Photo-Refractive Keratectomy (PRK) became popular worldwide in the early 1990's and in the USA in 1995 when the Excimer laser was first approved by the FDA for laser vision correction. The Excimer laser brought tremendous advancements to refractive surgery.
With PRK, surgeons use state-of-the-art computer technology in combination with the accuracy and precision of the Excimer laser to treat a wide range of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. PRK has proven to be extremely successful, with the vast majority of patients having visual results of 20/20 to 20/40, thereby reducing or eliminating their dependence on glasses or contact lenses.
PRK is performed in the comfort and convenience of an outpatient, Excimer laser suite. First, very powerful eye drops completely numb the eye. Next, the clear protective surface layer (epithelium) of the cornea is loosened from the underlying layers of the cornea and is either removed completely or moved to the side. Then, in a matter of seconds, the Excimer laser is applied to the cornea, reshaping it to the correct focusing power. After the procedure, a protective contact lens bandage is placed on the eye to make it more comfortable during the healing process. It usually takes three to five days for the epithlium to fully heal.
Excimer laser corrections can be applied in one of two ways:
Standard or Conventional:
Once all tests and examinations are done, the laser is programmed with your prescription. The treatment is a uniform reshaping of your cornea. While this was the only way to perform laser vision correction for many years, since the advancement of Wavefront technology, a Standard treatment works best for people with low prescriptions, little or no astigmatism, and with smaller sized pupils.
Advanced CustomVue or Wavefront-guided treatment:
While all the same tests and examination are performed as for a Standard treatment, there is an additional test done (Wavescan) that then allows your doctor to measure and treat the unique details of your vision along with your eye prescription. While you may have the same prescription as another person, every eye is unique and thus, your laser vision correction procedure should be just as unique and personalized. Though this is a good treatment for any type of prescription, it is especially needed for people with higher prescriptions, those with astigmatism, and those with larger pupils, as a Wavefront treatment allows the laser to customize its diameter to reduce the risk of glare or halos at night. The clinical end result and benefits of Wavefront treatments include: better chances of 20/20 vision without glasses, better quality of vision and better quality of night vision.
Most PRK patients notice an improvement in their vision soon after surgery. However, vision is usually somewhat blurred during the epithelial healing process. Many PRK patients prefer to have one eye treated at a time with the second eye being treated within a week or two.