PRK was the original laser surgery and remained the most common type until LASIK came along and provided a safer option. This surgery uses an excimer laser that emits an ultraviolet beam to remove small pieces of the cornea. Before the surgery, the surgeon will fully examine your eye to see how much of laser ablation is required. To do this, a corneal topographer will take a map of the surface of the cornea. This map will clearly outline any imperfections in the cornea and the flatness or steepness of it that the eye surgeon will need to correct.
A PRK procedure is done on an out-patient basis and only takes a few minutes. Generally the patient is awake the entire time but sometimes the surgeon may choose to give a mild sedative beforehand. Drops will be used in the eyes as a local anaesthetic so there is no pain during the procedure. Normally the patient will need to lie down with their eye placed directly underneath the laser. A retainer may be used to keep the patient’s eyelid open and prevent blinking but this doesn’t cause any discomfort to the patient.
Once the procedure starts, the eye surgeon will begin by using a computer to determine what kind of prescription you need. Once they’ve established that, you will need to look at a target light during the entire procedure. Remember that it only takes a few minutes so this also isn’t difficult. It’s also important to remember that continuing to look at this target light is very important to get the best results.
If you are having both eyes done on the same day, only one will be worked on at a time. After one eye is finished, the surgeon will probably ask you to rest for a few minutes before starting on the other eye. Many people choose to do only one eye one day and then do the other eye a week or so later.
The results for PRK surgery and LASIK eye surgery are very similar. However, the recovery time with PRK is much longer and there is more risk with PRK surgery than there is with LASIK.