My PRK Recovery

On 4th Feb 2021, I underwent PRK surgery for my eyes to correct my severe (3.25 – 3.5) astigmatism and mild myopia (-0.75 – 1.0).

This is my best account of my recovery. PRK is known to have a pro-longed recovery time compared to Lasik. While I’ve made my account as informative as I can, as with any surgery, recovery varies from person to person, so please do your own research on the risks and possible side effects too. Overall, I’m not so squeamish, I’m not afraid of needles or blood and have other surgeries before so I’m quite desensitised – what I’m afraid of is that my eyes don’t come out perfect and I have to do it again!

Thursday, 4th Feb 2021
Day 0: Operation day

I arrived at the clinic, signed a waiver and took a couple vallium tablets 30minutes before my scheduled procedure. I suppose I’m pretty lightweight as the vallium kicked in hard and made it very challenging for me to focus on anything. I’m told my speech was slightly incoherent.
I was ushered into the operating theatre and administered anaesthetic eyedrops as soon as I lay down. I absolutely did not feel the eye speculum (that scary claw clamp thing) holding my eyes open, but I did feel the tape used to pull my eyelashes back.
I was told to focus on the orange blinking light above/ahead of me and I did my absolute best. My epithelium was brushed off and my raw exposed eyeball was traced by the laser. I felt several flashes of heat/light on my eye, which was the laser re-shaping and burning my cornea (pardon my terminology, it’s probably inaccurate). My eye was drenched in several eyedrops then a white almost opaque sheet (?) was placed over my eye for 30 seconds or so – again I was so drowsy and unable to focus very well so I’m not sure what this was, I think it was a sort of gauze, and then it was done!
The same thing happened for the next eye, although I am told, the left eye struggled much more to focus on the orange light and my eye darted around causing the laser to stop a few times to re-focus on me.

My natural tear production is higher than average, (haha I do cry very easily at anything funny or any mildly emotional tv shows, anime, live theatre.. I’m hopeless) which is a good thing for eye recovery!

I put on my sunnies and waddled out of the clinic and into the glaring bright sun. It felt like forever walking <100 metres to the curb to wait for the uber. The sun was so bright I felt dizzy, I couldn’t open my eyes so I had to clutch on to Marty’s arms to lead me into the car.

At home, I took my prescribed sleeping pills and slept solidly from 1pm – 10pm. When I woke, I (to my shock!) could open eyes, there was no pain, but a whole lot of tears. I replied to some messages (mostly people laughing at my dazed IG story I had posted just before the procedure), ate dinner and slept til morning. My cat must have detected something was different about me, as he lay beside me in bed all day.

Incoherent Ayesha & a concerned Taro.

Friday, 5th Feb 2021
Day 1 recovery

I had set an 8:30 am alarm for the morning as I now had to take eye drops 4 times a day. The alarm shocked me (how good are sleeping pills?) and I instinctively sat right up and sprang open my eyes, which I immediately regretted because it hurt! Now that I was awake, I was aware of a stinging pain. It was a constant, sharp-ish pain, as though someone was shining a torch in my eye, or when you’re trying to take a photo facing the sun. I was squinting to open my eyes but my eyelids felt so heavy.

I took some Nurofen to ease the pain and my 4x eye drop medication. Seriously, me eyes were so stubborn, I had to get Marty to help force them open for the drops.

30 mins later, though the pain had subsided, it was hard to focus on anything and I had a mild headache, but it was time to go back to the clinic. I went on my own while Marty went to work. Despite being equipped with my sunnies and squishing my bucket hat around the sides of my face – it was still incredibly bright. I found the uber ride so uncomfortable was I was wide awake but unable to look up, just swaying in the backseat trusting the driver to get me there. The clinic is in the heart of the CBD, while super convenient most of the time, unfortunately, a slow and jerky kinda ride through traffic.

One of the doctors, not the surgeon, did a quick eye test and said my eyes looked good. He then cautioned me of no swimming for 2 weeks, no contact sports for 4 weeks, no eye makeup for a month.. wait WHAT!? A nurse in the room quickly corrected him, that it was just 1 week.

No eye make-up for a month? We’d be losing clients!

Nurse, George Street Eye Centre

My head felt heavy, I felt like I could fall asleep anytime in the clinic.

The surgeon, Dr. Constantine saw me next and also said my eyes were good. He gave me some anaesthetic drops and shone some bright light in my eye to check the bandage lens was in place aghhhhh.

I went home in another uber but this time I could keep my eyes open, oh the wonders of anaesthetic.

When I got home, I realised I had worn my pants backwards. LOL.

I slept for a couple hours, alarm dutifully ringing ad 12:30pm for my 2nd dose of eye drops. Replied to some messages, but less than 5 minutes later my eyes starting crying nonstop telling me to go back to sleep.

4pm – woke up, but this time from sleeping too much? I felt super, there was no pain, I could turn on the lights and took a shower. Another dose of eye drops, god the antibiotic ones (Chlorsig) are so damn bitter. Taking the eyedrops made me tear up and drowsy again..

