PHOTOREFRACTIVE KERATECTOMY (PRK)
Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is a laser vision correction procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct mild to moderate conditions of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. It is the second most common type of laser eye surgery after LASIK. While during LASIK a flap is created to access the cornea, during PRK the entire epithelial layer of the cornea is removed and later allowed to grow back. During both processes, the cornea is reshaped to provide vision correction.
ADVANTAGES OF PRK
Compared to LASIK, PRK provides the surgeon with greater control over the location and amount of tissue being removed, which permits more precise results. PRK gently sculpts the cornea rather than cuts, maintaining corneal strength while providing impressive vision correction.
Other advantages of the PRK procedure include:
- Less depth of laser treatment
- No corneal flap complications
- Ability to be performed on thin corneas
The PRK procedure offers distinct benefits to individuals whose activities put them at elevated risk of eye injury (boxers, for example) and for patients whose corneas are too thin, or whose pupils are too large, to permit LASIK. PRK also avoids not only the complications from corneal flaps, but a serious complication of LASIK known as corneal ectasia, which can result in distorted vision and even permanent vision loss.
DISADVANTAGES OF PRK
While PRK may be a preferable to LASIK surgery for some patients, there may be disadvantages to the procedure as well, including:
- More discomfort for the first few days after surgery
- Longer recovery period
- Greater risk of postsurgical eye infection
- Greater risk of temporary or permanent haziness of the cornea
Both LASIK and PRK have comparable rates of vision improvement and carry some of the same risks, so a serious consultation with the ophthalmologist is necessary to determine which surgery will be most beneficial to the individual patient.