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What should I expect after PRK surgery?

Immediately following surgery, a “bandage” contact lens is placed on the eye to promote healing, and you will need to use eyedrops for up to a month. You should have someone drive you home following surgery, and your surgeon may suggest that you take a few days off from work. Your surgeon may also ask that you avoid strenuous activity for up a week, as this could slow the healing process.

You may experience some discomfort immediately following surgery, lasting for two to three days. Over-the-counter medications usually control the pain. Occasionally, some patients may need topical anesthetics or other prescription medications for pain control.

Alan J. Margolis, MD
Ophthalmology

Once PRK has been performed by your ophthalmologist, a bandage contact lens will be placed on the eye.  This helps protect the underlying corneal surface and allows the patient to see after surgery.  The corneal nerves, which have been exposed in the procedure, are covered by the contact lens and comfort is greatly enhanced with the use of this lens.  Patients are typically placed on antibiotic drops, as well as lubricating drops and anti-inflammatory eye drops.  There is a range of treatment options available to your ophthalmologist to help improve comfort after PRK.  Over the next several days, your cornea will begin to heal.  The vision immediately after surgery is sometimes fairly good and then gradually gets a bit worse as the corneal heals.  Sometime in the time between day 2 and day 5, the vision begins to improve dramatically, and once the corneal cells have repopulated, the contact lens is typically removed.  Visual acuity will improve over the next several weeks, but good quality vision is typically present as soon as the contact lens is removed.  Our patient's tell us that the vision just keeps getting better.  Ophthalmologists will keep their patients on the eye drops for as long as several months after the procedure and will vary the frequency and specific drops used as the healing process proceeds.  We do ask our patients to use sunglasses after PRK in order to help improve the healing and prevent scar tissue from forming on the cornea.  PRK has proven to be a safe and effective procedure for the overwhelming majority of qualified individuals.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.