Before I had my Custom PRK procedure, I became obsessed with reading other people’s timelines for recovery, as it is much longer and more involved than recovery from Lasik. Hopefully this will satisfy a similar need for anyone considering PRK. Before surgery I was nearsighted with astigmatism, somewhere in the -4 range. In addition to my prescribed eye drops, I doubled up on my fish oil and Vitamin C the day before, and week after the surgery. I also ate lots of sweet potatoes, carrots, and eggs that week.
I got my Custom PRK eye surgery on July 26, 2012. My appointment was at 9:30 AM, and I was on my way home around 12:30 AM. Filling out paperwork, getting post op instructions, and resting/getting checked out afterwards took most of the time; the procedure itself only took about 10 minutes total.
Day 1– I felt great after the surgery. I had Valium, numbing drops in so I couldn’t feel a thing, a yummy lunch with my dad (my driver), and even though I wasn’t supposed to look, I could already see better than I could ever remember. On my arrival home, I’d begun to feel a slight burning sensation. The doctor called to check up on me, and I was warned that it would get worse before it got better. At 3:00 pm my eye drop regime began: an antibiotic, steroid, and artificial tears, spaced 5 minutes apart, 4 times/day. My oven timer, which I believe I used all of 2 times before this, became my new best friend for the week. I was given instructions (and obeyed) to keep my eyes closed for the first day, unless I was eating or using the bathroom. I had dinner brought to me, which was wonderful. I was prescribed a whole bunch of Percocet, (picked it up on the way home) and because of what I had read of other people’s experiences, decided to take one before I hopped into bed around 9pm- plastic shields still taped to my head.
Day 2– Around 3 AM, I awoke to excruciating pain; it felt like a tiny troll stabbing my right eye with one of those margarita swords. The left eye decided to join in with some general burning. I grabbed the “emergency only” eye drops I was given, but was not satisfied with the results, and took another Percocet, and within about 10 minutes was fast asleep and not feeling a thing. I went in for my first checkup at 9 AM, feeling a little grimy as I didn’t feel skilled enough to shower, even with the plastic shields over my eyes. I was encouraged to hear that my eyes looked good, and to keep doing whatever I was doing. I was seeing 20/30, but a bit cloudy. I was encouraged to use the artificial tears as much as possible. (Optive Refresh, preservative free) I was warned that tomorrow would likely be the worst day. At home, from what I could see, my right eye looked more swollen to me, not terrible, but like I had gotten into a fistfight with some nasty pollen or something. The little troll with the margarita sword revisited me in the afternoon, but was quickly vanquished thanks to a Percocet nap.
Day 3– I had a very uncomfortable stinging this morning, and decided sleeping with Percocet was a better use of my time. My vision was getting pretty cloudy. I ventured out of the house for lunch at Applebee’s with my parents (they picked me up) and had the added benefit of picking up the audio book version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. I highly recommend audio books for anyone going through PRK. I notice I taste my eyedrops. At first I thought I had just gotten a bad batch of Soda or something, but it’s definitely the Zymaxid and Pred Forte. When I can look at a screen I fully intend to investigate the anatomy behind this. Cherry flavored eye drops would be appreciated at this point. My attempt to look at a computer screen later in the day resulted in severe burning and itching.
Day 4– My forehead is getting sore from taping the plastic shields to my head every night. On the plus side, I have no forehead hairs, and can probably stick reminders directly to my face with all the residual sticky stuff. My vision has gotten worse. I can still see better than I could without glasses, but it’s kinda cloudy and in soft focus.
Day 5– I’m seeing better, but still very cloudy. I went in to have my bandage contacts taken out, and couldn’t read much of the eye chart. The doctor said I was right on track though. After the contacts were out I would’ve swore there was a bug in my right eye the rest of the day. I even had people check. It was more irritating than painful, and hard to keep my eye open. Because of this I was glad I had my mom drive me to the appointment.
Day 6– No pain, but I awoke with very dry eyes. I felt OK to drive to work (for a half day), and did so without incident. It was very hard to read a computer screen at work, I had to be either really close, or have the screen at 4X. I used the rewetting drops every half hour. My vision seemed best immediately after the drops, and deteriorated soon after that. I took a nap after lunch, my eyes felt almost tired of trying to focus on the screen all morning.
Day 7– My vision is blurry this morning, seems a little worse than yesterday. It got a little better after a nap for my afternoon checkup. Not only did I find out I was OK to drive (I had driven to the appt.), but that I was right on track- 20/40, farsighted with astigmatism. That explained a lot, and sparked my curiosity. I did some research. From my understanding (PLEASE correct if wrong), the overcorrection is due to additional cells in the cornea dying off over the week. At the same time, the healing epithelium causes the hard cells of the cornea (stroma) to behave differently, and regenerate more than they would during Lasik (where the flap keeps the epithelium intact). Because of this, anti-inflammatory steroid drops are taken for 2-3 months after PRK to keep the eyes from healing back to the way they were before surgery.
Day 14– I wish I had a reading-eye parrot. My vision has not improved at all. I actually didn’t expect it to, as I’ve still been using Pred Forte 4x a day. I’ve been noticing some ghosting for the past week- for example if the clock read 8:30, I’d see 8830. I feel like I can see much better in daylight than indoors. Today I switch my steroid drops to the weaker FML, which I expect will trigger an improvement.
Day 21– I feel like my vision has improved a little every day since I switched the steroid drops. I was still seeing 20/40 at my checkup, but it feels clearer to me somehow. Still some ghosting, but much less. Tapering the FML drops to 3x a day next week- the plan is to get down to 0 over the next 6 weeks.
Day 30– Just got home from a trip and noticed I could read the alarm clock from the couch! (19 ft away) If you are going through PRK, patience is key. I recommend picking some targets beforehand (a sign, a clock) and seeing if you can read them every couple of days.
Day 60ish (2 month follow-up) – Did great at my checkup today! I am still a little farsighted, but am seeing 20/20 in my right eye and 20/25 in my left eye. Sometimes I notice I can consciously adjust my focus to see stuff a little better. I’ll be done with steroid drops next week, and my vision is expected to continue to improve slowly over time. I have another appointment in a month, but don’t expect too much to change by then. Hope this helps!