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What Exactly Is PRK Surgery?

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9th Nov 2022

What’s PRK Surgery?

PRK is short for Photorefractive keratectomy which is a type of refractive surgery. PRK surgery is the type of surgery that uses lasers to treat vision issues that are caused by refractive errors. A refractive error is when your eye does not retract (bend) light properly, causing you vision issues. During this procedure, your ophthalmologist uses a laser to affect your cornea and change its shape. This improves the way your eye bends light and how light rays are focused on your retina. PRK procedure is also used to treat hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), and astigmatism. 


Additionally, the goal of PRK surgery is to correct the refractive error. This further improves your vision and as a result your life. This procedure can help you reduce the need for contact lenses and eyeglasses, and it may even allow you to live without them completely. 


The PRK Procedure

To fully grasp what PRK surgery is, let’s see what happens before and during the procedure. 


Before PRK surgery

Before the very surgery, you and your doctor will discuss your vision issues and needs. Also, you will talk about your expectations for PRK. Many people who undergo this procedure usually achieve perfect vision without glasses or lenses, however, that is not always the case. The goal of PRK is to allow people to do their daily tasks without corrective lenses, but you might still need to wear glasses during some activities (driving at night or reading). Your doctor will also thoroughly examine your eyes before the procedure to see if you are actually a candidate for PRK. They will:


  • Test your vision
  • Check for other eye problems
  • Measure and map out the surface of your cornea
  • Measure pupil size


This allows your doctor to thoroughly examine your eyes and see what are issues causing your vision impairment. Then they will either suggest PRK or other procedures. 


During PRK Surgery

This surgery is usually done in an outpatient surgery center. It generally takes about 15 minutes to complete the procedure, and here is what you can expect:


  • They will use eye drops to numb your eyes.
  • Then they will place an eyelid holder to keep you from blinking.
  • The doctor will then remove the outer layer of cells on your cornea and will use a special brush, laser, blade, or alcohol solution to do this. 
  • You will be asked to stare at a certain target light to keep your eyes from moving. The doctor will then use a laser to reshape your cornea. This laser is a special tool that has been programmed in advance with measurements for your eye. You will hear a clicking sound during the laser procedure. 


As you can see, the entire procedure is simple and straightforward. It is less invasive than traditional eye surgery and it is more precise since everything is programmed to fit the measurements of your eye. The entire procedure may seem scary, but you can talk to your doctor if you are nervous so they can help you relax and go through this process stress-free. 


Benefits of PRK Surgery

A lot of people undergo this surgery for its benefits. A great percentage of people (approximately 90%) who undergo this surgery achieve perfect vision or improvement in eyesight. This means that they are usually better and see no need for glasses or contacts. Additionally, PRK surgery can achieve the same long-term benefits and improvements as LASIK. Lastly, PRK surgery can be a great alternative option for people who do not make good candidates for LASIK, and this includes people with thin corneas. Athletes are usually better candidates for PRK than for LASIK since LASIK involves a flap that is made in the cornea which can become dislocated by injury or contact. 

Thanks to technology, today we have a lot of options for improving our eyesight. PRK surgery is one of those options it is less invasive than traditional surgery and it brings a lot of benefits. If you do notice issues with your eyesight, you should consult with your doctor and see if you are a good candidate for this procedure