My PRK Surgery and Recovery

A few weeks ago I mentioned it and today it happens. I’ll be having PRK surgery on both of my eyes. I’m really excited about no more contacts, though I have to admit that I’m a little nervous. It’s partially because of the surgery, but also a bit on the recovery. Cole told me that he’ll come and has assured me that if I start to whimper then he’ll cry louder so I’m muffled out and not embarrassed. What a good boy.

When I was first told I’d have PRK, I went searching online for other other people who has had the surgery. I was glad to get an idea of what it was like. Because they helped me, I thought I’d add to it by documenting my own experience. I’ll be updating this post with the pre-op, surgery and post-op so you may see it pop up a few times in your RSS feeders.

Aug 31st, Day of Surgery
The doctor instructed me to scrub my eyes with an “OCuSOFT Eyelid Cleanser” the night before my surgery. I was also instructed to have a drop of Acular LS in each eye the morning of the surgery. The nurse described it as “Tylenol for the eye.”

After waiting for a few minutes at the surgery center, they brought me back to the surgery room. The first step was to get a laser guided picture of my eye. I laid on the machine and they rolled me under the laser. Once lined up, they turn the focused lights up REALLY bright, pulled my eyelids apart and snapped a photo. It was quick and easy.

Once both eyes were phtographed, they rolled me back out and put 4 drops in each of my eye. One to start the numbing, one for dilation, and two others probably for fun.

At that point, I had to wait for the drops to kick in. I sat with Candace in a dark waiting room and took a Vallium for calming. While sitting there for 25 minutes my mind kept flashing to that scene in Armageddon. The newly trained astronaut asks his trainer what the moon will be like. She tells him of the jagged rocks, the loneliness, the death and danger around every corner. To this, the student replies, “Scariest environment imaginable…thanks. That’s all you had to say, scariest environment imaginable.”

The scariest environment imaginable. That’s what I was picturing in my mind.

When the doctor arrived, my eyes were ready. She led me into a regular room and had me sit in the chair. She took a look in my eyes to make sure the dilation was working as expected. She also marked my eyes with a sort of pen. She informed me that this was because of my astigmatism that acts like a natural torque when I lay down. (At least I think that was the explanation. I was a little trippy from the Vallium in me.)

Once I was deemed ready, we went into the surgery room and I laid down on the table. My whole instruction was to “never take your eye off the flashing red light..” I told her that if I see a bright white light then I’m looking away for sure.

She taped my left eye shut and then moved me under the laser again.

The first step was to tape my eyelashes back to avoid infection. Then, a tool was used to prop my eyelids open. It was uncomfortable at first, but I tried to ignore it and just focus on the red light. From this point, my eyes were numbed with a sponge. It worked quickly. The doctor then put a suction cup on my eye and counted down from 40 seconds. If I remember right, this was to make my pupils large and to separate my cornea for easier access. This step was the strangest pressure on my eyes.

Obviously, I could see very little. Focusing on the red light was difficult but not impossible. Another ointment was applied to my eyes and then she cleared away the loose particles of my cornea. She told me this was to make a completely smooth surface for the laser to work thru.

At this point, I was ready for the laser. I heard the machine rev up and the laser started zapping quickly. Luckily I was able to keep my eye completely still so the laser didn’t stop at all. It took about 35 seconds, zap by zap. There was no pain but you could definitely smell the burning eyeball. The smell reminded me of scout camp.

Once the laser was done, a cool liquid is put on the eye and another sponge to cool it down. Then a contact lens was applied. This lens has no prescription but it acts as a bandage to protect your cornea as it heals.

The eyelid proppers are then removed and the tape is removed from your eyelashes. (ouch.)

The whole process is then repeated on the second eye.

Overall, there was no pain. Though it does feel quite strange to have your eyeballs manhandled and I did get a little tense. If I had to do it again, I would have asked how long each eye would take. Even a general idea would have helped because while that first eye is worked on it feels like they are going forever. Once you’ve completed one and know the time needed, the next eye was more bearable. Overall, the procedure lasted 10 minutes for both eyes total.

Sitting up, I could already see that my vision was improved. I was told this would occur, but also warned that the eyesight would be fleeting as it is expected to get worse before it gets better.

Once my stylish booties and awesome hairnet was removed, I left the surgery room and met with Candace again. The sun coming from outside was like plasma rays to my eyeballs. SO BRIGHT! But I put on my sunglasses, followed Candace to the truck and was able to make it home.

Once home, I was told to have a little snack, take another vallium and then get some rest. That’s what I did. After sleeping for a few hours, I watched some of the Red Sox game, and laid in bed listening to music and wearing the awesome super hero goggles to be sure my eyes weren’t bumped or rubbed while I slept. I slept fine thru the night.

Overall, the procedure and first day of recovery had no pain for me. I applied the drops as instructed and that helped. I think the contact lens would be uncomfortable from someone who is used to wearing glasses. It will feel like a piece of sand or hair in your eye. But since I have been wearing contact lenses for years, it wasn’t too bad at all. The big pain is dryness, but applying the drops regularly really helps with that.

Sept 2, Day Two

I woke with no pain still but my eyes were dry from sleeping in the contacts. One drop in each eye and I was back to normal. I know it’s cliche, but the clock across the room had never looked so beautiful. It was crisp and clear.

Cole got up about the same time I did and we played for a while. It was wonderful to see him…even though things were a little blurry sometimes. With PRK, the cells begin to grow back. Sometimes they are in perfect position and everything looks great. But then they’ll shift and it will look like you’re seeing thru broken glass with everything broken up. A couple blinks and you’re good again but it happens over and over.

As the sun came up and the room got bright, I had to put my sunglasses back on again. I was still quite dialated and the sun was really strong.

Candace and Cole drove me down for my checkup with the doctor. After some tests and a quick look at my eye, everything looked healthy. I was seeing 20/20 out of my left eye and 20/30 out of my right. She again warned me that it will get worse as my cornea regenerates, but I’ll return to better eyesight than I was seeing then. It’s a good lesson on patience.

The rest of the day was spent watching and listening to opening day of college football. I’m just putting the drops in regularly and everything feels fine with no pain.

