Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) was the first excimer refractive laser surgery procedure to be approved by the FDA. Similar to LASIK, PRK is the process of using an excimer laser to reshape the cornea, changing the focusing power of the cornea, so that light focuses on the retina. Both proceudres use a cool-beam laser to reshape the cornea. Unlike LASIK, the laser treatment is done to the surface of the cornea. No protective corneal flap is created. Since there is no corneal flap, the healing process and recovery takes a longer amount of time.
During the PRK surgical process, most patients do not feel any pain. The eyes are numbed with anesthetic eye drops. The surgeon will then remove the very thin outer layer of the cornea called the epithelium. Next, the excimer laser is used to remove thin layers of tissue to reshape the cornea, After the cornea is reshaped, a bandae contact lens will be placed on the eye to help avoid discomfort after surgery. You may experience some discomfort (i.e. irritation, burning, watering, light sensitivity) after surgery until the epthilium heals. It usually takes the epithelial cells 3 to 5 days to grow back. As the new epithelium grows back, you may experience some fluctuation in vision for the first 3 months. Since the healing process takes longer, you may want to discuss with your surgeon the option of having surgery on your eyes on different days. At 3 to 6 months, you new vision should be stable.
Laser Vision Corrective Surgery