PRK was the first FDA-approved laser vision correction procedure. It has been used since 1995 to correct myopia (nearsightedness) hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
In order to improve vision, PRK reshapes the cornea. This is done by first removing the surface cells, called epithelial cells. The curvature of the cornea is then precisely adjusted by applying a laser treatment to its surface. The corrected curvature of the cornea then allows light to come into focus accurately within the eye.
The PRK procedure is painless; numbing eye drops are used to prevent any discomfort. The procedure takes under 15 minutes in total. The laser itself takes just 1–15 seconds.
The laser tracks eye movements. If someone were to move their eye during the procedure, the laser will move with them. If they were to cough, sneeze, or move their head during the laser treatment, the laser will stop and wait until the patient is re-oriented before the surgeon restarts the procedure.
Miotomycin-C is a chemotherapeutic medication which also prevents scarring on the cornea. Following PRK, Mitomycin-C is placed on the surface of the cornea for several seconds, then rinsed away. Patients who may be pregnant should avoid Miotmycin-C.
Following the procedure, a contact lens is placed on the eye. This lens acts as a bandage, protecting the eye from exposure or to irritation caused by blinking or eye movements. The bandage lens stays in place until it is removed by the surgeon.
PRK can be used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. As with SMILE and LASIK, the procedure is only recommended for people who are 18 years or older with healthy corneas, have a stable glasses prescription, and who show no signs of cataract.
Immediately following PRK, vision may be improved but will not yet be perfect. Over the next two days, vision may become blurrier before it begins to clear up again. 3–5 days following the procedure, vision becomes significantly better. At this time, the corneal epithelial cells have healed and the bandage contact lens is ready to be removed. It is normal for patients to be slightly nearsighted following contact lens removal. In the month following removal of the contact lens, vision will continue to improve. Once fully healed, patients often report clearer vision following PRK than they were able to achieve with contact lenses or glasses.
Following surgery, patients are scheduled for follow-up examination the next day, the following week, one month after surgery, and three months after surgery. After the three-month visit, annual exams are recommended each year to continue monitoring the ongoing health of the eyes.
Eye drops are an important part of healing and achieving great outcomes. Medicated eye drops are used frequently in the week following PRK, and then decreased in frequency over the next few weeks. Lubricating eye drops are generally recommended for the first few months following surgery and may be used as needed indefinitely.
Laser Vision Correction FAQ
So, you have made the decision to inquire about laser vision correction. Bravo to you for taking the first step! But are you a good candidate?
Below is a list of requirements:
- You must be over the age of 18
- You have "healthy eyes," meaning free from eye diseases or any corneal abnormalities, including scarring or infections
- You are willing to stay out of soft contact lenses for 1–2 weeks prior to your consultation (4 or more weeks for hard contact lenses)
- You are willing to use your post-op medications and come to your post-op visits
If you have answered yes to these questions, you are ready to schedule a laser vision correction consultation, where you will learn more about the procedure.
With today's precise technology, combined with the expertise and experience of our surgeons, most patients achieve 20/20 or better vision!
Vision following laser vision correction is often better than it was with glasses or contact lenses.
Visual outcomes are dependent on the underlying health of the eye. If the vision is limited by issues in other parts of the eye such as the retina or optic nerve, laser vision correction can focus the eye so that images are as clear as possible, but vision will still be limited by the underlying issue.
It depends on the severity of your dry eye issues. If the dry eye symptoms are resolved with hydration, artificial tears, supplements, or medications, laser vision correction may be an option.
Your surgeon will help you treat your dry eye issues prior to planning laser vision correction. Depending on the severity of your dry eye symptoms, your surgeon may recommend a vision-correcting surgery that has a lower impact on corneal dryness, such as SMILE, ICL, or RLE.
5 Reasons You Should Choose Heart of Texas Eye Institute for PRK Surgery
- Personalized Care — Our surgeons spend time getting to know every patient and their specific needs before planning vision correction surgery. Every person is unique, and therefore every surgery plan is unique. We ensure that patients receive their desired outcomes by very clearly discussing their goals and what to expect following laser vision correction surgery.
- Customer Service — Every step in your journey to better vision is given deep consideration. We offer convenient scheduling with our online self-scheduler, continuous access to your personal surgery counselor, and efficient use of your time in our modern, beautiful office. These are just a few of the touch points that will make your experience at Heart of Texas Eye Institute pleasant and enjoyable.
- Technology — We are dedicated to providing the very best and most up to date diagnostic and treatment options. This allows us to customize the best treatment plan to meet each specific patient’s needs. For this reason, we are the first practice in central Texas to provide SMILE, which we offer along with every other modern vision correction option, including blade-free, all-laser LASIK, PRK, ICL, and RLE.
- Experience — Both of our board-certified ophthalmologists have combined experience of over 100,000 procedures, fellowship training in cornea and refractive surgery, and are industry leaders in refractive surgery.
- Flexible — We accept many forms of payment, including cash, check, and credit. We offer great financing options through Alphaeon Credit and Care Credit. Furthermore, you can use your Flex Spending Account (FSA) for laser vision correction!