Spet 2, Day Three

I woke up this morning with a powerful burning in both of my eyes. It felt similar to when you spend all day skiing on a sunny slope and that night you realize that your eyeballs were sunburned from the bright sun and the reflective white snow. It was the kind of pain that hurt to keep your eyes closed, but hurt worse to open them up.

I applied all the drops and that helped a little, but not much. Finally, I decided to take a Goody’s Powder and that helped considerably. Is there anything Goody’s can’t solve?

Candace and Cole took me to my appointment with the doctor. Again, it was a quick one. She just wants to make sure that there is no disease forming and that my eye recovery is healthy. She told me that my eyes are recovering very fast and I may be able to get the bandage lenses taken out in the next appointment. I was glad to hear this because it would finally feel like I’m seeing things on my own. Even though the lenses have no prescription, it still feels like I’m being aided.

The rest of the day my vision was very blurry. The best way to describe it is that it’s similar to when you open your eyes under water in a swimming pool. You can see things, but not clear. As things were closer, they were a bit more clear.

Once again, this can be expected as the cornea regenerates. Right now, the cells are kind of just swimming around under the protection of the bandage lens and I’m looking thru their little pool party in my eye..

I still have to keep my sunglasses on because my eyes are quite sensitive to light. Also, the contacts seems to dry out quite fast when met with a breeze so the glasses help with that. We ate dinner with family and played some games. I was able to see the cards alright, though I felt like a poker player with my sunglasses on.

By the end of the night, things were becoming a bit more clear. But, as soon as I applied the drops before bedtime, things were blurry again.

Sept 3, Day Four

I woke up this morning to a real pain in my right eye. When I slept, the contact had dried to the eyelid. When I opened my eye it felt like it dragged across. Ouch. I put in some drops and it felt much better.

I saw the doctor again today. I did horrible on the vision tests. She said this would be my worst day for vision because the cells were all colliding right where I was looking. She was right, all day it was like looking out of a swimming pool. By the end of the day I could see within about 4 feet, but further than that was blurry.

However, I was glad to hear that my eye was almost completely healed and she took out the bandage lenses. This was a nice physical change, but also a mental one. For the first time in a long time I was glad to know that any clear vision was straight from my eye and not being aided by a lens of any kind.

The schedule for drops are still the same and I was instructed to use the lubrication drops even more often than I thought I needed them.

Sept4, Day Five

The only pain I feel at this point is when I first wake up. My eyes don’t have sufficient lubrication during the night so when I wake up my eyelids are very dry and seem to be sticking to my eyeballs. (I know that sounds gross, but how else do you describe that?)

Usually, I’ll put a drop in the corner of my eye and slightly and slowly open my eyelids to let the lubrication spread. That helps.

My visit to the doctor was another vision test and a checkup on the health of my eye. I was able to see 20/20 in my left eye and 20/25 in my right eye. Those numbers sound good, but it’s not a perfect vision. Basically, I can read the letters but not see them clear. My eyes were healthy and I’ll have a week before my next visit.

I drove for the first time today. I’m able to read most signs and with sunglasses I don’t have a problem with the light. My vision is becoming more clear each hour.

From here I think it’s just a gradual improvement in eyesight. I’ll update each time I visit the doctor from here on out.

Oct 4, One Month Since Surgery

I’ve seen the doctor a couple times in the last week. Both times, she let me know that I was healing as expected.

For the most part, my vision is good. Though sometimes I will wake up with more of a blur than other days. I think that this is usually caused by pressure on my eye. (perhaps from a pillow) My doctor said that it brings the astigmatism back into play when this happens. It happened again when I formed a sty on my right eye. The extra pressure from the eyelid pushed the eye.

Once every few days I’ll wake up with a very strong pain in my eye. In talking to an educated friend, he said that this is probably becayse the eye isn’t quite set yet. As the eyeball dries overnight, it may stick to the inside of my eyelid and the movement of the eyelid takes it out of place. I don’t know what it is, but I know it really hurts.

To combat this, I use eye drops all thru the night. In fact, I still use eye drops constantly. THe Acular LS is only 4 times a day as prescribed, but the “Refresh Plus” drops are nearly twice an hour. It really helps the pain.

Nov 27, Three Months Since Surgery

In an appointment yesterday, I was given an vision test again and was able to read at 20/10. I was incredibly happy with that. The doctor decided that I’m now alright to stop any medicated drops and to just take the lubrication drops if I feel like my eyes are dry.

My night vision is good and my eyes don’t dry or hurt. However, at times my eyes do feel a little worn out. As if the muscle had been working real hard all day. This may be because I work in front of a computer for a living, but I do believe they are in the healing process for a little longer.

This will be my last post on the subject. Overall, the results were surely worth the cost and the discomfort.

192 Comments

  1. Kristi December 1, 2010

    I am 38 years old and I had lasik done back in 2001. For me lasik was painfree and offered immediate and perfect vision. My vision was very bad at -7.5 back before the original surgery. Unfortunately, I was back in glasses and contacts within 3 years due to my eyes regressing back, which I did not know could happen and I actually wonder how commmon this is…… I had an astigmatism as well and I don’t know where that currently stands but will find out at my upcoming PRK appointment. Currently, my eyes are now too dry to wear contacts and I can not get a good enough correction for driving at night with glasses. I have tried every contact on the market and can’t tollerate any of them for any length of time. My corneas are now too thin for lasik and I am considering PRK. I have my consultation appointment on 12/10. My goal is to obtain better day and night vision. My right eye is -1.5 and my left eye is now at -2. I am wondering if the recovery time for a smaller enhancements is less – does anyone know? Also, from all the wonderful comments from above – I know I am only willing to do one eye at a time and hence will not be doing the other eye until spring. This leads me to my next question…. I am wondering if my vision will be negatively effected by wearing a contact in the uncorrected eye (as I can tollerate) after the PRK or if I pop a lense out of my glasses….. Actually, what I am hoping to be able to do is to get away with no glasses or contacts with the corrected eye being fixed and having the other eye at -2? I wonder if that will cause me tension headaches or if I may be able to adjust? I am thinking this option would be similar to someone who had the mono vision correction – does anyone know?? Also, I would like to know if anyone else had their vision regress back to where they are back in contacts or glasses and I wonder if after having PRK – I may regress again? Oh….. so many questions?? :) Anyway thank you everyone so much for your comments. I will let you know how my PRK turns out and what my doctor says……..

