Photo Refractive Keratectomy, or PRK for short, was one of the first forms of laser eye surgery available in the UK. Suitable for patients with thin corneas, PRK can be used to address problems of far and near-sightedness.
Standard PRK treatment will begin with anaesthetic drops being placed in the patient's eye. A laser is then used to remove the outer layer of the cornea (which will regrow naturally within approximately seven days), to enable the surgeon to access the cornea itself.
The cornea will then be reshaped by the laser to improve it's ability to focus. A protective contact lens will be placed over the treated eye to prevent infection and to aid the healing process. Unlike other forms of corrective surgery, it can take as long at ten weeks before you see the full benefits of the PRK procedure.
Recovery time from PRK is a little longer than with LASIK or LASEK procedures. But the nature of the recovery period is the same as the other forms of eye correction. Time off work is essential to allow your eyes to recover. Contact sports should be avoided for at least a short period. Talk to your eye specialist to find out more, and always adhere to their advice.
Risks and side effects
The risks of PRK are no greater but no less than other forms of laser eye surgery. The chances of serious side effects or complications arising are low but sometimes things do go wrong. The most common side effects of PRK include infection, decreased night vision, blurred vision, and thinning of the cornea. Many PRK patients suffer from dry eyes but this can be effectively treated with eye drops.
Cost and prices
As with all form of private medical treatment, prices of PRK will vary from clinic to clinic, sometimes quite considerable. But on average, PRK costs in the region of £600 to £800 per eye. You can choose to have treatment abroad where costs can be 35% less than in the UK.
However, as with all forms of medical treatment the lower costs available abroad must be balanced by the potential increased risk of complications from having procedures in a foreign country. Remember, you only get one set of eyes.
NHS, private or abroad
As PRK is used to treat the relatively minor conditions of nearsightedness and farsightedness, it's unlikely to be offered in your local NHS hospital. Such eyesight conditions don't pose a serious risk to you health, therefore the NHS does not view PRK as essential medical treatment. However, PRK is available at private eye clinics up and down the UK. You can also choose to have the procedure abroad as most developed countries now offer the treatment.
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