Sunday, May 29, 2011


May 29, 1010**

Hello! I'm using this blog to track my experience getting and recovering from PRK. I've done a lot of research on this procedure, but being the more common option, there's a lot more information on LASIK than PRK and I couldn't find good, recent coverage
especially in terms of first-person accounts of PRK. So, I'm going to provide my own to record my own experience and for anyone else who might find this useful!

I'm going to use this post to link to specific entries regarding my laser eye surgery so that whoever is reading can skip to the specific parts they're interested in.

Thanks for coming and hope that someone finds this helpful in either making their own decision to get PRK or helping them through their own experience once they're en route!

**Note: I am not being paid or compensated in any way to endorse the individuals and clinics mentioned on this blog. I'm only reporting my experience as I undergo treatment for the sake of recording my own impressions out of my own interest..


Finding the Right Surgeon
(and details of the difference between LASIK and PRK)
Post-Procedure (by day)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 54

This entry is actually backdated as summer travel and starting work has taken up an enormous amount of my time. But my last exam was spectacular--I'm seeing 20/15 out of my right eye and 20/20 out of my left eye! It was explained to me that the the reason my left eye is lagging behind in healing is because the level of myopia in it pre-surgery was stronger, requiring them to remove more during the laser reshaping process. Naturally, it also would take longer for the eye to recover.

I'm told, now, that while the clarity of vision is often there, what the healing process will provide now is speed of clarity--that is, while I can blink a few times and then see 20/15 or 20/20 (depending on which eye), the way the healing is progressing will now allow for my eye to more easily attain that state of instant clarity rather than having to blink and blink and wait the way I feel I had to when I had astigmatism. I'm still using the occasional eye drop when I'm pulling another late night (I really like Allergan Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops), and I sometimes get this really terrible tearing sensation when I forget and rub my left eye (god knows what that sensation actually means, but no one at the Stanford Eye Laser Center says they can see anything detrimental associated with it).

Either way, I have very little I can complain about. Getting PRK is still one of the best decisions that I've ever made. I went to see Inception during the opening week and was amazed at how I could sit back and see the entire screen without constantly having to push my glasses back up. I traveled through Vietnam and China and didn't have to worry about fumbling around with glasses or not seeing the things around me clearly (not to mention that it's so humid at some of these places that glasses will fog up the moment you step outside). Now, having started work, while I sometimes miss having my glasses as a fashion accessory, it's nice to know that I'm seeing the things around me in all the detail that they deserve. Now I'm just aiming for that steady 20/15 in both eyes in the upcoming months!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 22

I just came back from my third checkup today and things are apparently progressing very well.

For a short recap of relevant events, about a week ago I started experiencing the "ghosting" effect that everyone at the eye clinic warned me about. For me it was more like double vision; I would see some text (say, a sign) and right above that text would be a pretty clear, relatively solid copy of that text. Both eyes experienced this, but it was more severe for the left eye than the right eye. I asked the technician who was helping me why it happened and he explained that some slight astigmatism can occur while healing progresses.

Other than that, I've had relatively little pain as healing has occurred. A few times, I've woken up with that terrible feeling like my epithelium had started healing to my eyelid and opening my eye felt, at first, like ripping skin and then like burning onions. But this was likely also because of dryness since I'm moving from using Flarex, an anti-inflammatory drop, four times a day to two times a day. Lessening the Flarex use is also apparently important because the drops tend to thin out the layers of re-growing epithelium, so Dr. Manche also told me that healing should progress much faster as I slow and eventually stop using these specific drops altogether.

At the moment, I'm seeing at around 20/30 in both eyes, though my left eye is still lagging behind my right in terms of healing. As Dr. Manche explained, there are five layers of epithelium that need to be healed and each takes around 6-8 days to do so, but since they grow towards the middle of the eye from the sides of the abrasion that is made during the procedure, when they meed in the middle there tends to be some wrinkling or buckling (the example he used is like the meeting of tectonic plates). I was told that these deformities will correct themselves once the epithelium layers are completely healed, so during those days I'll be able to see marked changes in the clarity of my vision from day to day.

Other than this, there doesn't seem to be any news to report! No dryness, except once or twice. No more pain. My vision is already good enough to drive and getting better day by day. Hopefully things continue to progress quickly and positively!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 6

Today, I had my bandage contacts removed! While there's no difference in my vision (everything is still blurry), Dr. Manche assured me that this week was going to be the worst as far as blurriness goes. I went to my last class of the quarter today despite not being able to see very much (you'd be surprised how nerve-wracking it is to navigate public transportation when everyone and everything is a blur) and had the interesting experience of an in-class debate where I couldn't discern the facial expressions of my professor or any of my class members. You would think that would make it easier for me to say what I think, but I'm realizing that I'm very dependent on other peoples' facial cues when I'm communicating with them. I've also had a few friends walking in on me trying to use the computer--face super close to the screen and text ballooned up to enormous sizes--and that's earned me a laugh or two. I've also had the absolute joy of explaining to one of my professors that I need her to print off a special copy of the final for me where everything is in 18 pt font so that I don't have to strain so much to get through it. But after that last exam on June 4th, I'm totally done! Working my ass off to finish my thesis before the procedure was definitely the way to go.

