What is PRK? Simplified Explanation of Photorefractive Keratectomy

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to correct your vision without traditional methods like glasses or contact lenses? At our centre, we specialize in a range of advanced vision correction techniques, including Photorefractive Keratectomy, more commonly known as PRK. This treatment offers a compelling alternative for those seeking clarity without spectacles, differing significantly from other surgeries, such as LASIK, which we do not perform.

PRK has been a steadfast option in vision correction since its FDA approval in the 1990s, particularly for patients who might not be suitable for LASIK. Understanding the differences between these surgical options is crucial for making an informed decision about whether PRK could be suitable for you. Our team uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure the best outcomes, focusing on each patient’s unique needs.

This blog post delves into this sophisticated procedure, breaking down how PRK works to reshape the cornea and enhance vision. By aligning your understanding with our expertise, we aim to provide you with all the necessary information to see if PRK fits your vision correction needs.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not replace medical advice and should not be implemented prior to consulting a fully certified medical professional.

What Exactly is PRK and How Does It Differ From Other Vision Correction Surgeries?

Photorefractive Keratectomy, commonly known as PRK, is one of the earliest forms of laser vision correction surgery we offer. PRK precedes the popular LASIK and remains a preferred option for certain patients due to its unique benefits and suitability. Unlike LASIK, which involves creating a flap in the cornea through which the corneal reshaping is carried out, PRK removes the very top layer of the cornea, the epithelium, which naturally regenerates over time.

This fundamental difference allows us to recommend PRK, especially for individuals with thinner corneas, for whom creating a flap might not be the safest option. Additionally, by preserving more corneal tissue, PRK can be a safer alternative for those engaged in contact sports or occupations that increase the risk of facial injury, reducing the chances of flap-related complications.

The Step-by-Step Process of Photorefractive Keratectomy

Understanding the procedure can ease any apprehensions you might have about PRK. Here’s a detailed look at each step we follow to ensure safety and effectiveness in vision correction:

1. Preoperative Assessment: First, we conduct a comprehensive eye examination to determine your vision correction needs and assess whether PRK is the optimal method for you. This examination includes mapping the cornea’s shape and thickness and a review of your overall eye health.

2. Preparation: On the day of the surgery, your eyes will be prepared with anesthetic eye drops to ensure comfort throughout the procedure. The area around your eyes will also be cleaned, and a sterile drape may be applied for additional safety.

3. The Procedure: Using a precise excimer laser, we gently remove the protective surface layer of the cornea (the epithelium). The next step involves reshaping the underlying corneal tissue with the laser, which is programmed based on the pre-operative assessment to correct your specific refractive error.

4. Post-Procedure Care: Immediately after the procedure, a soft contact lens is placed on the treated eye to act as a bandage. This helps protect the eye while the epithelium heals and regenerates, which typically takes a few days. During this period, we will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions and eyedrops to support healing and comfort.

The entire PRK process is closely monitored by our experienced team, ensuring that you receive individualised care intended to yield the best results possible.

Who is a Suitable Candidate for PRK?

Determining who is best suited for Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is a critical step in ensuring both the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. Generally, we find that PRK is most suitable for adults over 18 who have stable vision for at least a year. This stability is crucial because it indicates that their eyes are not changing significantly, which can affect the predictability of the results.

Moreover, candidates should not have severe myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism that exceeds the treatable limits of PRK. Individuals with thinner corneas, which make them less ideal candidates for other types of laser corrective surgeries such as LASIK, may find PRK to be an excellent alternative. It’s also imperative that potential candidates are free from eye diseases, severe dry eye, or other conditions that could complicate surgery or affect healing. We conduct thorough pre-surgical evaluations to ensure that each individual’s eye health makes them a good candidate for the procedure.

Benefits and Considerations of PRK for Vision Correction

Choosing PRK for vision correction comes with numerous benefits but also requires consideration of certain aspects. A primary advantage is its ability to provide permanent correction for a range of vision issues without creating a corneal flap, which is particularly beneficial for patients with active lifestyles or professions that pose a risk of eye injury. Additionally, since PRK involves removing only the outer layer of the cornea, it preserves more of the corneal thickness, which is an essential factor for the long-term health of the eye.

However, candidates should consider the recovery process associated with PRK, which can be longer than that of some other laser eye surgeries. During the first few days post-surgery, patients might experience discomfort, and vision may initially be hazy or blurry as the cornea heals. Full visual improvement typically unfolds over a few weeks to months. We provide detailed post-care instructions and are committed to supporting our patients through the recovery journey, ensuring any discomfort is managed effectively, and recovery is as smooth as possible.


At Valley Laser Eye Centre, we are dedicated to offering the highest standard of care in vision correction. Our experienced team ensures that each patient receives a tailor-made treatment plan that best suits their individual needs and lifestyle. We believe in empowering our patients with comprehensive knowledge about their treatment options, including the benefits and considerations of PRK.

If you are considering PRK or seeking more information about various vision correction technologies, we invite you to schedule a consultation with us. Our expert team is here to guide you through every step of the process, from initial assessment to post-surgery recovery, ensuring you achieve the best possible outcome for your vision. Visit Valley Laser Eye Centre today to explore how we can help you achieve a clear vision for a clear future.



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