PRK Vision Correction: My Experience

(Update: read my post about my consultation here and about my longer-term recovery here.)

Alternate title: “Lieutenant Kelsey!  You got new eyes!”

WARNING:  If you have a weak stomach or get squeamish when talking about eyes, you might want to skip this post and maybe read my post from the other day about my surgery (although Jennie still got grossed out from it).  THERE ARE PHOTOS.  AND VIDEOS.

My last photo with glasses on! Also note how I covered my windows with blankets. I was ready!

I got to the doctor’s office where the surgery was going to take place at 4:30, and as soon as I got there they told me to take the Valium that they had prescribed me, which I never really felt kick in.  At 5:00 they took me back to get prepared.  I was wearing comfy clothes and had brought along pants and a long sleeved shirt since the surgery room was going to be 70 degrees F, so when they took me back I put those on.  The assistant Susan who had done all my tests put about a million drops in my eyes of various things (I think the same antibiotics and anti-inflammatory that I had been putting in my eyes the last couple days) and then she disinfected all around my eyes with iodine.  Mom said it turned the skin all around my eyes brown until she wiped it off with gauze.  Then she brought me a hair cap thingy and blue booties to put over my flip-flops (lol).

They gave me a sticker to put on my stomach upside-down to remind the doctor what he was doing. Also I was apparently into thumbs-ups that day.

After she was done prepping me, Susan stayed in the room with Mom and me until the doctor was ready.  I took this opportunity to ask her some questions, since she had had the surgery herself.  I had read a blog post about PRK that kind of scared me; the guy said he was in so much pain that he was taking the Vicodin they prescribed him every 3 hours for a couple of days, and as far as I knew I wasn’t being prescribed any painkillers at all!  At my consultation Susan and Dr. Borisuth had said my pain might be a 1 or 2 out of 10, which Susan reiterated when I asked.  She and my mom said that I shouldn’t pay attention to it because the post was written by a man. 🙂  I also asked what the whole procedure was going to be, and Susan explained to me how they were going to tape my eyes open as well as hold them open with a metal device, remove the clear outer membrane (the epithelium), and then the laser would do its thing.  So I knew what to expect.

Lying down in surgery.

When I got into the surgery room, I laid down on the bed (lay? laid?  I really need to figure those out.) and they placed me correctly, then put numbing drops in my eyes.  After that they went to work on my right eye first: taping and holding it open with a metal thingy, putting in more drops, irrigating with cold water/solution/whatever, scrubbing off the membrane, etc.  They warned me when there was going to be about a minute that I couldn’t see (when they put a little sponge thing on my eye to scrub off the membrane; watch the video farther down) but I could still see flashes of light/the equipment when he moved it around so I didn’t feel like I was blind or anything.  After that was done they started the laser.  There was a blinking light that I was supposed to be focusing on the whole time and when they got the laser in the correct position, they started it; it took about 25 seconds and the assistant was counting so I knew how much longer I had.  I couldn’t see any light but I could hear it sparking and smelled something like burned rubber.  Then they put in some more drops (I think… I can’t remember everything they did), took off the tape, took out the metal thingy, taped some sort of cover with little holes in it over my right eye, then moved on to the left eye and did the same thing.  The whole thing took about 15 minutes.

The clear stuff you see is the tape, plus the metal clamp holding my eye open.

It really wasn’t a bad experience.  The hardest thing was trying to keep my left eye open while they were working on my right eye; Dr. Borisuth kept saying “Keep both eyes open” but it was soo hard!  I told him that after the surgery and he said that there was some reflex that when causes one eye to roll back into your head when the other is held open, which was what mine was doing.  I had no idea.  Right after the surgery my vision was already improved, but not great, and I was sensitive to light, especially when we went outside.  I basically kept my eyes shut the whole way home.  When I got home, I laid down in my (super dark) room while Mom made me a baked potato for dinner.  I ate it with my back to the bright window and my eyes not open all that much, then went to sleep for the evening, which is what the doctor suggested.

I took this photo in the car on the way home. I was given clear goggles to wear that day and at night for a week, plus some awesome sunglasses to put over top. I was trying not to grimace and keep my eyes open, haha.

Tuesday (one day post-surgery): I woke up at 1 am and put eye drops in my eyes.  They were SUPER sticky and dry (I think from having the contacts in) but other than that I was in no pain.  All day Tuesday my eyes were pretty sensitive to light but it was manageable; I managed to go into town for my checkup without too much difficulty.  I even felt good enough to go to fireworks that night, although I may or may not have worn my shades during them.  Because I’m just that cool.

