PRK (photorefractive keratectomy)/epi-LASIK

Like LASIK, PRK is a laser refractive surgery that reshapes your cornea to correct nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. Unlike in LASIK where the treatment is performed underneath a flap, PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but both procedures are highly successful and ultimately the visual results for both procedures are equivalent. 

Because PRK is performed on the surface of the cornea, healing from the surgery takes longer than it does following LASIK. Patients who undergo PRK should expect a moderate degree of discomfort for a few days after surgery. This is because the top layer of the cornea, the epithelium, is removed during the PRK procedure. With the help of a bandage soft contact lens, the epithelium heals in a few days, at which point the pain resolves. Achieving your final clear vision after PRK also usually takes longer than it does with LASIK. Patients often experience fluctuating vision following PRK for several weeks as the cornea heals. During this time period, even though the vision is not immediately perfect, patients usually see well enough to resume work and drive within a few days following surgery. 

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Who is a good candidate for PRK?

  • Ideally someone who is over 21 years old, when vision is more likely to have stopped changing. Under certain circumstances, we perform surgery on patients as young as 18 years old.
  • A stable eye prescription that has not changed significantly over the last year.
  • Your corneas are healthy.
  • Your overall eye health is good.
  • Your prescription has to be one that can safely be treated with PRK.
  • Patients who are at higher risk for eye trauma and flap related complications with LASIK. Examples of this include contact sports participants, military, and law enforcement.
  • Patients with thinner corneas.
  • Patients with mild dry eye.
  • Patients with a history of corneal erosions or irregular corneas.

During your refractive surgery evaluation, your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about your lifestyle and goals to help determine which procedure(s) would be best for you.


Wills Eye Cornea Specialists