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Photorefractive Keratectomy


Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is laser surgery to correct refractive errors of the eye. Refractive errors are common eye disorders that cause blurred vision. These errors happen when there is a problem in the refraction (bending) of light in the eye. They are often caused by an abnormal shape and texture of the cornea. The cornea is the clear outer layer of your eye. PRK uses a laser to reshape your cornea or make it smoother. This helps light to focus better in the eye, which leads to clearer vision.

Lateral cut-away of the Right Eye


The week before your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • You may need to stop wearing your soft contact lenses at least 1 week before your procedure. You may need to stop wearing your gas-permeable contact lenses at least 3 weeks before your procedure.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. You may also need a series of eye tests. Talk to your healthcare provider about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The day of your procedure:

  • Do not wear makeup or lotion on your face.
  • Your healthcare provider may give you medicine to help you stay calm and relaxed during the procedure.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen:

  • Your healthcare provider will place eyedrops into your eyes. These include antibiotic eyedrops to help prevent infection and numbing drops to prevent pain. Your eyelashes and the area around your eyes will be cleaned. A speculum (eyelid holder) will gently hold your eyelids open to keep you from blinking. The laser will be programmed to correct your refraction error.
  • Your healthcare provider will remove the epithelium of your cornea with the laser. The epithelium is a thin layer of tissue that covers and protects the cornea. He will tell you to focus on a target light while he reshapes your cornea. It is important to keep your gaze focused on the light so the laser can work correctly. After your healthcare provider reshapes your cornea, he will give you additional antibiotic and numbing eyedrops. A soft bandage contact lens may be placed in each of your eyes to help the corneas heal.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room where you can rest. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When healthcare providers see that you are okay, you will be able to go home. A bandage and protective clear plastic eye shield may be used to cover your eye. This will help remind you to not rub or touch your eye.


  • You have a fever.
  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You have an eye infection.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You feel sudden, sharp eye pain.
  • You suddenly lose your vision.
  • Your eye problems, such as blurred vision, become worse.


You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves or blood vessels may be damaged during the procedure. You may need another eye surgery. It may take longer than expected for your cornea to heal. You may have increased pain. Your vision may be worse than before the procedure. You may develop glaucoma (increased pressure), cataracts (clouding of the lens), or long-term inflammation. You may lose your vision. You may have dry eyes. Scars may form on your corneas. You may have other eye problems, such as permanent glare, haze, or halos around lights at night.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.