What is PRK laser eye surgery? What are the side effects? How does the procedure work? What are the risks and recovery time? PRK laser eye surgery is a safe and effective way to achieve perfect or near-perfect vision. Here is the lowdown on the procedure.
Laser Eye Correction Surgery
Eyes without 20/20 vision have corneas that are not the right shape. PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) aims to perfect the corneal shape in order to achieve perfect vision.
PRK Laser Eye Treatment
During the procedure, the epithelium layer of the eye is removed and a laser re-shapes the cornea. A contact lens is then placed in the operated eye(s) to act as a bandage as the eye heals. Surprisingly, the surgery itself can take under a minute, depending on the extent of correction needed.
Lasik is the alternative procedure for laser eye surgery. Read about the differences between PRK and Lasik here.
PRK Laser Eye Surgery Risks
Every surgery comes with risks. Here are a few to think about:
- slight risk of haze and compromised night vision, although modern lasers almost rule this out, according to laser eye surgeon Dr. Kirzner in Vancouver, Canada
- delayed healing of the epithelium post-surgery
- from mild discomfort to pain after surgery and for a day or two after
- possibility of needing a re-treatment (this should be covered in the cost)
- note that eyes change naturally around the age of 40, so reading glasses will still be needed
What Are the Side Effects and Disadvantages of PRK?
As well as risks, there are also side effects and disadvantages of any medical procedure. Below are a few that pertain to laser eye surgery:
- take one to two weeks off work for this type of laser eye surgery
- discomfort and pain for the first day or two after surgery
- a strict eye drop schedule that lasts for six months
- a runny nose from the drops
- discomfort and pain after surgery when opening eyes: it’s best to just keep them closed and rest
- blurred vision for the first four to 14 days
- some patients have itchy eyes
- dryness occurs (keep using drops as prescribed)
- approximately five follow up visits are necessary to check on progress
The PRK Surgery Procedure
After keeping contact lenses off for one to two weeks, arrive at the laser eye surgeon’s office with no make up or scented perfumes. The whole process takes about two hours. Sight and eye tests are done again (they will have also been done during the initial consult) on various machines. Finally, payment is usually made at this time.
The actual surgery is done near the end of the two hours. Lying down on a table, an eyelid holder is placed in the eye to keep it open and lots of liquid drops are added. It’s important to look at the colored dot as instructed as the laser re-shapes the cornea. Walk to the recovery room for further instructions and a quick check up by the surgeon.
PRK laser eye surgery is a common procedure that eliminates the need for contact lenses and glasses in most patients. For those considering the surgery, make sure to follow the operating surgeon’s instructions and advice for the best results, do lots of research and go to two consultations with different doctors before making the final decision.