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PRK Recovery Tips: What to Expect After Refractive Surgery

We at Chicago Cornea Consultants™, Ltd. offer different treatment options to meet the needs of our patients. This includes PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), a refractive surgery procedure that reshapes the corneas. This is an ideal alternative to LASIK surgery for patients who have issues with corneal thinness or corneal contour that makes them poor candidates for LASIK.

Like LASIK, PRK is effective for treating nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism. We’d like to discuss the recovery process following PRK right now.

How PRK Differs from LASIK

Whereas LASIK involves the creation of an epithelial flap on the topmost part of the cornea, PRK involves the removal of the epthelium in order to reshape the cornea. This improves the way that light passing through the eyes focuses on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue located at the back of the eye.

How is PRK healing different from LASIK healing?

PRK healing will be a few days longer than LASIK healing, and patients may experience a bit more discomfort simply given the nature of the surgery. The additional days required for recovery account for the regeneration of new epithelial cells.

How long is the entire healing period following PRK?

The healing timeline is roughly the same as LASIK. Patients will generally take about a week to heal from the basic side effects of PRK, which we will cover in brief below.

Once the initial healing period is done, the patient’s vision will gradually improve over the course of the next few months. Certain side effects will persist for the weeks and months ahead, and we will be sure to provide full post-op instructions during the consultation process.

What to Expect in the First Few Days

During the first few days after PRK, patients will experience issues with light sensitivity, especially when outdoors in the daylight or in brightly lit rooms or when near harsh light sources. Halos and glare may appear around bright objects, as will starbursts around light sources. Itchiness and discomfort are also common in the first days after PRK.

Rubbing the eyes and getting water in the eyes must be avoided as you heal in order to prevent infection or damaging the regenerating epithelial cells. Patients will be asked to wear eyeshields during sleep in order to prevent actual rubbing or scratching of the eyes in those crucial early days of healing.

Protect Your Eyes from the Sun and Irritants

When outdoors, patients should wear sunglasses or a hat with a brim in order to block the harsh sunlight and prevent discomfort from light sensitivity. It’s also a good idea for patients to avoid dry, smoky, or dusty environments as these will often trigger attacks of dry eye.

Night Vision Issues: Be Wary During Nighttime

Night vision will be impaired following PRK as patients heal. In those early days after PRK, patients should get driven at night or rely on mass transportation. In the weeks that follow, patients should be cautious as they travel at night until their night vision gradually improves.

Carry Liquid Tears with You at All Times

Dry eye is a common side effect following any refractive surgery procedure given the changes to the cornea. This is why patients need to carry liquid tears with them at all times. This will allow patients to address attacks of dry eye as soon as they occur.

Attend All Follow-Up Visits

As you recover from PRK, there will be multiple follow-up visits to monitor your progress. Be sure to attend all of these follow-ups as they can make a major difference with regard to overall surgical results. In addition, patients are encouraged to ask questions as they arise in between these follow-ups, particularly in case of pressing eye care needs.

Learn More About PRK and Other Laser Eye Surgery Options

If you would like more information about PRK as well as other laser eye surgery procedures, be sure to
contact our laser eye care specialists today. The entire team at Chicago Cornea Consultants™, Ltd. looks forward to your visit and helping you achieve excellent vision and optimal eye health.

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