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Photorefractive keratectomy, known for short as PRK, is a laser procedure designed to reshape the cornea. It is very similar to LASIK and LASEK in its method and goal; however it is performed without making a corneal flap. Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) at our the Eye Institute in Rapid City, is performed directly onto the front surface of the eye, and therefore it is sometimes called "surface ablation" or "surface treatment". Custom laser technologies are now applied in both LASIK and PRK, allowing for more precision with lower risk to night vision.
Anyone who is a candidate for LASIK could potentially have PRK. Also, some of those who cannot have LASIK may be able to undergo PRK as it spares corneal tissue by not making a flap. This may include those with thin or slightly irregular corneas. Often people in high contact professions (military, police, martial arts, etc.) will elect to undergo photorefractive keratectomy because of the lower risks for damage to the corneal flap. The ranges for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism are the same as those for LASIK.
Instead of creating a flap as in LASIK, a solution is used to loosen the skin of the eye. This layer, called the epithelium, is then gently removed and the laser is applied just as it would be in LASIK. The reshaping performed by the laser allows light to focus properly on the retina, thus improving vision without glasses or contacts. After the procedure, a soft-contact lens is placed in the eye to help facilitate the regeneration of the epithelial layer. Total surgery time is approximately 10 minutes. The surgery is performed while the eye is numb and an instrument is used to prevent blinking.
The risks associated with PRK are similar to those of LASIK, with a few important distinctions. One of the main advantages of photorefractive keratectomy is that there are no risks in making a flap, as that is an unnecessary step. After PRK, the epithelial layer must regenerate. A small percentage of patients may not have perfectly clear epithelium regenerate. This is called "haze" and could limit vision compared to what you would see with spectacles or contact lenses. With any surgical procedure, infection is a potential for complications. Proper use of antibiotic eye drops before and after surgery will help to decrease this possibility. Other risks with laser eye surgery do exist; your eye doctor will help to cover these in detail as they relate to your case.
The laser treatment that is applied in PRK is the same as LASIK. Therefore the results between PRK and LASIK are similar. More time is often needed to achieve good vision with photorefractive keratectomy because of the regeneration of the epithelial layer.
Many people understand they need eye surgery, but deciphering between PRK, LASIK, iLasik, and several other acronym-laden procedures can be extremely difficult. Thankfully our doctors and staff are available to discuss your various options. Please contact Black Hills Regional Eye Institute today to schedule a personal consultation to determine whether photorefractive keratectomy in Rapid City is right for you.
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