Everythingspa’s Blog

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PRK laser eye surgery update January 20, 2011

Filed under: Zyoptix — everythingspa @ 4:51 pm
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Two weeks ago, I underwent a corrective laser eye surgical procedure known as Zyoptix PRK.  The procedure was to reduce my dependence on wearing glasses, which I’ve worn since second grade. I’ve been holding out on writing about my experience because I wanted to have some good news to write about.  Oh, and because I haven’t been able to see the keyboard or screen well enough until now.  Click here to read about my decision to have laser eye surgery.

What I can see since the surgery is quite a miracle.  Colors, textures and anything with really large font, like the Exit sign that I could see immediately after surgery.  And that’s amazing, considering my uncorrected vision was so poor.  It’s what I can’t see that’s been scaring me.  The surgery was in the neighborhood of $4,000, not covered by health insurance.  For that price, I want to be able to see without glasses until my age dictates I’ll need reading glasses – which my surgeon suggested would be in a few years.

When I first started writing this article, a few sentences at a time, I had the zoom blown up to 500%.  It was obnoxiously large, but its what I could see at the time.  Now, 200% zoom at close distance, with reading glasses, is just fine.  If this is as good as it gets, I’ll be disappointed for sure.  But my doctor has assured me, repeatedly, that everything I’m experiencing is normal and that my vision will get better.  Not overnight, but it will get better.

The procedure itself was painless and I barely experienced any discomfort. I was more uncomfortable when my doctor was explaining the steps of the procedure to me just before I went into surgery.  OK, so there may have been a little incident where I almost passed out and the surgery had to be delayed for about 20 minutes while I recovered from the cold sweats, nausea, and nearly blacking out.  But as soon as the feeling passed, I was ready to go!  (This isn’t my first near-fainting experience when it comes to medical procedures.  The mere act of having blood drawn has been known to cause this reaction.  Needless to say, I’m not a frequent supporter of blood drives – I’m just too high maintenance of a donor for that).

When my vision allows me to resume writing regularly again, I’m planning to write a more detailed account of the experience.  I’ve found it helpful to read other patients accounts of their experience and healing process and I’d like to do the same for others.

My left eye is trailing behind my right eye in visual acuity and healing.  This can be maddening at times because the left eye is so blurry and much more uncomfortable – scratchy, a little red, itchy and generally just a bit more “hyper”.  It took eight or nine days for my right eye to feel comfortable. If I focus too long, I get headaches above my eyes and in my forehead.  I’m able to use my laptop for a short duration with very large font at very close range.  Strong lighting is a must.  I went out and bought several pairs of reading glasses with various magnification powers and I’ve been using +2.0 to sharpen my vision and to be able to read a bit.  I started to be able to read for enjoyment for 10 or 15 minutes at a time around day 12 and that feels like more trouble than it’s worth.  This has perhaps been the toughest part about recovering from this surgery because I’m an avid reader.  By the end of the day, I can’t wait to close my eyes and sleep because of fatigue, eye pressure and pain.  By morning, I’m seeing my best and have a few hours before things start to go downhill again.

It took me 12 days post-surgery to feel comfortable enough to drive again.  I kept thinking that I’d get out and make a test run, but I kept putting it off because I didn’t have to drive and I didn’t feel I was ready.  My friends and family have been incredibly helpful and supporting:  bringing meals to my family (soup has been very popular), driving me to doctor appointments and taking me grocery shopping, lest I spend more than 3 or 4 days without a visit to Wegmans.

I’ll return to work on Monday after a 2-½ week absence.  I only expected to be out a week, but my visual acuity and discomfort have dictated otherwise.  I’m working up to being able to focus for more than short periods of time since my job requires using a PC almost 100% of the time.

Every day gets a little better: a little less uncomfortable, a little less pain, and just a little bit more visual clarity.  With PRK, the recovery time is significantly greater than Lasik.  It can take several months before the vision is completely stable and I can expect fluctuations during healing.  I can’t drive at night and may need glasses for night driving, but it’s too early to be fitted for glasses because my vision is changing so rapidly.  Needing a correction is not out of the question, but it’s not even an option for 2 to 3 months.  It takes about 6 months for follow-up care to be complete.

