Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) Surgery

What is photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) surgery?

Photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, uses the same excimer laser used in LASIK surgery and is performed to reshape the cornea in an attempt to correct mild to moderate myopia (nearsightedness). According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PRK has a 95 percent success rate.

How is PRK surgery performed?

Although each procedure varies slightly, in general, PRK surgery involves an excimer laser beam reshaping the cornea by removing microscopic amounts of tissue from the outer surface. The procedure, which generally only takes a few minutes, uses a computer which maps the eye's surface and calculates the required corneal change.

Possible side effects of PRK surgery:

Generally, PRK surgery has a high success rate. However, side effects do occur. Because the corneal surface is cut, it takes several weeks to heal. In addition, there is some eye discomfort following the surgery that may last for several weeks. The following are the most common side effects and complications. Each individual may experience side effects differently. Side effects may include:

  • mild corneal haze (following surgery)
  • glare or halos around light (this side effect may be present for months following the procedure)

Who is a potential candidate for PRK eye surgery?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), potential candidates for corrective laser eye surgery must meet the following criteria. However, it is advised that potential candidates consult his/her physician before undergoing any type of corrective eye surgery. The criteria include:

  • The candidate must be at least 21 years old if being treated with the Summit laser (one brand of excimer lasers), or 18 years old if being treated with the VISX laser (another brand of excimer lasers). This age requirement is necessary to ensure the eyes have finished growing.
  • The candidate must have mild to moderate nearsightedness (myopia).
  • The candidate must be free of eye disease, problems with the retina, or scarring of the cornea.
  • The candidate must have the financial ability to pay for this costly surgery, since insurance may not cover the procedure.
  • The candidate must be aware of all the side effects, risks, and benefits of the surgery. Candidates should also be aware of the alternative treatment options available.

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