Modern laser refractive surgery is very safe and effective, with most people being extremely happy with the results. We commonly hear that it is the best thing they have ever done and that they wished they had done it sooner
WHAT IS PRK?
PhotoRefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is a form of laser refractive surgery in which the shape of the cornea is changed using an excimer laser. The laser ablation is done on the surface of the cornea rather than under a flap as performed in LASIK.
PRK is used rather than LASIK if someone’s cornea is too thin, if there are problems with the surface of the cornea, if there are superficial scars present, or for those doing serious contact sports. The vision results are as good as with LASIK but the postoperative recovery is slower and more time off work is required.
Lions laser vision are the only clinic in Perth able to offer transPRK performed with the world’s fastest and most advanced laser the Schwind Amaris 1050. TransPRK is an advanced form of PRK where the surface epithelial cells are removed at the same time as the more permanent part of the cornea (stroma) by the same excimer laser. The exact thickness of cell layer can now be measured very precisely preoperatively and this epithelial map is included into the excimer laser. Trans-PRK has a faster recovery time and less discomfort postoperatively, and gives the same results as LASIK.
HOW IS PRK PERFORMED?
The laser procedure is performed as an outpatient procedure at Lions Eye Institute. You will be here for 1-2 hours. You will have some oral sedation and analgesia and will need someone to drive you home and to bring you back again the next morning.
PRK is basically the same as LASIK but without cutting a flap in the cornea, so it is easier to have done. However recovery of vision is slower than LASIK and there is more discomfort afterwards.
WHAT IS THE RECOVERY LIKE FOR PRK?
At the end of the PRK procedure you will be able to see but not very well. You will find it very difficult to keep the eyes open and they will water for several hours afterwards. It is best to go home and rest with them closed for a few hours. Vision is very variable in the first few days to a week while the surface heal and usually gets worse at about 3 to 5 days as the surface heals in the middle of the cornea but then gradually improves over the next few weeks.
HOW LONG DO THE EFFECTS OF PRK LAST?
It takes 3 to 6 months for your refraction to completely stabilise after the procedure but most of the change happens in the first month. After this you should not be aware of any change in distance vision for a long time.
The effect of the PRK surgery does not wear off but your eyes can continue to change with age. This is more likely the younger you are when you have it done, or for those who are very short-sighted to begin with, or for hyperopic (long-sighted) corrections.
PRK VS. LASIK – WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Similarly to LASIK, PRK works by reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser, allowing light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina for clear vision.
The main difference between PRK and LASIK is the first step of the procedure.
During the LASIK procedure, a thin flap is created on the cornea with a femtosecond laser. This flap is lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue and is replaced after the cornea is reshaped with an excimer laser.
During the PRK procedure, the thin outer layer of the cornea (epithelium) is removed prior to reshaping the underlying corneal tissue with an excimer laser. The epithelium repairs itself (grows back over the corneal surface) within a few days after surgery.
The final results of PRK surgery are similar to LASIK, however initial PRK recovery is slower because it takes a few days for new epithelial cells to regenerate and cover the surface of the eye.
LASIK patients generally have less discomfort, and their vision stabilises more quickly, whereas vision improvement with PRK is gradual and the final outcome can take several weeks.
When is PRK a more suitable option than LASIK?
Because PRK surgery does not create a corneal flap like in LASIK, the entire thickness of the underlying corneal stroma is available for treatment.
This is beneficial to those whose cornea is too thin for LASIK, or if you have undergone LASIK in the past and therefore have a thinner cornea. There is also no risk any complications from the corneal flap as there isn’t one created in PRK.
BOOKING A CONSULTATION AT LIONS LASER VISION
If you’d like to find out if you’re suitable for PRK, then book in for a consultation with one of our surgeons by calling us on (08) 9381 0758 or click here to visit our contact page.
Please note: To make an appointment with one of our surgeons you will need a referral from your optometrist, general practitioner, or another ophthalmologist in order to be able to claim a Medicare rebate for your consultation.