Surgery on the eye’s surface
PRK, Photorefractive keratectomy, was the first laser eye surgery method, beginning in the late 1980s. Thousands of patients were treated with PRK before the invention of LASIK. PRK/LASEK procedures continue to be an option for people with mild nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism as well as those who have other eye conditions.
Some people choose PRK/LASEK over LASIK, despite the longer recovery period and discomfort after surgery, to avoid the flap. PRK/LASEK procedures also tend to be the most economic option for refractive laser surgery.
PRK is often thought to be synonymous with LASEK, but they slightly differ in the first step. Both surgeries remove the outer top layer of cells (epithelium) on the eye with an alcohol solution to expose the sub-layer of the cornea to the laser. In PRK, this layer is completely removed. In LASEK, it is pushed to the side and put back on the eye after surgery.
When the eye is exposed, a laser reshapes the front of the eye so that light passing through is focused properly onto the back of the eye. Finally, a protective bandage lens is placed over the eye until the epithelium grows back, usually within a few days. Full vision recovery takes approximately one month or longer and is longer than alternative Laser Vision Correction methods.