Many times over the last two weeks I’ve questioned my decision to have this surgery.  I miss the clear, sharp vision that my glasses provided and the quality of life I had before.  Just last night, I had a breakthrough and some of the pain and discomfort subsided in the left eye and the clarity is a little better today.  I’m holding off on casting final judgment until I’ve fully healed and until my vision stops changing.  Wish me luck and don’t hesitate to send a prayer, blessing or positive thought my way.  🙂  And I’ll be sure to ket you know how my first visit to the spa is without glasses when I finally get there.


9 Responses to “PRK laser eye surgery update”

  1. […] more: PRK laser eye surgery update « Everythingspa's Blog Translate this post Tagged with: been-the-toughest • eye surgery • eyes • […]

  2. everythingspa Says:

    The procedure itself was painless. I’m having lots of discomfort during the recovery and much frustration over poor vision – but very little actual “pain”.

  3. […] Laser Eye Surgery: Weighing the Advantages and Disadvantages – Durham Lasik Eye SurgeryPRK laser eye surgery update Lasik Eye Surgery AnswersGet the information you need before deciding on Lasik Eye […]

  4. Good luck and I hope you will recover quickly from the laser eye treatment. I had a Lasik done about a year ago and no problems at all, I think it must depend on your eyes and whether or not the correction is important.

  5. Zulie Rossouw Says:

    I had PRK laser here in South Africa 14 days ago. (Both eyes). The procedure was absolutely painless and easy. But 3 hours later back at home the pain set in. It was very painful for a day and my eyes remained shut for a day. When the eyes opened next day I could not handle the glare. It is better to sleep it away. 2 days later eyesight was good just dryness and bandage was irritating. Both eyes recovered exactly the same and on the 5th day I could drive. It is now only 14 days since operation and I can see extremely far. Just have to wear read glasses because I am 57. But am happy with that. Dryness is still a little there but getting better. Only 14 since operation and its good! If it gets even better then thats great! Your eyes are so precious so one must choose a competent doctor.

  6. Dan Says:

    What a great contribution to help prospective patients waiting for laser eye surgery to get a first hand account of the experience from someone who has undergone the operation. Well done!

  7. Hey I was wondering if you now (1.5 year later) have any discomfort from the eyelaser operation. I am currently doubting if I want a eye laser surgery, but I am a little concerned about possible long term problems. Thanks in advance

  8. everythingspa Says:

    Hello and thank you for your question. The discomfort is very minimal and is limited to chronic dry eye which can sometimes feel sore. But the surgery was life changing for me after wearing glasses for a lifetime.

    I don’t see quite as well as I expected to. I wear reading glasses for most computer work and reading and as I age this is the natural progression.


  9. Zulie Rossouw Says:

    Hello! Zulie here.

    Update to my above comment of December 2011 …..

    Two years later and my eyes are doing fine. Had some minor dryness on and off on a daily basis but good eyedrops helped.

    2 years later, I no longer have daily dryness at all. The only problem I’m experiencing now is when I wake up in the morning my one eyelid gets stuck and when I open it, it can be painful. But I have found my way around it by opening it gently. Actually I wait for the eye to self lubricate and then open it. Luckily this morning dryness only lasts for a few seconds.

    Vision is still good. I can see very far whereas before I had to use contact lenses. (used contact lenses for 30 years). I now only wear glasses for reading but Doctor said that would be normal at my age of 59.

    So I am happy I had the procedure. One just has to have patience and follow Doctor’s orders and it will be great. I just miss my contact lenses when I peel onions!

    P.S. Doctor said I had to go the PRK route instead of Lasik because of age and thin cornea etc. He did say it would be more painful than Lasik but only for a day and so it was but worth it. I followed instructions and that helped.

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