  2. Len December 7, 2010

    Hi, had PRK Nov 19 2010, has all the classic symptoms. My questions is, does nayone have an opinion about flying 7 weeks after PRK, I am still healing slow at 2 1/2 weeks, but have to fly mid January 2011 for 2 hours on the plane, any advice, will my healing eye burst open from cabin pressure. HELP.

  3. Tennille December 12, 2010

    I had Lasik done in 2008 and then had to have an enhancement in both eyes which was done one eye at a time. Now two years later, I cannot really function comfortably without glasses. The dr. said I can have one more surgery but it MUST be PRK which he says I can have and it can be done both eyes at a time. My fear is that since my reading is fine, it is just my distance, will he overcorrect? What will happen long-term. I was assured after the 2nd LASIK enhancement that I would probably never need another and now here we go again. I just don’t know if it is worth the risks….

  4. Shannon December 19, 2010

    I had PRK surgery 11 days ago. Horrible pain the first three days, discomfort since. Now the main problem is sensitivity to light. That’s how I came across your page, looking to see if others experience the same sensitivity. I didn’t expect such a long recovery time…I anticipated wearing sunglasses outside for 6 months, but not inside.

    Thanks to all for sharing you experiences.

  5. JoshDM December 27, 2010

    I plan to get PRK soon and want you to know I found your blog post to be helpful.

  6. Tennille December 27, 2010

    This website is both a blessing and a curse! It makes me want to go through with PRK and run away from the situation all at the same time! Unfortunately the one thing I have accepted is that everyone must progress differently or else this forum would be more cut and dry-pardon the pun!! Since I won’t be having surgery until 1/7/11 I would like to respond to Kristi and Kelly who both had LASIK before. Regression seems to be more common than I thought. My new doctor who says yes I can have PRK says that due to the fact that I had LASIK twice, my eyes might be just the type that won’t correct for long. He is not discouraging me or encouraging me but one has to think that there is a problem when some people do it once and things are fine yet others never get that vision for the long term. Since I am a gambler at heart, I am going to try one more time. I am really scared because the surgeon says that even with enhancement, there is always a risk of over-correction.

    Its the most terrifying thing to consider either way and since I have already had LASIK, in a sense it is worse since I know what I am in for…

  7. Kristi January 3, 2011

    Hi all! It’s me again. I had PRK on my right eye on 12/21/2010. They corrected it for -2. I asked the doctor all the questions I asked above and here are the answers and my experience with PRK as well….. If your eyes change on an annual basis or at all – then they will continue to change at about the same rate after the surgery….(Lasik and PRK). For example, mine change aprox. .25 diopter per year and even after the PRK they will continue to do this. Meaning in about 4 years I will probably be back to glasses. However, I can hope my darn genetics stop my eyes from changing *crosses fingers*!!!! It just puts you at a better starting point. Then you end up where you end up. The recovery time and pain for PRK is pretty equivalent for major corrections as well as minor – according to my doctor, in fact he laughed at me for this question. I was hoping since mine was a small correction – it would be less painful and heal quicker – but he assured me this would not be the case – boo!! It is perfectly fine to wear a contact or glasses on the uncorrected eye, if you chose to do one eye at a time. The problem comes in when there is a big difference in the eyesite and that is mainly just in the form of a headache. I have been able to adjust to (while at home) having the PRK eye and my uncorrrected eye work together (uncorrected eye is at -2). However, if your eye is greater than -2 – I would say not having a corrective lense on the other eye at all times would be very, very difficult and give you a BIG headache. However as long as the corrected eye is near 20/20 and the PRK eye is near 20/20 you should feel normal.

    For me the surgery itself was a breeze. I took enough Valum that I couldn’t stress about anything. The laser took a total of 20 seconds!! I did smell the burn though, yuck!! The comfort I found in the process was there was no time during the process where I could not see. I felt very comforted seeing that blinking green light through the entire process and knowing my sight was with me the entire time. If things went black I would have freaked!! The doctor was very good at stating what he was doing and how many seconds the process would last. This helped a lot as well. About 6 minutes total (in and out).

    I was prescribed Demerol for pain and an anti- neasea med, both of which made me very, very tired. Then of course there were the eye drops. I made little sandwiches and ate one each time I took a pill and never got sick. I took the meds religously for the first 2 days and two nights and then every 4-6 hours on day three. I never felt any pain. However, I did sleep almost the first three days entirely away!! I was very concerned about dry eye because I had it prior. I made sure each time I woke up – that I DID NOT open my eye until I had put refresh drops in the corner and that my entire eye was moist before I opened it. I would say this was very helpful to prevent damage to the eye and new cells. The first 3 days I saw no improvement in vision for the little bit of time I was awake. It seemed the same as my uncorrected eye (-2). I just figured oh well and slept some more.

    From the get go – really no pain or really no sensitivity to light but I never missed a dose of meds during this time AND in fact I may have mixed up a few and taken too many…..

    I had perfect near vision in my right eye prior to PRK and now 13 days out my near vision is very, very hard to read. I basically have mono vision at this point. My right eye – tested at 20/30 for distance on day 6 when I got the contact bandage taken out. This is a blurry – low quality 20/30. I would again be freaking had I done both eyes due to the loss of my near vision and the poor quality of vision and the fact it changes often. My left eye is now caring me for reading until all is healed. AND for this reason I am glad again I chose to just do 1 eye because at 13 days I would not be able to read my monitor at work otherwise.

