Friday, June 18, 2010

Look Into My Eyes

It's been a week since I posted about it and a full week since my eye surgery. In case you've just dropped by, I had decided to have LASIK (laser) eye surgery after thinking about it for over 20 years and secretly saving for it for months. But at the last moment, two days before my surgery, my pre-operative appointment revealed a scar on my cornea. My eye surgeon claimed that LASIK was not a good option for me and recommended PRK. What I was told, and what I remember, is that there was a certain amount of post-operative pain with PRK, and the recovery was slower. What I hadn't counted on was just how slow.

I won't re-create the actual procedure in detail, just Google PRK and you will be taken to a host of blogs and web sites that will describe it. It involves burning off or (in my case) scraping the membrane over the eye to clear away a spot for the laser to shoot through and re-shape your lens. Sort of a mini-Hubble repair job. I was in to the Dr. in the afternoon and on my way home by 4:30.

The discomfort they warn you about after PRK is just that. Very uncomfortable. I ended up the first night sitting in my bedroom in the dark, with the TV on in the next room. I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch it, just listen. Fortunately I had some Ambien friends about and slept. First for 5 hours. Then I ate, then slept another 7 hours. By Saturday morning I could open my eyes but my vision was horribly blurry. I could see objects, certainly buildings, rooms, my dog. I could walk around the apartment and even the block but I wasn't comfortable enough to go further. I popped some Percocet, nothing stronger, and dozed all day and ate periodically. By Sunday my eyes felt much better, as advertised, and on Monday I went in for a follow-up.

It was at the Monday visit that I started to get disappointed. I assumed since I was in no pain, that the blurriness I was still experiencing was due mostly to the contact lens bandages they put on your eye for protection. Right before the surgeon removed them, he told me my vision wouldn't improve much as a result. It was then, for the first time, he talked about the weeks, even months, of recovery I was likely to be facing. What the hell? Nowhere in the discussions we had about the procedure or the literature I was given did anyone mention this lengthy recovery. I had no idea my vision would be impaired for this long.

I went home feeling a little dejected and with a serious case of buyer's remorse. Unfortunately, there was no option to return my eyes. I waited another day or two and then began to seek out other information about PRK, I guess it would be pertinent to mention that I was finally able to see and focus enough to actually read the pages I brought up. It was then I was confronted with the reality of the situation. PRK is a legitimate procedure, and an alternative to LASIK. There is, and was for me, a more uncomfortable post-operative result. Although I am happy to report my discomfort was really quite mild. One day really. There are first-hand accounts that have people feeling pain and irritation for up to a week, and then extremely dry eyes for weeks after. I feel completely normal and have since Monday.

But I can't see good. And all of the accounts of real people that have had the procedure as well as medical pages confirm that my vision won't stabilize, I won't have a real result, for a month to 3 months. As it stands now I have good and bad periods. When I first wake up, I see quite well. The blurriness returns very quickly and then gets progressively worse. Eye drops help. Occasionally my vision will just sharpen up to the point where i feel it's almost comparable to what my contacts were, but it doesn't last and I'm not sure I'm not just projecting.

I'm definitely doing more that I was after the weekend. This entire post was fairly easy to put up. Not nearly as time consuming or as tiring as the one right after the surgery. I'm reading the paper in the morning, watching TV at night, and this afternoon I read a magazine in bright sunlight pretty comfortably. So there's progress. But walking down the street my distance vision is still awful, and it gets worse at night. I can't make out anyone's face unless they are a few feet away.

It's frustrating.

But at this point, what's my alternative? I'm "seeing" this (HAR) as an exercise in patience. A quality I don't posses in abundance.

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