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LASIK, PRK, and RLE

Photorefractive Keratectomy

Because your eyes and vision needs are unique, another refractive surgery might give you better results than LASIK. At Oregon Eye Specialists, we also offer photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and refractive lens exchange (RLE).

These refractive surgeries are different from LASIK, but also safe and effective. Our experienced physicians will discuss your options with you.

About Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

Before LASIK became popular, photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) was the most common laser eye surgery. In the United States, about 20 percent of people who choose vision correction have PRK.

The PRK Procedure

In PRK, the outer layer of corneal tissue is gently removed. Next, your doctor reshapes the underlying cornea with a laser and applies a contact lens to protect the new surface. The outer tissue layer grows back within a few days.

Like LASIK, having PRK is not painful. Your eye is anesthetized with numbing drops so you don’t feel discomfort during the procedure. Afterwards, most people have only minimal discomfort, though your doctor might prescribe medication for you during recovery. You see your doctor regularly in the first weeks after PRK to make sure your eyes are healing correctly.

After PRK, your eye takes a little longer to heal than from LASIK, but the results are equally as good. Plan to rest, take time off work and avoid vigorous activities for at least a week. We’ll give you the information you need to care for your eye after surgery, including a number to call with any questions.

How is PRK different from LASIK?

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) and LASIK use different techniques to reshape the cornea.

  • In PRK, the outer layer is gently removed, and a laser reshapes the underlying tissue.
  • In LASIK, a laser creates a flap in the outer corneal layer. The flap is lifted, another laser reshapes the tissue underneath and the flap is replaced.

After PRK, you can expect to:

  • Wear a bandage (protective) contact lens for approximately a week
  • Have more post-surgery appointments
  • Wait about 6 months for an enhancement (additional treatment) if you need one
  • Take more time off of work

After LASIK, most people:

  • Don’t wear a contact lens
  • Experience a faster recovery time
  • Wait 3 to 6 months for an enhancement if they need one

In other ways, PRK is very similar to LASIK. Both procedures:

  • Can improve nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea, allowing better vision without glasses or contacts.
  • Use the same laser. We use the latest technology, the Allegretto Wave System.
  • Use eye drops for a week to prevent infection and irritation.
  • Yield approximately the same results. Almost all patients see 20/40 or better without glasses or contacts after refractive surgery.

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Next: Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) »

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