    Vision changes daily and hourly – what was good may not be so good in a blink and vice versa, some ghosting, some halo’s, some smeared looking vision, etc. I expect this will all resolve itself. Right now I feel like my right eye is in between where my left eye which is corrected with a contact and my left eye when it is not. I sure hope to be able to report back that I reach a clear 20/20 in the next 2 weeks. I will keep you posted. Good luck Tennille just know PRK is a lot different than LASIK – not even comparable really. For example, I was driving home in dusk -when I headed out my vision was probably a strong 20/30 and then half way there it shifted and I started having ghosting, horrible halo’s and felt like I may not be able to get myself back – got home and it was back to good – very strange indeed!! Good luck everyone.

  8. Jim N January 3, 2011

    Hi All,
    Want to thank everyone for the comments about their progress. I just had both eyes done on Dec 27, 2010, so today is post-op Day 6. I had my temporary contacts taken out today, at which time my doctor told me all is healing well. My vision is about 20/30 and blurry. He took me off the stronger steriods and placed me on FML 3/day, as well as continue my Restasis and GenTeal drops. Quick history of my vision – I had glasses since 2nd grade (am a 45 year old male). About 2 years ago I had Visian IOLs implanted, which took my vision from 20/450 in my right eye and 20/430 in my right eye to 20/15, with an astigmatism which would only allow me to wear gas-permeable lenses. Essentially, I could only see about 1 inch without correction. When I had the Visians implanted, it was with the clear understanding that my vision might only get to be 20/40 without follow-up LASIK, which I did have about 9 months ago. I had the PRK done 6 days ago becuase I had some unexpected astigmatism come back and decided to get it done. I must say, the PRK recovery is way worse than the LASIK as well as the Visian implants. Patience is really key here – which is what everyone has told me about in the prior posts. I’ll leep everyone updated as things progress. Thx.

  9. Gerardo January 6, 2011

    I had PRK surgery and mono vision on December 16, 2010. My experience was horrible. According to my doctor, she said I had developed a hazy film on both of my eyes, based on my numbers. I couldn’t see much. She told me that the drops (Steroids) given to me to take for 7 days were supposed to have gotten rid of the hazy film. She gave me another kind of steroid drops to use for two weeks, to use twice a day for the first week and once for the following week. I am on my second week. The drops made a big difference. I am still having problems with my vision. It changes constantly. I just hope I am better next week.

  10. Tennille January 7, 2011

    Hi Kristi and everyone else….

    Leaving today for PRK! Very nervous to say the least but for now (in survival mode) there has to be something to this surgery if people are willing to put up with it! I am going to take my chances…darnit…because I can’t back out now. I think putting the drops in the corners of eyes sounds like a nice plan!

    I am going to relax because I am not going back to work until after MLK Day and then I have rides…so there is no excuse for me to at least not try this. I love to read, so I am sad that my great vision up close (due to two lasik surgeries) will be ruined for a while, but I hope it comes back and I finally get that distance vision….

    Never had perkaset (I have no idea how to spell it either!!) and I believe that is what they are giving me when I leave…I hope it doesn’t make me sick!!!

    Okay guys…as soon as I can jump back on, I will!

    “SEE” you soon!

  11. P January 8, 2011

    Hello, I have to go Wednesday for a check up. I had PRK 3 years ago, and I just failed my vision test, so my eyes are back to what they were before I got them. Very upset because the pain that I went through the first time. So, I now have to pay $99 for a eye exam, and may need to get the surgery again. Which means, I need to take more time off from work, which I can not afford. Now, Im thinking about saying forget the whole thing and just going back to glasses, it was fun while it lasted. So be aware it may only last for 3 years and your back to where you started. And the receptionist stated that I might have to pay for the whole procedure again, after I stated that I purchased the lifetime warranty.

  12. Andrea January 14, 2011

    I had PRK 4 years ago this April. I was legally blind (-8.25 and -8.50) before the surgery. I had PRK done on both eyes at the same time. My vision was corrected to 20/20. So fast forward to today- my eyes regressed!!!! I am getting disappointed and frustrated. I am now at -1.75 and they seem to be getting worse. Has this happened to anyone else? Have you had any enhancements? I am on the fence about getting it done, plus I don’t know if I would even be a candidate to have a “touch-up”. What are your thoughts if you’ve gone through this?

  13. Terry Posey January 19, 2011

    Brian, thanks for all the great information. I am having PRK Feb. 8, 2011. I read in Science Daily that “The researchers found some evidence that a greater proportion of eyes lose some of their visual acuity with PRK compared to LASIK six months after surgery. Vision lost after PRK may be due in part to a corneal haze produced by inflammation caused by the procedure. The risk of significant haze after PRK is an important difference between these procedures.” An anti-scar drug called mitomycin C has been used successfully to cut back on postoperative eye haze. Have you experienced eye haze and can you or any other reader offer any advise on eye haze? Thank you, Terry

  14. Noora January 20, 2011

    Terry, haze is a significant risk in PRK and all surface ablation. Most people get at least some haze, but with mitomycin c and steroid drops it can be healed. UV-radiation can worsen the haze which is why you are advised to wear sunglasses on bright days for at least 12 months after the surgery.
    I’ve had mild haze in both of my eyes which has slowed down the healing process somewhat. I’m now at 2 and 3 months out – I did my eyes separately, thank god – and I’m seeing adequately, but by no means is my sight perfect. But, the healing process continues. It just takes some time and a lot of patience. Problems with haze cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts and it can be quite depressing to wait for improvement.
    I understand that the risk for severe haze is greater if the correction is large.

  15. frank colosimo January 21, 2011

    I had PRK in November and about 2 months out now. Wasn’t a candidate for Lasik. Although they (Lasik Plus) told me it could take weeks even months for my vision to get to where it needs to be, they didn’t bother to tell me just how bad it could be in the meantime. I really shouldn’t have been driving and couldn’t see (even with glasses from Walmart) to work. It has been horrible. They keep telling me it’s getting better, but I see little improvement, if any. If you can’t have Lasik, rather than PRK, might consider implants. I just can’t believe that this will get better. My vision is distorted, especially in low light, and I can’t read captions on T.V. Have to put on my Walmart specs to use my cell phone!

  16. Justin January 22, 2011

    I had PRK last week on Wednesday, January 19th. That means I’m currently in my 4th day post op. The operation itself was painless though generally an odd experience. I was a bit tense, but staring at the blinking dot was not too bad.

