What is Photo Refractive Keratectomy

Photo refractive keratectomy (PRK) is one type of laser eye surgery. Photo refractive keratectomy is used to correct mild forms of astigmatism, nearsightedness or long sightedness.

Like any other form of laser eye surgery, PRK works by using a laser to reshape the cornea so the light passing through the eye does so on the correct path to hit the optical nerve at the back of the eye so vision is restored to a better level. Laser eye surgery will not increase a person vision to a perfect 20/20 in most cases but will restore vision to a respectable 20/40 or better without the aid of glasses or contact lenses.


There are disadvantages to photo refractive keratectomy surgery, one of these is the side affect to the surgery which means you may have irritation to the eye for a few days and the eye may water, what makes this worse is that you cannot rub the eye to alleviate the irritation. The another two affects are the cost of the surgery which some people can find unobtainable and that some people still require the aid of glasses after surgery.

The length of time it takes for the eyes vision to improve after surgery takes a lot longer than other laser surgeries because it is not invasive, some patients like to see the benefits of the surgery a lot quicker than the surgery does sometimes.

Sometimes complications do occur which cause mild light halos and glare around objects during the first few days post surgery, and in some rare cases this can be permanent.

The surgery

The surgery itself takes about thirty minutes to complete and is carried out under local anesthetic; the surgeon normally applies the laser to each eye for no longer then ten minutes each.

The laser uses beams of ultraviolet light to reshape the cornea, unlike other laser surgeries photo refractive keratectomy is non invasive and doesnt require incisions to be made to the eye, this is because other surgeries work on the tissue in the eye while PRK works on the tissue on the surface of the eye.

PRK compared to other laser surgeries

Overall PRK is a lot safer than the other laser surgeries because it does not require invasive surgery where incisions are made to the eye, due to this its success is not always as good and it can take a lot longer for benefits to be noticed by the patient.

The main factors behind choosing between the different laser surgeries are financial cost and expected success. If a surgeon believes success will be just as high with photo refractive keratectomy than with laser assisted sub epithelial keratectomy then the patient is likely to choose the price comparison between the two surgeries, but if a surgeon explains which one has a greater chance of better vision they are likely to choose this no matter what the price may be.

Remember to speak to your surgeon before choosing which surgery you wish to take.