Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) surgery is a very advanced laser eye surgery, which helps to correct a person’s vision. But there are certain risks associated with this surgery. The following article will enlighten you about the risks associated with this procedure.
Although PRK is a very advanced vision correcting procedure, it still cannot elude the risks associated with surgery. Since PRK surgery deals with one of the most important organs of our body, it is advisable to know all about the risks associated with this surgery, before opting for it. Given below are all the risks and side effects of this procedure. Go through it, so that you are in a better position to make an informed decision about the surgery.
Risks Associated with PRK Surgery
The most common after-effect experienced by eye surgery patients, dry eyes can cause sharp pain in your eyes, making it difficult for you to open them. Dry eyes is characterized by a burning or stinging sensation in your eyes. This condition can be reduced with the usage of eye drops, prescribed by the surgeon.
Eye infection resulting from PRK surgery, can itself cause further complications, like deteriorating vision, scars and ulcers on the cornea, which will obstruct/ blur your vision. There may also be a sudden increase in the number of floaters in your eyes. Floaters are very small fragments in the liquid which is inside the eyeballs, and although a few light floaters are common, a sudden increase in their number should make you alert.
Glares and halos are usually the result of off-center ablations performed by the surgeon. These can be especially annoying when you have to drive at night, because they affect nighttime vision. They limit peripheral vision as well, and compromise vision in fading, dim light. They can be corrected by touch-up surgery, or anti-reflective coated lenses.
Corneal haze results due to inflammatory cells or debris which may have accumulated in the cornea during surgery. This makes the cornea a little opaque/ cloudy, impairing vision to a great extent. Eye drops are usually used to clean the cornea, and restore clear and sharp vision.
Increased Sensitivity of Eyes/ Photophobia
This condition may last for 3-4 months after the PRK procedure. Eyes become extremely sensitive to bright light, and may ache when exposed to the same. Generally, people who have had the surgery are advised to wear sunglasses, if they are going to venture out into the sun or work in conditions where there is harsh lighting. Also, increased sensitivity to glare can hamper daily activities, like driving. Sunglasses should help deal with this problem.
Pain and Prolonged Healing Period
Sometimes, the healing period is extended more than usual. This can vary, depending on the postoperative measures that you follow, and on how religiously and correctly you follow them. Neglecting to administer eye drops, or not taking the prescribed pain medication regularly, can make recovery difficult and prolong it. There may be random, sudden, shooting pain in the eyes for a month or two after the surgery.
Aberrations and scarring are present in the eyes of a normal person as well, but the extent of these aberrations is very less. After laser surgery, these aberrations can increase till they start affecting the shape of the cornea. The number of higher order aberrations can increase after PRK surgery, causing scarring of the retina. The size of the patient’s pupil, the profile of the ablations and flap, affect the severity of the aberrations induced during surgery. The aberrations due to PRK tend to be lesser than those due to LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), because unlike LASIK, PRK doesn’t involve cutting the cornea.
One of the risks of PRK surgery is refractive problems, like overcorrection or undercorrection. Surgical variables, and differences in the healing period of different individuals may result in these refractive problems. This means, that the patients can suffer from Hyperopia (farsightedness) or Myopia (nearsightedness), after the PRK procedure. There can also be imbalance between the two eyes, or muscle imbalance in any one eye, or both eyes. The patients may then have to continue wearing lenses, glasses or undergo further corrective surgery if possible.
Over a period of time after the surgery, the eye tends to slowly return to the way it was before the surgery. This change is gradual, and takes time, and the degree of regression is not really very high. At the most, the patient may need glasses for clear vision at night. A smaller surgery after the actual procedure will take care of the regression, or glasses should be enough to deal with this problem.
Surgery induced astigmatism is common in people who undergo PRK surgery. This can mean that 1 diopter (the measurement of astigmatism) astigmatism can increase to 2-3 diopters, as the eye heals unevenly after the surgery. But this will sort itself out after a couple of months. The final, improved vision due to the surgery may take around 4 months to appear. Although sometimes the astigmatism can be surgery induced, many times, the astigmatism is preoperative astigmatism itself, which has not healed completely. It can be corrected by a follow-up PRK surgery, or a Limbal Relaxing Incisions (LRI) procedure.
Reduction in Best-corrected Vision
The patient undergoing surgery may end up with vision that is permanently impaired, or less sharper and clearer than the vision he had with his contact lenses or glasses. This can be due to the corneal irregularities which result due to surgery. Unfortunately, this is a permanent side effect, and lenses or glasses cannot restore earlier vision. The risk of this is minimal, and although only 1-2% of the people suffer from this, who exactly will suffer from this condition cannot be predicted.
After the surgery, the corneal flap is put back in its place so that it heals and reattaches itself to the eye. There is a layer of epithelial cells which grows on the flap. It may happen, that this layer may begin to grow underneath the flap, due to certain complications. If this ingrowth of epithelial cells is not extensive, then it won’t affect normal vision, but if the ingrowth happens to be extensive, it could damage the corneal flap and distort vision. This ingrowth can be cleared, by lifting the flap and removing the ingrowing cells.
Eye surgery involves restructuring, reshaping, and moving of the tissues in the eyes. This will undoubtedly involve certain risks, which can be reduced by choosing a reliable institute and surgeon, and by following the postoperative care routine and instructions sincerely.