    The day after the operation I could see well enough to get by outside, but it got worse after that, as many have said. My eyes had a bit of pulsing pain and grittiness in the past few days. Nothing extreme, but I took percocet to help sleep well.

    I’ve been taking fml 4x/day, and zymaxid 4x and acuvail 2x to avert any possible issues with the protective lenses. Im thinking of going back to work after they’re removed on Tuesday, but we’ll see. I work with computers.

    My story is pretty “normal” for PRK from what Ive heard, but I wanted to share my story with everyone here. Good luck to all!

  17. Jim N January 27, 2011

    Hi All,

    About one month ince my PRK. Had a checkup earlier this week. All is progressing well, and am now on 2 drops/day of FML from 3/day since surgery. Eyes are still a tad dry – doc wants me to continue Restasis and also use Genteal drops 7 times/day. Vision still fluctuates, but light sensitivity is gone. Some shadows, but I think I am used to dealing with them because I have very large pupils and they would always extend beyond the diameter of the lenses (even though they were a larger diameter than the typical gas permeable lenses). Am still wearing the cheap reading glasses for computer work, but can get along without them. Doc tells me all should settle over the next 5 months, although everyone can be different.

  18. Tennille January 27, 2011

    Hello everyone! I write to you in wonderful spirits happy to spread some good news. PRK can and does work. It has happened to me. And if you are 1st timer or a regresser like I am; PRK might change your life for the better.

    Here is the back story. In March 2008 I was approved to have regular Lasik surgery. I did not seek advice from my regular eye doctor and just went ahead to the free consultation at the Lasik center. I had so many friends and acquaintances that had the same surgery and loved the results. The common theme I heard was “My eyes were so bad, I wore glasses, etc.” I too had bad vision but what most people do not and still do understand (some of you out there will get this) just because you wear glasses DOES NOT mean you have bad vision. There are people who when they take their glasses off literally cannot see a single thing. Then there are people that won’t be comfortable without help of glasses or contacts but they could get through their day if they had to. I was in that first group-blind as a bat! My contact box was a -8.50 in one eye and a -9.00 in the other. That’s sucky vision and there are plenty of people out there with worse.

    Well that is the key right there. If you have a really high prescription like I did Lasik is going to probably work but it’s not going to make you happy. Let me explain carefully.

    I had the surgery and all went well. It was quick and painless. I absolutely hate those clamps that are placed over your eyes to keep them open. To me that is the worst part but you just keep focusing on the fact that you are going to see and you get through it. I went home took my nap and did everything under the sun to get better. So what was the problem?-Plenty. My eyes did improve-amazingly but not enough for me to feel comfortable with my life. What most people including my Lasik check-up doctor at the time did not understand was if you have contacts or glasses your entire life you know exactly what 20/20 vision looks like. Anything less feels like a nightmare! So here I am, I can’t go back to my old prescription, I cannot wear contacts, my Lasik doctor says give it more time….I still had to work and drive and function and it wasn’t working. If I wasn’t crying, I was in a panic to drive. If I was at work I couldn’t do my job properly. Two weeks after the surgery I demanded the Lasik doctor give me a prescription for glasses and I wasn’t leaving until she did. My eyes never improved from that point so it was the right thing to demand a script from her.
    Two months passed and I go to my regular eye doctor who basically gave me the lecture of if you would have checked with me first I would have told you that this surgery wouldn’t have worked for you without an enhancement. I remember at the free consultation someone mentioned the word “enhancement”, I didn’t realize enhancement just means to literally have the surgery all over again! So those were basically my choices because by the way I did just say the heck with it, give me contacts and I will call it a day…..no, no…my eyes couldn’t even take regular contacts anymore so that option was out too!
    Feeling dejected and lost my eye doctor told me to back to Lasik and just do the enhancement. I had come so far and to just end it now wouldn’t make sense.

    So I did. I went to Lasik and requested an enhancement. Not so fast again! The surgeon does them one eye at a time. So I had to schedule my first one in late May (plus you have to wait a decent amount of time from the original surgery) and my second one in July. So basically it was the surgery all over again…the clamps, the drops, the nonstop dryness. Only this time I literally had to go to a glasses store and beg the worker to remove one lens from my frames so I can see when driving and working. By the end of July I had had both eyes done and I could function without glasses but I was never really happy. It was okay to see but anyone who has worn glasses or contacts their whole life knows what it should really be like and this wasn’t it.

    So time went on and the regression game set in. First it was me thinking wow, driving at night seems to be really difficult. I should put my glasses on to drive. Then it was- driving at anytime. Then it was- I need my glasses to see at a concert or movie. Then it was- regular TV, and then by October 2010 I needed them for day to day life. How depressing! 3 surgeries under my belt for what less than two years of so-so vision?

    I went to an eye specialist who told me that technically I could have another laser surgery but whether or not the center would agree or what the success rate would be is anyone’s guess. Get used to no one giving you straight answers because every eye is different and no one can or wants to make a guarantee to you!

    So I go back to where I had everything done (remember you pay them a boat load so if you are like me, you are not going to pay someone new when you have a “lifetime guarantee”). Everyone sheepishly remembered me at the Lasik center and I started all the eye tests again to determine if I was still a candidate. While waiting, one of the workers who remembered me well pulled me aside to tell me that they had a new surgeon working there and everyone loves him. Not impressed I said, I just want this to get better already. She assured me that the surgeon will look at my charts and he is the type of doctor that will say yes or no to a case. There is no leaving it up to the patient with this surgeon, she explained. If he feels he can help you; all you have to decide is whether you want to do it or not. Plus she told me he would do both eyes at a time which after doing one eye at a time for my enhancements would be the way I would like to go.

    The following week after my tests, the surgeon himself actually called me! I was impressed by that. He told me he had read my case carefully and wanted to help me. However, he did not want to do Lasik, it must be PRK. He said something about not wanting to reopen my flap for the cornea and that PRK is actually the safer option for me. In the same breath he did warn, it would be a harder recovery time, and vision would fluctuate for a while (ha-like I don’t know what crappy vision would be like). We had a long talk about my fears but he felt confident that he could help me. He also believed that regressions are common for people with severe allergies and people who started with very high prescriptions and it didn’t surprise him that I had regressed considering my high prescription and if I were to regress again, it could be my eyes saying…this is enough.

