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PRK success -- severe myopia, astigmatism, pre-existing dry eyes

Hi. Just wanted to share my recovery story, as I was a pretty tough case for laser vision correction.
I had a -10 prescription on my left eye, a lot of astigmatism, and preexisting dry eyes (that my doctor did everything he could to treat before PRK).
I was not a candidate for LASIK because it would have worsen my dry eyes.
So, we opted for PRK on the left eye first, and to let that eye completely heal before proceeding onto the right eye (4 months later)
The doctor's predicted "best correctable vision" was 20/25 on the left eye (I reached 20/20!).

Here's how it went for my left eye.
Hope it provides some valuable info for people who are considering or getting PRK.

9:30am-10:25am PRK on Left Eye
Went home with teary eyes
Slept, woke-up with "normal" feeling eyes, can see with treated eye well enough to read wall-clocks.

1 day post-op
Vision: 20/60
A lot of haze
A lot of nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting

3 days post-op
Vision: 20/50
A lot of haze
A lot of nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting

6 days post-op
Bandage contact lens removed
Vision: 20/40,
Moderate haze
A lot of nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting
Went home with much blurrier vision, and gritty feeling in left eye

9 days post-op
Vision: 20/60
Moderate haze
A lot of nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting
Severe dry eyes identified.
2 temporary Punctal Plugs applied to treated eye
Resume Restasis (previously prescribed for existing dry eyes before surgery)
Clearer vision by evening

16 days post-op
Vision: 20/30 (minus 1 letter)
Very slight haze
Moderate nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting
30% less dry eyes

23 days post-op
Vision: 20/25 (plus 3 letters)
No noticeable haze
Moderate nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting
Dryness immensely reduced.

37 days post-op
Vision: 20/30
Moderate nighttime halos and fluctuating ghosting
Very dry, irritated eyes due to smoke/ash from Santa Ana winds and California wildfires Sad
Start 4x daily Pred Forte Treatments

Vision: 20/30 (plus 3 letters)
Mild nighttime halos and occasional ghosting
Dryness immensely reduced.
Continue Pred Forte drops

Vision: 20/20 YAY! Smiling
mild ghosting upon waking up in the morning -- lasts 15-30 minutes
FML drops 3 times a day

Vision: 20/20
mild ghosting upon waking up in the morning -- lasts 15 minutes
Otherwise very clear vision.
Discontinue drops, dryness under control
Ready to have PRK on Right eye next week! Smiling

PRK/Day 9 & Holding

My PRK experience so far has been somewhat miserable.. I started out with -10.75 in the left and a -9.5 in the right, both with an astigmatism.

The day of surgery(1/2/08) was somewhat of a nightmare. First of all I didn't take the sedative, which I would soon regret. The first part of the procedure was going very smooth, the epithelium was scrapped away and it was now time for the laser. The laser, well it died. As they were attempting to reboot the laser, I was slowly moved to the side and was told to keep my eyes closed(which made matters even worse) as they worked on the laser/computer. They ended up moving me to a different room, and the procedure finished for both eyes.

The next few days were rough, pretty much what others have said. A lot of burning, irritation, and EXTREME
sensitivity to light. I walked around the house with sunglasses on, my kids thought I looked "cool". The biggest recommendation is to rest, rest and more rest. You really can't do much more, as you can't read, or watch TV, you pretty much are miserable for the first 2-3 days.

Just when thing improve, the 5th day becomes blurry again. My protective contacts came off on the 5th day, with anticipation of things improving. The improvement idea was incorrect, as things immediately were blurrier than ever.

Today is the 9th day, and I feel like I am living in a cloud. The vision is still very rough in the right eye, I see shadows and it's really making me miserable. The left eye is much better, but it's still blurry and far from perfect. My Dr said to be patient, that it's going to take a full month for things to come into focus. He also recommend NOT wearing reading glasses, as my eyes are still in an adjustment period.

I will keep my patience, as I hope that things will begin to improve soon. Even though every person is different, you must go into this with a lot of patience and make sure that you know how to change your computer setting to increase the FONT SIZE!!

Matt Fleming's picture

Thanks for the writeup

kimidimuse: Thanks for tracking your experiences.. I think these kinds of things really help people set their expectations properly.

