Have you been told that you’re not a good candidate for LASIK, but are looking for an option that will allow you to reduce your dependence on contacts or eyeglasses? If yes, consider PRK surgery, also known as photorefractive keratectomy. This is a form of laser eye surgery that represents exciting new possibilities for vision correction. As an alternative to LASIK surgery, it can be used to correct farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism.
Are You a Candidate?
You may be a good candidate if you have mild to moderate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. PRK surgery may be available to you even if you’ve already been told you are not a good candidate for other types of laser eye surgery. In particular, it is recommended for patients whose thin corneas, large pupils, or corneal surface irregularities makes LASIK a poor choice. In general, good candidates are adults in good overall health whose eye prescription has remained unchanged for at least a year, which indicates that the eyes are not currently changing.
The procedure involves the precise removal of targeted cell from the surface of the eye. The major difference between this technique and other refractive surgery techniques is the way the surgeon accesses the cornea of the eye. During LASIK, the surgeon uses a blade to cut into the layers of the cornea to reveal the underlying tissue. During PRK, a special surgical laser is used to remove cells at the surface of the cornea, enabling more precise control over the area of tissue being removed.
During the procedure, the eye surgeon reshapes the cornea affecting the way light is bent as it enters the eye. The laser energy used to make microscopic changes to the cornea is not painful; before the procedure, numbing eye drops will minimize any discomfort associated with the laser beam entering your eye. Patients remain awake for the duration of the procedure, though their vision will be blurry. It takes just an hour or two to treat both eyes using photorefractive keratectomy.
PRK eye surgery is considered a very safe procedure. The risks associated with this procedure tend to be vision-related, including vision distortion, glare, and halos. The rate of complications is believed to be lower than that associated with LASIK. These risks may be further reduced through proper screening to ensure this procedure is the right choice.
Because PRK involves the removal of the outermost layer of the cornea, it requires a slightly longer recovery period than that associated with LASIK. You can expect your vision to improve gradually over a few weeks following the surgery, although many patients also report immediate vision improvements. Patients can return home immediately following the procedure, although their vision will be blurry so they should not drive. Avoid strenuous activities, particularly those likely to strain or irritate the eyes, for at least a week to give your eyes time to heal.
Cost of PRK Surgery
The cost of PRK are usually around $1,500 to $3,000 per eye. These costs are comparable to those of LASIK and other forms of refractive surgery. The price is set by the surgeon, and includes the doctor’s fee, pre-operative exams and other expenses, the cost for the use of the facility and equipment, and any post-operative eyedrops and other medications needed. Because this is an elective procedure, it is not typically covered by health insurance. However, there are financing available to help make the costs more affordable for you.