Surface treatment with an Excimer laser, known as photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), enables the surgeon to remove fine layers of corneal tissue by vaporization, in a programmed and controlled manner. The outer surface of the cornea is sculpted to alter its refractive power.
The safety and effectiveness of PRK are proven. However, it involves scraping the epithelium, which further to the treatment will take 2 or 3 days to cover the surface of the cornea, a painful period. The healing of the surface layers of the cornea is slow and varies from patient to patient. Functional visual acuity is recovered after 3 to 5 days and stabilized visual acuity after 3 weeks to several months.
PRK enables mild and moderate myopias to be corrected (up to -5 dioptres), as well as hyperopia and astigmatism. This technique is more expensive than RK and has been losing ground to LASIK since 1996.
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