Updated on  February 20, 2024
5 min read

How Long Does PRK Last?

7 sources cited
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Does PRK Last Longer Than LASIK? 

PRK doesn’t last longer than LASIK, and studies show the procedures have similar outcomes. They’re both permanent solutions for correcting refractive errors.7

PRK-corrected eyesight lasts a lifetime. However, someone who has undergone PRK surgery may still face the same age-related eye deterioration as the rest of the general population. 

Can You Have PRK Done More Than Once?

Yes, you can undergo the PRK procedure multiple times. 

As long as your cornea is healthy, you can have a PRK enhancement, which is similar to the initial procedure. It involves removing the epithelium and reshaping the cornea with an excimer laser.

PRK Success

Most people who undergo the PRK procedure see a significant improvement in their vision without glasses.

Eye experts say the procedure’s overall success rate is over 95 percent.5 Nearly 90 percent of people achieve a 20/20 vision, while 95% achieve at least 20/40 or better.

Candidacy 

You qualify for PRK laser eye surgery if you meet the following criteria:6

  • Are at least 18 years or older
  • Have healthy eyes
  • Are in good general health
  • Aren’t pregnant or nursing
  • Don’t have underlying diseases such as cataracts or diabetes that can affect surgery or the healing process

Benefits

  • Higher visual acuity (fixes blurry vision)
  • A good outcome for people who have thin corneas
  • Low risk of long-term complications
  • High chances of success (95 percent success rate)
  • Simpler than LASIK

Drawbacks

  • Longer recovery time than LASIK
  • Less predictable outcomes than LASIK
  • Risk of vision loss
  • Risk of dry eyes

Cost

The cost of PRK refractive surgery varies depending on the type of refractive error(s), facility, location, and the surgeon’s experience. 

Insurance companies consider PRK an elective surgery, so they don’t usually cover it. Expect to pay about $2,000 to $4,000 for both eyes.

What is Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)?

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is an FDA-approved refractive surgery for correcting the following refractive errors:

  • Myopia (Nearsightedness)
  • Hyperopia (Farsightedness)
  • Astigmatism (Irregularly-shaped cornea)
  • Presbyopia (Age-related farsightedness)

PRK surgery reshapes the cornea to improve how light focuses on the retina. The cornea is the clear front part of the eye. The retina is the photosensitive part of the eye that receives images and sends them to the brain. 

Differences Between PRK and LASIK

These refractive surgeries have two main differences:

  1. How the cornea is prepared. LASIK uses laser eye surgery technology to create a corneal flap exposing the underlying corneal tissue. PRK only removes the thin surface layer of the cornea known as the epithelium.
  2. The recovery times. PRK recovery is longer (1 to 4 weeks vs. just a few hours for most LASIK patients). 3

PRK is an excellent alternative to LASIK for people with thin corneas because the blade doesn’t cut deep into the corneal tissue.2 LASIK is only suitable for those with thick corneas. However, the corneal tissue shaping in PRK is similar to LASIK. 

Your surgeon will assess your eye health, overall health, visual acuity, and expectations to determine which option is best for you.

PRK Procedure Overview

Before PRK laser eye surgery, your doctor will conduct an eye exam to determine the extent of your refractive error and blurry vision, pupil size, corneal thickness, and your eye’s general health.

If your eye doctor recommends PRK, you’ll set up a date for the surgery. They’ll also give you preparation instructions. If you wear contact lenses, stop wearing them at least one week before surgery.

Also, make sure you organize reliable transportation on the day of surgery. You won’t be able to drive yourself home. 

Procedure Steps

  1. You will sit on a reclining chair, and your surgeon will prepare your eyes by administering local anesthesia. This will numb your eyes and help you relax.
  2. They’ll use an eyelid holder to keep your eyelids open during the surgery.
  3. With a blade, laser, and alcohol solution, your surgeon will remove the epithelium (outer layer of the cornea) and expose the inner tissues.
  4. The surgeon will then use a device known as an excimer laser to reshape your cornea.
  5. After laser treatment, your surgeon will administer anti-inflammatory eye drops, antibiotic drops, and steroid drops to prevent swelling, infection, and irritation.
  6. Lastly, they’ll place a clear bandage contact lens on your cornea to protect the area as it heals.

The procedure takes about 15 to 20 minutes for both eyes. 

Self-Care Tips (After Surgery)

Before you’re discharged, you’ll receive post-operative care instructions. Your surgeon will also prescribe antibiotic eye drops, lubricating eye drops, and pain relievers to ease discomfort during the healing process.

Most people feel better after a few days; a full recovery can take about a month. Your vision will stabilize 1 to 3 months after surgery. However, you might experience mild pain, discomfort, and/or blurry vision 24 to 72 hours after surgery. 

Avoid the following during the PRK recovery period:

  • Strenuous activities involving the eyes (such as reading and watching TV)
  • Contact sports such as football or boxing
  • Rubbing your eyes
  • Contact with water (because it has bacteria that can cause infections)

Make a follow-up appointment at least 24 hours after surgery. Your eye surgeon can monitor your eyes for signs of complications.

Summary

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a vision correction procedure for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (irregularly shaped cornea), and presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) that lasts indefinitely.

PRK is a great alternative to LASIK surgery; surgeons recommend it for people with thin corneas. The procedure is similar to LASIK. However, the flap creation processes and recovery timelines are the main differences.

Most PRK patients see a significant improvement in their vision. Eye experts say the procedure’s overall success rate is over 95 percent.5

PRK enhancement is also an option for those who don’t find the results satisfactory or in the case of visual regression.

Updated on  February 20, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. Somani S., Moshirfar M., and Patel B., “Photorefractive Keratectomy,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2021.
  2. Boughton B., “PRK: Feeling Better and Healing Faster,”  American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2008.
  3. LASIK eye surgery,” National Library of Medicine, 2022.
  4. Short A. et al., “Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) versus photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) for myopia,”  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2013.
  5. Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) Eye Surgery,” Cleveland Clinic, 06 Jul. 2021.
  6. Boyd K., “What Is Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)?,” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2017.
  7. Miraftab M. et al., “Two-year results of femtosecond assisted LASIK versus PRK for different severity of astigmatism,” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2017.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.