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What is PRK? What is LASEK?

PRK, or photorefractive keratectomy, is a laser procedure for the treatment of myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism with the excimer laser. A computer generated, cold laser beam is used to precisely remove and sculpt corneal tissue at the microscopic level. Currently, PRK is being used to treat between 1.0 and 12.0 diopters of myopia (with up to 4.0 diopters of astigmatism) and 1.0 to 6.0 diopters of hyperopia (with up to 4.0 diopters of astigmatism). The PRK procedure itself usually takes only 1 to 2 minutes to perform.

The eye is anesthetized with topical drops, a lid retainer is placed to hold the eyelids back, PRK is performed, and then a bandage contact lens is placed on the eye. LASEK involves the loosening of the top corneal surface (the epithelium) with a mild alcohol solution prior to laser ablation. The intact epithelium is rolled off center then returned to its original position at the end of the procedure. There is usually no discomfort with the treatment itself, but there may be mild to moderate discomfort for 1 to 2 days following the PRK, because of the healing taking place on the outer layer of the cornea. This is usually controlled with topical or oral medications.


PRK treatment steps

Step 1: Layer preparation

A diluted alcohol solution is applied to the cornea to dissolve the epithelial layer.

Step 2: Layer removal

The epithelial layer is then removed or moved to the side using a manual instrument. 

Step 3: Corneal sculpting

An excimer laser sculpts the corneal tissue within a matter of seconds to correct the refractive error.

Step 4: Eye protection

Finally, a protective bandage lens is placed over the eye until the epithelium heals within a few days.