What is PRK refractive surgery?
Photo Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) was the original laser vision correction procedure and has been used with great success to treat hundreds of thousands of people since the 1980s.
This uncomplicated eye surgery procedure is performed with a local anaesthetic. The patient feels little or no discomfort and is able to listen and respond to the surgeon while lying calmly during the procedure.
First, the surgeon removes the thin, transparent protective layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) to expose an area allowing access to the corneal tissue. Tissue is then removed by laser to give the cornea its new shape and focusing ability. Once the re-shaping is complete (in a matter of seconds), a “bandage” contact lens is used to protect the eye while the removed epithelium is regenerated by the body after about 5 - 7 days.
Drops are inserted over a period of weeks to keep the eye moist, free of infections, and improve healing. Your surgeon will normally want to see you at various stages over the months following the treatment.
Frequently asked questions
Is PRK painful to the patient?
Not during the surgery, but due to the nature of the procedure, PRK is usually painful in the recovery period unless adequate pain medication is taken. This medication will be prescribed to you by your surgeon.
How soon will I be able to see after surgery?
The presence of the “bandage" contact lens slows visual recovery slightly, only allowing the patient to drive or perform other visually challenging tasks after the epithelium has regenerated and the contact lens has been removed. Most work and leisure activities can be commenced between 1 day and 1 week after treatment.
Will I have to wear a patch?
No protection is required for continual use, however, it is suggested that you wear an eye shield when sleeping (for the first week) to prevent accidental rubbing of the eye/s while asleep or sleepy.
What medication will I have to take?
Drops to keep the eye moist and prevent infections. Steroid drops. Painkillers. Sleeping tablets (optional). The pain killers and sleeping tablets will only be required in the first 5-7 days. The drops will be required for a longer period to be determined by the surgeon.
Am I a suitable candidate?
If your prescription is between -0.5 and -11.0 (short-sighted patients) or between +0.75 and +6.0 (long-sighted patients) you should be eligible for PRK refractive eye surgery, however, as each case is completely individual, it is important to have a thorough assessment by a trained professional to determine suitability.
There are some conditions which could immediately suggest unsuitability to PRK. These include the following:
- Under the age of 18
- Severe diabetes
- Immuno-compromising, autoimmune diseases and HIV
- Vascular disease
- Rheumatological conditions eg. Arthritis or Lupus
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding (treatment will be acceptable 3 months after breast-feeding and/or pregnancy)
- Retinal disease
- Diagnosed severe dry eye
- Keratoconus or other corneal degenerative diseases of the cornea
- Hepatitis C