PRK Recovery: What Patients Can Expect as They Heal

by: Advanced Laser | December 22, 2014

A woman's eye highlighted by a red digital targetAt the Advanced Laser Center of Oklahoma, we offer comprehensive vision correction with a focus on helping patients see clearly and have healthy eyes. One great option for treatment is PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), a refractive surgery option and LASIK alternative. PRK involves the removal of the outermost layer of the cornea, which is known as the epithelium. With the epithelium removed, the LASIK surgeon is then able to use a surgical laser to reshape and recontour the cornea itself. By doing this, light passes through the eye and focuses on the retina properly, enhancing/improving vision in the process.

A number of patients ask us about the healing process after PRK. We’d like to cover that in brief right now.

How does PRK healing compare to LASIK recovery?

Overall results of PRK are comparable to LASIK, but the healing time does take longer since the cells of the epithelium require time to grow back and heal. Generally this means a few more days of recovery time when compared to LASIK.

What to Expect In the First Day After Surgery

In the first day or so after PRK, patients can expect to experience soreness and discomfort around the eyes. It’s important that patients get a lot of rest so that they can focus on healing and fully recovering at a faster rate.

Common Side Effects Early On

Some common side effects experienced in the early stages of healing after PRK include:

  • Soreness
  • Itchiness of the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Poor night vision
  • Glare and halos
  • Dry eye syndrome

To avoid major discomfort and other issues with serious side effects and potential complications, it’s important that patients wear sunglasses and a hat with a brim while outdoors in the sun. It’s also helpful for patients to carry lubricating eye drops/liquid tears with them at all times to address any attacks of dry eye should they occur.

Activities to Avoid In the Days Ahead

During the first days of PRK recovery, patients are asked not to rub their eyes as this can have negative repercussions on healing and could lead to infection. Special goggles are usually provided for patients to be worn during sleep in order to prevent accidental touching of the eyes.

Reading, using the computer or smart phone, watching television, and any other activities that can cause eyestrain or eye fatigue should also be avoided for the first day or so. Strenuous physical activities and heavy lifting should also be avoided until told otherwise.

Driving at night should be avoided since night vision and contrast sensitivity is negatively affected after refractive surgery. Be sure to use mass transit or get rides from loved ones or co-workers to avoid potential accidents.

Patients should generally stay away from arid, dusty, or smoky environments, and they should avoid having their eyes in direct sunlight as well.

What to Expect by the End of the First Week

By the end of the first week after PRK, patients should notice reduced soreness and discomfort of the eyes. They will have returned to the vision correction center for a follow-up visit by this time in order to check for general recovery progress and monitor for complications.

What to Expect in the Weeks Ahead

In the weeks ahead, patients will notice their vision improve and issues with light sensitivity and night vision become less pronounced. Additional follow-up visits should be attended as scheduled to ensure full healing and recovery. Patients should continue to have lubricating eye drops with them at all times in order to address any dry eye attacks.

Schedule a Consultation at the Advanced Laser Center of Oklahoma

For more information about PRK and your many other options for laser vision correction, we encourage you to contact our advanced eye care center today. We at the Advanced Laser Center of Oklahoma look forward to your visit and helping you make the best choices when it comes to eye care treatments.