Bottom Line: My experience getting a kind of vision correction surgery called PRK, part 2.
Please read my disclaimer. Basically, none of this is intended as medical advice, just a description of my experience and the thought process behind my decisions. To find other posts in this series, scroll to the top and hit the PRK tag under the post title.
I guess preparation is a more appropriate place to start than Day 0. My preparation started with learning as much as I could about LASIK, PRK, and which of them (or neither) was the best choice for me. I described some of how I went about this process in my introductory post.
After this, I found a highly reputable ophthalmologist in my area and set up an appointment for a free consultation, which was advertised on his website. Some advice I was given by a good friend was to “choose an expensive eye surgeon, because they are the ones that can afford to turn you down if you are not a perfect candidate.” I took that seriously. For my appointment, I allotted a significant amount of time for the appointment, because I knew I had several questions. I ended up needing even more time than I’d expected, because I chose to have my dilated exam while I was there (where they use eyedrops to dilate your eyes and allow for a more thorough inspection of the retina and other internal parts of the eye). Some people may not feel comfortable driving for a few hours after their dilated exam, so if you’re getting evaluated for vision correction surgery, it may be a good idea to ask ahead of time and bring along a driver just in case.
After it was decided that I was a great candidate for either LASIK or PRK, I had to figure out how to pay for everything. My surgery ended up costing a little under $4,000 for both eyes; it would have been more had I chosen to get the “lifetime touchups” warrantee. I found out that my eye surgeon works with a special healthcare credit card that gives me up to two years free of interest, as long as I make my payments on time. If I miss a payment or am late, they charge an arm and a leg (gulp). I applied and was accepted.
Next was scheduling. Because PRK recovery takes several weeks, I had to find a point in my schedule where either the events of the next several weeks didn’t require eyesight or could be missed if I couldn’t find a driver. Not an easy task!
After I had an appointment set up, there were several more considerations that were helpful to get lined up. Here are a few examples:
- Remember to shave the day of the surgery. You might not get another chance for a while!
- No cologne or aftershave the day of surgery, some of the machines are very sensitive to fumes and odors.
- I don’t have a laundry machine, so I made sure to do laundry beforehand (because I can’t drive to the laundromat).
- Download a bunch of podcasts or an audiobook. You’ll need it.
- Coordinate a driver to and from your surgery, and one for your followup appointment the next day.
- Try to get someone that can drive to hang out at your house the day of the surgery. I was incredibly grateful that my girlfriend and roommate were around to fill my prescription for pain medication that first day.
- Consider getting some really dark sunglasses if you’re too vain to wear the free ones they’ll probably give you.
- Stock up on food unless you live with someone that can make grocery runs for you.
- Let friends, family, and work know that you may be out of touch (unable to respond to email, text) for a few days.
- If you have any bills coming up or other critical tasks the following week, try to get them done early.
- If you’re an Apple user, brush up on VoiceOver for OSX and iOS.
- Make sure you have a good blackout eye mask. They’ll probably give you goggles to protect your eyes when you sleep, so make sure it has room to fit over these.
Over the last several days, I’ve ran across a few studies on a variety of dietary supplements that have some preliminary research on their ability to help healing and results after PRK. Most of these studies are very small, have poor or no blinding, may have poor or no randomization, and to my knowledge have not been replicated in other research. Further, the outcomes regarding reduction in risk of corneal haze may be somewhat obviated by the tremendous efficacy of MMC. I do not recommend that you try any of these without consulting your primary physician and eye surgeon, but you might consider asking them. The reason I put this in the preparation post is that most of the studies initiated supplementation in the weeks before surgery, so you’d need to find and read the full text and discuss the findings with your physician well ahead of time. It’s tough to read studies when your eyes have just been PRKified — trust me.
- Ong, N. H., Purcell, T. L., Roch-Levecq, A.-C., Wang, D., Isidro, M. A., Bottos, K. M., Heichel, C. W., et al. (2012). Epithelial Healing and Visual Outcomes of Patients Using Omega-3 Oral Nutritional Supplements Before and After Photorefractive Keratectomy: A Pilot Study. Cornea. doi:10.1097/ICO.0b013e31826905b3
- Stojanovic, A., Ringvold, A., & Nitter, T. (2003). Ascorbate prophylaxis for corneal haze after photorefractive keratectomy. Journal of refractive surgery (Thorofare, N.J. : 1995), 19(3), 338-343.
- Vetrugno, M., Maino, A., Cardia, G., Quaranta, G. M., & Cardia, L. (2001). A randomised, double masked, clinical trial of high dose vitamin A and vitamin E supplementation after photorefractive keratectomy. The British journal of ophthalmology, 85(5), 537-539.
- Yulish, M., Beiran, I., Miller, B., & Pikkel, J. (2012). Ascorbate prophylaxis with mitomycin-C for corneal haze after laser-assisted sub-epithelial keratectomy. The Israel Medical Association journal : IMAJ, 14(6), 382-385.
Well, I was hoping to catch everything up to speed tonight, but my eyes are really tired. Time for some sleep. I’ll continue tomorrow with the surgery and days 0-3.