    It was something about how the surgeon spoke to me and his belief that he could help me made me want to trust him. By the way, something that I also appreciated was that this surgeon had PRK done to his own eyes so for once I was talking to a professional and a patient who truly understood, which again made me believe in him. Can you tell I love this guy or what!!
    And with what I have been reading about PRK on here, that choice to do it wasn’t easy. Scared to death would be putting it mildly. It was my husband who finally said, it’s now or never. We do not yet have children, he would be around to help me, it is cold out, not allergy season for me, work was encouraging me to take the time off (they had all witnessed my breakdown in 2008 and wanted me to be happy) and the biggest factor ;my eyesight was really getting worse. A gambler at heart I agreed it was now or never and after this I can finally say I did try everything!!!

    I even posted on here before I left for PRK that morning. The surgery was on Jan 7, 2011. It will be three weeks tomorrow and I am doing great! The surgery itself was even faster than Lasik if that is even possible. The clamps were still there which I hate but everything else was painless and fine. I knew what to expect which in a way is worse but I got through it. I kept staring at the light and listening to my surgeon’s voice. When it was done, he checked my eyes through his scope one more time and sent me out.
    I already had boxes of preservative free drops waiting at home because I guessed if this was anything like Lasik the dryness is going to be unbelievable and believe me you can go through a box a day. At $10.99 a box ;that is nothing to sneeze at! I have my favorites since I tried them all and the winner by a mile is Soothe by Bausch & Lomb!!

    So I left Lasik(dad driving) with my prescription for painkillers that my dad drove me to get it filled and he took me home with my other three meds I had filled previously-Vigomox, Lotemax (which I am still taking) and an “aspirin for the eye” Acuvail which is in little vials just like the preservative free drops.

    I was scared at home about when the pain was going to set in. I laid down right away and started taking the drops two hours later and the only one that hurt was the so called aspirin for the eye, Acuvail. I wasn’t sure if that was normal that it was stinging and terrible so I took a painkiller. I felt tired and just slept. However late that evening the major sensitivity to light set in, and after taking another Acuvail drop, I was miserable. So technically I will never know if the pain was from the surgery or that terrible acuvail (which isn’t even necessary). Who knows what did me in?

    Thank goodness they make you go back to see the doctor (not the surgeon, I wish!!)the next day. My left eye had swollen shut and the doctor casually said that I was probably allergic to that acuvail. I was thinking that this is the type of information I should have been told BEFORE taking it but she assured me that I didn’t need it and that my protective lens had been disturbed and she would replace it with a smaller one. I did instantly feel better when she put the new one in. No vision was not good at that time so don’t even think about wondering if I could see well.

    From Saturday to Sunday I just took Percocet and ate and slept. Sunglasses were needed everywhere and that’s just how it was. I didn’t dare watch TV or use the computer. I wanted to give my eyes as much rest as possible. I listened to a lot of radio and listened to a book on cd. I stopped taking the Percocet by Sunday night…I didn’t need it and by the way this is gross but no one told me and I could not read the paper the meds came with but they can make you constipated! Here I am ordering all my favorite fattening foods like a sick spoiled kid…well by Monday night I was very uncomfortable to say the least…and it had nothing to do with my eyes…yikes!!

    By the following Thursday I had my lens out and my vision was good. I didn’t dare ask the doctor what I was seeing at, because unlike all the other times, I could tell my eyes were truly fluctuating for real! One moment I could see well other times not so much. Very freaky. However, this time when the sight was good it was really good and I could just tell this surgery was totally different from the others. I took off work for over a week and like many on here…try to give yourself as much time as you can! You may or may not need it but you do not want to go back to work if you are not ready.

    Fast forward to the next week and now-currently I drive at night-yes indeed…easily and happily! Can I drive in the daytime…yes indeed although I do need serious Ray Charles sunglasses…can I see and function at work..Indeed and not just function..Everything looks great! My life feels changed. The only thing that’s a bit slow going is how I see on the computer. But I am thinking if my distance vision is now nailed down then this up close vision is going to come eventually. I feel great and positive and for the first time since before the original Lasik surgery in 2008; happy with my vision. One weird thing to note, since my 1st Lasik surgery I have had annoying dry eyes. I was thinking after PRK that it was going to be worse, wouldn’t you know I have less of a dry eye now than before this surgery…go figure…I will have to mention that to the doctor when I go for my next appointment.

    And if regression happens in two years or ten years…I am okay with that. I will happily accept glasses then. I know for sure now I did everything I could possibly do to improve my vision and I won’t put my family or myself through it again. I rolled the dice too many times to want more. For now I am completely utterly happy. PRK can work and deep down inside I knew it must have worked for someone or none of us on here would be looking for signs to do it. And although there are so many horror stories, including my own, this PRK surgery was finally what I needed. I go back in another week and I will report to you all my current vision…but no matter what they say, I know I can see well and that is all that matters.

    I feel like many of you, the doctors simply do not give people enough information. Everyone reacts to surgery different and lets face it the surgeon has to know what they are doing. I plan on keeping an update on my vision because many times you look for sites that show the long term effects and they are not there. Either people loved it or hated it and do not write much more after the process.

    If you have questions, concerns or want to vent please email me. I know I am not the most technical person out there but I do have a wealth of experience with both procedures. I am seeing proof that PRK can work. Good luck to all and stay positive! My email is catsuit21@aol.com

  19. ryan February 4, 2011

    got prk a week ago. surgery was not bad. first day after surgery was piece of cake, 2nd day pain 8/10 3rd day pain 6/10 4th day fine, 5th day contacts out. no change in vision and seeing 20/20. i didnt take any pain medicine from start to finish. 7th day back to work at the refinery seeing fine. i am definately getting tired of taking all the drops though. Oh and no dry eye. plus other night drove all night and had no problem with night vision. i hope there is other stories out there like mine. Oh what will help you out alot is a cold compressent on the eyes. all it feels like after getting surgery is like you were punched in the eye. I got my eyes done at vision med in edmonton. i reseached all the fda reports on the current lasers and visionmed and most up to date laser with lowest percentage change of night vision problems/ glare/ etc etc.

