PRK, or Photorefractive Keratectomy, is a form of laser eye surgery performed for treating nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. PRK is often recommended to patients with mild to moderate eye disorders.
Knowing what to expect before, during, and after PRK laser surgery will often differ from patient to patient, and we will provide you with more in-depth directions during our initial consultation.
In the meantime, this information can help you get a general overview of the surgery and provide a jumping off point for discussing expectations with Dr. Minkovitz at Laser Vision Delaware.
Before undergoing PRK laser surgery, you will first meet with our Ophthalmologist, who will explain what to expect during and after surgery and answer any of your questions.
During your consultation, we will need to determine that you are a good candidate for PRK laser eye surgery by reviewing your medical history and assessing your eyes. We will start by mapping out your treatment by measuring your corneal thickness, mapping the cornea, checking eye pressure, and testing refraction.
If you wear contacts, you will need to take a break from wearing them before your evaluation. Gas permeable contact users should stop usage 3 weeks before the assessment, for other types of contacts, you should hault usage about 3 days before.
On the day of your surgery, eat a small meal and take all of your prescribed medications. Do not wear any eye makeup or hair accessories that will make it difficult to comfortably place your head under the laser. You should also make sure you have adequate transportation to and from your surgery and first follow-up appointment. Before undergoing surgery, we might administer medications to help with relaxation.
During PRK surgery, we will first numb your eye with a topical anesthetic. The entire treatment will take about 10 minutes at most for both of the eyes. The treatment works by carefully removing a portion of surface skin to access the top layer of the eye. Next, an excimer laser is used to reshape the curvature of the cornea. The laser is computer-controlled to deliver exact pulses of cool ultraviolet light to remove microscopic amounts of tissue in a specific pattern. Then a soft contact lens “bandage” is put over the cornea to protect the eye while it heals over the next 3-5 days.
The main difference between PRK and LASIK occurs during the first step of the treatment. During LASIK, a small flap is cut into the cornea with a microkeratome or femtosecond laser. The flap is then lifted to access the corneal tissue underneath, which is reshaped with an excimer laser.
During PRK surgery, the thin outer layer of the cornea, or the epithelium, is removed completely, and the underlying corneal tissue is reshaped with an excimer laser. The epithelium is then left to repair itself for a few days after surgery.
PRK offers unique benefits over LASIK. Due to the fact that PRK does not require a corneal flap, the thickness of the underlying stroma is accessible for treatment. This is beneficial for patients in which the cornea is too thin for LASIK.
Before returning home after PRK surgery, you will need to rest for a short amount of time, then your driver will be able to return you home. We will prescribe topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling, while improving the healing response. It is important that you follow Dr. Minkovitz’s instructions to improve your ability to heal.
It is also imperative to attend follow-up appointments over the next few weeks to monitor the healing process. Recovering from PRK generally takes longer than LASIK. It often takes days to a couple of weeks before patients can see improved eyesight. Most PRK patients can begin driving about one to three weeks after surgery.
To help reduce the risk of infection, you should wait at least 3 days before participating in any non-contact sports. Patients can participate in contact sports 2 to 4 weeks after surgery, depending on the exact activity. You should ask Dr. Minkovitz before resuming strenuous contact sports, such as boxing, football, hockey, or any sport that might involve hitting or bumping the eyes. You should steer clear of swimming or the use of hot tubs for about a two weeks after your treatment.
PRK laser eye surgery has seen a high success rates in the United States and abroad. Over the last 20 plus years, laser technology has seen substantial improvements, making PRK one of the top treatment options for many patients.
After PRK surgery, many patients are able to attain 20/20 vision, and almost all patients attain 20/40 vision or better. While some patients may have to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses after their treatment, the prescription will be much lower than before.
If you develop worsened conditions at any point after your surgery, you should contact our Ophthalmologist immediately. This could be the sign of a larger problem that could develop into vision loss if left untreated.
Contact Laser Vision Delaware today to schedule an appointment.