Monday, December 19, 2016

PRK Days 1-4: Surgery, Healing, Sleeping, and So Many Eye Drops

I have been trying to stay away from screens for the last few days to let my eye heal, so this post will include information about my surgery day and the 3 days following.

Day 1: PRK Surgery Day

In the past few weeks, I filled my eye drop prescriptions (which were sent directly to the laser center) and talked to the nurse at the laser eye center who walked me through the entire procedure. On surgery day, I woke up around 5:30 AM, showered, and had my partner drive me 30 minutes to the surgery center. He dropped me off and I walked into the center for my 6:30 appointment. I paid for the surgery ($1700) with my credit card for the cash back, and will submit my receipt later to my FSA for reimbursement--yay for pre-tax health expenses!

I was the only one in the lobby at 6:30 AM, and was quickly taken back to a room where a nurse took my blood pressure. Then I was asked if I was ready, I said yes. I was given a hairnet and booties to cover my shoes and taken to an other room where I was given several rounds of numbing drops a few minutes apart each. After I was completely numbed, the nurse spread iodine on my right eye and patched my left eye. I only had surgery on my right eye today, since my left eye will get a Visian ICL implant in a few months.

My surgeon greeted me in scrubs and I was then led into the laser surgery room. I was laid down with a pillow under the laser machine. My head was positioned directly under it and my numbed eye was held open by some contraption. The surgeon then told me to look directly into the green light, which was centered between a circle of white lights. It's hard to remember exactly what happened next, since my eye was covered with liquid at times and my surgeon didn't explain what was going on, just kept telling me to keep looking at the green light. At one point I smelled burning hair and within a few minutes, it was over!

She applied the bandage contact lens and I was led to another room, left eye un-patched, removed my hairnet and booties, and the surgeon examined my eye. I could see! My vision wasn't perfect, and everything seemed very bright, but already I could tell my vision was going to be so, so much better than it had been for most of my life.

Eye Drops
I was taken to another room to rest before my afternoon follow up appointment. I drank some water, ate some snacks, and the nurse explained my aftercare regime for the first week:
  • antibiotic drops four times per day
  • steroid drops four times per day
  • NSAID two times per day (for just 3 days) 
  • preservative-free lubricant eye drops every hour when awake
  • Ibuprofen four times per day 
  • vitamin C once a day 
After taking my first round of eye drops, I fell asleep. When my surgeon returned for my afternoon follow-up, she said everything looked great. She warned me that my vision would almost certainly get worse before it got better, and healing time was very variable, so I could be seeing very well in two weeks or two months. The rest of day 1 was uneventful, I ate dinner then went to sleep early with an eye shield taped over my eye.

Day 2: Ouch! 

I woke up and tried really hard to avoid screens. I started listening to Serial podcast so I could close my eyes and avoid any strain. My vision was still pretty good, but as the day went on, my eye started to burn and feel like it had sand in it. My eye was watering a lot by the evening, and I was regretting not filling the prescription painkiller the doctor prescribed! I kept taking ibuprofen and and lubricant eye drops. I would get some relief, then nap, then wake up with painful watery eyes. I went to sleep early again.

Swollen Eyelid

Day 3: Feeling Great

Today I woke up feeling much better, I had no pain but my eyelids were super swollen! They weren't swollen shut, just really puffy. This was a Sunday and the laser center was closed so I decided to call the hospital to speak to the ophthalmologist on call. I got through right away and explained that my eyelids were puffy, but my eye had no pain, no redness, and my vision was the same as yesterday. She said it could be a reaction to the procedure or the a preservative in one of the prescription eye drops, and unless my vision was worse or I had pain it wasn't urgent. I stayed home for the rest of the day listening to podcasts, napped a lot, and went to bed early again. I think I've slept an average of 15-18 hours a day for these past three days!

Day 4: Still Feeling Great

Today I woke up and the puffy eyelid had completely cleared up--yay! You know when you lay down or fall asleep after you've been crying and your eyelids puff up? I think that's what happened to me two nights ago. My eyes were watering non-stop from the pain, and then I went to sleep and they kept watering. I haven't had puffy eyes since so I don't think it has to do with eye drop preservatives.

I have my next follow-up appointment in a couple of days, where the surgeon will remove my contact lens bandage.

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