My PRK Journey (so far)

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DJ / 73 Days Ago

I will update this blog as warranted. Last update was 15 Oct 2017.

After a long road of fits and starts, I finally underwent PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), a procedure to fix my vision. I have had bad eyesight since grade school, got glasses in 2nd or 3rd grade but never wore them except when I had to see the chalkboard, and got contacts between 6th and 7th grade. The Air Force first started offering vision correction in the mid-2000s, so I started the process around 2006 or 2007. After the initial exams I was told I was ineligible because my corneas were too thin. That was a huge bummer, but they did say to check back in 5 or 10 years as technology advances all the time and maybe they would eventually be able to do something. I checked back in 2013 or 2014 and was told that I qualified, but something came up that I do not remember the details about to derail that effort at the time. So once I arrived at Langley AFB, I decided I would give it one last try while in the military (and it being free as a result). Again I was told that I was a good candidate, and after some communications issues, was able to get my procedure scheduled for 28 September 2017.

I had to drive up to Andrews AFB (3 hours) on the Friday before to get my in-depth exam and make sure all was well. I then went back home until Tuesday morning, when I drove back up for my consent brief, to receive medications, and to meet with the doctor who would perform the surgery, a female Lt Col AF officer. She was really nice and chipper, as were the other personnel in the clinic. After this brief, I basically hung out until Thursday morning, when I showed up at the clinic ready to get my new eyes, as they described it. The group of us (14 that morning), got called back into a conference room all at once, given another briefing, given our surgery order (I was 5th), and then they put on a movie (National Treasure 2). I alternated between reading my book and watching the movie until they told me it was time to take my Valium, meaning I was close to my time. That pill made me kinda loopy fairly quick and before I knew it, they called me back. I sat in a chair, got numbing drops, got a hair net and booties for my shoes and waited to be moved to the next room.

In just a couple minutes, I was moved to actual procedure room and the doctor took one last peek at my eyes to make sure an infection didn't take hold in the few days since my exam. All was well, so it was time to proceed. I laid back on a chair table thing and they swung me under the laser contraption. I got more drops in my eyes and then it was time to brush away the skin of my cornea with an electric toothbrush looking thing. First, though, my eyes, one at a time, had to be held open so I could not close it. Once the skin layer was brushed away and then wiped away with a little wiper thing like you would wipe your windshield at a gas station, it was time for the laser. I was told to look right into the reddish orange blob in front of me and that the procedure would take 26 seconds, which I got a countdown for. The blob swirled as it was happening, but other than it being really bright (especially for the second eye), it was no big deal. And then before I knew it, it was over. They put a bandage contact in my eye and I got up. They asked if I could see the clock in the room, and I could, quite well in fact. I went back into the room I came from, got my final instructions, and was sent on my way.

I had walked there from base lodging nearby, so I walked back to my room, took some Benadryl that I had been prescribed to make me sleepy, and promptly took a 4 hour nap. We were told to sleep as much as possible. Once I woke up, my eye drop regimen started. I had 2 types of medicated drops to use 4 times a day, and artificial tears to use every 30 minutes. I also had some drops to ease pain if I felt it, and I only had to use those drops a handful of times throughout the 5 days afterwards. I basically could do nothing until my 5 day follow-up appointment. I couldn't drive, and I was supposed to stay in the dark and keep my eyes closed as much as I could. Well, that wasn't too much during waking hours, as I was able to see well enough to use the computer for short stints, and watch TV whenever. Saturday and Sunday were almost completely taken up by watching football, which was a welcome distraction. Sunday night was a little worrisome as my vision had gotten seriously blurry to the point where it was hard to really see anything, but when I woke up Monday morning, everything seemed pretty clear.

That clearness persisted until my post-op appointment on Tuesday. They flushed my eyes and took out the bandage contact and all of a sudden my eyesight went to blurry crap again! It will slowly improve over the next few months to what my final improved vision will be, which should be pretty close to 20/20. Right now, though, my right eye is super blurry and my left is better, but not awesome. I can see well enough to legally drive, but it is weird doing so - I am used to seeing better when I drive, so it is an adjustment. I hope my vision starts getting better quick, because this is annoying!

15 October update - My vision is still weird. My left eye is nearly perfect, just a slight ghosting/double vision, but my right eye still has significant ghosting and double vision. I did some searching online and this is a normal thing. I also talked to someone else who had the procedure and they went through this as well. He said it was months before things settled down. I so look forward to that. This is annoying, but it beats wearing contacts and glasses!

More updates to come...

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