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PRK Experience April 2013

(I copied and pasted this from my blog.) I...

(I copied and pasted this from my blog.) I apologize in advance for offensive language, but I assure you it was to emphasize the emotions I felt in the different stages of this experience.

I am 21 years old. I live a fairly active lifestyle. I have a generally healthy diet.

I have wanted eye surgery since I was a third grader.
I wore glasses up to middle school, and have been wearing contacts for 8 years now.

I finally decided not to put off this surgery anymore, due to deployment.
I opted for PRK, since I was not keen on the flap created with the LASIK procedure.
Many people have asked me questions about this surgery, and I figured I'd type out my experience.
I couldn't find recent reviews on the internet about PRK and I realized I didn't see reviews from the younger generations either. So, thought I'd add mine to the mix.

_EYE EXAM_

Back in November, I heard about a seminar for Stahl Vision. It offered a free eye exam and $700 off the procedure if you attended the seminar. This building where it takes place is located down by the Greene Mall. This is the same location where your eye exam and your procedure will take place. I figured I didn't have anything to lose, so I went, and listened to the 30 minute presentation. I was given a certificate with the according discounts. I scheduled my eye exam promptly. Regarding the eye exam...it's much a like a typical eye exam you'd receive if you were being fitted for contacts. You are asked to leave your contacts out a week prior to the eye exam...for accurate measurements. TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. This was slightly difficult for me, since I do not function well with glasses. If you want the uttermost accurate measurements...you better leave your contacts out.

After the eye exam, they asked when I wanted to schedule the surgery... And I almost scheduled it a few weeks later, but then I realized I didn't have the money set aside to have this procedure. I told them I would schedule it later. Even so, they presented me with a folder with instructions for before, during, and after the surgery. I was given a two pack of prescription strength Motrin, and a prescription for antibiotic eye drops that I was to start administering the day before the surgery.

Come April, I reevaluated my decision to get surgery. Due to the recovery time, YOU MUST take off work. I realized I did have a window of time in April where I could relax a bit, without having to worry about any financial loss. The only pressing matter was the cost of the surgery. After a bit of research, I realized that the financial plans were cake, and that I could easily pay it off in 12 months, but I opted for the 24 months anyway. There is no interest, and no penalty for paying it off early...and that's exactly what I plan on doing. I don't have much credit established, so I decided that I should take advantage of this opportunity.

_TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO THE SURGERY_

I looked up reviews, just as anyone does. There are procedure videos available on youtube. I decided to get PRK because I am airborne, and I did not want to have to worry about the flap complications that LASIK could cause. Do your research before you decide on which one to get. LASIK's main benefit is that you are supposed to recover quickly...yet I recovered as fast as most LASIK patients.

As far as the specific instructions you are given before surgery...read up the instructions thoroughly. If you wear contacts, make sure you LEAVE THEM OUT TWO WEEKS OR MORE PRIOR TO THE SURGERY. You are stupid if you do otherwise. Take the prepping steps seriously. Apparently, contacts have the ability to reshape your cornea overtime. When you take them out, they slowly adjust back to the way they were before. Obviously, by taking your contacts out, you are allowing your eyes to be correctly measured and fitted for the lasers. Why would you not want the most accurate measurements?

Start taking Flaxseed Oil and Vitamin C... both will aid you tremendously with your healing time.

_DAY BEFORE THE SURGERY_

I had work in the morning, I decided to take the evening off and relax. I was terribly excited, anxious, and all around, on the edge. My basic instructions were to start the antibiotic drops and saline drops. The evening before surgery, I was to take one of the prescription strength Motrin's provided by the office. I drank a bit more water than usual and just relaxed for the day.

Make sure you have all of your paperwork signed. There's a consent form that's about 10 pages long that's going to scare the hell out of you. You know how those things go. Just read it and sign.

_DAY OF SURGERY_

Oh shoot. The day of the surgery, you wake up and are ridiculously nervous. Wait, I take that back. When they start putting your hair back and numbing your eyes up...then you finally realize you are getting it done.

You have to have someone drive you. In fact, for the next 5 days or so, don't even think about driving anywhere. You will have a follow up appointment the morning after this surgery. So I had my surgery on APR 11th, and had another appointment the 12th...and the 15th.

Bring your antibiotic drops with you. They will give you steroid and anti-inflammatory/pain killer drops. Three separate containers. You will be instructed how to use them accordingly and you will also have to purchase saline drops. Not to alarm you, but your eyes won't be able to water for a while after this procedure...

You will also be given a prescription for Vicodin. Score! Just kidding. I only ended up using 2 out of the 16 pills you are given. ...I didn't find they were necessary.

