PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a laser vision correction procedure designed to correct common visual refractive errors and reduce dependence on glasses and contact lenses. This treatment, performed by our experienced ophthalmologists in Salt Lake City, is a common alternative for patients who are not ideal candidates for LASIK. PRK is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and has helped countless individuals dramatically improve their vision. This technique offers essentially the same benefits that can be produced with LASIK surgery. For patients who would like to correct refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, PRK may be an ideal solution.
Book a FREE Consultation Online 24/7
While LASIK is generally the most popular laser vision correction procedure in America, PRK has actually been around longer than LASIK and it may serve as a better option for certain patients. Some of the potential benefits of PRK include:
Since our doctors do not need to create a corneal flap during a PRK procedure, this treatment can often be advantageous over LASIK for individuals who are in the military, are involved in contact sports, or who otherwise engage in occupations or hobbies that risk injury to the eyes. With LASIK, an impact to the eye could potentially dislodge the corneal flap that was made during the procedure, whereas this risk is not associated with PRK surgery.
The most important step in preparing for PRK is to consult with an experienced ophthalmologist. During your PRK consultation, you will undergo an eye examination and your doctor will also review your medical history to determine whether you are a good candidate for PRK. When your procedure is scheduled, you will be given detailed pre- and postoperative instructions.
Please note that patients are not permitted to drive themselves home after PRK, so you will need to make arrangements for transportation on the day of your procedure.
During your initial consultation and eye examination, one of our eye doctors will talk with you about your goals and help you determine whether PRK is the best option for your needs.
Ideal candidates for PRK often include:
I had PRK monovision done with Dr. Passi. I couldn’t be happier. He explained everything before the procedure and what to expect after. I love my new clear vision. You are greeted at the door by the friendliest staff as well as his staff helping with exams. The PRK procedure itself was quick and painless. Everything was explained before the procedure, during, and sent me home with easy-to-follow after care instructions. The only regret I have is waiting so long to have PRK done. So happy I chose The Eye Institute of Utah.
The PRK procedure is typically a quick and effective form of laser vision correction surgery. Most patients report little to no discomfort during this procedure, although there may be some discomfort during the first 3-5 days following PRK. Instead of creating a corneal flap as done during LASIK surgery, the surgeon will use a diluted chemical solution to remove the top layer of the cornea (called the epithelium). Then, the WaveLight® EX500 Excimer Laser will be utilized to reshape the cornea and correct the refractive errors. Although the procedure takes between 10 to 15 minutes, the actual laser correction stage of the PRK procedure typically takes only about 15 seconds to complete, sometimes less. To facilitate healing and comfort after treatment, a soft contact lens will be placed over the surgical eye to act as a bandage for 3-5 days. Over the next several weeks, follow-up appointments will be scheduled to monitor your progress.
The biggest difference between LASIK and PRK is the recovery time. It is normal to experience some discomfort, grittiness, and light sensitivity during the first 3-5 days following PRK as the eyes heal. The bandage contact lens, artificial tears, and NSAID drop should help alleviate any pain. It is important to note that patients should not wear eye makeup until the contact lens is removed (usually after about five to seven days). Swimming pools and hot tubs should be avoided for two weeks, and water sources such as oceans and lakes should be avoided for one month after surgery.
While many patients achieve a noticeable vision improvement within one week, the results should continue to gradually improve over the days and weeks following PRK surgery. While the PRK recovery process is typically a bit longer than that of LASIK, the results should be the same as if you had LASIK surgery. PRK can ultimately be an excellent alternative to LASIK, helping patients attain a clearer view at a range of distances without the need for glasses and contacts.
For more information on PRK, or to schedule a consultation with one of our ophthalmologists, please contact The Eye Institute of Utah today.
See how the most popular vision correction options compare.
PRK is the oldest laser vision correction procedure, and has long been considered to be safe. That said, there are risks and complications associated with any surgical procedure. PRK Trusted Source Main Complications of Photorefractive Keratectomy and their Management Spadea L, Giovannetti F Go to Source risks and side effects may include:
No. Before the procedure begins, your eyes will be numbed with anesthetic eye drops. You may feel some pressure, but should not feel any pain. It is also normal to experience some discomfort during the PRK recovery period, but this will resolve quickly. We will prescribe pain medication to easily manage any pain or discomfort after the procedure, or if preferred you may use over-the-counter pain medications.
During PRK, the cornea is permanently reshaped to correct refractive errors, so in that sense PRK is permanent. However, PRK does not prevent changes to the eye that occur as a natural part of the aging process. Presbyopia, or age-related near vision loss, begins to affect everybody in their 40s, and cataracts may also develop after PRK. Our ophthalmologists can recommend the right solution for you if your vision needs change after PRK.
PRK is considered to be an elective (not medically necessary) procedure, which means that it is not covered by insurance. At The Eye Institute of Utah, we offer fair and competitive pricing for PRK and other vision correction procedures in addition to promotional discounts. To help our patients cover out-of-pocket costs, we also offer a number of payment and financing options.
1 Spadea L, Giovannetti F. Main Complications of Photorefractive Keratectomy and their Management. Clin Ophthalmol. 2019;13:2305-2315. Published 2019 Nov 27. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S233125. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6885542/. Accessed June 14, 2023.
The Eye Institute of Utah Doctors have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.