Purpose: To evaluate the 24-month refractive outcome of excimer laser photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) performed on normal, sighted myopic eyes; and to assess the evolution of postoperative refraction, the accuracy of predicted correction, and the results in terms of uncorrected visual acuity.
Methods: Photorefractive keratectomy was performed on 495 eyes, with a preoperative refraction ranging from -1.25 to -7.50 diopters (D). Ablation zone diameters of 4.3 and 4.5 mm were used. All patients were treated with a standard topical steroid regimen postoperatively. Minimum follow-up time was 24 months.
Results: Mean refraction (spherical equivalent +/- standard deviation) at 24 months was -0.27 +/- 0.74 D, which was significantly (P < 0.01) different from the mean at 12 months (0.01 +/- 0.78 D). There was also a significant (P = 0.01) difference between the 12- and 18-month (-0.15 +/- 0.82 D) mean refractions. But there was no significant difference between the means at 18 and 24 months postoperatively. Subgroup analysis at 24 months showed that patients with low to moderate myopia (up to -3.90 D) had significantly better refractive outcomes than those with higher myopia. Also at 24 months, 91% of the eyes had an uncorrected visual acuity of at least 20/40, and 81.5% had an uncorrected visual acuity of at least 20/30. Correspondingly, 87.5% of the eyes were within 1.00 D of emmetropia, and 71.7% were within 0.50 D. Only 0.4% lost one line of best-corrected visual acuity, no eye lost two lines or more.
Conclusions: Refraction after PRK is slow to stabilize, but appears to reach stability by 18 to 24 months after surgery. The refractive results are reasonably predictable and compare well with those achieved with radial keratotomy.