Right before the surgery, they swab your eyes with this thick brown stuff that turns your skin yellow. I asked, but forgot what it was. Something along the lines of sanitizing your eyes. They also give you a Valium. If you followed the instructions in the folder, you also should already have a Motrin in your system. ...the nurse tried to administer another one to me, but I told her I had already taken one that morning. Yeah, I don't know what the double dosage would have done to me, but make sure you're smart about that.

Now, the part you're really hear to read. They take you into their surgical office. Oh god. You sit on this reclined chair and are right under the equipment. Oh god. There's music playing in the background and the spectator's window is to your right. Oh god. You wonder if those pain killers are working or not.
Dr. Stahl walks in, and talks to you calmly about the procedure. Meanwhile, your loved ones watch from a monitor as he begins the procedure.

They do one eye at a time...first up was my right one. They instruct you to keep your eyes on a green light in the middle of the device...while this red/black noise laser tracks your eye movements. He turns on the electric brush and starts scrubbing your eye. The Bowman's layer and first layer of your eye are removed. I did not feel anything, except a little pressure. Then, they do a countdown for the laser and you hear it, but don't feel much except a ...an indescribable sensation shoot through your eyes. There is no pain. But there is a terrible smell.

The left eye was a bit stranger. Think of a dentist's drill. Think of how your mouth is numb, but you still have a few sensitive spots that the pain killers haven't reached yet. Needless to say, I could feel a bit more of the brush and felt my back arch, from the anticipation of pain. And there was, but it was dull. I was too calm to sincerely care. Yet again, I did not feel any pain from the laser, but that strange current that pulses through your eye.

They place the bandage contacts in your eyes, and voila! You're done.

_IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SURGERY_

Sitting up, your vision is immediately corrected. You cannot see perfectly, but you can see a whole hell of a lot better than you did before without your aid. You feel a bit giddy, realizing it's over...the actual procedure only lasts about 20 minutes...with the surgery only accounting for a few minutes in each eye. I could think and react clearly. I was light sensitive, but it was completely manageable. They tell you they'll see you in the morning and send you home. Cake, right? Your eyes are still numbed up...cold and tingly. It's a strange sensation.

_DAY 0_ (Thursday, day of surgery)

When you get home, you have to take a mandatory 2 hour nap. Well, with the energy level of a 3 year old, naps are often difficult for me. ... ...didn't have that problem on Valium. I woke up a few hours later with the first experience of dry eyes. If you wear contacts, you'll understand this to be similar to when you fall asleep with them in. In fact, the next few days will be incredibly similar to that...or at least that's what I felt like. Ever have one of those fold up underneath your eyes? Yeah. That's how it's going to be for the next few days UNLESS you keep your eyes properly lubed. (Haha, when they first used that term to describe the drops, I admit I laughed too.)

I'll reiterate that you have 3 prescribed drops that you take 4 times daily, and your saline drops you take every hour. Keep up with them. You want your eyes to heal quickly. KEEP TAKING THE FLAXSEED OIL TWICE A DAY. All the other vitamins can't hurt either.

I took a Motrin (they give you about 8 to take throughout the healing process) and went to sleep for the night.

_DAY 1_ (Friday)

I woke up and immediately put in the saline drops...damn, having dry eyes suck.
Travis took me to my appointment and after looking at the eye chart, I realized my vision wasn't as great as I thought. Yet, if I allowed my eyes to focus, the eye chart became clear. This was strange to me. Dr. Stahl remarked that I was healing quickly, yet, the next few days would still be uncomfortable.

I was pretty cocky this day. I didn't have much trouble with keeping my eyes open and thus, played Minecraft for a good majority of the day. This was pretty stupid, actually, because I had to keep administering extra saline drops...but hey, I had nothing better to do. Between naps and Minecraft, that was basically my first day.

One of the things I noticed about my eyes is how smooth they looked. I don't know the technical term, but you know how eyes typically have all those beautiful defined patterns in them? Yeah, mine were gone. My eyes also seemed a lot whiter. I don't know what caused that, but I didn't mind it at all.

I already had cabin fever...Travis agreed to take me out to the sushi bar Osaka, and I quickly realized that all of the lights were too much for my eyes. Every light and reflection had a 3 inch halo. But I love sushi, and I was able to tolerate it...but it wasn't comfortable.

Upon coming back, I took a Motrin and went to sleep for the night.

_DAY 2_ (Saturday)

THIS DAY SUCKED.
Not pain-wise, but the fact that I could hardly keep my eyes open.
I ended up taking Vicodin twice and sleeping through the day.

At the end of the night, I took a Motrin and was about to go to sleep. I yawned...and swore I felt my eyes water. But I didn't think that was possible. I didn't give it a second thought, and fell asleep for the night.

_DAY 3_(Sunday)

THIS DAY ALSO INITIALLY SUCKED. This was also one of the best days.
I slept until 1300. It was terrible.

