This is my dairy, you might say, of my experience with PRK. Mostly to help me remember when I am asked by someone considering the procedure and to know what is next when I get my second eye done.
First was the consultation, where I saw more eye machines than I thought existed. It took a solid 3 hours to be evaluated and counseled. I experienced my first dilated eyes here. It is crazy how wide the pupils go!
I scheduled surgery for a Thursday in March, the beginning of March Madness. I planned to walk out of surgery looking like a pirate and watch the first round of basketball one eyed. It didn’t quite go down as I had planned, but more on that later. The only pre-surgery instruction was not to wear my contacts three days prior.
The details of the surgery can be found and watched online, I won’t get into the specifics here, but will tell you what I felt and thought through the process.
The aspect I was most nervous about was smelling my eye burning during the laser work. Jeff, my brother, had LASIK done and told me details of his experience and the only part that made my stomach turn was the burning smell. How would I manage? With Valium! I got my first dose of those relaxing pills prior to surgery. Standard procedure from what I could tell. After about 15 to 20 minutes for the pills to take effect and pulling my hair back in a hair net, I was called into the surgery room.
For the next paragraph my words and thoughts will be in red while what is happening around me is in black:
The doctor introduced himself. Nice to meet you too, although I can’t really see you. I don’t have my contacts in remember? He asked what I did for a living. “I am an engineer.” “What kind?” asked the doctor. “A structural engineer.” He then began to tell me about a house he recently built in Montana, as the assistants were guiding me to the bench to lay on, making sure I was properly placed on the bench, gave me a long stuffed animal fish and told me to push the head of the fish up under my chin to keep my head back and hug the body – a stuffed fish, wonder how they settled on a stuffed fish – numbed and securely opened my eye – this is not as bad as I had heard, it is weird not to blink though – all in what felt like 30 seconds. I want to hear more about the house. I asked the doctor something about the house. The lights in the room were turned off and I remember practicing looking at a green light and a red light. My eye always seemed to be getting some sort of drops or solution in it. I remember squeezing the fish tight. The assistants would count out the number of drops or seconds a solution was in my eye as the doctor talked about that Montana house. I remember the cornea cut – oh, I just saw the cut and the removal, cool. I then remember looking at the red and green lights again – oh wait, that is smoke, wow, we are to this point already, oh, I smell burning. I remember letting out a deep breath and the laser portion was over before I really recognized what was happening. I was told I did well, whatever that meant. Then more solutions in the eye. I squeezed the fish again and let out a deep breath again. Boy, that light is bright, I want to blink. Oh, all I want to do is blink. Hurry up with the solutions, the lights are way too bright. The slowest part for me was the cleansing afterward. I was ready to be done. After my eye was thoroughly rinsed, a clear contact was placed on my eye as a band-aid while my cornea grew back. The process was finished and when I could blink again, I sat up and looked at the doctor. Ooooh, you are clear. “I can see you.” “Yes,” says the doctor, “but don’t test your eye today, go home and take a nap.” He told me other things that I honestly can’t quite remember, I was too excited that I could see already. The whole thing took about 10 minutes according to Peter. Amazing. I was then taken to another room to get instructions on eye drops and restrictions.
The eye drop schedule was explained to us. It was so much information and I thought how crazy fast the lady was explaining things. She assured us it was all laid out on this one piece of paper. Thankfully it was – one set of drops when I wake up and when I go to bed, another set of drops every 4 hours with an additional set 3 minutes after the first, pain pills every four hours for the first day and then as needed, but no more than the maximum stated on the bottle. Seriously, what person with Valium in their system can comprehend all of that? I was given these awesome bug goggles to wear the rest of the day and then at night. Keep my eyes closed, both of them, for the rest of the day, take a nap or naps. I am so thankful for my ability to nap. It came in quite handy.
I took all the drops and pills on schedule the first day and felt no pain or discomfort. When I wasn’t napping, I was listening to March Madness on sports radio. Not a bad way to take in the games.
I did not drive on Friday, or spend much time on any one thing. I did not wear the goggles, put lots of drops in, took half the pain medication and got my first glimpse of really great sight. Although I was told this would only last a couple days and then my vision would tank as the cornea grew back. I did not have much discomfort Friday. I wondered why people didn’t have both eyes done at once, so far this seemed like a breeze.
Saturday was more eye drops. On my restrictions list, it said I could shower today, so I did, trying not to get water or soap in my eye. I took a pain pill in the evening when my eyes started to feel quite scratchy. Sunday I experienced the tank of my vision. Things got really cloudy and blurry and I began to realize why one eye was done at once. Again, my eye started to feel scratchy at the end of the day.
Monday was my follow-up appointment. My cornea was still growing back, so the clear contact remained in. My vision was tested and I think I was at 20/50, but a really cloudy 20/50. With the contact and amount of drops in my eye, things were definitely clouded up. The scratchiness stopped about Tuesday night. I figured it meant my cornea was doing its thing healing.
The rest of the week consisted of drops by the schedule and having a blurry, cloudy spot in the middle of my vision. I went back to the doctor on Friday, one week and a day after surgery. Apparently my cornea was so close to completely healing over, just a pinhole was still open. The clear contact was removed though. It felt like an eye lash was in my eye, but I was determined to keep the band-aid off. Friday was a bit uncomfortable, like I said, kind of felt like an eye lash was in my eye when I looked and blinked a certain way. My eye was quite watery too. By Saturday, my eye was feeling much better, and even better on Sunday. I kept at the drop schedule until Sunday, one week and three days after surgery, and then cut back to only one drop four times a day. By Sunday, I noticed improvement in my vision. It was not clear, but I can see improvement. And the “eye lash” feeling was gone. I have noticed a sensitivity to light. After the clear contact was taken off, I feel like I am more sensitive than before. I also have an odd sensation like my eye is bulging. That is the best way for me to describe it. I feel like when I blink or look a certain way my eye feels big. Maybe swollen? I have no idea. I do know it feels different from my other eye. Not uncomfortable, but different.
Here I am one week and five days after surgery and hoping for an end goal of 20/15!