Complications After PRK Surgery: How Common Are They & How To Manage Them?

Choosing to undergo PRK surgery is a significant decision that comes with many benefits and, like any surgical procedure, some potential risks. In this blog post, we’re going to have a conversation about the complications that can sometimes follow PRK surgery. While complications are not the norm, being informed means you can be prepared and proactive in your care. We’ll guide you through what might come up, how likely it is, and what can be done to manage it. So let’s dive in!

What Is PRK Surgery?

Photorefractive Keratectomy, commonly known as PRK, is an established type of refractive eye surgery that helps correct common vision issues such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. As a precursor to the well-known LASIK procedure, PRK has paved the way for modern laser eye surgeries.

One of the key differences between PRK and LASIK lies in the approach to reshaping the cornea.

  • In PRK surgery, the surgeon does not create a flap in the cornea, which is a thin outer layer of the eye. Instead, the very top surface of the cornea, known as the epithelium, is gently removed to allow the laser to reshape the cornea’s underlying layers. This process corrects the refractive errors in the eye, improving vision.
  • In contrast, during LASIK surgery, the surgeon creates a thin flap in the cornea using either a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. This flap is then lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue, which is reshaped with an excimer laser. After the reshaping is complete, the flap is placed back over the treated area where it naturally adheres back to the cornea.

The primary advantage of PRK over LASIK is that it eliminates the risks associated with creating a corneal flap, making it a suitable   option for patients with thinner corneas or those who are not ideal candidates for LASIK. While the recovery time for PRK is slightly longer than LASIK due to the regrowth of the epithelial layer, it provides comparable visual outcomes and is known for its safety and effectiveness in vision correction.

Common Complications after PRK Surgery 

Common Complications after PRK Surgery

After PRK surgery, most patients enjoy a smooth recovery and significant improvement in vision. However, like any medical procedure, PRK can have some common side effects, which are typically temporary and manageable. Understanding these can help you prepare for the recovery process.

  • Dry Eyes: This is one of the most frequent side effects. You may feel an increased dryness in your eyes for a few weeks to months post-surgery. 
  • Vision Fluctuations: It’s normal to experience some changes in your vision during the first few weeks as your eyes heal. This includes mild blurring or fluctuations in vision clarity
  • Infection: While rare, infections can occur. Symptoms to watch for include increased redness, pain, or discharge from the eyes. If you suspect an infection, contact your eye doctor immediately. 
  • Light Sensitivity and Glare: You might experience increased sensitivity to light or notice halos or glare around lights, especially at night.
  • Under or Over Correction: In some cases, the initial surgery may not correct the vision to the desired level, necessitating an enhancement procedure.

Typical Duration and Severity:

  • Most of these complications are mild and resolve within the first few weeks to months.
  • Severe complications are rare, but it’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure proper recovery.

Remember: If you experience any of these issues, it’s crucial to communicate with your eye care professional. They can provide guidance and treatment to alleviate these symptoms and ensure a smooth recovery.

Some Rare Complications After PRK Surgery

Some Rare Complications After PRK Surgery

Like with any type of surgery, there are some rare risks associated with PRK surgery. Some of these are:

Corneal Haze

Corneal haze is a common complication of PRK surgery. It happens when the cornea becomes cloudy. This can happen because of the laser used to remove the thin layer of your cornea. Corneal haze usually goes away on its own within a few months. But in some cases, it may last for up to a year or more.

Corneal Scarring

Corneal scarring is another possible complication of PRK surgery. This happens when tissue grows over the area where the doctor removed the thin layer of your cornea. The scarring can make your vision blurry. In some cases, it may even cause permanent vision loss. There may also be many things that can cause corneal scarrings, such as an infection or injury.

Corneal Ulcers

A corneal ulcer is a sore on the surface of your eye. It can be caused by an infection. A corneal ulcer can be very painful and may cause permanent vision loss if not treated right away. It can also be a complication of PRK surgery.

