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PRK Recovery, Risks and Side Effects


PRK surgery is a laser vision correction procedure that can permanently correct vision affected by myopic, hyperopic, and astigmatic refractive errors. The procedure is safe and effective; however, it is a surgical treatment and patients do need time to recover from the procedure.

PRK Recovery Period

PRK healing time is generally longer and more uncomfortable than LASIK recovery time. Improved vision will not be noticeable for about one to two weeks. Although PRK healing and recovery time is generally longer than with LASIK, it is important to note that the corneal flap required for LASIK surgery can take years to close, resulting in long term corneal weakness. This weakness is not significant for most people, but pilots, athletes, or anyone with a higher risk of corneal trauma should consider PRK or LASEK eye surgery over LASIK.

Post-surgical Instructions

Post-surgical PRK instructions include:

  • During your PRK laser surgery recovery time period, you will be required to wear a bandage contact lens, as opposed to LASIK surgery where you would be required to wear a protective shield over your eyes for a short period of time.
  • You will be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops that will need to be used as directed by your ophthalmologist.
  • Doctors recommend that you go home and try to sleep immediately following the procedure.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes.
  • Avoid physical activity for a few days after surgery.
  • Do not wear make-up or other products around the eye area for a week following surgery.
  • Avoid swimming for a couple weeks after surgery.
  • Avoid contact sports for at least a month after surgery.

PRK Side Effects

PRK surgery is an excellent vision correction option for patients that have thin corneas or other corneal problems, in addition to nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. However, PRK is a surgical procedure that involves some risks. If you are undergoing PRK vision correction surgery, it is important that you are aware of the potential risks associated with treatment.

Some of the possible PRK complications and side effects that can develop include:

  • Infection
  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Undercorrection or overcorrection
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dry eye
  • Glare or halos around lights - especially noticeable at night
  • Corneal haze
  • Loss of best-corrected vision - some patients might not be able to see objects with as much clarity as before laser eye surgery
  • According to the FDA, approximately 5 percent of patients will still need to wear glasses after having PRK surgery
  • It is important to remember that patients in their forties or older suffer from presbyopia and will still need reading glasses

Choosing a qualified PRK surgeon to perform your surgery can reduce your chances of developing any side effects associated with surgery.

PRK Surgery and Pain

Many patients are concerned that PRK will hurt. To ensure maximum comfort, numbing eyedrops are used and most patients report that the procedure itself is pain-free. The first few days following your PRK procedure, however, your eyes may hurt slightly as the epithelium heals and covers the treated area. Eye drops, pain medication, and protective contact lenses may be used to minimize this discomfort, and most patients find that they are able to resume normal activities within one to three days. However, PRK recovery and healing can vary.

Contact a PRK Surgeon

If you are interested in learning more about the advantages of PRK laser vision correction surgery, contact a PRK surgeon in your area to schedule a consultation. A refractive surgeon can examine your eyes and determine if you are a good candidate for treatment.

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