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Dos & Don’ts After PRK Surgery

If you follow your doctor’s instructions after PRK surgery, you’ll ensure the best results possible. By sticking to some dos and don’ts after PRK surgery, you’ll protect your eyes as they heal and avoid any harm or damage that can complicate your recovery.

Recovery outcomes are usually highly successful for PRK, with most patients happy with the results. In fact, over 95 percent of patients reported a satisfactory outcome with the procedure.

What to Expect

The PRK procedure is performed in an office on an outpatient basis. It lasts about 30 minutes, or 15 minutes per eye. 

Some patients opt to have two separate PRK surgeries performed at different times because of the after-procedure blurriness that is expected. During the procedure, you’ll be asked to stare at light to prevent eye movement, and the surgeon will gently remove the top layer of the cornea (epithelium) before reshaping the cornea. 

After the cornea has been reshaped, a soft bandage contact lens will be placed on your eye to protect it as it heals.

Your vision will initially be blurry right after PRK. It will gradually improve over the next three to five days.

While you can start getting in the full swing of activities after about a month, you won’t fully recover for about three months.

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Dos After PRK Surgery

  • Have someone else drive you home, as you won’t be able to drive.
  • Take a nap or relax when you get home.
  • Take several days off work to allow your eye time to rest.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you experience eye pain. If the pain is significant, contact your doctor’s office. 
  • Apply prescription eye drops, following the guidelines established by your eye doctor. You may have to apply the eye drops for as long as 30 days.
  • Wear sunglasses during the day, as UV exposure can cause visual disturbances or corneal scarring. Always choose sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection. While polarized sunglasses reduce glare, they don’t always fully block out UV rays, so make sure you’re totally covered against UV light.
  • Take it easy for about 7 to 10 days. Your vision will be a bit blurry for the first week. 
  • Keep dust and dirt out of your eye.

Don’ts After PRK Surgery

  • Don’t engage in strenuous exercise.
  • Don’t look at a computer or other screen that day. 
  • Don’t read immediately following the surgery.
  • Don’t rub your eyes.
  • Don’t travel by airplane until after the doctor has removed the bandage contact lens. Wait about a week before you fly.
  • Don’t get your eye wet. Protect your eye while bathing, and avoid swimming.
  • Don’t wear eye makeup.
  • Don’t engage in a contact sport or any activity where you could injure your eyes

Things to Look Out For

After PRK surgery, expect to experience one or more of the following:

  • Some instances of blurriness or light sensitivity (glare or halos)
  • Minor eye irritations, such as burning or itching (for about three to four days)
  • Runny nose
  • Feeling like something is in your eye

When to Call a Doctor

You should contact your eye doctor immediately if you experience increasing pain or the pain is not alleviated with an OTC pain medicine. Also, if your visual acuity does not improve after several days, contact your eye doctor.

PRK Dos & Don’ts FAQs

How long should I expect to be off work after PRK?

You should take at least three days off work for PRK surgery. Most PRK patients can return to non-strenuous tasks or activities after one to two weeks. If you work in a manual labor job, you may have to switch to other tasks for a couple weeks.

When can I wear makeup after PRK?

You can wear makeup about two weeks after PRK surgery. 

When can I shower after PRK surgery?

You can shower or wash your hair a day after the surgery. Keep soap, shampoo, water, and all other products away from the eyes, especially during the first week. Don’t rub or place pressure on your eye for at least a week.

How soon can I swim after PRK surgery?

You can swim about two weeks after the procedure. Make sure you wear swim goggles when you do, and confirm with your eye doctor that it is safe to swim first.

References

  1. What Is Dry Eye? Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. (July 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  2. Why I Recommend PRK. (October 2013). Optometry Times.

  3. Main Complications of Photorefractive Keratectomy and their Management. (November 2017). Clinical Ophthalmology.

  4. How to Prevent Infection After LASIK or PRK. (March 2021). Optometry Times.

  5. What Is Photorefractive Keratectomy? (November 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  6. What Is Glaucoma? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment. (December 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  7. Evaluation of the Measurement of Refractive Error by the PowerRefractor: A Remote, Continuous and Binocular Measurement System of Oculomotor Function. (December 2003). British Journal of Ophthalmology.

  8. Evaluation of the Measurement of Refractive Error by the PowerRefractor: A Remote, Continuous and Binocular Measurement System of Oculomotor Function. (December 2003). British Journal of Ophthalmology.

  9. What Does 20/20 Vision Mean? (January 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  10. What Is Presbyopia? (November 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Last Updated February 2, 2023

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.

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