  20. Tennille February 5, 2011

    Update! I just got my eyes checked after having PRK on 1/7/11. I am 20/25 in the right eye and 20/20 in the left! I might even improve in the right eye, who knows. Its so wonderful to see and to feel so happy!

  21. Angie February 9, 2011

    Thank you for this…I just had PRK on Feb 3rd, and your experiences will help me be prepared for the next month. I’m having the dried sticky morning eyeball too. That’s the worst.

  22. pam February 10, 2011

    I stumbled on this site and want to thank everyone for their experiences. I go in a week from today for my PRK. Nervous but excited. Part of me is wondering if I should move forward – I will need readers as I am choosing not to do mono-vision (potentially losing depth of field) I do a lot of computer work so that is a concern. All in all, I am encouraged by all of your posts. Thank You. Will check in post-surgery!

  23. Tiffany February 13, 2011

    I am scheduled for surgery on the 19th and am scared. Not of the procedure or recovery, but not being able to see for school. I am a full time student, employee, and mom!!!! One question I have is that with the fluctuating vision is it blurry but still able to see, or blurry where you just have stop all functioning. I wear toric lenses so I know what its like to see while blurry is it like that or worse (for those who’ve worn toric lenses)?

  24. Chris W. February 14, 2011

    Fantastic site. I was just informed this morning that I will be undergoing PRK instead of Lasik. This blog has given me a great overview of what to expect post procedure. I have an important question that I hope someone can answer. I am leaving on a 2 week family holiday to Florida exactly one week after having the PRK done and am considering postponing the procedure until after my holiday. Are there any issues or activities I won’t be able to do? (swim, sun tan etc.) Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated.

  25. Shelly March 4, 2011

    I am scheduled to have PRK at the end of the month. I work on a computer all day and I only have one week off of work for recovery. Are you able to work on a computer and function at work with the fluctuating vision problems? I am starting to have second thoughts about having this done.

  26. Stacy March 9, 2011

    I have my PRK on Jan 31th. Surg day and the next day were nothing, the 3rd day was the worse for me, swollen and pain. My vision was great after surg and then after having the bandages removed my vision went back to blurry but slowly got better. This week my vision has really improved and gotten crisper. I do put rewetting drops in my eyes every few hours for dryness. I don’t know if my healing is different since I was on a study for the guards that are placed in the eyes or not but they are trying to make them better for the healing process after the surg. I am very pleased so far with my progress.

  27. Kim March 10, 2011

    Great site! I had my PRK done on Feb. 25, 2011. Worked myself all up for nothing. The procedure wasn’t bad at all and very quick. Went home couldn’t sleep because although I was still a little blurry, I was amazed at how well I could see the television without glasses. I sat for hours with my eyes closed. I slept fine that night and felt good the day after surgery. Went to see my surgeon 24 hours after surgery and he said I was already 50% healed. WOW! That was fast. Stayed in the rest of the day with my eyes closed listening to the television and eating snacks. Although my eyes were not in pain, it felt as if I had been chopping onions all day which can be a little uncomfortable. Now day three (Feb. 27th) was the worst day for me but not as bad as I thought it was going to be from reading others experiences on the internet. They still felt as if I were cutting onions but also as if my contacts were irritating me. So I stayed in bed this day with my eyes shut, a towel and two snack ziplock bags of ice on them. This soothed my eyeballs. Day 4 (Feb. 28th) I felt so much better. Vision was still blurry but that’s what happens with the PRK. It looks as if you are looking through watery eyes. I had taken a week off from work but went back on day 5 (Mar. 1st). I had the lenses removed on day 6. At this visit I was told I was seeing 20/20 in both eyes but I don’t know how because the letters on the board were still very blurry to me. Day 7 no change. Day 8 – one week exactly from the surgery, I wake up and I’m seeing very clear. I was so happy I cried. I did the eyedrops and then my vision went back to blurry. And this is how it is 14 days later. I feel that my vision is really crisp when I wake up but as the day goes it fluctuates. I take the drops as prescribed. I’m not experiencing any dry eye (didn’t the entire time). I think this is because I take 3 fish oil pills a day normally and my doctor said it’s good for keeping the eyes moist. I also take 500mg of vitamin C. I think this is good for protection from the sun. I am on a computer all day and have a little problem with reading small print but I’m hoping it will clear up soon. If I had to do it all over again, the answer would be “YES!”. I know it takes time to heal but everyone that I know who had it done said it’s the best $$ they ever spent. I’m not completley healed but from what I can see, I can say the same thing.

  28. Tyler March 15, 2011

    Had my PRK done at the Scheie Eye Institute on the 8th of February, 2011. After I had the procedure done, I was taken back by how different the vision was! My first week was a work in process and I had achieved pretty decent vision up to that Saturday. Took my contacts out, and once I removed the lens from my right eye, SEARING pain for two days. Vision got somewhat better for week two. Week three was great and was nearing HD TV vision at 20/25 in both eyes.

    After mid week three, vision took a taper. Now cannot see things well at any sort of distance. Street signs and license plates? Forget it. Seeing the doc this week as that has me somewhat concerned. Perhaps this is normal, perhaps it is not. Drops that the doc had me on were Vigamox, Dicofemac, and Omnipred 4 times a day. Now am on Lotemax since the doc is wondering if I am having haze affecting my distant vision.

  29. sheryl March 21, 2011

    had the PRK mini-mono vision on March 16, 2011. They partially corrected my left eye for up close reading; fully corrected my right eye for faraway vision. The actual procedure was a breeze. I had pain in both eyes as soon as the eye drops wore off until the 3rd day, couldn’t keep my eyes open for more that a couple seconds. Now there’s no pain, just dry so the drops help. Just went to the eye Doc and they removed the bandaid lenses with no change in the blurrieness. They gave me a contact to wear in my right eye for a week as my eye isn’t quite healed yet. Hoping for the best!

