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.

What is the prognosis after a photorefractive keratectomy?

Generally the success rate is very good. Assuming there are no underlying medical conditions that could adversely affect the healing process, the surface of the eye is usually healed in a few days and a stable refraction is achieved in the weeks and months following the procedure.

Over time there may be a need to use corrective eyewear again, either because some of the corrective effect regresses, or because the underlying refractive error was still in flux and had not stabilized completely prior to the procedure. Re-treatment with further photorefractive keratectomy is often possible at a later date.

Patients under the age of 40 who correct their distance vision with photorefractive keratectomy will still need to use reading glasses when presbyopia sets in. Presbyopia is the inability to see well close up due to age-related changes in the eye. Patients over 40 who already have presbyopia can opt to have one eye corrected for distance while having the other eye corrected for near. This is called “monovision.” The eye doctor will discuss these options with you in the preoperative screening.

Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology


O'Brart, D. P. "Excimer laser surface ablation: a review of recent literature." Clinical & Experimental Optometry 97.1 (2014): 12-17.

Woreta, F. A., et al. "Management of post-photorefractive keratectomy pain." Survey of Ophthalmology 58.6 (2013): 529-535.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/23/2015

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