Photorefractive keratectomy

PRK – photorefractive keratectomy is a surgical procedure that is used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The procedure works by changing the shape of the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, to allow light to focus properly on the retina, the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye.

PRK is similar to LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), but there are some key differences in how the procedure is performed. Like LASIK, PRK is used to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. However, instead of creating a flap in the cornea as is done with LASIK, PRK involves removing the surface layer of the cornea (called the epithelium) before reformatting the underlying corneal tissue. This is done using an excimer laser that emits pulses of ultraviolet light to remove very precise amounts of tissue from the cornea, changing its shape and curvature.

PRK is usually performed on an outpatient basis and takes about 15-30 minutes per eye. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, although some patients may opt for intravenous sedation to help them relax.

Before the procedure, the surgeon will measure the patient's eye and create a treatment plan based on their specific vision problem and the shape and size of their cornea. The surgeon will also use a special tool called a corneal topographer to create a detailed map of the cornea. This information is used to guide the laser during the procedure and ensure precise reshaping of the cornea.

During the procedure, the surgeon first anesthetizes the eye with anesthetic eye drops. After that, the surface layer of the cornea is removed with a special tool. The underlying corneal tissue is then altered using an excimer laser. The flap is then replaced and allowed to heal naturally.

After the procedure, the patient must wear protective glasses for several days and will be asked to use eye drops to aid healing and prevent infection. Most people are able to return to their normal activities within a few days, although it may take several weeks for vision to fully stabilize.

Candidates for PRK include individuals who:

  • are over 18 years old
  • have stable vision for at least one year
  • do not have certain medical conditions such as autoimmune diseases or a history of herpes simplex keratitis (a viral eye infection)
  • do not have thin or irregular corneas

It is important to note that PRK is not suitable for everyone and the decision to undergo the procedure should be made after careful consideration and consultation with an eye surgeon. Factors that may influence a practitioner to deny a person a PRK procedure include pregnancy, breastfeeding, and certain medications that can affect healing and recovery.

PRK is generally very safe and has a high success rate. Most people experience a significant improvement in their vision after the procedure and can reduce or eliminate their dependence on glasses or contact lenses. However, as with any surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of infection, dry eye, and valve problems.

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