My PRK Eye Surgery Story

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As some of you may know (or not know), I have myopia [nearsightedness] and astigmatism. I don't wear glasses for fashion's sake. I wear contact lenses and eyeglasses to see clearer or else everything is a blur.

Funny thing is, I wanted this - not having blurry vision but to be able to wear eyeglasses for all the right reasons. When I was around 4 years old, I wanted to wear eyeglasses because I thought it was cool. So, I started to stay as close as possible to the telly when watching. I read books at night and during low light. I think saying that it was a dream to wear eyeglasses was an understatement. I didn't know wearing eyeglasses would be a lifelong misery.

It might be an exaggeration but people who wear eyeglasses will agree with me that wearing eyeglasses could be a pain in the ass. Everything is a blur without it. During 6th grade, I was introduced to contact lenses and I love it. Imagine having purple eyes. For vanity reasons, I preferred coloured contact lenses.

Fast forward to 25 years, I find it ridiculous on how I found wearing glasses cool to begin with. The joy of being a kid.

Since 2008, my ophthalmologist has been telling me that I've been experiencing cornea ulcer. Every now and then, my eyes get allergic to contact lenses until I couldn't really wear coloured lenses. It's either I wear plain contact lenses or stick with my glasses. I was also told that I needed toric lenses but it wasn't until 2013 that I finally gave in to toric lenses and stopped wearing coloured lenses. Stubborn much? Definitely.

Then in 2014, my ophthalmologist told me to consider eye refractive surgery aka LASIK. It answers my eye problems. I no longer need to wear eye glasses ever and no more eye allergies! I am not denying that I highly considered this for cosmetic reasons. It was the main reason actually because I'm tired of wearing eyeglasses and my eyes have practically given up on contact lenses.

It took me two years to finally accept the fact that I have to undergo LASIK eye surgery. Why two years? I was that scared. I know a lot of people have done it and they said it didn't hurt at all because they didn't feel anything etc etc. But I was still scared. What if I was that 1 out of 10,000 patients that has an eye surgery mishap? What if, right?

So early this year, I finally decided to do it. I had my eyes screened one Saturday hoping I would pass the eye exams. A part of me though kind of knew that there was a high chance of me not qualifying because I am not a very healthy person. Lo and behold, one of the eye exams (I think it was the eye topography) measured the thickness of my cornea and thickness was at 497. To qualify for LASIK, cornea thickness has to be at least 555. What? It took me two years to prepare myself for this LASIK thing just to find out that I don't qualify! I was tearing at the Lasik Centre and I honestly lost hope for a good ten minutes because "paano na?" Will I forever have blurry vision?

Then my ophthalmologist told me that I can consider PRK. PRK Laser Eye Surgery. Photo refractive keratectomy. Say what now? It's the first type of laser eye surgery for vision correction. Yes, it's the predecessor of LASIK. But hey, at least it's still laser right instead of blade? I asked how it differs and I was told that with PRK, cornea will be thinned out or in layman's term - it will be peeled. No need to create a corneal flap like with LASIK. Healing time is the major difference. With LASIK, it is expected to see 90% clearer right after surgery and 100% 20/20 vision after 24 hours. With PRK, I was told that it could take 2-3 days to heal. I asked if I could report back to work and the doctors said yes.

So, I did it. Last February 27, 2016. It was a Saturday.

And I think I just made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

24 hours after surgery. There was an immediate check up to see if my cornea was healing just fine. And yes, my doctor said I was healing just fine. My vision was better without eyeglasses but it was still majorly blurry.

One week after. I was on leave for about 3 days. The first three days were crucial. My eyes felt very uncomfortable/uneasy. My eyes felt very heavy like how your eyes are when you have colds. They were closing uncontrollably so I had no other choice but to sleep every now and then. I tried to watch TV for a bit and while I can see quite clearly, letters were blurry. On the fourth day though, my eyes were perfectly fine. They didn't feel uneasy. But my visual acuity was nothing close to 20/20. If anything, it's as if I'm looking at things without eyeglasses on. While I can't deny that I can see better without my glasses (within arm's length), most of the things I was seeing was blurry. I can't even distinguish people. I had my one week post-op check up and I was quite worried that there was grade left as per that Huvitz machine. But when they do the actual eye testing on me, the doctors were telling me that my left eye is 20/40 while my right eye was something like 20/100. I was refusing to believe it because I swear, things are blurry from my point of view. I had to enlarge the text size of my computer to the largest size because it was blurry. I couldn't function properly.

Two weeks later. Went back for check up and there's still grade left on my eyes. I was starting to get worried. Did something go wrong with the procedure? I thought I would have 20/20 vision after three days? It's been two weeks! But no, still blurry vision. I had to tell my boss that I can't do presentations to client events because I can't see clearly. I've never felt so useless.

Six weeks later. I gave up and asked for temporary eyeglasses. I couldn't drive at night. I try to drive in the morning but I can't call it safe driving. Oftentimes, the mister had to bring me to work and wait for him till he picks me up at work. Or I take Uber. I still can't recognise people that are more than 1 meter away from me. I have accepted the fact that I might not be able to see clearly again and that maybe this eye surgery went wrong. 

I could blame my eye doctor for totally downplaying the actual healing time for PRK because trust me, you do not heal in 3 days' time. When I say heal, I mean 20/20 visual acuity. Your cornea grows back fully after one week. I partly blame myself because I never searched anything about PRK. That's how much I trusted my eye doctor. He's been my doctor since 2008. I fully trusted him. At the end of the day, I was the one that wanted this.

Eight weeks later. I went to my doctor last weekend for my monthly check up and to my surprise, my left eye already has 20/20 vision - at least, for high contrast when distinguishing the letters from the projector. I still have a hard time recognising people from afar but my doctor said it's because of the low contrast. My right eye is still healing rather slowly. The machine says, there's still a grade of -100 left with astigmatism of -75 but the actual eye test says my right eye has 20/60 vision.

I went to McDonald's for late lunch and I was surprised that I was able to see and read the menu! The last time I looked at their menu, it was just a blur. My officemate had to dictate the prices to me because I couldn't read them. I swear, I stopped for one minute and savoured the moment. It felt like an achievement unlocked - being able to read the menu that was more than one meter away from me without eyeglasses and without the help of my officemate!

My next schedule is in August and while I'm still a bit sad that my right eye is still blurry, my hope was renewed when I was able to read the menu at McDonald's today. I can't wait till my right eye fully heals!

My eye grade last February 2016 was -4.5 with astigmatism of -2.5. It was that high. I'm grateful for the little things. I can wake up and look at my phone for the time without needing my glasses or contact lenses. I no longer have feel bothered with my heavy eyeglasses. No more wearing of contact lenses. It's easier to run/jog without eyeglasses!

Will update this post in the upcoming months and I hope that I won't need an enhancement on my right eye.

To those who are considering LASIK or PRK, search the pros and cons. While PRK is cheaper than LASIK, they are still both costly. If you are okay with wearing eyeglasses then stick with your eyeglasses. As for me, I practically grew up with eyeglasses so being able to move without eyeglasses is very liberating to me. I wear eyeglasses occasionally like at night when I have to drive, in the afternoon or during lunch so that I could recognise people clearly. Other than that, I don't wear my temporary glasses. It's really up to you but what I can tell you is that you have to be very patient if you will have PRK done to your eyes. Be extremely patient.

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