After realizing I slept so much, I was fed up (and also, starving) and decided not to sleep anymore for the rest of the day. I went downstairs to get something to eat, and decided to get some peach soda.
Well, holy shit...what do you know...I'm drinking this peach soda and I feel the carbonation make my eyes water. I'm ridiculously excited...because your eyes are typically chronically dry a few weeks after the surgery.

Anyway, I go the rest of the day without using the saline drops. I feel my eyes water. I realize that I don't need them anymore. (This is pretty crazy that I already stopped using them.)

Travis took me out to Walmart because I was begging to go out again. ...wear sunglasses whenever you go out. My eyes were still extremely light sensitive and I still had halos...but they weren't as bad.

I also discovered this day how glorious showers were. Not that I wasn't showering the days before...but I didn't give thought to the fact that I had no irritation whatsoever with my eyes while I was showering. I assume the humidity allowed my eyes to function my smoothly. Anyway, glorious.

_DAY 4_(Monday)

I had a follow up appointment this day...which I was ridiculously excited about because I thought the bandage contacts were going to be removed. I looked at the eye chart again, and realized I could see it more clearly...but it was disappointing that it still took a second or two to focus. Upon initially blinking, it was still blurry. Dr. Stahl remarked again that my eyes were doing wonderful...and they sure felt good! I used saline drops initially that morning but didn't use them the rest of the day. I also noticed that my light sensitivity had dropped dramatically. Halos were faint. Ghosting was faint. I was disappointed that I had to wait until the end of the day to take my contacts out.

I was getting pretty cocky again. The days prior to this one, I had ditched my usual routine of getting ready and just thrown clothes on. I went again for my moisturizer and basic makeup. I did my hair. And I looked like myself again, haha. Well, about mid-day, I went out for sushi with my good friend from North Carolina. We got into a conversation with the sushi chef about how wonderful fish is for you...and he blew my mind when he told me he was 50. (This is at Osaka...take a look at the sushi chef next time you are there.) Any way, it made me wonder whether my choice in diet contributed to how quickly my eyes healed. I was still supposed to be taking the saline drops...but I had no need for them anymore since my eyes decided to start watering by themselves again.

At the end of the day...I grew more and more excited. I decided I'd go back to work on Wednesday, to give myself one more day to recover. I went to take a shower, and washed my makeup off. ...I decided I couldn't wait, and took them off in the shower. I took the right one off first, and stared at it in my hand. My vision was the same. I took the left one out...AND I COULD SEE. I COULD SEE...and, I got so excited and happy I started crying like a freaking baby. Yeah, I stopped, mid-shower and looked in the mirror...and the realization hit me further that I was seeing for the first time without aid. Truly. I ran to my room and called my dad...haha, tearing up all the while from how happy I was.

It really didn't hit me until I took those contacts out. My thoughts were immediately "these are the last pair of contacts I'll ever have to wear in my life." And god, it was beautiful realizing that.

_DAY 5_ (Tuesday)

I woke up today and put a few saline drops in.
I've actually been typing up this review ever since...and my eyes aren't dry. So, if they can take the strain of a computer, I think I'm pretty damn able to go back to work. Am I excited? Yeah, you bet I am.
I've still got to take the steroid drops for a month, but he took me off of the other drops yesterday.

_IMPORTANT NOTES_

Look, I really don't know why my eyes started watering so quickly. Apparently chronic dry eyes are common with PRK and LASIK, so I'm just ecstatic. I can only list the variables and hope that anyone that goes through this surgery finds which ones work for them.

1, Consistently taking Flaxseed Oil, Multi-vitamins, and Emergen-C.
2, Properly using the drops as instructed and keeping your eyes moist.
3, My high fish diet.
4, Drinking an insane amount of water during the recovery days.
5, Consistently wearing a good pair of sunglasses throughout the recovery days.
6, Blinking constantly, as a means to keep your eyes moist.
7, Resting whenever you need it.

And that's really all I've got. I have no idea why my eyes responded the way that they did.
I'm quite thankful though!

I will be updating this...especially after my vision completely clears up.
If you have questions about anything, feel free to ask me!!

Dr. Brian Stahl

I first heard about the advertisement on the radio.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait tmes
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Comments (2)

Thanks for the great advice and the insight into your experience! Do you have any updates? Are you now seeing 20/20 or better?
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Thanks so much for this review, Lyember. You have so many helpful tips and info. I'm a laser eye surgery info junkie but even I didn't know the thing about contact lenses (I don't wear contacts so it doesn't apply to me, but it's still interesting).

I'm leaning towards PRK myself, for the same reasons you mentioned. I don't care about recovery time but I don't want flap complications.

Anyway, just wanted to say "thanks" and I'm looking forward to your updates!

  • Reply