PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) is a laser vision correction technique similar to LASIK, except that a laser is used to carry out the entire laser eye surgery operation and no flap is necessary.

Instead of creating a flap, the surface cells of the cornea are ablated using the excimer laser resulting in a reshaped cornea. Although PRK is considered to be a safer procedure than LASIK, the healing time takes longer.

PRK laser vison correction can be used to treat nearsightedness, mild to moderate farsightedness and astigmatism. It is generally performed when the cornea is too thin or slightly too irregular to perform LASIK.

FDA approved since 1995, photorefractive keratectomy reshapes the cornea by using the Visx S4 Excimer laser to ablate (remove by vaporization) a small amount of corneal tissue from the front of the eye. Computer-guided laser pulses reshape the cornea in a way that improves the refraction (bending) of light, which enhances total vision. The United States Air Force recently approved PRK for its fighter pilots as an alternative method of vision correction. PRK is a vision treatment option for patients who are not candidates for LASIK (the most common form of laser vision correction). Corneal Associates of New Jersey can help determine which vision treatment option is best for your eyes.

PRK (Surface Ablation) Option

PRK and LASIK share many similarities. Both are:

Outpatient procedures
Performed in minutes
Used to treat nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism
Performed using an excimer laser
Nearly pain free with eye drop anesthetics
Effectively reduce the need for glasses or contacts

Your physician at Corneal Associates of New Jersey may recommend PRK if:

  • Thin corneas
  • Extremely flat or extremely steep corneas, both of which increase the likelihood of LASIK flap problems
  • Extremely dry eyes, which can be aggravated by LASIK
  • Extremely deep set eyes or very tight, slit-like lids, which can prevent the microkeratome from creating a good flap
  • Loose epithelium (basement membrane dystrophy)
  • Aberrations and other imperfections of the corneal surface.

The conditions listed above warrant concern because they indicate a higher risk of corneal flap complications. If your eye doctor at Corneal Associates feels that you are in one of the higher risk categories, it may be best to avoid LASIK and choose PRK, a.k.a. Surface Ablation, instead. The actual laser treatment to correct your vision is the same in both PRK and LASIK. More importantly, the results are the same, so the extra healing time may well be worth the added safety.

Generally, good LASIK candidates will be advised to have the LASIK procedure.
Alternately, people who are not LASIK candidates may find PRK to be a great alternative.