PHOTOREFRACTIVE KERATECTOMY (PRK)

PRK is also known by a number of other names including Advanced Laser Surface Ablation (ASLA), Laser Surface Ablation and LASEK.

What is it? 

PRK is a form of laser vision correction. It is often offered to patients who have thin corneas or who are not suitable for LASIK and SMILE. PRK corrects short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism.

PRK was the first form of FDA approved laser vision correction and has been around since 1995.

Similar to LASIK, PRK also uses the excimer laser but reshapes the outer cornea in order to achieve vision correction. The main difference is PRK has no flap.

What to expect on the day of surgery?

Be prepared to be at the day facility half an hour before your admission to ensure all paperwork has been finalised. We recommend wearing comfortable and warm clothes as the laser room is set at a cool temperature for the laser to function efficiently. 

A staff member will explain what to expect inside the procedure room and prepare you for the laser. You will be given a sedation tablet to relax you prior the surgery. For this reason, it is important to organise someone to accompany you home on the day. 

You will then come into the surgery room and will be positioned underneath the laser. 

The doctor will instil anaesthetic eye drops to provide a painless experience and a prop to hold your eyelids open.

During the procedure, you will be asked to focus on a flashing light. The laser performs a "no touch" PRK removing both the epithelium and stroma in one step to achieve vision correction. The overall procedure is shorter and reduces corneal dehydration as the eye does not need to come in contact with any other instruments but the laser.

After the laser treatment, the eye surgeon will place a bandage contact lens that will assist with healing and comfort.

Once the treatment is complete the eye surgeon will apply antibiotic and steroid drops which you will take home to use.

You will then be escorted into a consulting room to run through the post-operative instructions. It is very important not to rub the eye after surgery as it can dislodge the contact lens and slow down the healing of the cornea. For this reason, plastic eye shields will be given to wear at night to prevent eye rubbing whilst sleeping.

Am I suitable?

PRK treats short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism. It is also a good option for patients who have thin corneas. 

You will first need an assessment to assess your eligibility for this procedure. Here at Envision Eye Centre, we offer a free assessment in order to determine your suitability. If you decide to proceed we will book you in for a consult with our eye surgeon.

This consult will be a thorough assessment and discussion to confirm your suitability. 

What are the advantages of PRK?

Suitable for patients with thin corneas 

No flap created and therefore no risk of flap-related complications like detachment or displacement

PRK only removes a small amount of the cornea and hence less corneal thickness is removed

Is it a safe procedure?

Complications are rare but can occur. 

But there are short and long-term side-effects that may include but are not limited to:

Minor pain or irritation

Foreign body sensation

Dry eyes 

Fluctuating vision

Regression back to the original prescription, over or under-correction

Haloes and starbursts around lights

Glare sensitivity

Infection

How long does the treatment take?

The laser itself only takes a few minutes per eye. You will be at the facility for approximately one hour which includes preparation time. 

How do I prepare?

If you wear contact lenses you will need to be out of them for a certain time frame. Soft contact lenses need to be removed 3 days prior. Hard contact lenses need to be removed 3 weeks prior. 

What should I expect after the procedure?

You will be given prescription eye drops and instructions on when to use them. You will be required to wear a plastic shield to protect your eye from rubbing whilst sleeping. It is very important to follow the instructions your eye surgeon advises and to also attend all your follow up appointments. 

During the healing period, you will experience discomfort, minor pain, grittiness, glare sensitivity and haloes around lights. This will progressively get better as the epithelium regenerates and it's very important to dedicate time to rest to allow for a quicker recovery.  

After 3 days, you will be required to come back to have the bandage contact lenses removed. After this, your eyes may feel very dry. This is part of the healing process. Our clinic will provide preservative-free lubricants for you to use as well. It is necessary to keep the eyes adequately lubricated after your treatment.  

When can I return to normal activities?

Most patients are able to return to work after five days. But each individual can vary with recovery time.

When will I see better?

As for your vision, it will gradually improve as your eyes heal after surgery. You will notice a significant improvement in the first week and a further gradual improvement after this. 

How much does it cost?

The cost will be discussed with you on the day of your consultation if your eye surgeon advises eligibility. Please speak to our friendly staff at our clinic for further information.


At a glance

PRK treats all types of refractive errors including short sightedness, long sightedness and astigmatism.

Great for those who have thin corneas and who are not eligible for LASIK OR SMILE.

Slightly longer healing period but keeps the corneal integrity as vision correction is only applied to outer layers.