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A No Flap Alternative to LASIK 

What is PRK?

PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) is an outpatient procedure performed with local anesthetic. The surgeon uses the excimer laser to achieve vision correction, and the visual results are similar. The main difference between PRK and LASIK is that in PRK there is no flap — only the very top (epithelial) layer of the cornea is moved aside before the surgeon sculpts the cornea with the excimer laser.

There are several reasons why a surgeon would recommend PRK rather than LASIK for an individual patient:

  • If there is a concern about potential flap complications
  • If the patient’s corneas are too thin to meet LASIK standards
  • If the patient had LASIK previously, or if other eye health factors are involved

The Procedure & What to Expect

In PRK, the surgeon uses a gently vibrating microkeratome to remove the epithelial layer. Sometimes advanced techniques are used, such as cooling the cornea before or after surgery to help reduce the discomfort that may occur after PRK. You might receive topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications and oral pain medications to reduce discomfort and speed healing. A “bandage” soft contact lens is used to promote healing of the epithelium, which takes about four days. It may be a few days before your vision stabilizes.

Learn more at Get Eye Smart.

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