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Photorefractive Keratectomy


  • Photorefractive keratectomy (ker-ah-TEK-to-me), also called PRK, is laser (high-energy light) surgery to correct refractive errors of the eye. Refractive errors of the eye are common eye disorders that cause blurring of vision (eyesight). These errors occur when there is a problem in the refraction (bending) of light in the eye. Refractive errors are often caused by having an abnormal shape and texture of the cornea. The cornea is the clear outer layer on the front of the eye. PRK may be used to treat refractive errors, such as astigmatism, hyperopia, and myopia. Astigmatism is a condition where there is an uneven (not smooth) and curved cornea. Hyperopia , also called farsightedness, happens when the eyeball is too short or the cornea is slightly flat or less curved. Myopia , also known as nearsightedness, happens when the eyeball is too long or the cornea is too curved or rounded.
  • With PRK, the surface of the cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser. An excimer laser is a cold laser beam that uses ultraviolet light to change the front surface of the eye. Your caregiver precisely removes the epithelium (very thin layers of tissue) of the cornea with the excimer laser. Removing the corneal tissues changes the focus of the cornea so that light rays focus correctly. In nearsighted people, cornea that is too curved is flattened, while in farsighted people, a flat cornea is made more curved. PRK can also correct astigmatism by making the cornea smoother. By having a PRK, your vision may return to normal and you may get to see better without corrective lenses.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Ask your caregiver when you should return to have your eyes checked and the soft bandage contact lens removed. He may tell you to come back the day after your PRK. This is then followed by further checkups every 2 to 3 days until the epithelium heals.

Eye care:

The following may help take care of your eyes and eyesight:

  • Always have your eyes checked regularly for problems, especially if you have other health conditions. Ask your caregiver for more information on how often your vision should be examined.
  • Avoid the following until your eyes heal or your caregiver says it is OK.
    • Contact sports, such as basketball, football, or baseball.
    • Heavy exercise workouts, running, or skiing.
    • Flying in an airplane or skydiving.
    • Getting in swimming pools and hot tubs, or going scuba diving.
    • Rubbing your eyes for any reason.
    • Wearing eye make-up.
  • Eat healthy foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamins A and C may help your vision healthy. Foods such as sweet potatoes, apricots and carrots, are also rich in nutrients good for the eyes.
  • Practice good eye hygiene. Follow your caregiver's instructions for proper use of an eye shield, eyepatch or corrective lenses.
  • Rest your eyes especially after reading a lot. You may want to get plenty of sleep at night to relax your eyes. Ask your caregiver when and how much you need to rest your eyes.
  • Use good lighting and lights that reduce glare in your home, school, or workplace.
  • Wear sunglasses in the daytime to protect your eyes.


  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.
  • You have trouble removing your eyepatch.
  • You have new signs and symptoms, such as eye redness, discharge, or irritation, or flashing lights.
  • You have any questions or concerns about your surgery, eye condition, or care.


  • You feel a sudden, sharp pain in your eye.
  • You suddenly lose your eyesight.
  • Your eye problems become worse, such as seeing things more blurred.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.