Dr. Robert Maloney believes that a well-informed patient is key to successful vision correction surgery. He wants to be sure that you fully understand what you can expect from your procedure you choose. He wants to help you care for and preserve your eyesight in the best way possible. Here, you can find the information that you need to help you make informed choices about health care for your eyes.

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On the day of your PRK procedure, it is natural to experience both excitement and nervousness. Understanding PRK and trusting your surgeon are important to helping you feel confident, calm, and prepared on the day of your procedure. Each vision correction center does PRK differently. In the paragraphs that follow, I describe how PRK is done at our center.


You will need to arrange for someone to drive you to the surgery center and pick you up when you’re ready to leave. You won’t be able to drive immediately after the procedure because your vision will be blurry. You should plan to spend about two hours at the center.

Wear comfortable clothing the day of your surgery. Do not wear makeup, skin moisturizer, perfume, or cologne because PRK requires clean, sterile conditions. If you usually use makeup, use makeup remover to be sure all mascara and eyeliner is removed; you don’t want these contaminants getting into your eye during surgery.

PRK is performed while you are awake. You can’t be put to sleep under anesthesia because we need you to look straight ahead during the laser treatment. To reduce your anxiety, you will be offered an oral sedative, like Valium. You don’t need to take it if you aren’t nervous.


Before the surgery begins, your face is cleaned with a disinfectant, and a surgical cap is placed over your hair. You are given eyedrops to numb the eyes, which sting for a few seconds. Once in the surgical suite, you are positioned comfortably, lying on your back in a reclining chair. The surgeon talks to you throughout the procedure so you know what is happening and what to expect next.

More anesthetic eyedrops are placed in your eye to be sure your eye is completely numb. No injections or needles are used. A small retainer, called an eyelid speculum, props open your eyelids to keep you from closing them during the procedure. The eyelid speculum does not hurt.

The surgeon gently removes the epithelium, which is the layer of clear skin that covers the cornea. The epithelium must be removed because it blocks the laser from reshaping the stroma. The epithelium may be removed with a laser, a blunt blade, a brush, a mild alcohol solution, or a special instrument called an epikeratome. This step differs from the initial step of LASIK surgery, during which the flap is pulled back from the surface to expose the deeper layers of the cornea.

Next, the surgeon will use the laser to sculpt your cornea, enabling light to focus properly on the retina. PRK, like LASIK, is performed with an excimer laser, which reshapes the cornea with its cool, pulsing beam of ultraviolet light. This part of the procedure takes twenty to ninety seconds. As the laser removes tissue and reshapes the cornea, you will hear a tapping noise, which is caused by the laser energy.

While the sculpting is taking place, the surgeon will ask you to look at a small red light straight in front of you. You should focus on this light, but if you have trouble seeing it, don’t worry. The laser has a tracking device that follows your eye during the laser treatment. The tracker provides an extra level of safety. If you move your eye during the treatment, the laser follows your eye, so the treatment is still applied in exactly the right location.

Once the procedure is complete, a special, clear contact lens, called a bandage contact lens, is placed over your eye to help keep you more comfortable while the corneal epithelium grows back, usually in three to four days. A typical PRK procedure takes about five minutes per eye.

After the procedure, your vision is hazy, but you immediately notice that it is improved compared to before PRK. You can read a clock across the room. You sit with your eyes closed for about twenty minutes. Your eyes are examined one more time to ensure that the bandage contact lenses are properly positioned, and you are on your way home.

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