Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is a laser treatment applied to the surface of the eye.  PRK was the first laser vision correction procedure in the US.  Although LASIK has become more popular due to the quicker recovery of vision and minimal discomfort, PRK remains as a treatment option and it may be preferable to LASIK for certain individuals.
 
VISX Star S4 IR Excimer laser
 
Today, PRK (also referred to as Advanced Surface Treatment) provides visual results as good as LASIK at 6 months. Because visual recovery is slower than LASIK, many patients choose to have one eye done at a time (usually about 1 month apart).  PRK has the advantage of avoiding complications related to making the corneal flap used in LASIK (including late complications like flap dislocation from trauma and optical aberrations caused by the flap itself) - it is truely "bladeless" surgery.  PRK is also advantageous in patients with irregular or thin corneas, very dry eyes, or patients with a dystrophy of the anterior cornea (such as map-dot-fingerprint dystrophy).  It is also preferred for individuals at risk for corneal trauma that could dislocate a LASIK flap (contact sports, boxing, etc.). Finally, PRK is often a preferred procedure for refractive touch up after cataract surgery (to reduce dependency on glasses) or retreatment after prior LASIK.
 
PRK surgery involves removing the surface skin of the central part of the cornea.  The VISX Star S4 IR Excimer laser can then reshape the surface of the eye without creating heat.  This change in the surface curvature affects how light is focused onto the retina.  For significant treatments or re-treatments, some surgeons apply Mitomycin C, a chemical to decrease the long term risk of scarring (this is not an FDA studied use for this drug so it is considered an off-label use). Long term visual results with PRK are excellent.
 
PRK is not generally covered by insurance as it is considered cosmetic surgery.  You can also use your Flex Spending Account to help cover the additional cost of PRK; this saves you money by using pretax dollars.   Financing can often be arranges for those who qualify by Care Credit. Contact us today to learn more about payment options.