PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) uses the same excimer laser as LASIK to reshape the cornea, but a corneal flap is not created. Instead the very top layer of the cornea, the corneal epithelium, is removed and the laser is then applied to the corneal surface. Because the procedure involves removing the corneal epithelium, the recovery time after PRK is significantly longer than for LASIK. To help with pain control and healing, a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye when the surgery is completed and left in place until the corneal epithelium is healed, usually a few days. Because the healing process is longer, patients may not achieve the full results of their vision correction until weeks or even months after surgery. However, once the eye is healed, patients can achieve excellent visual acuity. This is especially true when CustomVue™ technology is utilized for PRK.
Today, most patients and surgeons choose LASIK over PRK because of the extended healing time involved with PRK. However, PRK is often a good option for patients who are not good candidates for LASIK due to various factors, such as thin corneas or irregular scars on the surface of the eye.