Potential PRK Risks

November 29, 2021 — by Thomas Byrd, MD
Tags: Prk

Illustration of PRK treatmentPhotorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, is a laser eye surgery that improves vision by correcting common refractive errors, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. PRK addresses these issues by reshaping the cornea to eliminate the imperfections responsible for vision impairment.

PRK has proven to be a safe and effective technique. However, as with all surgical procedures, there is a degree of risk. Although it is very rare, some people develop complications after PRK surgery. Prior to undergoing treatment, Dr. Thomas Byrd ensures that his Detroit, Dearborn Heights, and Lincoln Park, MI, patients are fully aware of potential PRK risks.

Loss of Vision

PRK surgery is meant to correct refractive errors and reduce or eliminate dependence on prescription lenses. In the majority of cases, that is exactly what it does. Over 90 percent of PRK patients recover with 20/40 vision or better. However, in extremely rare instances, PRK surgery can result in some degree of vision loss.

Permanent Changes to Night Vision

While patients are recovering from PRK surgery, they are likely to experience changes in their night vision. Common side effects include glares, flashes, or halos around sources of light. This can be particularly troublesome while someone is driving at night. In most cases, these side effects resolve once someone has completely recovered from surgery. Unfortunately, for a very small number of PRK patients, changes to night vision may be permanent.

Double Vision

PRK surgery alters the surface of the cornea. Sometimes, this causes light particles to scatter as they enter the eye, which can result in double vision. If double vision develops following PRK surgery, patients should not panic, because it usually resolves within a few weeks or months. However, there is a small risk that double vision could be permanent.

Permanent Dry Eye

Dry eye is another common side effect of PRK surgery that should not be cause for alarm. As the eyes recover from treatment they are likely to feel dry and itchy, or almost like there is sand or grit caught in the eye. The eyes may also tear excessively, which is another symptom of dry eye. Dry eye may linger for weeks or months after PRK treatment, but in most cases it goes away. Unfortunately, some people develop permanent dry eye after PRK.

Diminished Treatment Results

As previously stated, the large majority of PRK patients recover with 20/40 vision or better. The results of PRK treatment should be long-lasting. However, there is a risk that vision results will diminish over time, so that people find themselves relying more and more on prescription lenses.

Minimizing the Risk of PRK Complications

The risk of PRK complications is extremely low, but there are steps that people can take to promote good healing and further minimize PRK risks. These include:

  • Research your PRK surgeon, and select one with experience and expertise
  • Carefully follow all post-surgical care instructions
  • Attend all follow-up appointments
  • Use artificial tears as needed to keep the eyes moist
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors to protect the eyes from UV rays

Contact Us Today

If you are considering PRK surgery to enhance your vision, Dr. Byrd would be happy to provide you with more information about the procedure and its recovery. To schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Byrd, send us a message online, or call (734) 284-2444 at your earliest convenience.

Contact Us