6:30pm I don’t think I can sleep anymore. There’s a dull stinging pain, just like trying to open my eyes to look to the sun. It’s so hard to describe this pain. I walked around my apartment in and played with the cat. All the blinds are closed, lights off and I had sunnies on. I’m like a nocturnal animal right now. I listened to 40minutes of an audio book (The Viscount Who Loved Me – book 2 of the Bridgerton series, I’ve been addicted to these after watching the series of the first book on Netflix) and somehow slept til 1pm the next day.

Saturday, 6th Feb 2021
Day 2 recovery

Omg the pain is here. I said I slept til 1pm but I had woken at 8:30 am momentarily for my eye drops and went back to sleep til 1pm then had another dose of eye drops. According to Marty, I had complained of pain and he gave me anaesthetic drops around 4am and again at 8:30am.

I’m utterly useless this day, I can barely lift my eyelids. I cannot look at anything or focus on anything. I listen to my audio book again for another 30mins and slept again til 5.

5pm – I’m awake and sweating, it’s like I have a fever. I’m feeling very sad because I can only think about my muscles deteriorating and how hard I’ll need to work again to stretch them and build up my strength.

In hindsight this was the most uncomfortable day by far. I struggled to get up from bed, my head was heavy. It was difficult getting to a chair to eat or getting tapping the controls of my audiobook on my phone (which is set on minimum brightness and largest font display size).

I don’t remember much about this day except desperately wanting it to be over. I managed to squint at an important message from Jessie about the new timetable for next term was out and bookings would be open the next morning. I became anxious the rest of the day thinking that if I couldn’t look at a screen over a minute, how would I pick and book my classes tomorrow ? :(( They book out in minutes!

I listened to Bridgerton 2 for another couple hours and dozed off til morning, reminding Marty he had to be awake a few minutes before 10am to help me book my classes.

Side note: That whole evening I had a lump in my throat that wouldn’t go away. I drank water throughout the night and in the morning still I felt it. Ugh.

My cat who had been incredibly cuddly on Thursday (operation day) had been absent for Friday and Saturday but suddenly he was all cuddly again on Sunday morning.

An extra tidbit for anyone hoping to do this with pets. With your sight gone your other senses really do become heightened significantly. I could hear Taro’s soft footsteps everywhere, I could feel his whiskers brush against my skin, I could discern where he was in the apartment almost all the time which felt like a superpower. Then again every little noise he made in proximity of the bed I would attempt to snap open my eyes to make sure he wasn’t biting a cable or ripping any lace/drawstrings or pulling out all the tissues from the tissue boxes. That attempted snap would cause a sharp sting each time and a pulse of dizziness in my head. So.. for those with roaming pets, do try to resist responding to your pet.

Sunday, 6th Feb 2021
Day 3 recovery

The alleged worse day of recovery according to the surgeon, nurses and internet reviews. I was so afraid to wake up. I lay in bed for as long as I could, wide awake, thoughts flying, eyes firmly shut. Taro was circling the bed trying to get as much body-to-body surface with me.

I finally gave in and slowly opened my eyes.

I

COULD

SEE


My eyelids were still only half open but not weighing down heavily. There was no pain, no sting, no irritation. The strange lump was still in my throat. I should eat something, I suppose.

I got up and took a shower with the lights off. I didn’t want to tempt fate.
It’s really wondrous how the eye can absorb the ambient light peeking from above and below the door frame. Just like a camera on a long shutter speed in a dark room. That sliver of light that came from another sliver of light between my blinds and the window soon lit up the entire bathroom. The shower experience was so different, I imagine a sensory deprivation chamber must feel similar to this.

I’m so happy.
I’m on a mission this morning.
I will save my eye-opening allowance for 10am to book my classes and then I shall.. I might attempt to go out and buy coffee?!

(1 hour later)

I succeeded at both!
Though my laptop screen was on minimal brightness, text magnified to 150% and my face was barely 2 inches from it, I managed to book my classes, all by myself!

And then I woke the sleepy Marty and we went out for coffee in the blazing sun. I wore my sunnies and squished my bucket hat to form a shield on the sides of my face but it was still so bright I thought I might pass out. The cafe was probably just 300 metres from home and as soon as I got inside I had to hold my head in my hands with elbows on the table and eyes closed for a good 5 minutes before I could slowly blink them half open.

The rest of the day I felt incredibly bored. My eyes still couldn’t look at screens well so no TV nor scrolling on social media. I could manage a few messages but then had to rest again. I felt the cat being just as restless as I after four days of pacing the apartment in darkness and watching me sleep. When I would get up to move to the couch I would only end up sitting and sleeping there too.

So, I decided on a third mission of the day. I strapped on his new harness – to my great surprise – not a single wriggle or attempt to chew it. He lay patiently as I tightened the straps and curiously looked at the retractable leash as I walked away from him.

