PRK Surgery Explained: Pros, Cons, and what to Expect

What To Expect During PRK

Before surgery

  • Review the risks, benefits, and cost of PRK with your ophthalmologist.
  • Your doctor will review your medical history, test your vision, examine your eyes, and measure your cornea and pupil to determine if this procedure is right for you.
  • You may not be a good candidate if you're under 21, pregnant, nursing, or have pre-existing conditions, including cornea disease, uncontrolled diabetes, cataracts, dry eye syndrome, or advanced glaucoma.

During surgery

  • PRK is an outpatient procedure, and the surgery itself takes less than 10 minutes.
  • Your doctor will numb the eye with anesthetic drops, and use an eyelid holder to keep your eye open during the procedure.
  • The doctor will then use a laser, brush, blade, or alcohol solution to remove the epithelium, or the outer layer of the cornea.
  • You will be asked to look at a target light while a laser reshapes your cornea based on your eye measurements.
  • Your surgeon will put a contact lens over the eye to act as a bandage.

After surgery

  • Ask a friend or family member to drive you home after surgery.
  • Follow your doctor’s aftercare instructions. Rest, avoid strenuous physical activity, and stay away from products that may irritate the eye.
  • Your doctor will prescribe eye drops to prevent infection and aid healing.
  • Wear sunglasses outside—sun exposure can scar the cornea after surgery.
  • You may experience mild eye pain for the first 24 to 36 hours, and short-term blurred vision during the first week. Your ophthalmologist can recommend over-the-counter or prescription eye drops for pain.
  • Schedule follow-ups with your doctor as instructed—it can take up to three months for vision to stabilize completely.

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