LASEK and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)  

Overview | Before | During | After | Benefits | Safety and Side Effects | Cost | FAQs 

 

LASEK (laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) are types of advanced laser eye surgery. These treatments can be used to treat conditions like myopia (short sightedness), hyperopia (long-sightedness), presbyopia (reading vision loss) and astigmatism. They are usually recommended when non-surgical options are no longer effective or for people that are not suitable candidates for other types of laser vision correction procedures, such as LASIK 

Read on to learn more about LASEK and PRK laser eye surgery, what they involve and the benefits of each of these treatment options.  

What is LASEK? 

LASEK involves using one laser to correct your vision. It may be a suitable option for you if you have a thin cornea or a medical condition that can make laser eye surgery more challenging. During this procedure, the outer layer of the cornea, also known as the epithelium, is first softened and removed with alcohol. This enables the laser to access the inner layers of the cornea to reshape it and correct your vision.  

What is PRK? 

PRK is another common type of laser vision correction. In PRK, the laser is used to reshape your cornea to correct your prescription.  

Trans-PRK is a form of PRK surgery where the same laser is used to remove both the epithelium and the inner layers of the cornea, called the stroma, in order to reshape it. This is often described as the non-touch technique. At Oculase, we prefer to use this technique, rather than LASEK.  

Hear how Trans-PRK with monovision helped this Oculase patient: Patricia, Royal College, Trans-PRK with Monovision for Presbyopia. 

LASEK/ Trans-PRK vs LASIK 

LASEK and Trans-PRK are similar procedures as they involve using one laser and applying it to the cornea, without creating a flap for access. In LASIK eye surgery, a flap is first created in your cornea for access. Two lasers are used to reshape your lens to correct your vision, then the flap is gently repositioned. 

Video FAQs

Before 

We will provide preparation advice before your procedure, which will depend on your condition and circumstances. In general, you may be instructed to:  

  • Stop wearing contact lenses and wear your glasses instead for 2 weeks prior to surgery 
  • Stop using eye makeup, lotions or creams for three days before and on the day of the surgery 
  • Take a shower and wear clean and comfortable clothes on the day of the surgery. We usually advice you not to shower for 2-3 days after the surgery. 
  • Eat a light meal on the day of the surgery 
  • Arrange for someone to drive you back home as your vision may be temporarily blurry after the surgery 
  • Bring UV protective sunglasses to wear after the surgery to help reduce any photosensitivity (sensitivity to light)  

If you have any questions before the procedure, our specialists are here to help and reassure you. 

During  

During the procedure, your eyes will be kept open with the help of specially designed clips. Watch an animation of the procedure here:  How is PRK performed?

After  

After the surgery, a bandage contact lens is applied to your eye, which is usually removed after 4-7 days. 

We will also give you specific aftercare advice which can include: 

  • Use your eye drops as prescribed. For the first few days after surgery, you may need someone to help you with the drops. 
  • Do not take a shower or wash your hair to avoid getting any water into your eyes until your bandage contact lens is removed. However, you can take a bath.  
  • Avoid driving until your doctor tells you it is okay to do so 
  • Wear your UV-protective sunglasses for the first few days after surgery and every time you are out in bright sunlight for at least six months after surgery 
  • Avoid wearing eye make-up for one week after the surgery to reduce the risk of infection 
  • Avoid swimming or heavy exercise for two weeks after the surgery to allow your eyes to heal 
  • Do not touch or rub your eyes for at least two weeks after the surgery as this can affect the healing process. You may gently dab around your eyelids if needed.  

Benefits  

About 95% of people achieve vision that meets driving standards without glasses within 1 week after surgery. After the initial healing period, you will be able to do most activities without glasses and over several weeks your vision will continue to get sharper.  

As there is no flap created for these types of laser vision correction procedures, there are no flap-related risks or complications.  

If you do contact sports or if your job puts you at a higher risk of trauma (like a police officer or army personnel), these procedures may be more suitable.  

You may also be able to return to work 4-5 days after your surgery. This is dependent on your job, and we will advise you accordingly.  

Safety and side effects  

Most people make an excellent recovery after LASEK or PRK. However, the recovery process is slightly slower than LASIK. Usually, there is some pain after the procedure as the surface of the cornea heals but we will prescribe some painkillers to help. The pain generally subsides within 2-3 days after surgery although may take longer in some people. 

The visual recovery is also slower during the healing process. Once the pain settles and the eyes have healed, you will be able to see much more clearly. This can take a few days. The vision you will achieve is similar at about 1 week after surgery regardless of whether you have LASEK, trans-PRK or LASIK.

You may experience some temporary side effects. These can include: 

While these side effects might seem concerning, most people experience no lasting effects. Modern laser technology has also reduced the risk of them significantly. At Oculase, we use the latest laser technology to ensure the best outcomes, but it is also important to follow our preparation and aftercare guidance as best as you can.  

Cost  

At Oculase, our video consultations for laser eye surgery are free. The price of your recommended procedure can vary depending on its complexity, but usually our prices for laser eye surgery (LASEK/ Trans-PRK/ LASIK) start from £1,900 per eye. If you have a complex prescription, prices may start at £2,450 per eye.  

Contact our clinic to discuss how you could use your private medical insurance.  

Alternatives to LASEK and PRK laser eye surgery  

Alternative surgical procedures to LASEK and PRK can include LASIK, implantable contact lens surgery (ICL) or lens replacement surgery (RLE). ICL or RLE may be recommended for people above the age of 50 or in those with extreme prescriptions of myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism. We will discuss the procedures that will be right for you at your consultation.  

Book an appointment  

At Oculase, our specialist ophthalmologists will speak to you about your symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. They will examine your eye health and they may do various eye tests to determine your diagnosis and recommended treatment options. If you are considering LASEK or PRK, book an appointment with us. We will develop your treatment plan with you and support you through your treatment journey.  

Book an appointment today. 

FAQs

    PRK and LASEK are both surface-based laser treatments. This means that the laser is applied to the surface of your cornea (the front part of your eye), and it is also used to reshape your cornea to correct your vision. However, the method used to remove the epithelium, or the surface layer of the eye, is slightly different, and they will be suitable for different people. 

    No, it is not a painful procedure as numbing anaesthetic eye drops are used in both eyes. However, after the procedure, the eyes can be painful for 2-3 days as the epithelium heals. You will be given painkillers and drops to help you with the pain. 

    There are several factors that can determine your suitability for LASEK or PRK. If you have thin corneas, you may be better suited for PRK rather than LASIK. Soldiers, police officers, or athletes, such as boxers, may also be better suited to PRK. This is due to the increased risk of trauma, which may cause flap dislodgement if LASIK was used; in PRK, no flap is created. 

    Additionally, you should be 18 years or older with a stable eye prescription. Your corneas need to be healthy, and the overall health of your eye must be generally good.  

    You may be unsuitable for PRK if you have: 

    • Severe dry eyes 
    • Skin or other diseases that can affect healing 
    • Corneal disease 
    • Keratoconus 
    • Advanced glaucoma 
    • Cataract affecting vision 
    • Poorly controlled diabetes 
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women 
    • Extreme glasses prescription 

     

    If you have any of the above, you may be suitable for an alternate procedure, such as Implantable Contact Lens or RLE. At Oculase, we will discuss the best procedure for you based on your examination findings, your scans and your circumstances. 

    Total blindness, where you cannot even see light, is extremely rare. However, all complications are more likely if you don’t follow the aftercare guidelines. 

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