Photorefractive Keratectomy Eye Surgery
Publish date 02-01-2017


Photorefractive Keratectomy Eye Surgery with removal of outer epithelial layer © 2016 American Academy of Ophthalmology

 

 

 

 

Photorefractive Keratectomy Eye Surgery (PRK)



Refractive errors are one of the common causes of blurring of vision, and the medical industry is continuously innovating to address the problem. Conventional eyeglasses and contact lenses are probably still the most popular treatment options, but advancement in technology offers us something more. Refractive surgeries have been developed and are still being developed over the years; different procedures have been made available and solutions to former limitations are being continuously studied.

One of these surgeries is PRK or Photorefractive Keratectomy. In PRK, the corrective surgery is performed with the help of an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. It was the first corrective surgery to use laser rather than blade in reshaping the cornea.



Procedure of Photorefractive Keratectomy

Photorefractive Keratectomy is performed in an outpatient setup. The whole procedure might take around 10-15 minutes per eye. The client can go home on the same day and is usually asked to come back the following day for follow-up.

  • Anesthetic drops are instilled on the eye prior to surgery.

  • The client will be assisted comfortably on the bed.

  • During the procedure, the eyelids will be kept open with a lid speculum. The lashes may also be isolated with some adhesive material.

  • The corneal epithelium which is the surface layer of the cornea will be scraped off. This layer grows back after few days.

  • The excimer laser will then be used to emit light waves to reshape the cornea based on the planned correction that was fed on the machine.

  • A bandage contact lens will be applied on the cornea to protect it as the epithelium grows back. It will be kept for about 5-7 days depending on the healing process.

  • The surgeon might immediately instill medicated eye drops before concluding the procedure.



Recovery

 

 

 

Patients usually report mild to moderate pain, discomfort, tearing, dryness, sensitivity to light and blurring of vision for the first few days to a week after the surgery. The surgeon might advise the use of oral pain relievers as required by the patient.

Improvement of symptoms starts as soon as the epithelium starts to grow back. Medication and lubricating eye drops will be prescribed to be used at home for the duration deemed required by the surgeon.

The vision gradually improves as the healing occurs, which might take 1-2 months depending on the correction done. The correction is usually stable 3-6 months after the surgery.

 

PROS

  • Minimal disturbance made on the cornea which makes it ideal for patients with thin corneas and those who are having irregularly shaped corneas.

  • Fast recovery from dryness due to the rapid recovery of the corneal nerve function.


CONS

  • Vision recovery after the surgery might take a little longer depending on the case, which can result in prolonged restriction in performing some activities such as driving.

  • The patient might be required to instill corticosteroid eye drops for weeks. This is to lessen the risk of developing haze in the cornea.

 
If the desired outcome is not met, a re-procedure or enhancement surgery can be done. This is basically the same procedure that was previously done.

 

 

 

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