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Austin PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy)

PRK: PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) was the first corneal procedure upon which FDA approval was given for the first generation of FDA approved excimer lasers. PRK involves complete removal of the corneal epithelium (surface layer of the cornea) followed by application of the excimer laser to the exposed corneal surface. The epithelium regenerates over a period of 3-5 days. The visual outcomes between LASIK and PRK are virtually equivalent. LASIK is preferred however due to the quicker recovery.

The Advantage of PRK compared with iLASIK is that there is no flap and therefore no flap complications.

The Disadvantages of PRK compared with iLASIK: 1) Slow recovery of vision. PRK patients may not have legal driving vision for one week after the procedure, 2) retreatments also have a slower recovery process than iLASIK retreatments, 3) rare chance of corneal scarring, 4) mild/moderate irritation lasting 1-2 days.

Differences between PRK and LASIK

Range of correctionLow to Moderately highLow to Moderately high
Wound DepthSuperficial (remove epithelium)20% depth (flap preserves epithelium)
Intraoperative PainNoneNone
Postoperative PainModerate 24-48 hrs.3 to 6 hrs.
Postoperative Medications3 weeks to several months1 to 2 weeks
Functional Vision Recovery3 to 7 days24 hours
Visual Results Fully Recognized3 weeks to several months1 to 6 weeks
Return to Work2 to 3 days1 to 2 days
Risk of ComplicationsLowLow
Risk of Scarring1 to 2%<1%
Dry Eye Sensitive1 to 4 weeksCould last up to 12 months or more
Candidates with Thin Corneas or Wide PupilsOften good candidatesCandidacy depends on amount of correction needed