Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Picsea
In Singapore, PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) surgery is a popular procedure to achieve freedom from glasses and contact lenses. It is a form of advanced surface ablation which reshapes the cornea and corrects any refractive error without creation of a corneal flap and it has a high success and safety rates. Those who have undergone PRK surgery often describe it as life-changing. Here are 5 reasons why PRK surgery could be the safest and best option for you.
1. There are no blades involved
PRK surgery involves removing the superficial layer of corneal tissue followed by the application of the excimer laser to correct any refractive errors. There are different means to remove this layer of cells ranging from using alcohol to loosen it to simply using an instrument to scrape it off. There is no use of blades to cut the cornea and this step is often done in less than a minute.
2. It is a painless procedure
Some people have the misconception that PRK is a painful procedure. It is in fact a painless procedure. The eye is well numbed with topical anesthetic eye drops before the procedure begins and this ensures that the entire process, from removal of the superficial layer of the cornea to the application of the excimer laser, is painless. Some may also have concerns about pain after surgery. This is usually minimised with the use of a bandage contact lens after the surgery. There may be some discomfort in the first 3-5 days of recovery but thereafter, healing proceeds quite painlessly
3. It is tissue saving
One of the many benefits of PRK surgery is that it is tissue saving. The average corneal thickness is about 550 microns. During LASIK surgery, a corneal flap is fashioned and this can take up to about 100-120 microns of tissue. In patients who require a higher degree of correction but do not have enough corneal tissue, they may not be suitable to to proceed with LASIK surgery. PRK surgery on the other hand saves tissues by not creating a corneal flap. This extra tissue which would have been used during LASIK for corneal flap creation can be utilised for the refractive correction.
4. Enhancements can be done
While laser correction is highly accurate and predictable, it is impossible to say that 100% of patients will achieve their target in every single case. There may be cases where a residual refractive error may still be present even after PRK surgery. If this is the case, an enhancement or “touch up” laser can be done to treat the remaining amount of degree left. This is usually done once adequate recovery has taken place and the degree has more or less stabilised.
5. There are no corneal flap related complications
LASIK surgery requires the creation of a corneal flap. While this process is very safe and predictable, there are still potential complications that can arise. This includes: incomplete flaps, free floating flap, flap button holes, micro and macro flap striae, flap dislodgement, epithelial ingrowth and interface infection. PRK surgery avoids these complications altogether simply because there is no corneal flap created and no corneal interface. Patients who lead a very active lifestyle or are into contact sports like boxing and muay thai, PRK surgery may be a better option compared with LASIK surgery.