PRK, LASEK, Epi-LASIK

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PRK changes the refractive power of the cornea via surface ablation. A computer-controlled cold light laser (Excimer laser) removes tiny parts of the corneal tissue in the optical center without contact. LASEK and Epi-LASIK are more advancedversions of PRK. 

Synonyms

PRK: Photoablative Refractive Keratectomy 

LASEK: Laser Epithelial Keratomileusis

ELSA: Excimer Laser Subepithelial Ablation

Epi-LASIK: Epithelial Laser-in situ-Keratomileusis

Indication
  • Nearsightedness up to -6 dpt.
  • Astigmatism up to approx. 3 dpt.
Properties
  • good predictability 
  • correction is performed in the optical center, on the corneal surface
  • regeneration of the corneal surface within 3 to 4 days
  • recovery time of 4 to 6 weeks with fluctuations in vision
  • postoperative discomfort during the first days after surgery
The procedure

With PRK, LASEK or Epi-LASEK, the ablation of corneal tissue appears on the corneal surface. 

First, the outer cell layer called epithelium is removed. PRK, LASEK and Epi-LASIK differ in the way the epithelium is removed: With PRK, a dull knife is used to scrape off the cells whereas LASEK uses alcohol to dissolve the cell layer so that it can be rolled into a flap. Epi-LASIK uses a special microkeratome to cut a very thin, LASIK-like flap consisting only of the epithelium. 

In a second step, the excimer laser burns off corneal tissue on the now exposed corneal surface. In the case of LASEK and Epi-LASIK the epithelium can be rolled or folded back onto the corneal bed.

For the first two days after surgery, the eye can be irritated and the patient may experience some pain. Both sensations can be reduced by wearing a therapeutic contact lens or taking adequate medication. Additionally, the use of eye drops supports the healing process for the first few weeks after surgery.

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