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My PRK Experience

I had PRK on Thurs. June 29th 2017 at a TLC Laser Eye Center.

My details:
Age: 22
Sex: Male
Left Eye: -1.5
Right Eye: -1.75
Had same eyeglasses and contact script in eyes since 2013.

Day of surgery:
Go into the doctor's office about half hour before my scheduled time to fill out paperwork/release forms etc. and then go back into the office to take 2 ibuprofen and a 10 mg valium. Waited about 20 minutes for the valium to kick in and then went into the laser suite. The laser used was an Alcon EX500, one of the top of the line machines approved by the FDA. The procedure was no more than 10 minutes. The surgeon numbed my eyes put a few other drops in, and then took the blade/scraper and removed by epithelial layer of cells from the operable area over my cornea. All the while, I can feel absolutely nothing except for the pressure that he is putting on my eye with the blade. When finished removing the epithelial, the laser dropped down to about 6 inches above my eye and I was instructed to stare at the red light directly above me. I was told about ~7 seconds of laser time in which the laser powered up and reshaped my cornea. There is a weird smell it creates when removing microscopic cells from your cornea but it's not a terrible one, and again, I can feel nothing on my eye. When finished, the laser raises back up, the surgeon then flooded my eye with water and input a number of different drops into my eye before carefully laying down the bandage contact lens (BCL). The process was repeated for my other eye, and then I was escorted out of the suite back into an examination room. The only difference in surgery between my two eyes is that my right eye was done with the wavefront guided system and my left qualified to use the new Contoura (topography guided) software. Contoura is the latest technology for mapping and correcting your cornea and isn't astronomically better for someone like me who had such a relatively small correction. I don't remember why my left eye qualified and right didn't but I know that is just the methods they had recommended. The optometrist back in the examination room put the steroidal drops and the anti-biotic drops into my eye, and then taped some plastic shields to my face (to prevent inadvertent rubbing whilst sleeping) and gave me a pair of sunglasses. I went directly home and passed out for a good 2 hours. I woke up to a bit of stinging and a some dry contact lenses. Pain wasn't terrible at this point. I was instructed to keep my eyes closed as much as possible to allow for healing. My eyes were very sensitive to light so locking myself in a dark room listening to podcasts was the best option for the remainder of the night.

Day 1:
I woke up the next morning at 5 AM to terrible burning/stinging of my eyes. This was obviously from the epithelial cells re-growing but it was probably in-part due to a dry contact lens as well. I immediately grabbed a Percocet and just did my best to keep my eyes closed while they were burning and watering involuntarily. This continued for quite a while throughout the day. I only opened my eyes to find my way to the bathroom and to put in the prescribed eye drops. I had my 24-hour post-op and was able to read the 20/20 line out of both eyes individually. I was told there are more "fun" symptoms to come and some blurriness to follow as well once the epithelial regrew. I was also told I was able to see pretty well so quickly because my correction was only a few diopters as compared to someone who had -6 or -7 that would take longer to heal and the cornea would be much more inflamed. I kept up with the eye drops and artificial tears and pain killers and went to sleep with the aid of some ibuprofen-PM.

Day 2:
Woke up again around 5 am with that same burning and watering sensation. It is Saturday morning now, and this I think was by far the worst day. I had a lot of burning and what seemed like pressure on my eyes, causing them to stay closed again all day that day. Went through hours upon hours of podcasts (highly suggest Mike Rowe's The Way I Heard It) and listened to Red Sox games on the TV. I also strongly suggest constantly wearing a pair of sunglasses because for those times to do open your eyes or have to walk around the house and accidently turn a light on or look outside, you'll thank the Good Lord for those shades.

Day 4:
Day 3 and Day 4 are pretty similar. My eye was almost fully healed and you gain increased capability of being able to keep your eye open as time goes on with the one nuisance of the BCL drying up very quickly. Used an artificial tear drop about once an hour Day 5 was Monday and this is the day I got the BCL removed and vision tested again. The letters were pretty blurry and had quite a bit of glare but I was able to somehow read the 20/30 line and about half the 20/20 line from each eye despite having pretty serious double vision in my right eye. It was a little bit uncomfortable for a few hours after removing the lens because your eye is now exposed again for the first time in a few days. Very dry, a tiny bit of stinging, and a very strong sensitivity to light. I went to the grocery store with my mom post-BCL removal and the fluorescent lights were quite terrible. I suggest not doing that. Other than that, TV with shades on and use of your cell phone can be resumed. Blurriness is also very prevalent too because when your epithelial regrows, it tends to mound toward the middle (by "mound" I mean we are talking about microns here but it becomes thicker in the middle of the eye) of the eye and this causes blurriness, haze, glare, double-vision, all the bad stuff you heard about PRK, etc. This "mound" is what causes the long recovery period of PRK before vision becomes sharp. It takes about 4-6 weeks for it to level off and get back to its natural, pre-surgery state.

Day 5:
This was the 4th of July, I sat outside for most of the afternoon under and umbrella with sunglasses and a baseball cap on and actually ended up getting a terrible migraine. I was very sensitive to the sunlight reflecting off of everything but I can't exactly pin the migraine to anything specific but I would suggest not doing this. Sitting outside was not one of my best calls but I had been cooped up inside for a week and wanted to enjoy the weather at least a little. Eyes get tired very easily because of the lack of use in the last few days but are definitely getting better. Vision is still the same.

Day 6:
Back at work today. I am an Engineer and spend bulk of day on a computer. I was a bit worried but I turned the screen brightness down to a 10 and am doing just fine. The fluorescent lights of the office aren't my favorite thing in the World but it's not unbearable. As long as I'm not looking directly at them I am not terribly bothered. Then again, I do have dark brown eyes, and I hear the glare off things is much worse for someone who has no melanin in their stroma. I will continue to post updates as time rolls on and/or if anything profound happens or changes. I have a follow-up appointment scheduled for my 1 week Friday 7/7/17 and will then have one for the end of the month as well for a one-month post-op assessment. Hopefully by then I'll be seeing 20/20 or better and one step closer to submitting my package for SNA.
As an update:

I am almost 8 weeks out now and am seeing 20/15 -2 in my left and 20/20 in my right. The first 5 weeks was a LOT of fluctuation. The corneal swelling takes a long time to die down, especially with the prednisone drops. All of my swelling was finally gone after the 6 week mark. My vision is sharp now and I actually was over corrected a bit giving me a prescription of +.25 in both eyes.

At about the 5 week mark is when my vision started to become much clearer from what it had been for the first few weeks. The sensation while my eyes were healing was strange because I would get glimpses of very sharp vision but would have a lot of ghosting going on, especially when looking at bright LED's like stop lights or headlights on newer cars. The whole process really just requires patience while your eyes heal. My eyes are now fully healed but definitely still adjusting to the ability to see well all the time. It takes a few seconds for them to focus at times and when I am on the computer for a long period of time I find that my eyes tend to want to relax and extend their focal point (i.e. want to look "through" the screen).

Regardless, I am pleased with the results. Now I'm just filling out the rest of my OCS application package and waiting out the required 6 months until I can go to MEPS.