Overview of Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and Phototherapeutic Keratectomy (PTK)

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Photorefractive Keractectomy

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a type of laser eye surgery for visual correction of conditions such as mild cases of nearsightedness. In this procedure, the eye surgeon reshapes your cornea (the clear part in front of the eye) so light can travel to the back of your eye. The primary advantages include faster recovery, no hospital stay, and the high success in correcting nearsightedness.

Some disadvantages include non-guarantee of success, possible side effects such as halos around images, and expense without the guarantee of insurance reimbursement by your health insurance carrier.

Prepare for your surgery with proper eye testing, including the measurement of pupil dilation and confirmation of no major pre-existing condition such as a bleeding disorder. During eye surgery, you will be placed under local anesthesia, with the eye surgeon using the laser for approximately 15 total minutes for each eye. After surgery, you will have a bandage contact lens applied, which will be worn for a prescribed time period until your eyes have healed.

Phototherapeutic Keratectomy

Phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK) is another type of laser eye surgery. It uses an excimer laser to treat visual disorders by removing corneal tissue. The most common reasons for this laser eye procedure are corneal scarring, corneal erosions, and corneal dystrophies.

The advantages include no hospital stay and help for patients who do not respond to traditional medical treatment, such as topical eye ointments. A minor disadvantage is a course of topical steroids prescribed to be used up to 3 times daily.

Before the surgery, you will receive a detailed medical examination to rule out any major problems. During the laser surgery, a topical anesthesia will be used while each eyelid is separated and the laser is used on each corneal surface. However, this is a very delicate procedure and the end of this laser surgery requires precise judgment by your eye surgeon. For instance, the surgeon will check if the cornea is smooth with clear opacity before ending the laser session.

After surgery, each eye is patched after eye ointments/drops are used and oral pain medication is provided to you. Additional medical appointments after surgery may be require multiple visits to determine the surgical success.

Both photorefractive keratectomy and phototherapeutic keratectomy provide patients with effective treatment options to reduce vision problems.


The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. Always check with your physician before following any advice you have read on Brighthub.com.