PRK recovery – week 4.

The last (two) weeks have been up and down. The nurse surprised me during my last exam when the eye I thought was my fuzzy one was actually better than my ‘good’ eye. Expect lots of that. An eye will be good up close for a couple of days, then distance is better. What is awesome is terrible 48 hours later.

I ran out of steroid drops on the holiday first thing and only got drops in one eye. KU Eye Med (the clinic I had the procedure done at) was apparently closed. It took over 24 hours to get refill drops. It could have just been in my head but my vision appeared to regress significantly. I got the drops back in mid-afternoon and throughout the evening my vision appeared to improve. Distance is still pretty fuzzy but it’s doable.  The most obnoxious part – one eye is sharper than the other at times, right? Prepare for headaches as your brain is angered at the processing changes.

There was a point today when I was driving and I couldn’t read the text on signs until they were closer than I would like where I began to wonder if something was wrong. Then I remembered my vision immediately after the surgery. Hold onto that memory. You will have nearly that level of clarity again. Focus will come and go until the outer layer is fully healed, nothing is wrong at this point.

PRK recovery day 8-14

There was a brief window between days 8 and 11 where I had ghosting (a double-image) as the left eye caught up to the right one in terms of being able to see. With that came quite the headache as my brain tried to process out-of-sync information. That cleared up fairly quickly.

Not a lot of changes here. My left eye has gradually caught up with my right one. I still see ghosting in my right eye a little but but the haze is completely gone. Down to a few drops of the steroids a day along with tons of drops. (Did I mention to get them at Costco? They’re a steal there.)

Testing today the eye has been completely healed. I can now take showers again. That will probably be the most enjoyable shower I have ever had. The doctor said one thing that was interesting – the surface of the eye is the holdup for clarity. Even though the flap has closed it’s still rough causing a slight bump. They noted that I was ahead of the healing curve but that I was sitting at 20/20, and 20/15 respectively and things have not cleared up yet. I attribute the accelerated healing to luck, and religiously taking the drops on-time.

No scarring, no corneal haze. Pretty lucky all things considered. My vision is better than it has been for years, even with correction. If you have astigmatism… get PRK. It’s worth it. If you’re on the fence on if PRK is worth it even with the suck of the first week… it is. Even with slightly fuzzy vision.

Other things that are interesting, my next checkup is 6 weeks out and it will likely be my last. At this stage I’m not done with care, I still have 4x daily steroid drops and I have to wear shades outside. There’s a risk of scarring if you don’t. I read a lot of FUD about what the steroids do. In case anyone is reading this and has seen the same – they promote healing, not slow it down. There’s a nice bonus where they reduce inflammation – allowing you to see better against light during the painful days.

I’ll update weekly from here on out, but won’t post daily unless something big happens. Now that I can see again I’ll have to go back and proof-read earlier posts 🙂

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.