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Surface Laser Ablation, is a laser procedure using only an excimer laser to reshape the cornea.

PRK (Photo-Reactive Keratectomy) is our third-most-common laser technique which involves removing surface layers of the cornea before reshaping the stroma. Because it’s slightly more invasive, it can have a longer recovery time – and it’s not as common as less-invasive forms of laser treatment. In Auckland, it is available exclusively at Auckland Eye. 

PRK, also called Surface Laser Ablation, is a laser procedure using only an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Unlike LASIK where a flap is created, in PRK the surface cells are first gently removed, exposing the layer underneath which is then re-shaped. The surface cells then regenerate but because this takes time the recovery is slower. Due to some discomfort and the longer healing period, PRK is used less now than when first introduced. It is still a proven and effective technique for correcting vision and a valid option for people with very thin corneas who are not eligible for our SMILE or LASIK options.

PRK is a good treatment to consider if you have:

  • Low to Moderate Myopia
  • A thin cornea
  • Low astigmatism
  • Previous laser eye/refractive surgery

While it may have its downsides, PRK is the best option for some eye patients. For example, people with very thin corneas may not be eligible for SMILE or LASIK surgery, as the cornea may not have the mass available to cut and reshape. It can also be suitable for people who have had previous laser surgery and need further reshaping to restore vision.

The surgery

During PRK treatment, an excimer laser gently removes cells from the surface of the cornea. The laser then reshapes the central layer, or stroma. After treatment, the upper layer of cells will slowly regenerate.


Because surface-level cells are removed and need to regenerate, recovery from PRK can take a few days. Following treatment, you will need someone to drive you home. You will probably be able to return to work and normal activities within five days, but it may take weeks to notice a change in your vision.

For advice, information or to book a consultation, get in touch now.

Frequently Asked Questions

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