An introduction of PRK procedure

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Invented in the early 1980s and approved in 1995, Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) had been once the most common refractive surgery for years. The currently most popular procedure LASIK does have advantages over PRK, including less discomfort and quick vision improvement afterward. LASEK is also a popular option in recent years and it also claims to be superior to PRK. But the situation in recent years is that these three forms of laser eye surgery coexist in peace with each other and have their own market share. In this article, a comprehensive introduction of PRK will be given.

The advantages of PRK

PRK also boasts some features that suit patients with larger pupils and thin corneas. These advantages are very valuable, because LASIK surgeons usually exclude these two groups of patients. But PRK offers a good solution. Like most refractive surgeries, PRK provides vision correction by reshaping the cornea. The procedure flattens the too-steep cornea in nearsighted people and creates steeper cornea for farsighted patients.

Pre-surgery examination and measurement

Preparation before PRK surgery is necessary. Competent surgeons will first examine the patient’s eyes using a corneal topographer, so as to figure out the type of correction and the degree of laser ablation. The “map” created by the topographer can show corneal irregularities, which are used to guide the PRK surgery. Health and medical conditions are also critical while deciding appropriate candidates.

Surgical details of PRK

Much like LASIK, painless PRK is also an ambulatory procedure and only takes less than a minute. The patient may be given a mild oral sedative and eye anesthetization. During the procedure, the corrected eye will be kept open. An excimer laser adjusted by a computer will be used to remove some corneal tissues. Similar to LASIK, the laser operation also creates normally a steady clicking sound and a faintly acrid smell. The whole procedure is under the control of the surgeon at any time.

Postoperative eye recovery and care

Patients always need proper rest after PRK, especially for those receiving correction in both eyes within the same day. Prescription medications are available from surgeons for potential postoperative pain. Following the surgeon’s instructions properly, most PRK patients can return to work the next day. During the first week after the procedure, patients should avoid strenuous exercise and eye rubbing. In some instances, bandage contact lenses, antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drops may be prescribed for safe healing.

Outcome and limitation of PRK

PRK also involves possible complications such as infection, night glare and halos. When it comes to PRK visual outcomes, most patients can restore 20/20 vision. Some patients who receive an imperfect vision result may still need eyeglasses or contact lenses. In addition, presbyopic patients can not remove their dependency on reading eyeglasses or multifocal lenses because PRK is helpless in correcting presbyopia.