What is Photorefractive Keratectomy?
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is now considered an elective surgery that’s usually undergone when a patient’s cornea is irregularly shaped, fragile or thin and iLASIK isn’t a viable option. The PRK procedure treats hyperopia, myopia and astigmatism, it has been used to remove the need for glasses and contact lenses for many years now at Perfect Vision.
The recovery process for PRK is longer than iLASIK, and there is a higher possibility of complications, although the risk is still minimal.
What happens in the PRK procedure?
The PRK procedure is painless and only takes a short time. A local anaesthetic is applied to the eyes to numb any pain. Patients are asked to focus on a fixation light as the Perfect Vision surgeons begin by using a three-dimensional eye tracker to inspect the eyeball.
An alcohol solution is then applied to the eye to remove the corneal epithelium, a protective barrier for the cornea. This lens removal method is the main difference between PRK and iLASIK as PRK breaks down and removes the entire corneal epithelium, whereas iLASIK creates a flap to reach the cornea.
Following this, the exposed cornea is dried in preparation for the laser. Now with the use of a VISX Star S4 excimer laser Perfect Vision surgeons can apply computer-controlled pulses that reshape the cornea. These pulses of light energy restructure the cornea based on the type of condition the patient suffers. During the treatment patients will hear the sound of the laser and smell a faint odour. Perfect Vision can assure you that the PRK procedure is extremely safe, especially when being performed by our skilled surgeons.
Finally, a clear contact lens bandage is placed on the treated eye/s for comfort and to allow healing to take place. The bandage is removed on a repeat visit to the Perfect Vision Clinic.
Am I suitable for this procedure?
A PRK procedure is considered an alternative to iLASIK surgery and is normally implemented if iLASIK surgery isn’t an option. iLASIK may be forgone for PRK if your cornea is too thin, or if you regularly experience dry eyes. PRK is also common for people who are concerned about the corneal flap method in iLASIK, which can distribute liquid unevenly across the eye during the healing period, causing dry eye.
How long does my procedure take?
It usually takes about 10-15 minutes per eye. You will be at our day theatre for approximately 3 hours in total, as it requires time to prepare you for the procedure as well as to ensure that you are fit to leave once the procedure has been completed.
When can I go home?
Your procedure is performed in an accredited day theatre; it does not require an overnight stay. You may return home once you feel fit to leave our theatre.
Is it painful?
The majority of patients feel no pain. A local anaesthetic is used to relax patients without putting them to sleep, and a guard is used to help keep the eyelids open during the procedure.
Can I have both eyes done at the same time?
It is common that we perform a Photorefractive Keratectomy procedure on both eyes at the same time; however, this will need to be confirmed once you have seen the surgeon.
Are there risks involved with the procedure?
No medical procedure is without risk. However, at Perfect Vision Laser Correction, we implement the highest grades of aseptic technique, and we have never had a case of infection with any of our procedures. The benefits and risks will be discussed upon your consultation.
Can I drive after the procedure?
You will be required not to drive for a minimum of 24 hours after the procedure. We advise that you arrange for someone to drive you home after your procedure. Upon examination the day after your treatment, you will be given a better indication as to when it will be safe to drive. Most patients find they are fine to drive 24 hours after a procedure. Although it might take longer for PKR recovery and therefore it’s best to consult with Perfect Vision doctors.
How will I feel after the procedure?
Due to the local anaesthetic, you will feel drowsy. This feeling is normal for the following few hours after your procedure. We keep you rested on recliners until you feel ready to make your way home. You will be given some food, and our nurses will check your medical status to ensure that you are fit to leave the theatre. We advise that you go home and rest until we see you the following day. There is a certain amount of discomfort felt following the procedure
Is there anything that I will not be able to do after the procedure?
- You will not be able to drive for a minimum of 24 hours after your procedure.
- We advise that you do not swim for 2 weeks and do not use eye make-up for a week post-operatively.
- You will be required to wear clear plastic eye shields post-operatively for 3 nights as you sleep. You will be able to see through the shields.
- Sunglasses are suggested outdoors for the first week post-operatively. Windy, dusty or dirty environments should be avoided for the first week.
- No contact sport for 4 weeks.
- There are no restrictions regarding heavy lifting or exercise after the first 24 hours have passed.
- You may watch television or read after the procedure. Although you may find vision initially blurred, watching tv or reading will not harm the eyes.
- You will be able to bath or shower as normal, just avoid soap and water from entering your eyes.
- Initially after the procedure, you may experience some haloes around lights at night and glare. This effect is typical afterwards and can take some time to resolve.
- It is not advisable to fly on a plane for a minimum of 24 hours following your procedure. It is preferable that you stay in the country within the first 2 weeks post-operatively.
Will I need glasses after the procedure?
The aim of this procedure is to remove the need for glasses or contact lenses. So if it is successful, you shouldn’t need either of these. Although presbyopia is a naturally occurring age-related eye condition that may require you to keep wearing glasses at certain times beyond PRK treatment.
Will I need drops?
Dry eye is common after this procedure so the use of artificial drops is encouraged for the 2 months following your photorefractive keratectomy.
Here at Perfect Vision we have an immense amount of faith in our surgeons to provide excellent results. We believe that our surgeons provide treatment that lasts long-term, resulting in patients maintaining excellent eyesight for years to come. We want our patients to be as happy as possible with the results and intend to help them maintain the best possible vision for as long as possible through our commitment program.