PRK eye surgery is a type of laser surgery which corrects a range of vision problems. This article discusses this treatment option in brief.
There are many people all over the world who need some kind of vision correction. Although most people settle for a pair of eyeglasses, there are a few who opt for contact lenses. However, there are certain problems with both of these vision correction techniques. Eyeglasses limit your peripheral vision, whereas continuous usage of contact lenses may lead to several eye problems. After the application of laser for vision correction, many people began exploring this new option. PRK eye surgery is the precursor of LASIK, which is the most popular laser eye correction technique.
PRK Eye Surgery
This surgery first came into practice in early 1980s. However, the FDA did not approve it until 1995. Prior to that, the citizens of the US could get this procedure done from other countries where it was approved, like Canada. PRK stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy. In this procedure, a cold laser is used to remove a layer of epithelial cells for adjusting the curvature of the cornea. It can be performed for curing nearsightedness as well as farsightedness. It was practiced even before laser surgery became popular. Even today, doctors insist upon PRK instead of LASIK under certain circumstances. Patients with thin corneas are often the candidates for this procedure.
During the pre-surgery sessions, the surgeon studies your cornea and decides what kind of vision correction you require. An instrument named corneal topographer is used to study the curvature of the cornea, it draws maps and shows all irregularities in the curvature. The surgeon then studies the steepness or flatness of the cornea that he needs to address. During the procedure, special anesthetic drops are put in your eyes to numb the pain. Sometimes, mild oral sedatives are administered to the patient, while most times they are kept awake throughout the procedure. A retainer is used to keep the eyes open during the procedure and moistening drops are added to prevent dry eyes. The patient is required to hold a steady gaze at a target object. The laser beam is controlled by a computer program, according to the prescription of the person. The procedure aims at removing the epithelial layers of tissue without imposing any harm to the underlying tissues. For vision correction in nearsighted patients, the laser flattens the steep cornea, whereas for farsighted patients, the laser aims at steepening the flat cornea.
PRK is performed on an outpatient basis, hence you can immediately go home after the procedure is complete. Your surgeon will probably advise you a couple of days rest, after which you can resume your daily routine. During recovery, it is recommended that you avoid strenuous activities that could hamper the healing of the tissue. Also, you may have to visit your surgeon a couple of times. He will ensure that the epithelium is healing properly and may prescribe certain medications. You will be required to put antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops in the eyes for the next several weeks. Slight pain in the eye is common during this period. It takes about 6 months for the discomforts of the surgery to vanish but within a few weeks, you should be able to attain sufficient driving vision. The recovery period for this procedure is longer compared to LASIK.
As is the case with any other surgery, PRK also involves certain risks, of which, infection and scarring to the cornea are the most common ones. Besides, the person may experience night glare for a few months after the surgery. Mild halos around the objects is yet another side effect of this surgery.
PRK cost is influenced by several factors, with the location of the clinic, the expertise of the surgeon, and the technology implemented being the most crucial ones. The cost is about as much as that of LASIK. Typical cost of this procedure is about $1,300 to $2,000 for a single eye, though in some states, the charge may be as high as $3,000 for a single eye.
PRK eye surgery can be performed on both the eyes on the same day itself, however, it is recommended that you leave an interval of few weeks before undergoing the surgery on the second eye.