Are there any reasons why I couldn’t have PRK?

There are some reasons as to why you would be excluded from having PRK, such as pregnancy or glaucoma. For the full list of exclusions read Unsuitability for Laser Eye Surgery. You should be aware of the possible side effects and complications of photorefractive keratectomy as well as what to expect in the initial consultation.

How is PRK surgery carried out?

Much the same as all the other laser eye surgery procedures, a thorough eye exam and consultation will precede the laser treatment. This ensures that you are given the treatment that is best for you.

PRK is probably the shortest of all the corrective procedures, taking on average less than one and a half minutes to perform, enabling it to be performed in an outpatient clinic. As with the other laser procedures, both anaesthetic eye drops and mild sedatives are used to reduce any pain or anxiety. After getting you to lie down, the ophthalmologist will place a clamp on your eyelids to keep them open throughout the operation. Don’t worry as this will not hurt following the eye drops.

During the procedure, it is vital that your eye remains still, to prevent any errors when remodelling the cornea. It is natural that your eye will still move, however this is not a problem, as the computer that tells the laser where to vaporise can compensate for this.

When you are comfortable the ophthalmologist will begin to remodel the surface of your eye using an eximer or femtosecond laser. They will get you to look at a little dot to also help keep your eye still. As with all other laser procedures, you will hear a continuous clicking throughout the operation. This noise is just the laser firing pulses of light and is entirely normal. The aim of this operation is to reshape the cornea well enough to correct the visual problem you have.

How long will it take for me to recover after PRK?

Following surgery, the recovery takes longer than with both LASIK and LASEK, laser eye surgery procedures. The recovery is essentially the same as all other laser eye surgery procedures. It is vital, as with recovery from any type of operation that you take enough time off work and rest. You should avoid contact sports for a while.

Are there any risks with having PRK?

As with all of the Laser eye surgery procedures there can be some complications such as starbursts and glare. There is also a risk that you may need Side Effects of Laser Eye Surgeryand Risks involved in Laser Eye Surgery.

How much does PRK cost?

Depending on the laser eye surgery clinic, PRK could cost approximately £800 per eye, which often includes a specified period of aftercare within it.

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