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Photorefractive Keratectomy


What is 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

Why do I need PRK?

PRK is used to treat refractive errors, such as the following:

  • Astigmatism: The cornea is uneven and curved. PRK smooths and reshapes the cornea to correct astigmatism.
  • Hyperopia: The cornea is slightly flat or less curved. Hyperopia is also called farsightedness. PRK makes the cornea more curved to correct hyperopia.
  • Myopia: The cornea is too curved or rounded. Myopia is also called nearsightedness. PRK flattens the cornea to correct myopia.

What tests are needed before PRK?

  • Eye measurement tests:
    • Computerized corneal topography: A camera and computer are used to take pictures of your eyes. This helps caregivers measure the size, shape, and health of your cornea.
    • Keratometry: This test measures how curved your cornea is.
    • Pachymetry: This test measures how thick your cornea is.
    • Pupillometry: This test measures the size of your pupil.
  • Visual acuity test: You caregiver uses charts with letters, pictures, or shapes to check your vision. He may ask you to read eye charts at a distance. You may need to cover an eye to check the opposite eye.
  • Slit-lamp test: Your caregiver uses a microscope with a bright light to look into your eyes. He may also check how well you produce tears.
  • Refraction tests: Your caregiver checks how light bends in your eyes. You will be asked to look at a chart through a device that has lenses of different strengths. You will be asked if the letter or picture is clear as he changes the lenses.

What are the risks of PRK?

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.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You cannot make it to your follow-up appointment.
  • You accidently rub or touch your eye.
  • You see flashing lights.
  • Your eyes are red or drain pus.
  • You have any questions or concerns about your procedure, condition, or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

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

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. 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.

© 2015 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.