PRK Vision Correction

If you’re considering having laser vision correction, you are probably thinking you will have LASIK just like everyone else. However, laser vision correction is not a “one-size-fits-all” procedure. At Providence Eye & Laser Specialists, we treat every patient as an individual. During your initial complimentary consultation with our LASIK surgeon, Dr. Mozayeni, he will evaluate your vision, the health of your eyes and analyze your corneas to determine the correct type of laser vision correction for you based on your individual needs. LASIK is not always the most appropriate procedure. There are situations where Dr. Mozayeni will recommend Photorefractive Keratectomy, more commonly known as PRK surgery in lieu of LASIK.

PRK: Photorefractive Keratectomy

Surprisingly, there are different names you might see out there for the PRK procedure like PRK, PRK LASIK, Photorefractive Keratectomy, Epi-LASEK, LASEK, and Advanced Surface Ablation. While we’ll get into the technicalities of what PRK surgery is below, it’s important to know that PRK is not the same as LASIK surgery. In fact, PRK was the predecessor to LASIK, and as such, people often call it PRK LASIK today. We know this can be a bit confusing, especially since one of the most common questions out there is “PRK or LASIK?” Don’t worry, we’ll get into all of that!

What is PRK Surgery?

PRK all-laser, no-flap surgery is similar to LASIK because it utilizes the same exact laser technology to reshape your cornea and correct your vision. The primary difference is that with PRK surgery, the surgeon does not create a corneal flap, making this a single laser procedure. This is why it can be referred to as “no-flap LASIK”. 
 
So, how does it work? Think of the cornea as a 500-page book. During PRK surgery the laser starts to correct the vision at the beginning of the book just below the cover, whereas during LASIK surgery, a flap is made first with a laser and then the same laser starts 50 to 70 pages below the cover.
 
During PRK surgery, using a very small gentle "brush", the corneal cover is painlessly removed in about five seconds. This cover is the skin layer of the eye that grows back quickly over several days. The cornea is then reshaped using our state-of-the-art WaveLight EX500 laser.
 
If Dr. Mozayeni recommends PRK, it is because he is confident PRK all-laser, no-flap surgery is a safer option for you and will provide a safer, long-lasting result. The most important thing to know is the end results after PRK are equal to those of LASIK.
 

PRK versus LASIK

Dr. Mozayeni recommends PRK surgery to approximately 25% of our patients due to one of the following reasons:

  • Corneal thickness is not adequate for creating a flap
  • Significant problems with eye dryness before the procedure
  • High risk for developing long-term dryness
  • The skin or cover of your cornea is already fragile or damaged due to age, previous injury, or previous infection
  • Unexplained corneal irregularity detected on your mapping
  • Significant scar tissue on the cornea
  • Your occupation is high risk for potential eye injury

Because Dr. Mozayeni is a cornea specialist, he is exceptionally capable of detecting subtle corneal abnormalities and recommending the safest, most predictable procedure for you. This is why meeting the actual laser vision correction surgeon and having a complete and thorough consultation is perhaps the most important part of your vision correction experience.

Still curious about the difference between these two procedures? You can check out our blog post about PRK versus LASIK here.

At Providence Eye, we have equally excellent results with LASIK and PRK surgery. In fact, our wonderful optometrist, Dr. Mills had PRK surgery performed by Dr. Mozayeni.

Preparing for PRK Surgery

You’ll want to prepare for PRK the same way as LASIK. The most important step is the consultation with Dr. Mozayeni, where he will discuss all of this with you in-depth. During that consultation, we’ll use our Pentacam to do a corneal mapping, along with a several other tests to determine which type of laser vision correction surgery is best for you.

What to Expect After PRK Surgery

Recovery After PRK Surgery

The recovery after PRK surgery is slightly longer than that of LASIK surgery, but it will be worth it! If recommended for you, it is a safer, more predictable option. Some things to keep in mind are:

  • Plan on having a relaxing, long weekend at home after PRK surgery. Your eyes may feel scratchy and could have some light sensitivity.
  • You will see some immediate improvement in your vision, however vision fluctuation is normal and expected.
  • You will be able to bath and shower normally one day after your PRK surgery. However, you will not be cleared to drive until the 5th day.
  • Use your prescribed eye drops faithfully as directed.
  • Avoid germy environments (aka public gyms) for 5 days and dirty, dusty environments for 14 days. This will not be the time to do yard work or clean the garage.

During the 3 to 4 days after PRK surgery, the cover, or skin layer, of the cornea regenerates on its own with the help of a clear non-prescription contact lens (bandage lens), eye drops and Vitamin C. Don’t worry, we will be sure to provide you detailed instructions via video, in writing and verbally. Plus, at Providence Eye we are always here to answer your questions.

Will I Need to Wear Reading Glasses After PRK?

The need for reading glasses is 100% dependent on your age. Only patients who have presbyopia (typically mid 40s and older) need reading glasses. However, for those patients, vision correction options (monovision) will be discussed during the complimentary consultation.

How Long Will It Take for My Vision to Stabilize?

The long-term final results after PRK typically settle down in a couple of months. This recovery process does require patience from our patients. Remember the safety of your vision and long-term (not necessarily immediate) results are our priorities. It is important to note that our patients are able to see well enough to drive and work five days after their PRK laser vision correction surgery.

The Providence Eye team will carefully go through your recovery process with you during your complimentary consultation, as well as during your post-op appointments.