A photorefractive keratectomy, called PRK for short, is a surgical procedure that has been performed since 1987, making it one of the oldest methods of refractive laser surgery.
In PRK/LASEK/ Epi-LASIK treatment the topmost cell layer of the cornea (the epithelium) is removed and the corneal tissue immediately below this is optimally shaped with the Excimer laser.
The difference between PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK is how the epithelium is removed:
These methods, unlike LASIK and Femto-LASIK, belong to the group of surface laser surgery. The postoperative course is painful during the first days and full vision is achieved more slowly. These surgical techniques are therefore only used when LASIK or Femto-LASIK are not options. Read more about the differences between LASEK and LASIK on our blog.
You will notice immediately after the operation that you can see clearly through the thick tear film. However, the eye should be kept covered for the rest of the day. You will be able to see relatively well only hours after the surgery. Find out more about the preparation and treatment regarding your laser eye surgery here: treatment.
After PRK/LASEK/Epi-LASIK surgery, the regeneration of the cells may cause pain in the first 2 to 3 days, since the uppermost layer of the cornea is removed. However, this can be alleviated with painkillers. The quality of vision may be subject to fluctuations in the first few weeks/months. Please read more about the general risks of laser eye surgery here.
We first disinfect your facial area. You will receive a local anaesthetic in the form of eye drops. Your eyelids will be fixed. All this is completely symptom-free and painless. You are asked to look at the green light above you throughout the operation.
The first step entails the topmost cell layer of the cornea, the epithelium, being peeled off and removed (see above). In newer methods, like LASIK or Femto-LASIK, the corneal flap with the epithelium is only folded back, and not removed.
Thereafter, the extremely fine laser beam skims off a thin layer of the central cornea. A new surface area of the cornea is formed. The laser shapes and models the existing corneal tissue so that refractive errors and astigmatisms are corrected. You will also not notice anything here, except the noise of the laser and possibly the smell of the cornea. The surgeon monitors the use of the laser through a microscope.
In the last step soft contact lenses are used in order to protect the eye after surgery. Medication prevents inflammation and reduces post-operative pain. The protective lenses are removed after 2 to 3 days by the surgeon. That’s it!