What Is PRK?

PRK uses an excimer laser to correct vision by removing microscopic amounts of tissue from the surface of the cornea to improve its refractive – or light focusing – capabilities.

PRK uses topical (eye drop) anesthesia to numb the eye and a speculum is placed over the eye to keep the eye lids open. Then the outer layer of the cornea, known as the epithelium, is removed either mechanically (with a small sweeping tool or brush) or with a laser. After the epithelium is removed, the excimer laser is deployed over the surface of the cornea to remove a micro-thin layer of cornea tissue, leaving behind a smooth shaped surface to improve refraction – the focus of light rays into the eye.

Finally, a contact lens is placed on the eye to act as a bandage – protecting the cornea until the epithelial layer of cells reforms, typically within 5 days. While the procedure itself is relatively painless, once the anesthesia wears off patients typically experience discomfort, blurred vision, dry eye, glare and haloes during the recovery process. This is treated with a variety of eye drops used to prevent inflammation, infection and help maintain the eye’s moisture balance. This healing process can take several days and up to three months for patients to achieve their best corrected vision.

Interested in Refractive Surgery?

Answers to questions about LASIK, PRK and vision-correcting cataract surgery.

Glossary

ARSC’s vocabulary of vision

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