Wednesday (two days post-surgery):  This was the worst day.  I woke up and my eyes were really light sensitive and for some reason basically impossible to keep open.  I spent the whole day in bed.  I’m not sure why it was so bad on Wednesday, it might have been partially mental, but it was the worst day by far.  I still wasn’t in any pain though.  I honestly think the difference between me and the other blog post I read was the contact “bandages.”  The guy didn’t make any mention of them putting in contacts or getting them taken out, so his eyelids were rubbing on his raw eyes, which yeah, probably hurt a lot.  Maybe that wasn’t standard procedure when he got it done or maybe his doctors just weren’t as awesome as mine.

This video is only about a second long because Mom’s camera battery died, but this is part of what they used to get the epithelium off.

Thursday (three days post-surgery): I had a chiro appointment that morning so I had to get out of bed.  My eyes were still pretty light-sensitive and it was hard to look at windows or even myself in the mirror for some reason (insert joke here) but I was able to go to my chiro appointment, out to eat, and to Wal-Mart with Mom because I was having a bonfire that night for my friends.  The light sensitivity got better as the day went on.  However, my vision was also TERRIBLE that day.  The doctor explained to me that as the epithelium healed from the outside in, it would meet in the middle right over my pupil and create a line as it was healing, which I would have to see through and would make everything blurry.  And boy was he right!  It wasn’t just that things far away were blurry; it was also really hard to even see the text on my phone.  I was up late that night though and realized in the wee hours of the morning that it was getting easier to see my phone.

Here’s what I mentioned earlier about them using a sponge thing to remove the membrane.

Friday: (four days post-surgery):  By Friday, I was basically back to normal.  My eyes were kinda light-sensitive, but not bad, and my vision was pretty good.  I went into the doctor and got the contacts out, and I was expecting to be in pain, but mostly it just felt weird.  Like before I couldn’t really feel my eyes because of the contacts, and now I could, but it wasn’t pain.  Just like I was aware of what my eyes felt like, haha.  The doctor told me at my checkup that my vision was 20/25, which was ahead of schedule, and that my eyes were healing great.  I still have a variety of drops that I have to put in the next couple of weeks but other than that I was good to go until my checkup appointment the first week of August.

This is the actual laser zapping my eyes.  The people talking are my mom and Susan, who was the tech that did all my tests and stayed with my mom during the surgery.

My vision is pretty good; I feel comfortable driving and it’s about a million times better than it was.  However, I’m still waiting for it to become as clear as it used to be with my glasses/contacts.  I know with PRK you have to be patient and it takes awhile for your eyes to completely heal, but I’m ready!  I am so incredibly grateful though that I had the opportunity to have this surgery done and had such a good experience.  I literally had no pain at all and no complications (so far); I am truly blessed!

I could probably type a lot more about this whole experience (okay let’s be honest, I definitely could), but this is already a massive post so I’ll end it here.  However, if you have any questions or anything specific you were wondering about, leave it in a comment and I’ll answer whatever you want to know!

Here. As a reward for making it through this long post and the photos/videos, here’s a cute picture of a kitten and duckling. They’re not mine but I wish they were.

Categories: Health | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “PRK Vision Correction: My Experience

  1. Wow – that’s so much more than they charge in Korea. I’m glad that you are doing ok though! How have your eyes adjusted, a year later?

    • A year later, my vision is great! I see as well as I ever did with my contacts/glasses and I’ve had no other issues. On occasional mornings my eyes will feel dry/sticky but I don’t keep my eye drops handy anymore, since I don’t really need them, so I’ll just deal with it for a few minutes until they feel normal again. I need to go for my one year checkup though!!

  2. Aunt My

    Oh yes, thanks for the kitten/duck pic at the end. Loved it. 🙂

  3. Aunt My

    Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty you are free of contacts and glasses at last! (Jealous)

  4. Afton

    And the look of your blog changed! I love the new look, but not as much as the purple!

  5. Afton

    Eeeee that was so gross! But wow…. Kelsey-Kels you are SO BRAVE!!! And thanks for the kitten pic at the end. Definitely redeeming. 😉

  6. Meg

    This may not be applicable or a polite question but: How much are we talking, cost-wise? Did your insurance cover it? I’ve always wanted Lasik surgery as well, but the cost always put it out of the question with my parents.

    • kjmcgreer

      Haha no worries about politeness, I think we’re past that point 🙂 at Virdi Eye Clinic in the Quad Cities, where I got it done, the normal price for LASIK/PRK is $5000 for both eyes, which I think is pretty typical, but they’re running a special right now where they’ll do both eyes for $3500. However, because my mom works there, they cut us a deal; no way would I have been able to afford it if I had to pay full price! The majority of insurances as far as I know don’t cover it. I found a blog post by a guy who works for Microsoft and I guess they put in $500 toward LASIK, so maybe you could apply there? 🙂

      Also, I think the eye place in Normal at the corner of College and Veterans does free consultations to see if you’re a candidate.

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