PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratectomy) is another type of laser vision correction. PRK may help some patients who do not qualify for LASIK. Two common reasons why LASIK may not be the best option for some patients are: 1) when the cornea is too thin, or 2) when the cornea has an abnormal shape.

During PRK, a high-precision excimer laser is used to treat the surface of the eye.




To reduce pain during the surgery, anesthesia drops are used to numb the eye. An eyelid holder is used to prevent the eye from blinking during surgery.



The epithelium is removed with a special instrument. In PRK, this layer will be completely removed. In LASIK, this layer is moved to the side and replaced after surgery.



An excimer laser will sculpt the corneal tissue based on the eye structure. The new shape of the cornea will correct how light travels through the cornea to enable sharp vision.



A few drops of a soothing and rinsing fluid are put on top of the cornea after the laser intervention. After the surgery, the doctor will insert a bandage contact lens to support healing and comfort.



Am I a candidate for PRK?
Generally, patients who are 18 years old or older with a stable prescription, healthy eyes, and adequate corneal thickness may qualify. PRK is excellent at correcting myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. In particular, PRK is an excellent option for patients who may not qualify for LASIK due to the shape of their cornea.

Our doctors will determine if you qualify for PRK during our free vision correction evaluation. As technology continues to advance, more patients qualify for vision correction surgery now than ever before. This includes many people who may have been told that they are not candidates in the past. If you don’t qualify for PRK, there is a good chance you may qualify for a different vision correction procedure at Porter Ophthalmology including ICL or LR.

Is PRK the right procedure for me?
During our free vision correction evaluation, we will examine your eye and take advanced measurements to get a full picture of the health of your eyes. Our doctors use this information to recommend the best procedure for your eyes and your vision goals.

The good news: Porter Ophthalmology offers its patients all five of the latest vision correction procedures – LASIK, SMILE, PRK, ICL and LR. This means more patients qualify than ever before and our doctors can recommend the absolute best procedure for you.

How fast is the recovery from PRK?
While PRK uses the same excimer laser as LASIK, the recovery is slower than the LASIK procedure. Since PRK treats the surface of your eye it is expected that you will have moderate eye discomfort and feel like your eye has been scratched after the procedure. We will place a bandage contact lens over the eyes for comfort in addition to providing eye drops and oral medication to minimize any discomfort. This discomfort improves over the first few days following PRK and is typically resolved within the first week.

Vision is also slower to recover following PRK. After about 5-7 days most patients’ vision has improved enough to allow them to drive and complete their everyday activities. However, it can take 4-6 weeks for the vision to fully sharpen up. We typically recommend that patient’s plan to be out of work for 5-7 days following PRK and advise them that they will have to really just take it easy for the first couple days. Despite the longer recovery time, PRK has the same excellent long term visual outcomes as LASIK making it a great option for patients that don’t qualify for LASIK.

Is PRK safe? Are there any risks or side effects of PRK?
PRK is a safe and effective procedure for laser vision correction. Studies have shown that PRK has a similar safety profile and long term outcomes to LASIK.

It has also been shown that LASIK/PRK are generally safer than wearing contact lenses over the long term, in addition to being less expensive. Some of the more common side effects after PRK include dry eyes or seeing glare and halos at night. Fortunately, these side effects are usually temporary and improve weeks to months after treatment. Serious complications of PRK are extremely rare.

Is the PRK procedure painful?
During the procedure we use numbing drops on the eye that prevent the sensation of anything sharp or painful. At times there may be pressure on the eye or the sensation of touch or drops on the eye but these are minimal.
Do I have to hold my eyes open during the procedure? What happens if I move my eye?
At the beginning of the PRK procedure we will help you to relax and open your eyelids. From that point on a small eyelid holder will gently hold your eye open for the duration of the laser treatment so that you don’t have to worry about blinking.
What happens if I move my eye?
The excimer laser we use in our office includes an advanced eye tracking system that checks the position of your eye before every pulse of the laser (this occurs many times per second!). If your eye is not in the ideal location or if it moves, the built-in safety measures will pause the laser. Once your eye is realigned, the laser treatment will resume. There is also a target light in the laser for you to look at during PRK that will help you keep your eye in the correct position.
Is PRK a permanent treatment?
A common misconception of LASIK/PRK is that the effect wears off with time. In reality, we expect the vision correcting effect to last forever.

However, we know that natural changes will begin to affect the focusing ability of the lens inside your eye starting in your mid-40s. This leads to presbyopia or the need for reading glasses to see things up close. This is a normal and expected change with time that is unrelated to having LASIK/PRK. The good news is that if you don’t like using reading glasses, Porter Ophthalmology has additional solutions to make you less dependent on them.

Is PRK covered by insurance?
Usually no, although we have seen some very rare instances where insurance plans pay for part of the cost of vision correction surgery. At Porter Ophthalmology, we offer flexible spending plans or interest-free financing options that can be a great way to make PRK more affordable.

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If you think you’re ready to open your eyes to a clear world every morning, without contacts, glasses, or squinting…

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