Photorefractive keratectomy, better known as PRK, has become a popular alternative vision correction surgery for those who aren’t a good fit for LASIK. The process involves reshaping the cornea with a laser, so light entering the eye is focused on the retina to produce clear images. PRK surgery time is usually about 10 minutes per eye and involves numbing drops for a painless experience.
But what happens afterward? What does the recovery process look like in the following days and weeks? If a PRK surgery is in your future, our timeline will give you a clear idea of what to expect after the procedure.
First Few Days
As with most surgeries, the first few days are the most critical period in the recovery process. With PRK, this is when the epithelium regrows to cover your cornea. To help promote this healing and protect your eyes, your doctor will place a bandage contact lens in your eye. This contact will need to be worn for about five days after your surgery.
You may also experience:
- Sore or scratchy eyes: You must not rub your eyes while they are healing. You may want to use over-the-counter pain medicine for any discomfort.
- Halos or glare around lights at night: An eye mask can be used while sleeping if this is bothersome.
- Dryness: You will receive eye drops to keep them lubricated.
You will need to schedule a checkup with your surgeon a few days after your procedure to see how your healing progresses.
Based on the results of your post-surgery checkup, your doctor will provide you with guidelines to address any complications and make sure you’re comfortable as you continue to heal. In general, you may continue to experience:
- Sensitivity to light: Minimize sun exposure during the first week.
- Glare or other night vision issues: Sunglasses may help with this issue if you must be out past dark.
- Soreness: Remember to avoid rubbing your eyes, so you don’t damage your cornea.
The good news is your eyes will make the most progress during this time, so you should see a dramatic improvement in your eyesight.
Weeks Two to Four
Healing should have progressed enough by this point that you can drive safely and return to work. Most visual side effects should be gone by now, though occasional glares or halos are not uncommon for the first month. You will likely continue to use prescription eyedrops that keep these symptoms at bay as the corneal tissue heals. However, if you have any concerning or worsening symptoms, you should contact your surgeon.
Around this time, you can also begin to add back in activities that were limited in the first week, including wearing makeup or face lotion and getting your hair colored. For the first couple of weeks, though, you should continue to avoid:
- High-impact or contact sports
- Swimming or hot tubs
- Dusting or working around dirt that could affect the cornea’s healing
Side effects will continue to diminish during this time, with halos disappearing and glare becoming less of an issue. Night vision should also improve, though you may still feel occasional dryness. Your surgeon will let you know how often you need to be seen based on progressing your healing.
By this time, you should have fully recovered from PRK surgery and met with your surgeon multiple times to evaluate the procedure’s success. Your vision will likely have reached maximum improvement. PRK typically results in 20/20 or better vision without needing glasses or contacts!
Visionary Eye Doctors is at the forefront of PRK technology. Ready to find out if you’re a candidate? Call our office today at 301-867-7920 to schedule a consultation with our expert surgeons. You can also schedule an appointment online.