I’m not sure he understands what’s going on but he appeared relaxed and was a happy curious kitty outside (within the apartment complex). Our “walk” was cut short by our neighbour returning home with her very sweet and calm puppy. But we decided not to let Taro get close as he’d already had too much stimulation today.

I listened to my audio book for a few more hours and slept til morning.

Monday, 7th Feb 2021 (PS: It’s our 5th anniversary)
Day 4 recovery

I woke up normally, noticing the lump still in my throat, I now suspect my thyroid is inflamed – is this a side effect? I don’t know but I’ve had thyroid issues before. I book the doctor for later in the afternoon. My eyes flutter open easily, I am able to turn on the bathroom lights for the first time since the operation and look at myself. I peer closely and can see the bandage contact lens in my eyes. Wow.

Eye drops remain my most hated part of the recovery. It’s difficult to pry my eyes open to prepare for the 4 sets of drops. I believe it’s because I’m letting so much light into my eye this way and it gets heavy and wants to close. The drops flow down my throat and taste awfully bitter, now compounded with my swollen neck, tilting my head back just feels awful. After each drop I get a few seconds of dizziness and need to clutch my head before the next drop. Ugh and I need to administer drops for 28days! It’s only day 4!!

My eyes still aren’t in full focus, everything seems blurry though I am quite high functioning this morning. Marty goes off to work and I open all the windows and blinds to finally air out the apartment. My god. It’s quite filthy. I vacuum the entire place twice, I empty the bins, I do a big load of laundry and water all my plants. I pick up all the cat toys and run a lint roller over the bed and couch as thoroughly I can.

Much better.

The cat is visibly happy and settles by the balcony doors to look outside. I sit down and realise how tired I am from all that. I think it’s time to sleep again.

I wake after a short nap, I’m able to look at my emails and browse some news, the TV however – is way too intense even on minimal brightness I needed to wear my sunglasses. Even then, I turn it off after a few minutes.

The doctor said my thyroid and lymph nodes looked fine – what on earth is this feeling then???

I decided to forcefully rest my eyes in the evening with more audiobook listening because I wanted to watch the new Attack on Titan episode in all its glory. Around 11pm, I managed to sit through the entire episode without needing my sunnies. Yay.

Tuesday, 8th Feb 2021
Day 5 recovery

It’s day 5! I woke up happy knowing after today I can stop one of my four prescribed eye drops.

A breakthrough! All my 4 eye drops today were fully absorbed by both eyes – usually I have to blink back something – tears? or eye drop medication? or wipe away some excess liquid but today my eyeballs took the whole droplets in – woohoo!

I can now actively feel the bandage lens in my eye. After years of careful contact lens wear, it definitely feels odd having this bandage for 5 days now, I’m itching to take it out.

I worked a full day today, surprisingly able to look at my screen from 9am – 6pm without eyes drying up or getting tired. Wow.

Wednesday, 9th Feb 2021
Day 6 recovery

Today I removed my bandage lens at the clinic. The doctor in charge said my eyes looked good and were close to 20/20. Keyword – close.
That ate away at me all day.

I
want
perfection.

My eyes suddenly felt tired in the afternoon and had to sleep for an hour during my work day. No pain or light sensitivity but my eyes feels… Raw?

Thursday, 10th Feb 2021
Day 7 recovery

I went back to the studio today and had 2 hours of aerial classes!
I intentionally used half my effort so I didn’t sweat to the point I was dripping, as advised by the doctors. By the way you can’t swim for 2 months from doing laser so if you love swimming and want to get your eyes done, maybe plan for your procedure during winter (plus the days would be several hours shorter and way easier to sleep through or open your eyes in, don’t do what I did lol)

I’m afraid to put any eye makeup, I’ll maybe wait for another 2 weeks.

I also cooked lunch today, extremely carefully and slowly, in case any oil splattered on my face oh the horror of oil going into my raw eyeball.

Friday, 11th Feb 2021
Day 8 recovery

Nothing noticeable during my work day.

I’m able to watch TV fine, still on low brightness. I played a new first person game Call of the Sea and got a headache, not sure if TV graphics too strong or it was the first person aspect..

Days 9-13
Nothing to report.


Day 14
I woke up with some irritation in my eyes but just doused it with some eyedrops and lay down for a bit and it was all gucci. Not sure if it was just some dust or cat hair that could have flown in.

It’s hard to say if my vision is 20/20 now without doing an eye test. I do get moments as I preparing to go out where I instinctively look for my glasses to put on or I pause before looking at my screens thinking I won’t be able to focus. I have noticed my night-time vision is better than before – yay!

I’m now back to exercising at home regularly and going for all my classes and sweating hard, no irritation to my eyes. I now apply foundation and concealer to my face but still no eye makeup.

I’m going to try do a short drive to the shops this weekend.

People say laser eye correction is the best money ever spent, it’s been pretty awesome so far and I hope my eyes stay perfect for a long long time. Good thing about PRK is that I could undergo the procedure again if I had to do additional corrections. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

& yes, I do recommend laser eye surgery.

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