Photorefractive keratectomy, also known as PRK, is All Laser LASIK’s predecessor and is still performed today as an alternative. Instead of accessing the corneal tissue by making a flap (a critical step in All Laser LASIK eye surgery), our doctors will remove the outer skin of the cornea and apply the laser directly to the cornea’s surface.
PRK has helped many individuals who struggle with nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism to achieve clearer vision and independence from glasses or contact lenses. If you’d like to learn more about this All Laser LASIK alternative, contact our Los Angeles-based surgeons of Laser Eye Center.
Eligibility for Candidacy
PRK candidates generally have corneas that are too thin to withstand All Laser LASIK. Candidates should be at least 18 years old, with a stable eye prescription for at least a year and no serious eye disease or injury that could heighten the surgical risks or outcome.
Our team meets with each PRK candidate to explain the procedure and its possible risks in greater detail, as well as answer any questions.
To begin PRK, our eye surgeon removes the thin layer of skin protecting the cornea (called the epithelium). We then use a laser to reshape the underlying corneal tissue, which allows light to properly enter the eye and improve vision. After laser treatment, the cornea is covered with a bandage contact lens. The epithelial cells grow back within a few days, at which point the contact lens is removed.
PRK is a very quick procedure, and anesthetic eye drops are applied to prevent any discomfort.
Difference between LASIK and PRK
A note about safety: All Laser LASIK is an extremely safe procedure, but the creation of the corneal flap does allow for the possibility of complications (during surgery or recovery). Because PRK does not involve the creation of a corneal flap, it does not have any flap-related complications.
Immediately following surgery, you will be escorted to a recovery suite to rest for a short amount of time. Please make arrangements for a family member or friend to drive you home after surgery. We recommend that you relax and sleep for the rest of the day following your procedure.
Our doctors will schedule a follow-up appointment to check your healing progress, answer any questions and remove the bandage contact lens when appropriate.
PRK recovery can take longer than recovery from All Laser LASIK. Because the surface cells of the cornea are removed, there may also be a bit more post-operative discomfort; however, this is temporary and should not last longer than a week or so.
Studies have shown the outcomes of PRK and All Laser LASIK to be very similar. Vision tends to return to normal more quickly after All Laser LASIK, but around the six-month mark, the results are comparable.