PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

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Anyone who wears glasses or contact lenses occasionally wishes they had 20/20 or better eyesight. Recent improvements in eye surgery procedures have made that dream come true for many people. New technology has is lowering the cost of such procedures as well as reducing the risks. And, with today's laser procedures, better eyesight may be less than an hour away. If you are considering laser eye surgery, you have no doubt heard of the LASIK procedure. Due to the speed of the procedure and the rapid recovery time, it is one of the most popular eye correction treatments available today. However, not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK surgery. For some people, Photorefractive Keratotomy (PRK) may be the best option.

While PRK may not match the speed or recovery than that of LASIK treatments, it does allow surgeons to operate on specific areas or problems that LASIK cannot treat. If you're considering PRK, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you consult eye surgeons with experience in this procedure.


*The cost of PRK is comparable to the cost of Lasik, around $2,200 to $2,250 per eye.

*PRK (or photorefractive keratectomy) is the second most popular laser eye surgery in the United States, behind LASIK.

Photorefractive Keratectomy is a procedure with long-lasting results.









  1. What are the most common benefits of this surgery?
  2. How is PRK eye surgery performed?
  3. How long does the surgery take?
  4. Where will the procedure be performed?
  5. How much pain is there?
  6. What can I expect after surgery?
  7. What is the recovery period like?
  8. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  9. Ideal Candidate:
  10. Other important information:
  11. PRK Risks and Limitations:


What are the most common benefits of Photorefractive Keratotomy?

PRK surgery is performed in order to correct mild to moderate myopia or near-sightedness (-1.00 to –5.00 diapoters). It can also be used to correct hyperopia (far-sightedness) and astigmatism. At its best, the treatment can eliminate the need for vision correcting glasses. In many cases, patients achieve 20/20 vision after the surgery. Over 90 percent of patients that undergo PRK surgery will be able to see with at least 20/40 vision. In addition to PRK and LASIK laser surgeries, there other available non-laser vision correction procedures, radial keratotomy. Other newer treatments, such as corneal ring implants, and implantable contact lenses that are also being developed.

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How is PRK eye surgery performed?

Like LASIK eye surgery, PRK is designed to reshape the front clear dome of the eye, called cornea . The cornea is the layer of the eye that focuses light onto the retina. In patients who are far and near-sighted, the cornea does not focus the light perfectly onto the retina. Astigmatic patients often have a cornea that are slightly oblong instead of spherical, which also distorts the focus of light. In PRK eye surgery, an excimer laser is used to reshape and change the curvature of the cornea Depending on the type of correction needed, the laser either reduces the thickness of the cornea and/or changes the way it slopes in order to allow light to focus correctly on the retina. The laser can perform its function without destroying or harming any of the surrounding cells.

After the surgery, doctors apply a protective contact lens to the eye. The lens allows the eyes to heal quickly. These lenses are normally removed about three to five days following the procedure.

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How long does the surgery take?

PRK surgery can take up to 10 to 15 minutes pre-operative time. The actual surgery, however, take several minutes per eye to complete.

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Where will the procedure be performed?

PRK surgery normally takes place in a surgical suite. Most eye surgeries are performed under local anesthesia. You will be allowed to leave soon following the surgery, and spend the night in the comfort of your own home.

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How much pain is there?

You'll be awake but relaxed, and although you may feel some mild discomfort during the treatment, you are not likely to feel any pain. The amount of discomfort varies from person to person: most patients report no pain at all. Those who do experience discomfort state that the pain is relatively mild and disappears quickly LASIK eye surgery changes the underlying layers of the cornea, PRK is applied to the the outermost layers of the cornea. The surface of the eye, the part that is exposed to air, can be more sensitive to manipulation and may require more time to heal.

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What can I expect after surgery?

There may be some mild discomfort following the procedure. Increased light sensitivity is frequently reported. Your physician will instruct you on the most appropriate post-operative care for you. You should be able to return to everyday activities within two to five days after the operation. Consult with your physician about driving, swimming, and jacuzzi activity. No make for a period of time is also recommended. Your doctor will prescribe special eye drops in order to prevent infection and inflammation. You should avoid sports and any other activities that may cause injury or sweat to run down into the eyes for at least two weeks following PRK surgery. We recommend you follow all post-operative care regime prescribed by your physician.

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What is the recovery period like?

One of the main differences between LASIK and PRK is that the recovery time for the PRK is usually somewhat longer. Short-term side effects can include sensitivity to light and visual distortions such as fuzziness or halos in the visual field. These should disappear when the eye is completely healed. Most patients are pleased with the outcome. Recovery time can be approximately three months, however, 90 percent of healing is complete within the first thre to four weeks.It is common for patients to achieve 20/20 vision after the procedure, and about 93 to 98 percent of PRK patients will no longer need glasses for daily activities such as driving.

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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

PRKhas only been performed since the late 1980s; however, to date, it appears that the surgery produces excellent long-term results and great stability unlike RK, there has been no hyperopic shift with PRK.

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Ideal Candidate:

In general, the best candidates for PRK are:

  • Knowledgeable about the procedure
  • In good physical and psychological health
  • Willing to follow directions for optimal results
  • Desire to improve their vision
  • Realistic in their expectations and understand the risks and benefits.
  • Patients whose corneal curvature and thickness doesn't allow them to have LASIK.

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Other important information:

Several other surgical eye correction procedures are available, including the popular LASIK surgery. Non-laser surgeries, such as radial keratotomy are also options, but these are becoming increasingly rare due to the success of laser procedures. In addition, a number of new treatments, some involving removable corneal implants, and implantable contact lenses have been developed.

If you are considering surgery to repair your vision, talk to your doctor about each of these alternatives and to determine the method that will work best for you.

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PRK Risks and Limitations:

PRK eye surgery is not guaranteed to restore perfect eyesight. On rare occasion, the surgery results in a worsening of vision. Over 90 percent of patients with mild myopia achieve at least 20/40 vision, and many reach 20/20 vision. However, individuals with more severe sight impairment should expect less from the surgery. PRK will still be able to improve vision, but not necessarily perfect it.

If you are seriously considering either LASIK or PRK eye surgery, you should be aware of the benefits of each. LASIK is generally a faster recovering procedure, able to correct more severe vision problems. Pain is usually minimal and recovery time is normally very quick. PRK is associated with a longer healing time and discomfort may continue for a number of days after the surgery. However, PRK may be the appropriate choice for patients with very flat or very steep corneal curvature; such individuals may prove to be poor candidates for LASIK. Discuss options with your doctor to determine whether LASIK or PRK is best for you.


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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

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