PRK Surgery Reviews and Prices

What Is PRK Eye Surgery?

PRK eye surgery is ideal for those who don't like glasses or contact lenses, or have problems with them. Perhaps this is due to cosmetic or confidence reasons but some people may find it hard to put contacts in. PRK may be an easier long term fix solution for them. It is simply a type of laser surgery which is used to correct short or long sightedness or astigmatism. The laser reshapes the cornea within the eye which improves eye sight.

The Pros And Cons Of The Procedure

PRK laser eye surgery patient

The good thing is that PRK is often very successful as around 80% of people have 20/20 vision without wearing glasses after the surgery. PRK costs about the same as LASIK eye surgery although the recovery time is longer with PRK.

On average, PRK patients have 80% of their best sight after a month and 95% to 100% after 3 months whereas it takes a shorter time with LASIK. There may be some discomfort for the first day or two with PRK and may experience sensitivity to light so it is important to rest and not over do it.

Stay away from heavy working, televisions and computers for a while. The procedure is done under a local anaesthetic and takes a very short time, about 10 mins per eye. You will be given a bandage contact lens after to wear for 3 or 4 days so the eye's surface can heal properly. It is likely that your vision will go up and down during the first few weeks but it should level out and improve after that. Your eyes may also be dry even if you don't feel like they are, although you can use eye drops to avoid an infection.


How Much Does PRK Surgery Cost?

Prices of the PRK laser surgery will depend on each clinic because it is a private medical procedure. However the average prices are about £600 to £800 per eye although it will probably be cheaper abroad and can be up to 35% less so this is also an option worth considering. It is important to remember that the lower costs overseas may increase the risk chances of complications and the UK tend to be much safer with proper regulations in place so just beware of this as you only have one set of eyes. Make sure you do your research carefully before committing to anything.


PRK Procedure

PRK is performed with an excimer laser, which uses a cool ultraviolet light beam to precisely remove tiny bits of tissue from the surface of the cornea in order to reshape it. When you reshape the cornea in the right way, it more precisely focuses light into the eye, providing clearer vision than before. PRK is a ‘walk in, walk out’ procedure that uses local anaesthetic eye drops so you are awake for the whole time, and actually only takes a matter of minutes to perform.

A speculum will be inserted into the eye to keep the eyelids open, and most people agree that this is probably the only discomfort they feel (minimally) throughout the procedure. The excimer laser, a form of ultraviolet laser, is positioned over the eye and you will be asked to look ahead at a control light to keep your eye steady. The laser then remoulds the curvature of the eye by exciting and disrupting the cellular structure of parts of the cornea, effectively destroying it. This can typically have the effect of flattening the arc of the lens.


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How It Differs from LASIK Surgery

Although the results are similar, PRK surgery differs from LASIK in a number of ways.

PRK laser eye surgery

Firstly, the recovery times associated with each procedure are different. Patients who have had PRK generally experience a slower recovery time, as it takes a few days for new epithelial cells to regenerate and form a new cover over the eye. This can also lead to haziness and lack of visual acuity in the days immediately following treatment. LASIK patients tend to have less discomfort and a lower possibility of infection compared with those who have undergone PRK. Their vision is also quicker to stabilize. PRK does offer some advantages over LASIK however, namely the absence of a need to create a corneal flap. This not only means the entire thickness of the underlying stroma can be treated, but it also means this procedure can be used to treat those who have a cornea that is too thin to withstand LASIK.

What To Expect Before Surgery

Before your surgery, you will have a consultation with your doctor to go over what can be expected on the day, as well as anticipated results.

Due to the specialised nature of the procedure, it is important to select an eye surgeon that has ample experience carrying out PRK surgery. During your preoperative consultation, you will also undergo a thorough eye exam to confirm that you are in fact a suitable candidate for laser eye corrective surgery. Tests will check things such as the moisture level of your eyes (to evaluate the likelihood of you developing dry eyes following the surgery), the size of your pupils, your corneal thickness, and the corneal curvature. The latter of these tests will be carried out using a special corneal mapping device. Things such as your overall health and medical history will also be evaluated.

Prior to surgery, you will be asked to stop wearing contact lenses, as they can change the shape of your cornea.


Aftercare And Recovery

If you are having both eyes operated on, the surgeon will usually give you time to rest between each eye. A lot of patients choose to only have one eye treated, or wait until the first eye has healed sufficiently before getting the second one done. Bandage contact lenses are usually applied after the surgery and should be kept on for around a week. These will aid recovery and reduce the risk of infection.

It is advisable to avoid swimming, contact sport or eye makeup for at least the first week after PRK laser eye surgery, and when washing try to avoid splashing the eyes as much as possible. It is common to have the sensation of dry eyes or to feel irritation in the treated eye(s) for the first couple of days, but these symptoms soon subside. If you feel you have sustained any further complications or still suffer from dry eyes a substantial time after the surgery, you should consult you optician or ophthalmologist at once.

Long-term Results

PRK laser surgery has an excellent success rate, and so is often the preferred method of vision correction under certain circumstances.

Although the method may differ to that of LASIK, the results of PRK are on par. Most patients will achieve 20/20 vision after undergoing PRK surgery, with the vast majority of patients achieving 20/40 visual acuity or higher. In some cases, patients may have to wear prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses for certain tasks, but their prescription will be substantially lower compared with that prior to their surgery. Complications are rare, but can occur as they can with any form of laser corrective surgery. Such complications include glare (such as starbursts or halos) and infection.

Despite the high success rate, it is possible that you may have to undergo further surgery to enhance your vision after having PRK. This can be to correct the gradual worsening of eyesight that can occur naturally with age. You may also have to wear reading glasses if you succumb to presbyopia, a common, age-related loss of near vision that frequently occurs in individuals over 40 years old.

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