Greenier: I hope it gets better for you.. it took me a full six months to be fully happy with my vision.


Potential PRK or ICL?

Wow. I am so happy I came across Matt's blog. I have severe myopia with an astigmatism, and after years of wearing contacts, my eyes are rejecting them. I have developed severe dry eye, and I have ocular rosacea. I also found out that I have cornea damage. My eyes tear constantly, and I usually look like I just smoked a lot of weed. I walk around with a "baby bottle" size of tears. It's ridiculous.

I know that my eyes have to heal to consider a surgical option. I just had lacrimal plugs inserted, and the ophthalmologist mentioned that PRK might be an option for me. I had actually asked her about the implantable contact lens (ICL). I am looking forward to my eyes healing, so I can either have the PRK or ICL. It sounds like people have mixed experiences with PRK. Though the ICL option is more expensive, I'm not sure it requires the down time that PRK does? Anyone have an opinion? I am a researcher, and I am building a site for my union so I am worried that I will not be able to work for a few weeks or so.

At any rate, I appreciated those who took the time to tell their PRK stories, and Matt, thanks for dedicating part of your blog to vision correction. btw, I really like your blog format. i'm looking for a good template in Wordpress for a blog and CMS. Thanks Again.


I can't tell you how thankful I am to find this forum of discussion for PRK patients. I to had the PRK procedure done. I had my procedure done on March 2 2009. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. I was not a candidate for LASIKS due to having large pupils and very thin corneas. After several years of waiting for something that would work for me my doctor suggested PRK. He told me that although it took more time to heal it was much more safer than LASIKS and I was a candidate. I am a -5.75 in one eye and -6.25 in the other eye. I am 44 years old and have wore glasses since I was in the 3rd grade. I never could wear contacts due to dry eyes and I also have a astigmatism. I prayed about it and finally gave in for the PRK procedure. At this point I feel that the only hope I have is this forum and reading what all you have been through. I guess I am very fortunate that I have not had much pain but I have experienced just about everything else except good vision. The first few days until the contact bandage came out was very miserable for me. On the day that my contact bandages came out the doctor discovered that I had very very dry eye syndrome and he plugged my lower tear ducks. He said that should help a great deal as I was experiencing nothing but blurriness. I went home with a handful of eye drops (Restasis twice a day, Lotemax every 2 hours, Fresh Kote every 4 hours, an over the counter eye drop every 15 minutes, Vitamin C and Flaxseed with Omega 3). I didn't realize that I would have such an expensive pharmacy bill. So for anyone thinking about having the procedure done please keep that in mind as well. Anyway, I missed the first week of work. I had nothing but down time. All I could do was lay around and "listen" to the television. Week 2 I went back to work and drove myself ( I don't know how I did but I did). I stuggled each day looking at reports and the computer. I bought some readers thinking that might help......wrong...nothing helped. My co-workers were so helpful though and couldn't imagine what I was going through. At the end of week 2 I was not seeing any improvement and insisted that the doctor see me. What he found was that the lower tear duct plugs had came out so he replaced them and also plugged my upper tear ducts as well thinking this would help. He said that I had a severe case of dry eye syndrome but the funny thing about it is that I didn't think they were that dry but I guess they were. I left the doctor's office that day with hope that things were going to get better. Week 3 wasn't much better. I know this may sound silly but as I drive home in the afternoons I can smell people cutting their grass but for the life of me I can't see the freshly cut grass verses the grass in the lawn that hasn't been cut yet. I also found it odd that at my work I would look out into the parking lot and see cars but not a clear vision. It looked as if all the tires are flat. It's hard to explain but you feel as if your disoriented and out of pocket so to speak. If I have misplaced anything in the house it is hard for me to search for it. I can't see a persons face very well unless they are up close to me and forget about road signs until you are right up on them. I have been so upset with myself for having this procedure and so upset that I didn't do anymore research than what I did. Today is March 30 and I can say that today was a pretty good day for me. Things are still not clear but I haven't experienced the ghosting as I have up until today. So.....I am thinking that maybe I am getting better. For those who are thinking about having the procedure done........RESEARCH! Are you willing to experience alot of down time? Best advise to you? Take off your glasses now or remove your contacts, walk around the house for awhile, go outside and try to function without your eyewear cause basically that is how it's going to be for quite sometime. Believe me there has been times that I wish I could just put my glasses back on and go about my normal self but I can't. If you decide to have it done make sure you have nothing special planned for at least 3 months. Honestly, I feel as if I have been living in a cloud for 27 days......and I am ready to come out into the sunshine and see the world as I did before the surgery. As I said earlier, I am so thankful for this blog. It really has helped me so much b/c I do know that I will have good's just gonna take time.

