PRK prep

As one of the last posts in this series I wanted to highlight a couple of things that I’d recommend to prepare.

First, a tub. Make sure you can either not bathe for a week without issue or that you can take a bath somewhere. You’re not going to be able to take a shower for a minimum of a week safely – there’s too much risk of infection until the layer of skin on the eye grows back.

Second, a place where you can go that’s absolutely dark. Again, a bathtub is a very nice way to relax during the day or two of light sensitivity you might experience.

You’ll need lubricant. My doctor gave me a days supply of drops, but you’re going to want quite a few more. I used 50 of these in about 6 days. Go for 100, you will use them. If you don’t have a Costco membership this is the lowest price per unit I’ve found. The sticks are nice because you can stuff a few in your pockets if you’re going to be away from home for a while and each stick can be used in both eyes 2 or 3 times.

 

If there’s a Costco in your area and you are a member you can get them slightly cheaper but it requires a membership:

http://www.costco.com/Refresh-Plus%C2%AE,-100-Single-Use-Containers.product.11318658.html

Even after it’s no longer a requirement for my surgery I’ll keep buying this brand. I hate putting stuff in my eyes and the squeeze trigger on these makes it so much easier. There’s no surprise when the drop will land.

Food – this seems simple but if you skip this step and don’t have someone around that can cook/order food for you on the light sensitive days you’re probably going to go hungry rather than deal with the pain. Stock up on foods with vitamin C and load up immediately before and during your recovery. It helps.

Safety goggles/sunglasses. I’m into scuba so I actually used a scuba mask to risk a partial shower after most of the healing was done. You absolutely should not risk getting water in your eyes. Be extremely careful, and only attempt this with something you know for sure won’t leak.

Entertainment. Even reading paper books is going to be tricky, and you’re not going to be watching TV/movies through the process – just too hard. Stock up on audiobooks, music, TV shows that you can just listen to, etc.

Work. I was able to work the next two days after but it was hard. Make sure that you plan for at least a week of not having to be in the office. Your experience might vary drastically but keep your options open.

Sleep aids. You might look at melatonin, or other chemicals to help you get to sleep. Trust me. It works it’s effective, and there will probably be times you need the help. Falling asleep when your eyes are this kind of irritated can be difficult.

PRK recovery day 7

I’ve had a bit of trouble sleeping the last couple of nights since my contacts came out. It’s not a lot, but it is noticeable at times. It doesn’t feel like anything is in my eye at this point but it does feel rough when I blink. That’s somewhat to be expected. It’s much less than yesterday. I don’t know how much is left to heal but I woke up with vision in my left eye equal to that in my right as of Sunday. I’m starting to get brief glimpses (usually immediately after using drops) where I can see with a clarity I have not had since day 1.

The haze in my left eye is almost completely gone and it’s being replaced by a slightly fuzzy blur. I can see sharpness again in my right eye but getting it to focus takes a little work. If progress continues on this rate I expect that I’ll have as good as vision as I had with glasses by this weekend.

One of my friends asked about halos as a lot of the earlier surgeries had issues with them. That apparently has been mostly removed as a problem when they started mapping the eye itself. At this stage I can notice a little halo. When I wore glasses earlier (astigmatism)  there was more halo that exists in either eye at this point. LEDs across the room have a little blur but as of lat night it’s almost clear.

I probably will just have short blurbs from here on out, unless something unexpected happens. I think I’d pinpoint day 5 (Sunday) or day 6 as the big turning points in recovery. Even if my vision doesn’t improve from here, it was absolutely worth it and I would undergo the procedure again in a second.

PRK Recovery Day 6

Today the contacts came out. I figured it would be a slightly painful experience. Not so. They numbed my eyes again and pulled the contacts out. They’re pretty much like regular contacts. She used tweezers which I figured would be hard to hold still for but you don’t see ’em.

I had 3 rounds of vision testing. Before the contacts came out I tested at 20/30, and 20/25 respectively. Using the pinhole test I was easily able to get 20/20. When they contacts were removed I was still able to see 20/30, and 20/25 letters but I missed a couple more. My vision did get worse, but barely.

I did still have a hole in the skin but it was tiny so they opted to keep the contacts out – I just have to use the steroid and antibacterial drops a bit more.

Very pleased with the progress so far. I can almost see well enough to read standard font on a computer screen. It is no longer 84px 🙂

PRK Recovery Day 5

The scary sensation of not being able to see, and the feeling of something being in my eye is almost completely gone. I woke up and I’d guess I started the day at 20/50 vision in my right eye and 20/70ish in my left eye. As the day went on my right eye cleared up enormously, well enough to drive comfortably. I’d guess that it wound up at 20/40 or better vision. My left eye by the end of the day was close to where the right eye started.

