What is PRK Surgery? All You Need to Know

Photorefractive Keratectomy is one form of laser eye surgery often used to help improve the vision of the patient by using lasers to help correct errors in the eye. A patient may experience many refractive errors, including astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness; based on your unique visual needs, you can get the surgery done in just one eye or have it done in both eyes. 

PRK predates the well-known LASIK surgery, and the procedures are similar. Both of these treatments work using lasers to help reshape the cornea, which is the transparent front part of the eye. This method is effective at helping improve the ability of the eye to focus. Consequently, a patient can be a good candidate for LASIK and PRK surgery, yet some ailments may be better suited to one or the other. 

For many patients, choosing to get PRK laser eye surgery can make sense and allows them to see the world better than ever before. Before you decide on PRK surgery for your eyes, it is essential to know more about it. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specifics of PRK surgery and why you may want to try it out on your eyes. 


What to Expect During PRK Surgery?

PRK surgery is quick and easy to get done, helping to improve your vision and your quality of life – typically this procedure takes five to ten minutes on each eye. You will need general anesthesia when you get it done, usually into each eye which is done through an eye drop. 

  • Your doctor will place an eyelid holder on each eye to make sure you do not blink throughout the procedure.
  • The surgeon will then remove and discard any of the corneal surface cells of the eye. This is often done with a laser for this procedure, but there are other methods that the surgeon can use.
  • The laser is programmed to have all of the measurements of your eyes in place. It will then get to work reshaping each cornea using a pulsing beam of light.
  • As a bandage, a non-prescription contact lens will be placed onto the eyes. This can keep them clean and avoid infection while they heal, but you will need to keep them on for at least a few days. 

How to Recover from PRK Surgery?

Recovery can take a few days to a few weeks, depending on how your eyes respond to the treatment. You will rest at the clinic for a bit after the surgery is done, and it is best to not schedule anything after the procedure to make sure you have ample time to rest and recover. Keeping your eyes closed as much as possible can also help with recovery and comfort. 

Your surgeon may want to see you the day after the procedure to check on the results and your comfort level. If you notice any sign of an eye infection, such as fever, swelling, redness, and pus, let the doctor know immediately. Also, inform them if the contact lens they used happened to fall out too. If they stay put, your surgeon will schedule a time for you to come in a week after the surgery to have them safely removed. 

You may notice your vision is slightly blurry a few days into recovery. This side effect will improve as your eyes have more time to heal; when the contact lens is removed, you should notice the improvement. However, do not rub your eyes or try to remove the contact lens covering them. Give your eyes the time they need to heal, and avoid long sessions in the sun, staring at a computer screen too long, or letting sweat or cosmetics get into the eyes during this time. 

What are the Side Effects of PRK Surgery?

Most patients have minimal side effects when they undergo PRK surgery. They may experience mild discomfort or pain for up to three days after the surgery is completed. The doctor will prescribe over-the-counter medication to help handle this discomfort. 

You are expected to feel irritation in the eyes, and they may water more than usual in the days following the procedure. Some patients reported being more sensitive to light for a few days while healing. In addition, you may notice other minor symptoms like bursts of lights or halos for up to a few weeks following the PRK surgery. 

After PRK surgery, the side effects will go away quickly. However, there are a few risks that you should discuss with your doctor before getting the surgery, including:

  • Loss of vision that isn’t better with contact lenses or eyeglasses 
  • Permanent changes to your night vision that may not have been there before
  • Diminished results over time
  • Severe or permanent dry eye
  • Double vision

If you are worried about any of these side effects, you should check with your doctor to see if you are more at risk or to learn some steps to avoid problems later. 

How Much Does PRK Surgery Cost?

PRK surgery expenses will vary depending on where you live, the doctor you choose to go with, and even whether you do each eye individually or choose to do them simultaneously. Always ask to know about the costs of PRK surgery, before you start to understand the total costs of getting this laser eye surgery done. 

On average, patients who decide to go with PRK laser eye surgery will pay between  $4000 to $18000 to get the surgery done. In some cases, your health or eye care insurance may be willing to pay some of the costs for you. Check into this before the surgery to know what expenses to expect. 

The Bottom Line

PRK surgery is an excellent option to enhance your eyes and make them feel as good as new. Many patients want to have better vision without the need for contacts or glasses all the time, and PRK surgery may provide the solution you need. Consult your eye doctor about whether PRK surgery will help improve your eyesight and whether you are a good candidate for it. 


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