I'm still feeling every now and then like I have something stuck in my eye but otherwise the pain is gone. It might also be worth mentioning that while Dr. Manche told me that these contacts were meant especially to hold on tightly to your eye--thus, the "bandage" aspect--I didn't actually end up feeling a difference between these and the regular contacts I wore throughout middle school and sporadically from high school on, which is probably the same reason why I stopped wearing them in the first place. I'm not sure if a pain scale rating is relevant anymore though, and I wish we had some kind of established scale for blurriness that I could actually measure at home so I could track that as well, though even that might not be sufficient. Even as I'm blinking and typing this entry, one blink will show clear[er] text and the next blink, everything will be fuzzy again.

I just have to keep telling myself that it's the worst week! Everything after this will be easy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day Five

Unfortunately, the blurriness began today. It's irritating because while it's bad enough that, say, a computer screen is hard to see without putting my face very close to it, the prescription on my old glasses is too strong to clear anything up, so I just have to tolerate fuzzy vision for a while. The strangest part is that pre-PRK, my left eye was a good amount worse than my right eye. Right now, I'm definitely leaning on my left eye when I need to see things more clearly, which is something I've never done since I was--what, 8 years old? My optometrist told me that one eye got worse more rapidly than the other because I had a habit of leaning on my left hand while I read, putting my left eye that much closer to the book and compounding the damage done to my left eye because of close reading. Either way, guess that side is getting its chance to lead for the first time in my life!

All the markers of clarity that I used in my previous post (the TV at 8 feet, the door at 15 feet, etc.) are blurry like they were when I was myopic. Obviously, this is part of the healing process, but it reminds me of the reason why I wanted to get LASIK in the first place. I'm not the most patient person at the best of times and I love instant gratification, so it feels like a tease to be able to see so well for a few days (especially since was lucky enough to bypass the terrible pain that most PRK patients experience), and then be able to track it exactly as it leaves again. To be fair, though, I knew that this was coming and, honestly, it just helps to be able to whine about it a little.

I've been reading up on some medical studies about post-PRK epithelium healing (studies done on children, actually, which found that for the kids studied between the ages of 5 and 9, it took an average of 3.5 days for their epithelium to heal completely--damn age onset!) and it really seems like a good deal of lubrication plus resting the eyes (that is, not using the computer as much as I do despite the dryness and irritation it causes) really helped the patients' eyes to heal faster. So now, in addition to the regular anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial drops I'm putting in every 6 hours, I'm going to try to use the lubricating drops regularly in between as well. I have another appointment tomorrow--lets see how it goes!

Today, on a pain scale, was only a 3 out of 10 at most (when I woke up from a nap and my left eye was so dry it wouldn't open).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day Four

So while today, I would say, is the same amount of discomfort as yesterday, my sensitivity to light is pretty substantial. The brightness on my computer screen is turned very low and even that sort of strains my eyes. I felt like a rock star wearing a friend's borrowed sunglasses indoors (because I've obviously never had a reason to buy sunglasses in the last couple years--I could never pull off the glasses over glasses look) but opening the fridge was like looking into a small supernova.

Unfortunately, the pressure of a sleeping mask on my face is also pretty unpleasant, so I've closed all my blinds, turned off all my lights, and I'm planning on spending most of the day with my head under my covers, sleeping again.

There's also a marked difference in vision with my left eye now, which has gone blurry. Luckily, I haven't noticed any haziness or glare otherwise.

My attempt to hang out with friends had to happen in the darkest part of the apartment, and I felt a bit like a shady drug deal was going down. We decided to watch a movie--Ip Man 2--and while I can happily report that I could read the subtitles more often than not, I did spend most of it looking away from the screen at the darkness beside the TV. Suffice to say I have no idea what this movie was about.

Maybe as a result of pushing my light-sensitive eyes to do much more than they wanted to, at night I had a bit of a headache and that onion-burning feeling in my eyes again. I popped a Vicodin and went to sleep (on my own--sleep debt is its own Valium) and when I woke up a couple hours later everything felt normal again. I broke into my audiobooks at this point, which have been sitting on my ipod for years as I've really had no use for them, and an hour and a half later, I have to say they aren't so bad at all.

Overall, today was a 4 out of 10 on the pain scale, dropping to maybe 2 out of 10 when I was just relaxing in the dark not doing anything (i.e. bored) and rising to a 4 out of 10 when I was trying to entertain people who'd come over.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day Three

I woke up today because of the "pain" in my eyes, although it wasn't excruciating as I thought it would be. Instead, the sensation is persistently annoying and absolutely comparable to the feeling you get when cutting onions, except that blinking doesn't make it go away. I took a Vicodin and it seemed to make even the sensation go away enough that I'm on a computer typing this entry up right now.

Although I prepared for severe light sensitivity by putting up temporary curtains, the light of my slightly dimmed computer screen or the not-dimmed television screen doesn't irritate my eyes. At first, when I woke up because of the onion-eyes feeling, the bright sun bursting through the windows was terrible, but that could also be just because I woke up and then stared directly outside. Mild artificial light in the room felt fine as well, and so, just to test, I opened one of my blinds to let natural light in and only after about half an hour to an hour later did the light begin irritating my eyes enough that I needed to close them.

Hopefully, as this is supposed to be the worst day by other accounts, this is as bad as it gets because, really, it's not bad at all. By about 10pm I've slept most of the day (Vicodin plus a student's regular amount of sleep debt around thesis time made this easy). Dr. Manche did warn me that the blurriness I'm experiencing is going to increase in the next few days and if this is the extent of the pain, I know what it is that I'll be more irritated by (blurriness after a few days of good vision? Gah!).

Overall, today felt like a 5 out of 10 max on a ten point pain scale, and only at the points where I had that persistent onion fumes feeling.