  30. beechem March 28, 2011

    Thanks to everyone for all the posts and experience stories, I’m more nervous now then ever before. I’m scheduled to have prk in the morning 03-28-11 in kenner,la . I will do updates when I can..

  31. Faimay April 1, 2011

    Hi, I had prk on both eyes on the 22nd of March and today is the tenth day. The first two days after surgery were terrible for me and I had to rely on vicoden for the pain and discomfort. The eyes were swollen and I could not open them even for drops:( Then from the third day onward it got better and finally the contacts came out on Monday and discomfort has gone considerably. Although the vision fluctuates a lot and sometimes its crystal clear but them it gets out of focus. I have a few questions for all prk people,
    1. When should I start washing my eyes with soap and water? Or can i just wash my face with tap water now after the 10th day? I tried it once on the 7th day but it stung a lot so I am frightened, pls help!
    2. It feels like something is in my right eye, like a particle or something which doesnt go away even with the artificial tears. Has this happened to anyone?
    Thanks, looking forward to the answers!

  32. Tracy April 8, 2011

    Shelly, were you able to return to work on time? I had scheduled a week off after my prk surgery (3/4/11), but I couldn’t even see clearly to drive for 2 weeks. After that, I’ve cut back to only working for 4 hours a day, due to me straining my eyes so hard to clearly see the monitor. It’s now been 5 weeks and I feel as if this is something I should NOT of done. Hopefully you’ve had a more happy outcome

  33. Tom April 17, 2011

    My ex wife had PRK two days ago now. her checkup yesterday morning went well. however even though she was told that her eyes are 50% healed she still is unable to open them. she is still extremely sensetive to light. we are putting the drops in according to the schedule. she was hoping to be able to look after our children on her own but she still cannot drive or perform most unctions that require your eyes to be open. every time i call the emergency afterhours number the girl on the other end giggles and gives me a slightly longer time line and adds that this is “normal” they should have been more up front about the recovery process and the pain associated with this. not only is she not sleeping from the pain but now she is doubting her decision about this. will keep you posted….

  34. mateen April 18, 2011

    Had PRK on 4/14. First day, no pain. Second day pain and discomfort but better with pain killer. 3 day ok. 4 day contact lens out. Still not 20/20, very blurry and dry. hoping gets better soon.

  35. Debbie April 18, 2011

    I had my surgery 1 month ago. I’m very disappointed! I have every side effect happening! dbl vision, blurry, dry eye, light sensitive,squiggly lines,halos,and night vision? forget it!! Everyones face is blurry, signs etc…Nothing is crisp ever!!! BUT, iam experiencing something that NOT one other person has mentioned. My doc said it’s called “visual migranes”. He said it has nothing to do w the surgey…yeah right! I see lines, flashing lights, blurry, tunnel vision (which is crazy to experience)it lasts sometimes 2min all the way up to 20min. I’m experiencing this on top of all of the other side effects…I’m very discouraged and hope that my sight eventually clears!!!I just finished the steroids 2days ago so maybe a change is coming…Oh and at the beginning, i couldn’t open my eyes for 4days…no kidding!!!When i did, the tears would gush out of my eyes…The beginning was no joke my friends…I hope i can write back with great results but i’m truly scared…Thanks for listening & sharing!!!

  36. Michele April 23, 2011

    Just had Prk..no pain at all! Day 3 will be in the am

  37. Michele April 23, 2011

    I can see clear as I have ever seen!!! So happy

  38. Fran April 26, 2011

    Has anyone had experience taking a long haul flight soon after doing PRK? What would be the minimum amount of time to stay put before flying? I live in Asia and am planning to fly to the US to do the surgery. I originally planned to stay for about 10 days post-surgery and then fly back, but given a number of people’s experiences, now I’m not too sure how long I should stay. Any suggestions?

  39. Tracy Braga April 26, 2011

    I had PRK on 4/19. Lots of discomfort the third and fourth day. Had my 1 week follow up appt today and my eyes are healing well, but the dr. wants to leave the contact lenses in until Thursday!! Really frustrating, but what’s another couple of days. Its been a week and I thought by now my vision would have improved but its still blurry. I’m back to work and sit infront of the computer all day, so I use the lubricating drops religiously!! This has been a real test of my patience and I know the end result will be worth it.

  40. Brian April 27, 2011

    There has been a ton of great feedback on this post. Glad it was able to help so many.

    I’ve decide to close comments on this post as I think the info is all there.

    Thanks, Brian

  41. mehdi June 22, 2012

    I had a PRK on May/23/12 now its june 22 . I had prk on my right and lasik on my left. Well the left eye is 20/10 witch is better then 20/20. I love it and my right eye is getting there. i see 20/25 but everything is still little blurry and my vision is not good as the other eye. Im just hoping it well get better. PRK is such a pain compare to lasik. do your research before you get it done. doctor told me to give it about 6 months and it will be as good as the lasik eye. oh by the way i got it done with lasik plus in Atlanta GA .

  42. william July 1, 2012

    Today is July 1st, 2012; and I had PRK done on May 23rd 2012. Almost six weeks now. The first week was a little brutal….had pain of 5 on a 1-10 scale. days 3-5…but it went away on day 6 and was fine by day 7. Day 7 I was barely 20/40.

    I am 29 years old, have been wearing glasses since I was 10. Was a -5.25 in right eye and -4.75 in the left eye. I am active duty military and had it done at Lackland AFB.

    Since then, I am now 20/20 in both eyes. doing the steroid drops (Flourometholone Acetate) 3x a day and Refresh Plus tears every 15-20 minutes as needed. Still get the overnight uber dry feeling….when I wake up they are horribly dry until I get one drop in them.

    I have, however, developed a “smear” on my right eye. I have 20/20 vision, but on my right eye there is some ghosting/doubling of lights and text. When I’m approaching a traffic light, I see two of every light fixture/light bulb. as I get closer, they become one and it’s fine. the doc told me the epithelium was just healing differently and it would eventually go away. My left eye is perfect.

    found this blog when googling around for folk’s Post PRK life.

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