PRK Surgery

September 8, 2011 — by Dr. Zimmer
Tags: Prk Refractive Surgery Lasik Laser Eye Surgery

As we pointed out in earlier posts, refractive errors are common vision problems that many people face. These include myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. These can all lead to a blurriness of vision or poor focus, and while they can all be treated effectively with prescription contact lenses and eye glasses, refractive surgery can be effective as well.

Now, Pittsburgh LASIK eye surgery has been extremely popular for treatment of refractive errors, but there is another surgical option that came before it that is still used to this day. That surgery is called photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK for short.

What is PRK surgery?

Pittsburgh PRK was the earliest form of laser vision correction. LASIK is essentially the next advance in technique that came after PRK. The procedures for both LASIK and PRK are very similar, and at heart, the procedure is basically the same: a precise laser is used to reshape the cornea to ensure that light passes through it properly and focuses on the retina.

How does PRK differ from LASIK?

The main difference between PRK and LASIK concerns the corneal flap. During LASIK, the refractive surgeon will create a small flap in the topmost layer of the cornea (the epithelium). It is through this flap that the surgeon will adjust the shape of the cornea. The flap in the cornea is then set down to heal. This is not the case in PRK, which we’ll discuss in just a moment.

As a result of this difference, the healing time for PRK is slightly longer than the healing time for LASIK vision correction surgery. Still, the end results are basically the same.

What is the PRK surgery procedure?

The first step of the PRK procedure will involve the use of anesthetic eye drops to reduce patient discomfort through the procedure. The next step is where the difference between LASIK and PRK becomes most apparent. Rather than creating a corneal flap, the refractive surgeon will apply a diluted alcohol solution to the epithelium, removing that outer layer. Once that is accomplished, the excimer laser will be used to adjust corneal contours.

Post-operative care after PRK is identical to LASIK and basically involves protection of your eyes and avoiding activities that may result in strain of the eyes or pressure behind the eyes. Healing time will be slightly longer than LASIK.

Why would someone undergo PRK rather than LASIK?

When you speak with the Pittsburgh area LASIK surgeons and ophthalmologists at InSightSM LASIK & Refractive Group, we will take time to ensure you undergo the best possible treatment for your needs. This means that if LASIK or custom LASIK isn’t best for you, PRK may be the next best thing.

One common reason that patients undergo PRK rather than LASIK is that they have issues with corneal thickness that does not allow for the creation of the corneal flap. Sometimes custom LASIK using the latest technology will allow such patients to undergo LASIK rather than PRK, but that is not the case with all patients.

Is PRK the refractive surgery option for me?

We can’t make that call over the internet, of course, so it’s important to come in for a visit at your earliest convenience. To learn more about your options for refractive surgery, contact our Pittsburgh area LASIK vision correction center today.