PRK Laser Eye Surgery Part 3

Author: Jeff Anderson

PRK it is then

So I had decided that I really could go through with PRK laser eye surgery. That wasn't going to be a problem. I ended up doing the no interest financing even though we had enough money tucked away to pay for the surgery out right. (No reason to take money out of the high interest savings account now if I can pay over time).

I scheduled my surgery for 11 Nov 2009, which was a Thursday. I had been told that it's common for the first day after the surgery to be just fine, and then the next couple days to be quite bad. That first layer starts growing back, but doesn't disrupt vision until a little while after the surgery actually happens. The bad vision quality goes up and down as it grows back. After growing all the way back, it still has to smooth out. Before it is smooth, it can produce quite the set of patterns in what you see.

On the way up to the same place I had gone to get my eyes mapped before, we actually got a call from Standard Optical offering a better price. They thought that I was still undecided, so we ended up getting the better price.

When I got there we waited for a bit. I was taken back and got the big explanation as to what was to come. I had four different types of eye drops that I'd need to do. I also was presented with a dose of Valium. The Valium is to help take the edge off of going in and having your eyes poked. Apparently it has various effects on people. I was being quite silly while affected by it.

I'm sure that at some point along the way I was told that I'd have some sensitivity to light.

The Surgery Itself

Once in the room, I had a few final questions for the eye doctor. The only question I remember specifically was about the event that either myself or the laser moving unexpectedly during the operation. The answer is that the laser follows your eye very quickly and will not fire if it isn't lined up properly. I was told there was a specific delay in milliseconds, but I don't recall what it was.

The first thing that's done is a local anesthetic is administered. This is followed by the metal eye clamp thing. I couldn't feel it at all, but knew it was there because I saw it moved into place. The first step of the procedure itself is the removal of the first layer of tissue. This takes 60 seconds. I recall feeling a bit of pressure-- I believe some kind of ring was put over my eye to limit where the alcohol solution would go. Once applied, my vision slowly started turning grayish. I could feel a mild sting due to the solution doing its work, but the feeling was fairly distant. Some kind of Q tip absorber was used to absorb excess solution, as well as scrape away dissolved tissue.

Once my eye was free of the solution and the first layer of tissue, the laser was moved into place. The laser makes a clicking sound each time it is fired. It burns away a bit of tissue with each firing. I could actually detect an odor that smelled like burning. During this portion of the surgery, I recall my view of the laser actually blurring as the laser did its work.

Once the laser was done, some drops were applied, and a non-corrective contact lens was put into place as a "band-aid" to protect my eye as the first layer of tissue grew back.

The same process was repeated for my left eye. Once done, the surgeon talked to me about what to do. He reiterated the need to do the various types of eye drops, and wrote a prescription for pain killers. I recall my right eye being able to see superbly at this point. My left eye was actually quite blurry immediately following the surgery. This was completely normal according to the surgeon. He also suggested I use polarized sunglasses to help with light sensitivity.

Coming Home

My wife and I stopped at a cookie shop next to Standard Optical where I had my procedure done. I realized that I just plain didn't feel like eating, and I couldn't see the products very well anyway. The person at the counter, when asked, said that I was like the third dazed post-op customer that came in that day. I probably only wanted to come in out of the silliness that had come over me due to the Valium. I didn't get anything.

It was dark outside, and the street lights, and headlights of other cars weren't very pleasant to start out with. When we were about half way home, they were so bright it was unbearable. I had the hood of my hoodie almost completely covering my face at this point. We stopped by the pharmacy on the way home, got the drops and the pain killers. I really felt like I needed them. As soon as we were home, I put the drops in and felt much better.

Having it all Sink in

Adapting to crazy vision for the next few months was quite the ordeal. I was able to adapt through a variety of means, and get through it quite well. The recovery period length associated with PRK is a show stopper for many people. I felt confident that I would be able to get through that tough spot, partially since I had done quite a bit of research about it beforehand. All of the Standard Optical people said that it's not uncommon for PRK patients to have second thoughts after the fact such as: "What have I done?!" and "I've ruined my eyes for good!"

Friday was fine. I ended up wearing my polarized sunglasses all day. I thought that I would have only needed them for outside, but I used them inside, at my desk. My light sensitivity was quite significant at that time, but was nothing compared to what was to come.

Continue to Part 4

Posted: Apr 28, 2010 | Tags: PRK

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