Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) Eye Surgery

  • Medical Author:
    Patricia S. Bainter, MD

    Dr. Bainter is a board-certified ophthalmologist. She received her BA from Pomona College in Claremont, CA, and her MD from the University of Colorado in Denver, CO. She completed an internal medicine internship at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, CO, followed by an ophthalmology residency and a cornea and external disease fellowship, both at the University of Colorado. She became board certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1998 and recertified in 2008. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Bainter practices general ophthalmology including cataract surgery and management of corneal and anterior segment diseases. She has volunteered in eye clinics in the Dominican Republic and Bosnia. She currently practices at One to One Eye Care in San Diego, CA.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are the potential side effects and complications of photorefractive keratectomy?

Common side effects in the days following photorefractive keratectomy include discomfort, dry eye, blurred vision, and glare or haloes around lights. These symptoms tend to resolve as the eye heals.

Long-term undercorrection or overcorrection can result from variable healing rates, inaccuracies in calculations, and unstable refractions such as those of young patients whose eyes are still changing.

Uncommon but potentially serious complications include infection, scarring, and permanent visual blur or distortion. These complications have become less common with improvements in preoperative screening, more sophisticated laser ablation profiles, and better medication regimens for optimized healing.

How do I prepare for a photorefractive keratectomy?

The surgeon first determines if your eyes are suitable for photorefractive keratectomy in the pre-operative screening.

You may be asked to refrain from wearing hard (rigid) contact lenses for up to several weeks or soft contact lenses for several days in preparation for both the preoperative screening and the procedure itself. This is important because contact lenses can temporarily reshape the cornea. You will want your cornea to be in its “natural,” unaltered state when being measured preoperatively and when being treated.

On the day of surgery, do not wear makeup or perfume. Be sure to have your postoperative medications ready and review the instructions for their use.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015
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