The feeling of sharpness being hidden by a haze is starting to go down. I don’t know if that means my vision is just getting back to where it should be, or if I’m going to wind up with worse than 20/20 vision. It’s unsettling, but probably nothing. Tomorrow I have my follow-up appointment where they take the contacts out. I’m curious to see if my wildly rough guesses of where my vision is comes close to what it actually is. If my left eye sharpens up as overnight as either eye did last time I’ll be pretty comfortable in driving in the morning. They say that your vision worsens when they take the contacts out. If that is the case, we’ll have to see how much worse. Hopefully that + sleep is a wash.

PRK Recovery day 4

Christmas Day! I survived!

Day 3 of PRK was by far the worst. I had mild sensitivity on day 2 but it wasn’t bad. Day 3 I could barely see. On Christmas Day the light sensitivity was definitely present.

I felt like I had something in both eyes but the left eye was the worst. I could keep my eyes open in a room with lights but I couldn’t look outside and keep my eyes open.

This was the day that I knew that my eyes were healing. I woke up and my sharp vision was gone. Replacing it was a warm fuzzy haze. This wasn’t like being near-sighted. I could tell that there was a sharp line behind the fuzz, but there’s a layer of tissue between diffusing the light. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s not at all like being near, or farsighted.

Probably the best way to visualize it is as having crystal clear vision, then putting a few layers of Saran Wrap between you and something. It just gets hazy.

On surgery and recovery day 1 I’d say I easily had 20/15 vision. On day 2 in retrospect it probably dropped a little bit. I’d guess 20/20 maybe – not enough to notice, but a drop. In the morning I’d guess I had 20/100 vision, if that in both eyes. Very blurry. Not as blurry as if I’d not had my glasses, but the sharp was gone. It was a little more pronounced in my left eye than my right eye and as the day went on that got progressively more noticeable. By the end of the night my vision in my right eye was much sharper than my left. My right eye had cleared up, I’d guess maybe a 20/60ish vision in my right, 20/80 or 20/90 in my left.

As with the rest of this post, any assumptions I make are purely speculation by an untrained person. I’m comparing my vision pre, post, and in recovery to make a guess.

PRK Recovery Day 3

Day three. AKA life on the surface of the sun.

I finally got the exam scheduled in December to limit my out of pocket. Because of the doctor I picked, I had to have the procedure done in December or lose my HSA money. I had hoped it wouldn’t drastically limit my ability to see on Christmas but it was worse than I had feared. Day 3 of recovery was Christmas Eve.

The light sensitivity was a special kind of hell. I couldn’t keep my eyes open at all with any kind of light so we bit the bullet and my wife drove us to my parents (a 6 hour drive.) Even with the shades the vision center gave us I couldn’t keep my eyes open for a second or two and even without that, they wouldn’t focus. Everything was crystal clear at this point, but the pain manifesting as light sensitivity was out of this world. For the drive I had to have my shades on, and a hoodie over my head for most of the drive. This is easily the most frustrating experience in my adult life. Our vision is precious, and this reminder of it was really a kicker.

I’d had a some contacts really bother my eye earlier in the year (the catalyst for saving for Lasik) and my experience there was light sensitivity that gradually went away as my eyes got used to the light. That was NOT the case here. Second one looking out a window, huh, eyes focused and clear but with a weird sensation forming. Seconds two and three, eyes unfocusing, absolutely no way to stop it. Second four, ow, and actual pain. Seconds five+, tears forming, eyelids shutting, no ability to keep them open.

I love the show House, and one of the things they did in an episode was to note that your body only feels pain in a single area. The light sensitivity was a form of pain. If I pinched myself very hard I could keep my eyes open no problem. That was useful to get through skimming a webpage for some information I needed. Other than that, I was essentially blind around anything bright.

I am incredibly grateful to my wife for taking care of me. She literally had to take my hand as I walked with closed eyes. To an outsider, they probably would have assumed I was blind.

If you are undergoing this procedure, make sure to either have a roommate, significant other, or a very good friend that can take care of you. I’d advise lining up food, taking time off of work, and just being prepared to live in darkness for a day or two.

PRK Recovery Day 2

I started the day working easily (on a computer screen.) I had to dim the screen after about an hour and I wasn’t in discomfort, but I couldn’t have the brightness all the way up without taking breaks. I tried taking the pain medication they gave me but it didn’t affect the light sensitivity at all. It actually made it worse – or so I thought at the time – but it was just gradually increasing. I believe this was the beginning of healing. I no longer felt like there was something stuck in my right eye, but that had moved firmly to my left eye.

The sensation was not distracting, but definitely present.

I made the mistake at the end of the night of trying to see Star Wars. Mistake. I was able to see part of the previews and that was it. Eyes closed for the rest of the movie. Even a thin slit was too painful. My eyes wouldn’t keep open.