Night Vision Problems

Some people may have night vision problems after PRK surgery. This is because the laser used in this type of surgery can damage the cells in your eye that help you see at night. Night vision problems usually go away on their own within a few months.


Endophthalmitis is an inflammation of the inside of your eye. It is usually caused by an infection. Endophthalmitis can cause serious problems, such as:

Endophthalmitis is a rare complication of PRK surgery. But it is a very serious one. So, it is important to watch for signs of this condition, such as:

  • redness in your eye
  • pain in your eye
  • discharge from your eye

Eye Pain

Eye pain is another possible complication of PRK surgery. You may have mild to severe pain in your eye for the first few days after surgery. The pain should go away on its own within a week or so. But if it does not, you may need to take pain medicine.

How Common Are These Complications?

Complications following PRK are uncommon, and serious issues are rare. The vast majority of patients go through the recovery period smoothly and reach the outcome they hoped for.

Statistical Reassurance:

  • Research indicates that less than 5% of patients experience complications that require additional medical attention.
  • Serious complications, such as significant loss of vision, occur in less than 1% of PRK cases.
  • Mild side effects, like temporary dry eyes or visual disturbances, are more common but typically resolve with time and proper post-operative care.

It’s important to keep these statistics in perspective. PRK has been performed for decades, and advancements in technology have continually decreased the risks. Most patients can expect a recovery that is both manageable and straightforward, leading to improved vision.

A Positive Outlook: If you’re considering PRK, take comfort in knowing that while the possibility of complications exists, the likelihood is low, and your eye care professional is well-equipped to handle any issues that may arise. With modern techniques and comprehensive follow-up care, PRK remains a safe and effective option for vision correction.

Management Strategies for Post-PRK Complications

Management Strategies for Post-PRK ComplicationsRecovering from PRK surgery usually goes smoothly, but knowing how to manage minor complications at home can make the process more comfortable. Here are some practical strategies to help you handle common post-PRK issues effectively:

Dealing with Dry Eyes:

  • Lubricating Eye Drops: Use preservative-free lubricating eye drops as prescribed by your doctor. These drops can relieve dryness and discomfort.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to help maintain overall hydration, which can benefit your eyes.

Coping with Light Sensitivity and Glare:

  • Protective Eyewear: Wear sunglasses when stepping outside to protect your eyes from bright light and UV rays.
  • Dim Lighting Indoors: Reduce screen time and use softer lighting at home to ease eye strain.

Managing Vision Fluctuations:

  • Patience is Key: Remember that vision can fluctuate as part of the healing process. Avoid straining your eyes with excessive reading or screen time.
  • Regular Follow-Ups: Keep up with your scheduled appointments so your doctor can monitor your progress.

Preventing Infection:

  • Eye Hygiene: Avoid rubbing your eyes and ensure your hands are clean before applying drops or touching your eyes.
  • Watch for Symptoms: If you notice signs of infection (like redness, discharge, or pain), contact your doctor immediately.

When to Seek Medical Advice:

  • While minor complications can often be managed at home, it’s important to consult your eye doctor if:
    • Symptoms worsen or do not improve over time.
    • You experience severe pain or sudden vision loss.
    • There are signs of infection or unusual changes in your eyes.

Remember: Your eye care team is your best resource for managing post-PRK complications. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for advice and treatment if needed. With the right care and precautions, your recovery from PRK surgery can be a smooth and successful journey.


In conclusion, whether you’re considering PRK or LASIK surgery, it’s clear that advancements in refractive eye surgery offer promising solutions for those seeking freedom from glasses or contact lenses. Both procedures have their unique advantages and can significantly improve your quality of life by providing clear, sharp vision.

So, are you contemplating the path to a clear vision? Look no further. At EyeMantra, we specialize in offering top-tier LASIK surgery, tailored to your unique vision needs. Experience the freedom of clear vision with LASIK Surgery at EyeMantra. Book your free appointment today at +91 9711116605 and take the first step towards a life with improved vision.

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