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PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratotomy)

At Denver Eye Surgeons, our doctors perform PRK eye surgery as well as LASIK. You can learn more about PRK on this page. If you have been doing some LASIK research, you may come across a term called PRK. PRK is a form of laser vision correction that was actually FDA approved before LASIK eye surgery and may have potential benefits for you.

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PRK is very similar to LASIK. Both of these eye surgery techniques are referred to as refractive surgery or vision corrective surgery. PRK was the first laser refractive surgery approved by the FDA, receiving final approval in 1995. Much like LASIK eye surgery, PRK is a safe refractive procedure that utilizes the excimer laser to reshape the cornea and improve nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The amount of tissue reshaped depends on the severity of the prescription. Once the cornea has flattened, light rays are more easily focused upon the retina.

PRK is an effective alternative to LASIK for many potential refractive surgery patients. PRK results are very similar to LASIK results. In general, PRK patients will have a somewhat slower recovery period. At your free consultation, your surgeon will discuss with you whether LASIK or PRK is your better option.

PRK differs from LASIK in that no flap of tissue is created prior to resculpting the cornea with the ALLEGRETTO WAVE excimer laser. In LASIK, this flap creation does enable a faster recovery period. Sometimes PRK is a better option than LASIK for a patient if the cornea is too thin or irregularly shaped where flap creation may be relatively unsafe. The visual outcomes and results between LASIK and PRK are very similar.

The PRK (Photo-Refractive Keratotomy) Procedure

The procedure consists of two short steps. It is performed once the eye has been numbed with anesthetic drops. A clip will be positioned to hold your eyelids back just like in LASIK so that your eyelids will not interrupt the actual surgery.


First, your surgeon will delicately remove the outer cornea cells. This usually takes less than 1 minute. Second, the excimer laser treatment is performed which reshapes the cornea. The average excimer laser treatment takes 7 seconds. Your ophthalmologist will then place a bandage contact lens on the eye for improved comfort along with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic eye drops.

Post-operatively, most patients are examined at the one day, one week, one month and three months following the PRK procedure, just like LASIK. The bandage contact lens can usually be removed on the second postoperative visit when the epithelium (skin surface cells) is healed. Most patients will only require eye drops to control healing during the first 6 weeks.

For those patients that don't qualify for LASIK or PRK due to having a highly nearsighted prescription or corneas that are too thin, we offer the option of the Visian ICL, or clear lens extraction with intraocular lens (IOL) implantation, both with monofocal and multifocal premium IOLs. Please feel free to visit our premium lens implants page to learn more.

Finding a PRK Eye Surgeon in Denver

Not all LASIK surgeons have the skills to perform LASIK, PRK, ICL, or IOLs. Make sure to consult with one of our well-established eye surgeons who will help determine the best vision correction procedure for you. If you are seeking a Denver PRK eye specialist, we invite you to come to our eye care facility for a complimentary consultation. Our surgeons will determine your laser vision candidacy and answer any of your questions. Please review the vision correction candidate page on this ophthalmology website so that you learn more about what to expect for that eye exam.

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