Considering PRK vs. LASIK

Thank you for posting your PRK experiences. I am reflecting for weeks whether to undergo it or not. I have been wearing glasses for 18 years, I'm 30 now. It has been 6 years since I last researched about laser corrective eye surgery. It was only now that I reconsidered after my eyes refuse to accept any type of contact lenses I wore. My eyes got so irritated, I thought of undergoing the procedure, but still reflecting very hard...and praying. My right eye is -6.25 and my left eye is -6.00. I always have dreamt of having clear vision to the extent of sleeping with my contact lenses...that was bad...but...through it, I felt free from blurred vision for a moment...(sigh)

My brother had his both eyes done last Dec.19, 2008. I thought if he underwent it, why can't I? But knowing myself, I wouldn't do anything yet, without doing some research. Then I came across the site Matt did (thank you Matt). It allowed me to set realistic expectations but also made me think twice. It seems scary since I am also considering if I can work relatively well (with computers) after 2 weeks from the procedure. I can only spare 2 weeks as resting time, but after that I need to go back to work.

For those who underwent PRK for more than I year already, how are you doing now? I am now reflecting whether PRK or LASIK since I am a good candidate for either of the two according to the two doctors I consulted. Please post your new experiences for this site is very helpful indeed. Thank you!

Matt Fleming's picture

My vision is still perfect

As far as I can tell, there has been no degradation in my vision since I had the surgery in January 2006. I think it may have even improved since the "honing in" period-- which was about 6 months after the procedure. I recommend the procedure to anyone who will listen. Eye-wink


PRK results

Hi everybody!

I was very happy when I found this blog. I wanna share my PRK surgery experiences. It was made on 2010 February 8th with wavefront analysis. The surgery itself was not painful, I did not feel any pain or discomfort. At the first night I woke up because I feel my right eye was swollen and burning, but eyedrops relieved the pain. The bondage lens was removed two days after the surgery. That was the worst part of the story. My tears were running, itchy, pricking sensation, burning sensations, like a bucket of sand was thrown into my eyes. I could not see my phone to call my friend to come to me and take me home. The assistant helped me, and I took 2 pain relief pills. Also the night was a nightmare, I woke up because the pain. I needed another Cataflam and a sleeping pill. This torture was stopped about 2 days later. They said at the clinic, that I was lucky because more people suffer from this at least 3-4 days long.
My initial dioptries were the follows: -3,75D spherical with -2D cyilinder on 180 degree (right eye)and -4,75D spherical with -2D cylinder on 155 degree.
At this moment my eyes are two weeks "old". I dunno. I can see better now then before without glasses but it is not as good as with glasses. Okay, it requires a lot of patience for the recovery, but it looks to me that my vision is not improving at this stage.
It was helped me mentally as I read that it takes about 1 month to get the fully enhanced vision. Sometimes I think that the astigmatism was not corrected fully or miscorrected, because I see double contours. Therefore my vision is not clear for short and long distance either. I watched that my vision is changing in a day many times, sometimes is better, sometimes is worse. After wake up it is almost perfect. I think this is because my cornea is fully hydrated or something nd during the day it is drying and it is distorting my vision. I use artificial tears and steroid eyedrops prescribed by my eye surgeon, but keep my eyes closed for a long time the best. Unfortunately I cannot miss from my work. Sad I need to use sunglasses for total UV protection at least a half year, because they said that UV rays activating the repairing cells and they restore the original corneal shape and ruin the surgery. It is not a problem, I like cool sunglasses. Laughing out loud
Please share your experiences with corrected astigmatism. Will it be better than the glasses-corrected vision?
Thank you in forward.

Steve from Hungary