PRK stands for Photo-Refractive Keratectomy. PRK was the original procedure developed to perform laser vision correction in 1995 when the Excimer laser was approved to treat focusing errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism) of the eye. Unlike LASIK, PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea to correct these focusing errors, while LASIK is performed beneath the surface of the cornea.
The PRK Procedure
PRK Step 1:
The protective skin that covers the surface of the cornea, the epithelium, is removed.
PRK Step 2:
The Excimer laser is then used to remove the proper amount of corneal tissue to correct for the individual focusing error (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism) and reshape the surface of the cornea.
LASIK Step 3:
At the conclusion of the PRK treatment, a bandage soft contact lens is placed over the cornea to allow for the surface to heal.
Because of the slower visual recovery, PRK is generally performed in those individuals who do not qualify for LASIK, because their corneas are too thin. The visual recovery following PRK is slower, because the vision remains blurry until the surface epithelium of the cornea regrows, which takes about five days. Although the vision returns much more rapidly following LASIK, the final visual outcomes for LASIK and PRK are the same at one year.
Using our individualized approach to laser vision correction at the USC Roski Eye Institute, PRK is a procedure that we often deploy to optimize the visual outcomes for those patients, who do not qualify for LASIK.
Next, read about Intralase LASIK.