PRK or Photo-Refractive Keratectomy treats refractive errors by removing tissue from the surface of the cornea. First, your eye is completely numbed using “eye drop” anesthesia and an instrument is placed between the eyelids to prevent blinking. Then, the surgeon removes the epithelium, a thin layer of protective skin that covers the cornea. The patient is told to look directly at the target light during the procedure. In less than a minute, the laser removes the proper amount of tissue while it reshapes the surface of the cornea. By altering the shape or placement of the laser beam, the cornea is made flatter to treat nearsightedness, steeper to treat farsightedness and/or more spherical to treat astigmatism.
Patients may experience blurry or hazy vision for one to five days and variable discomfort until the epithelium heals and covers the treated area. Eye drops, pain medication and a protective contact lens are effective in minimizing this postoperative discomfort. Final visual results may be fully realized anywhere from several days to a month or more as the surface heals in accordance to each individual’s healing tendencies. PRK is most often used to treat low to moderate amounts of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.