Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

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New Eyes offers the FDA approved procedure Photorefractive Keratectomy, commonly known as PRK. This procedure utilizes advanced excimer laser technology to reshape the cornea and improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina without having to create a LASIK flap.

Many people who want to get rid of their glasses and contacts and significantly improve their vision may not be candidates for LASIK. The good news is, there are alternative laser vision correction treatments that can provide excellent results. New Eyes offers the FDA approved procedure Photorefractive Keratectomy, commonly known as PRK. This procedure utilizes advanced excimer laser technology to reshape the cornea and improve the way the eye focuses light onto the retina without having to create a LASIK flap. The benefits of PRK over LASIK include the ability to treat thinner corneas, and no need for creation of a flap. The drawback is a longer recovery time.

Am I a Candidate for PRK?

Good candidates for PRK include:

Our refractive eye surgeon, Dr. Ksenia Stafeeva, will meet with you for an initial consultation and eye evaluation to determine if laser vision correction with PRK is the best option for your needs.

What Is the Difference Between PRK and LASIK?

Although PRK and LASIK both offer excellent vision correction benefits, your unique needs could make one procedure a more appropriate choice. For example, if you have thin or irregularly shaped corneas, PRK may be recommended as an alternative to LASIK. However, if you meet candidacy requirements for LASIK, your recovery time can be minimized, allowing you to achieve final results much faster than you would with PRK. Additional considerations that may help you select the right procedure include whether or not you have a history of dry eye or are involved in sports or other activities that involve a risk of facial trauma—the corneal flap created during a LASIK procedure could potentially be affected by an impact to the eye. 

What Does the PRK Procedure Entail?

The PRK procedure is completely painless. There are no needles or sharp instruments that will be used near the eyes for this procedure. Advanced technology is used to map the eyes to provide the most precise view of the corneas. With the data provided by our sophisticated mapping technology, our doctors will use a computer-guided laser to reshape the cornea and allow for improved visual acuity. The state-of-the-art excimer laser used in PRK can reshape the cornea in as little as 30 to 60 seconds per eye, and patients remain comfortable during the procedure. The entire treatment can generally be completed in a few minutes. PRK is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to return home the same day.

What Is PRK Recovery Like?

Patients can expect some blurriness, tearing, and light sensitivity in the first several days after PRK treatment. You will need to wear a soft contact lens as a bandage for a few days to facilitate healing. Use of steroid and antibiotic eyedrops is also typically required for a few weeks after surgery. Discomfort may occur during recovery, but this can typically be alleviated with medicinal eye drops, over-the-counter medication, and ice packs. Most patients experience a noticeable improvement in vision within one week, with the most optimal results becoming apparent in the ensuing weeks.

Generally, you will be able to resume household activities like watching TV, reading, and using the computer almost immediately; however, the cornea takes approximately four days to heal and driving is not recommended during this time. Many patients elect to undergo the surgery on a long weekend and are able to return to work after a few days. Dr. Stafeeva will monitor your progress and confirm whether you are able to resume work earlier, or require a little extra time to rest.

How Long Does PRK Last?

Results of PRK treatment equal those of LASIK after appropriate healing time. For many patients, it has served as an excellent alternative to LASIK.

Are There Any Complications Associated with PRK?

Although extremely rare, there are risks associated with PRK, much like with any type of surgery. Dr. Stafeeva will discuss all potential side effects with you prior to the procedure, but in general, complications that could possibly occur include:

Ultimately, patients can minimize any risk of complication by choosing a skilled and experienced ophthalmologist like Dr. Stafeeva and diligently following all aftercare instructions. 

How Much Does PRK Cost?

The overall price of PRK can vary from patient to patient, based on their individual needs. To obtain a personalized price estimate, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stafeeva. Once your individual needs have been assessed, our team can provide you with a personalized quote.

To help make the cost of PRK more manageable and convenient, we offer financing options to our patients through CareCredit®. If you are interested in making monthly payments with little or no interest, please inquire about this option during your consultation. We will be happy to provide you with all necessary information to help you apply.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is PRK better than LASIK?

Although there are some differences between PRK and LASIK, neither procedure is considered “better.” Each of these refractive surgeries can provide patients with excellent vision correction, addressing common concerns such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The reason patients may consider one treatment over the other has more to do with candidacy and personal preference than the efficacy of the procedure, since the same type of results can be achieved with either surgery. 

A corneal flap is not created during PRK. How can this be beneficial?

When a corneal flap is created during LASIK surgery, patients must be very careful to avoid injuries to the eye following the procedure. Any trauma to the eye can damage the corneal flap and ultimately complicate the results of the surgery. However, PRK does not require a corneal flap and corrects refractive errors by simply flattening the corneal surface. Because a corneal flap is not necessary to PRK, patients with active lifestyles wherein physical contact may be likely – such as military members or athletes – can generally benefit from PRK surgery, as the risk associated with possible eye injuries is minimized.

Does this procedure require anesthesia?

While you will not be asleep during surgery, a topical anesthetic that numbs the eyes will be applied through eye drops beforehand to minimize possible discomfort. You may feel slight pressure on the eye through the duration of the surgery, but it should not be painful.

Are there any restrictions following PRK?

Immediately after surgery, you will need to have someone drive you home, since you will be unable to see clearly. In addition to the soft contact lens bandage, you may need to wear an eye patch or protective sunglasses to avoid excessive light exposure. Once home, it is best to either take a nap or rest your eyes in some way (reading or watching television is not recommended). You can shower the day after surgery, but a special eye shield might need to be used to ensure soap, shampoo, or other products do not get in your eyes. Makeup, hair spray, facial moisturizers, hair dye, and other products typically used near the eye should be avoided for at least a week after surgery.

Throughout recovery, it is also best to avoid hot tubs, swimming, gardening, dusting, or any other activity (other than showering) that may put you at risk of getting chemicals, particles, or water in your eye. Dr. Stafeeva also recommends wearing sunglasses whenever you are outdoors during the day, especially during the first year after surgery. Following recovery from PRK, some patients also find it helpful to wear anti-glare glasses at work, if they spend extended amounts of time in front of a computer screen.      

Is this procedure covered by insurance?

Because this surgery is elective, PRK is generally not covered by insurance unless you are undergoing the procedure as a result of an injury or physical limitation that renders you unable to wear glasses and contact lenses. With that in mind, New Eyes offers the option of convenient low-interest payment plans for qualified applicants through our financing partner, CareCredit®. You can see if you qualify by filling out a quick and easy application that requires no fees.

If you would like more information on PRK treatment, or if you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ksenia Stafeeva to see if this procedure is a good option for your needs, please contact New Eyes today.