What is PRK?

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Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is performed at our practice for patients who are not suitable candidates for LASIK. A highly effective alternative to LASIK, PRK
is often recommended for patients with thin corneas. This procedure is especially useful when resolving low degrees of:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness): the cornea is steep or the eye is long, causing light to focus in front of the retina
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness): the cornea is flat or the eye is short, causing light to focus behind the retina
  • Astigmatism: the cornea is shaped like a football rather than a basketball, causing light to focus unevenly

Like LASIK, the goal of PRK is to allow light entering the eye to focus directly on the retina. This involves altering the shape of the cornea with a laser. At Tidewater Eye Centers we use custom iLASIK technology for this part of the procedure.

Unlike LASIK, which involves making a hinged flap on the outer layer of the cornea, the corneal epithelium, PRK completely removes the outer layer of the cornea (the epithelium) before reshaping the corneal tissue.

PRK was the first FDA-approved refractive procedure in the United States in 1995 – before LASIK.  It is still performed with great success and offers similar vision results to LASIK.

Because the procedure completely removes the outer layer of the cornea, patients who undergo PRK should expect a longer healing time. It takes between three to five days for complete regrowth of the corneal epithelium. Furthermore, improved visual acuity returns to PRK recipients slower than with LASIK. However, the long-term improvements associated with either PRK or LASIK are practically identical.

Why PRK?

There are a variety of reasons why one of our physicians may recommend PRK over other treatments for our patients. In general, PRK is preferred over other treatments when the patient has any one of the following conditions:

  • Thin Cornea
  • Irregular Cornea
  • Scarred Cornea

One of our skilled doctors sits down with each candidate and performs a thorough pre-operative consultation. During the consultation, the ophthalmologist examines many factors, including corneal thickness and muscle balance. Based on the outcome of the examination, the doctor will determine if either LASIK or PRK is suitable for your eyes.

To learn more, text us at 757-434-0442 for more information.