PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) was the first procedure performed using the Excimer laser. Where the procedure differs from LASIK is in how the surface of the cornea is prepared. Rather than using a laser to create a corneal flap, PRK is performed by gently removing the epithelium (the outer skin covering the cornea) and the laser is applied to the surface of the cornea. PRK is an extremely effective procedure and is used as an alternative to LASIK. The choice of PRK vs. LASIK is one made by the surgeon and patient together. Typically, PRK is reserved for those patients whose corneas are too thin for LASIK, or for those with corneal scars preoperatively that would make the creation of a corneal flap too difficult.
What to Expect on Surgery Day:
You will be in the office for about an hour and a half, although your procedure takes about 15 minutes. Many PRK and LASIK patients opt for taking a low dose valium tablet to help with pre-op relaxation and post-op napping, though we don’t insist on you taking valium. Anesthetic eye drops will be used to numb your eyes and no injections or needles will be used. When your eye is completely numb we will place a very delicate and gentle device to keep you from blinking during your procedure
Once numb, the doctor will remove the epithelium that covers the cornea. You will be asked to look directly at a target light while the radar mechanism that tracks the position of your eye is engaged (you don’t feel this at all). The laser will have been pre-programmed with the information gathered in your pre-operative exam. The laser treatment will be completed in less than a minute, depending on the amount of correction needed. Various medications (in eye drop form) are used to minimize postoperative swelling and discomfort. Once the laser treatment is complete a special clear “bandage” contact lens is placed on your eye to assist with healing.
Read more about PRK after the age of 40.
We will advise you on the use of eye drops after your surgery. The visual and comfort recovery of PRK is a few days slower than LASIK. Typically, most patients see a 50-75% improvement in their vision instantly, with the remainder coming over the next 5-10 days as the healing progresses. The bandage contact lens is generally removed by a doctor, 3-5 days postoperatively.
Cost and Financing:
Advanced Surface Ablation(PRK) is an elective surgery. As a result, insurance companies typically do not cover this , however, flex spending dollars can be allocated for the procedure. The typical costs that the patient will be responsible for are the laser centers facility fee, the surgeons fee, eyedrops, and postoperative care. There are several financing options that allow you to fit the costs of this procedure into your monthly budget.