PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) uses the same excimer laser as LASIK in order to re
-shapes the cornea. However, instead of using the laser to treat under a corneal flap, the treatment in PRK goes right on the corneal surface. Since no flap is made, PRK allows the surgeon to treat thinner corneas or higher corrections without going deeper into the cornea. In addition, PRK can also remove irregularities on the surface as well as superficial cornea scars.
Unlike LASIK where the vision recovers immediately, PRK involves several weeks of healing. In the first week, the surface cells heal under a protective, clear, soft bandage contact lens. Although there is little or no discomfort during the procedure, patients may experience light sensitivity, tearing, and pain in the first 1-4 days in the recovery process and your doctor will prescribe pain medication. The bandage contact is removed 1 week after the procedure and at this point, most patient are able to drive and return to work. Between week 1 and month 3, the quality of vision continues to improve as the surface continues to smooth and even out.
Reasons to consider PRK over LASIK:
- High Nearsightedness (myopia).
- Thin corneas.
- Irregularly shaped corneas or irregularities in the corneal surface.
- Corneal scars from injury or infection.
- History of dry eye.
- Desire to avoid a LASIK flap due to extremely active lifestyle or profession.
During the procedure, the doctor first administers a local anesthetic via eye drops, so the patient will feel no pain during the surgery. A speculum is then placed over the eye to prevent the patient from blinking. The surface cells of the cornea are removed and an excimer laser, programmed with the individual map of the patient’s eye, removes excess tissue with quick pulses of concentrated light. This process usually takes less than a minute. Once this is done, the doctor places a bandage contact lens over the eye and surgery is complete.
The patient may go home shortly after the procedure; however, someone else must drive or alternate transportation must be arranged. Patients will be asked to get lots of rest, avoid any strenuous activities, and avoid rubbing the eye area for the first week after surgery. There are follow up appointments with the doctor 24 hours after the procedure and also 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 9 months afterwards. Vision should dramatically improve after the first week following surgery. The patient often may return to work in 3-4 days, though it is best to take a week off or reduce vision-related tasks at work to ensure a smooth recovery. Most patients find that they are able to comfortably drive approximately 1-2 weeks after surgery.
If your insurance company offers coverage for the procedure you are having done, our insurance staff will assist you in filing your claim. Most insurance companies do not cover Laser Vision correction. People who have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) can use a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for elective services like PRK and other laser eye surgeries. Also, for some people, PRK eye surgery can be a tax deductible medical expense.
PRK is an excellent investment in your personal well being. For this reason, we believe that financial considerations should not be an obstacle and we provide financing through CareCredit. CareCredit is a special credit card specifically for health care costs and offers no introductory rates, prepayment penalties, or application fees. They offer No Interest Payment Plans if your account is paid in full within 6, 12, 18, or 24 months. Apply now at CareCredit to see if you are eligible!