For as long as I can remember I have needed glasses or contacts, and for about as long as I have had glasses or contacts I have also always wanted LASIK. I asked for it for my 13th birthday and was told I need to not even think about it again until I turned 20, and then proceeded to have my doctor check at each eye visit from that point on to see if I could qualify.
Finally, this year I learned that my eyes were healthy enough, and stable enough to finally get all the tests done to determine if I was a candidate for LASIK, or if I need to go with PRK. After learning my cornea was just a little shy of the desired thickness and my severe near-sidedness (-6 and -6.5) to boot, the decision was made for me… PRK was my only option.
But regardless I was excited! I knew that the healing process would be a little longer and a little harder, but this is something I had been wanting for over half of my life! The freedom to fall asleep, travel, camp, swim without having to worry about glasses or contacts was a price worth fighting/waiting for!
I was scheduled two weeks after I found out I could receive PRK, so I immediately went into preparation mode! I saw my acupuncturist (yes most acupuncturists have their own acupuncturist!), got some Chinese herbs, Western herbs and vitamins stalked and ready! I came up with a self care acupuncture treatment that I did every other day leading up to the surgery, and started taking all my herbs and supplements to prepare my eyes and body for the procedure!
Originally, my doctor recommended doing one eye at a time so I would have mono vision while one eye healed and would have to wear my contact in the untreated eye. The reason being I have such bad eyesight the healing time for this procedure could take longer than most and he didn’t want me having to rely on people for potentially up to two weeks. Being and acupuncturist and being self employed the idea of having to take 6 days off twice was not ideal. Also, I tend to get headaches and dizzy easily and thought mono vision was a recipe for disaster. I was also confident in all the modalities I was going to use before, during, and after, to help with my healing, so I decided on doing both eyes at once!
Attached is a picture of one of my self acupuncture treatments that I did to start to bring blood and circulation to my eyes before the surgery. I also paired this with Liver 2 and Liver 3 ( in between the web of the big toe) to help the eyes with heat and inflammation.
I started taking the Western herb eye bright, Vitamin C, and Omega 3’s the two weeks prior. Along with three Chinese herbs, Nu Zhen Zi, Ju Hua, and Che Qian Zi. Nu Zhen Zi is a fruit called Ligustrum and it helps to tonify yin, specifically of the Liver and Kidney (both related to the eye) and has the general function of brightening the eyes and benefits dry eyes. Ju Hua is Chrysanthemum Flower and is great for red, painful, teary or dry eyes. Che Qian Zi is Plantage Seeds and it benefits eye problems related to Liver and Kidney deficiency, so it is good for dry eyes, diminished visual acuity, red painful swollen eyes, and light sensitivity.
I took all of these herbal supplements through the first week after the surgery, and now (three weeks after) just take Nu Zhen Zi to help with the dry eyes that are a side effect of the surgery.
PRK is kind of a crazy experience, for those who don’t know what it entails I am going to share a little about my PRK journey with you all. The difference between PRK and LASIK is instead of creating a flap and then using the laser, a small portion of the cornea is removed and then the laser procedure is done. Because of this the healing process takes a little longer, but there is no risk of issues with a flap later on.
During the surgery you are awake and your eye that is being treated is opened with a metal device, so that way there is no risk of you closing your eyes or blinking while the procedure is being done. Each eye takes less than 5 minutes in total, and honestly the most uncomfortable part is they flush your eyes with ice cold drops at the end of each laser. I did go completely blind for a few seconds which was terrifying, and then your vision comes back almost crystal clear.
After the surgery was done I sat up and could clearly see the clock across the room, which completely shocked me, I can’t even read the clock next to my bed without my glasses! But my doctor warned me that this would not stay, that it would progressively get worse as I healed over the next 3-4 days and then it would start coming back again. And that is exactly what it did. I made it home and went straight to bed with my bug eyes they provided to protect me from rubbing my eyes while I slept. I woke up a few hours later and it was already a little blurry, but still much clear than I would have been without my glasses.
To prepare for the surgery I blacked out my house (because you a very light sensitive after the surgery). So I woke up to a pretty dark house, ate some dinner that my husband brought me, took some Advil and my prescribed eye drops and then it was back to bed! Honestly the best part about this surgery was really how much sleep I got! I woke up throughout the night with extremely dry eyes and had to pry off my bug eyes to put my refresh eye drops in every few hours, but I was so exhausted I fell right back to sleep!
Day two was pretty minimal pain wise, I was blurry, and could not look at any screens so I sat and listened to an audio book majority of the day, and my mom came by to make sure I was eating and to give me some company! All I can say though is Siri and Alexa were my two best friends! They played my audio book for me, called my mom when I needed her to come over, and read me my texts throughout the day! Technology really did make the whole recovery process so much easier!
Day three the pain came, which the doctor said would happen, it felt like a piece of glass was in my eye, up until this day I was fine with just two Advil every few hours, but by about 7pm I was over the day and the pain, took my first half of a pain pill that they prescribed and slept the rest of the night! My vision on day three was the worst it had been, but it was still better than I ever was without my glasses before the surgery so that gave me some hope!
Day four the pain subsided, it now felt like there was an eyelash in my eye. But overall I was feeling pretty good, and was seeing much better! My vision was getting clearer and I could read majority of the signs around my house! This is also the first day I attempted to look at any screens. It wasn’t’t great and that night my husband increased the text size on my phone, iPad, and computer to get me ready for normal life that would be starting back up soon. Either way I was feeling pretty impressed with my recovery and thought I was up for a little adventure. It was one of my best friends engagement parties so I thought why not! I left my house in my darkest shades, a huge hat, and equipped with all of my refresh eye drops! About an hour into being out I was exhausted, and my eyes felt completely over stimulated, so we made our exit and headed straight back to the black hole that was our house! I took another half of a pain pill and was in bed by 8pm that night!
Day five I woke up seeing even clearer! And was excited for another day out in the real world. I had an appointment with my biofeedback gal and my acupuncturist that afternoon! I was still not ready to drive because of the light sensitivity and luckily I have a great family who didn’t mind carting me around! And thank goodness for Uber! I ate out for lunch and had to wear my sunglasses indoors, but otherwise I would say it was another successful day! I went to bed again at 8pm, knowing tomorrow would be the moment of truth, I had my eye doctor appointment where they would finally take out the soft contact bandage and see how the healing process was going.
Day six, the best feeling in the world was getting that contact bandage out, I really think that was a huge part of the dryness and irritation! They had me do a little eye test, at first I felt a little disheartened by the line I was able to see 20x40 but when I remembered that one eye was 20x400 before and the other eye was so bad it didn’t even have a number equivalent I felt pretty good! The doctor came in and said that he was pleased with where I was, I guess 20x40 is where he would expect people with better eyesight than me going into the surgery to be, but he expected me to be worse than that! Another win! One that I don’t think would have been possible without all of the tools I used before and after the procedure.
Since then my eyes have progressively gotten better, like I mentioned before I still have a little dry eye starting around 4-5pm and I also have some light sensitivity, and halos around lights especially at night when my eyes get tired. I am not 20x20 yet but I believe I am seeing equivalent to how I saw in my contacts, but not as good as I saw with my glasses yet! The healing process takes up to three months so I am still feeling positive that I can get there! Either way I am so grateful I was able to have the procedure, that I am able to wake up and actually see what time it is on the clock! It really has been a life changing experience, one that I truly think benefited form the preventative actions I took starting two weeks out!