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- What is photorefractive keratectomy (PRK)?
- What vision problems are treated with photorefractive keratectomy?
- Who is a good candidate for photorefractive keratectomy?
- What are the potential side effects and complications of photorefractive keratectomy?
- How do I prepare for a photorefractive keratectomy?
- What happens during the photorefractive keratectomy procedure?
- What follow-up care is needed after a photorefractive keratectomy?
- What is the prognosis after a photorefractive keratectomy?
What happens during the photorefractive keratectomy procedure?
Typically the patient lies on his/her back. A small lid speculum is used to hold the eyelids open. Once the eye is numbed with anesthetic drops, the surgeon removes the outer layer (epithelium) of the cornea either mechanically (with a tiny brush or a sweeping tool) or with laser. Once the epithelium is removed, laser is applied to the surface of the cornea to precisely ablate (remove) a thin layer of corneal tissue based on the amount of correction desired. A clicking or tapping sound might be heard as the laser is fired. Once the laser ablation is complete, a contact lens is usually placed. This “bandage” contact lens is usually removed once the epithelium has healed, typically a few days later (about 3 to 5 days).
What follow-up care is needed after a photorefractive keratectomy?
At the completion of your procedure, you will need someone to do the driving for you. You can expect to be very light sensitive, so be sure to have sunglasses with you.
You will be instructed to use prescription medicated eye drops afterwards. The drops are very important for healing well. They serve to control inflammation and prevent infection, as well as to minimize discomfort.
Close monitoring of the healing process is also very important. Be sure to keep all scheduled follow-up appointments. The number and frequency of follow-up visits will depend on how quickly the eye heals. It may take from about several weeks to 3 months to reach your best corrected vision (stable refraction).