My PRK Surgery Experience

Like most of my fellow Asian nerds, I was a big nerd. My vision was at minus 9.25 on the left and minus 8.5 on the right. I have been near-sighted since 2nd grade. I had been insuperable with my glasses and contacts since then. Therefore, it has always been my interest to find a way to be glasses/contacts-free. However, due to my conservative nature, I have been embracing and dodging the idea or Lasik or PRK done.

Somehow, this year I got new-found courage and determination to get my eyes fixed hopefully once and for all. I researched extensively online and talked to a few specialists. Among all, I visited SUNY Laser Eye Institute in Manhattan and I was really convinced and comforted by the consultant, Heather there. She gave me a long and thorough exam to make sure I was qualified. Then, she explained to me what the benefits and side-effects are. I weighed my pros and cons and made possibly one of my biggest decision of my life.

10/7 3:20PM Surgery Day

It was a beautiful day in Manhattan. I left work early to go to the clinic alone. I was a bit nervous but I knew I could do it and there was nothing to fear. Dr. Harry Koster was the surgeon and he was very comforting and calming. I was led to the surgery bed sooner than I knew. I lay down and all of a sudden there was some soft brush brushing over some liquid over my right eye. Then, they stabilized my eye lids so I wouldn’t blink during surgery. Doc told me to stare at the blinking laser light while there was also another steady light in sight. For a while, I felt my eye ball was not following instruction and I was afraid they might laser on the wrong part! Good thing I was just too anxious. The surgery was done in no time and it went perfectly well as the doctor said. Then he moved on to the left. After both eyes were done, they put in contact lenses to protect the wounds.

I was then led to another room to meet another eye doctor. She gave me a list of drops I have to use as well as a oversize sunglasses to prevent dirt and lights. She showed me this drop as “Emergency Only”. She stressed that use it only while it is emergency. I didn’t think I would need it and I was kind of happy they gave me all these drops for free since I know other clinics normally ask you to fill out the prescription yourself. At this point, I felt no pain or discomfort. I paid my bill and went home.

On the subway home, the pain started to get to me. It was merely a 20-min ride but it felt like forever. I started tearing up non-stop and was very sensitive to light. I walked as fast as I could to get home without being hit by a car. After I got back, I started the drop ritual. I think I spent the rest of the day trying to put drops in while I fought the pain with all my strength and will power. I thought of using the “Emergency” drop but I hesitated since I didn’t know what emergency she really meant. But at this point, I was so desperate I called the doctor’s cell and left him a message asking for help.

Finally the doctor called me back and told me it is OK to use the E drop and I was so relieved. He also suggested taking pain killers and use cold compress. The E drop took a while to take effect but the pain finally died down. I was much better around dinner time I told my boyfriend, “Let’s go grab some dinner outside.” After 5 minutes of walking down the street, I realized it was a bad idea. My eyes were still sensitive and I could barely keep them open. Good thing we couldn’t get a table at the restaurant we wanted to go so we got home early. I then put more drops in and past out.

Oct 8th, 2010

I was still in a lot of pain and I used a lot of the E drop and took Ibuprofen 4 times a day. I couldn’t help it because my eyes felt like they were pulled and stabbed so many times. I was again, in bed all day. I tried cold compress on my eyes and it seemed to have helped relieve the pain quite a bit. Nonetheless, I couldn’t work nor look at computer or anything for more than 5 seconds pretty much. I spent all day trying to relax and rest my eyes. I didn’t really have an option really.

Oct 9th, 2010

It was a nice Saturday but I couldn’t step out of the apartment. I was in a much better shape. I cut down the use of E drop as well as Ibuprofen. I could see better and longer today. I thought about going outside but was scared of the daylight.  So I tried doing some chores around the apartment and not much else.  I tried checking emails and text messages on my iPhone but it was still too difficult to do.

Oct 10th, 2010

I woke up to better and clearer vision and was able to make calls and see well on my iphone. I decided today is the day to go outside and test my eyes out. I did grocery and later on even went to a BBQ at night. I noticed I was still a little sensitive and my senses are slightly disoriented since my vision has been temporarily weakened. I went to bed at 11 so I would be more prepared at work tomorrow.

Oct 11th, 2010

I was going to go to work on Monday but I realized it would be dangerous and kind of pointless to do so. I couldn’t walk well alone and my eyes need constant rest and I was still slightly dizzy from the blurry vision. I worked from home and had to zoom in my computer screen couple times to perform tasks. I made it through 5PM.

Oct 12th, 2010

I woke up to much better vision and went to my first post-op in the morning. The doctor said I am recovering very well and she checked my vision and it is at 20/25 right now. After that, she removed the contacts from my eyes. Another senior doctor came to check my eyes again. They asked me to look at the chart again and I was surprised my vision got blurry after the contacts were out. He told me it is very normal because my eye tissue will finally have room to heal completely. He mentioned I should use my drops every hour or even more frequently since I work with computer all day.

Oct 13th, 2010

I am stil blurry but slightly better than the day before. I am still zooming in so I don’t strain my eyes too much. I put in drops every 30 minutes or so. After work, I even went to a basketball game at MSG. I was seeing the game fine.

Oct 14th, 2010

My vision continued to improve. I see slighly clearer. I still use drops constantly at work.

Oct 15th, 2010

I feel like my vision got slightly blurrier today. I was a little discouraged but I know this can take up to months. I have been taking omega 3, goji seeds and all the vitamins helpful for the eyes. I can’t wait for my eyes to see clear and sharp again!

I will keep updating my progress once there is new development.



1 month after my surgery, I can see 20/20 now. my left eye is a little weaker than my right but both can see very well. My night vision has also improved drastically and I don’t notice any difference anymore. Dry eye is still noticeable after working in front of the computer and especially in the morning when I just wake up. My doctor told me to use Restasese for 3 months in the morning and night to improve the symptoms. Overall, I am very happy with the results and treatment I receive at SUNY Laser Institute.


About Athena Chang

Love traveling, dining, and cooking. Digital marketing professional by day, globe-trotting foodie at heart.
This entry was posted in Health and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My PRK Surgery Experience

  1. Cheng says:

    Hi Athena,
    Came across your blog while researching PRK at SUNY College of Optometry. Excellent report! Do you mind giving an update to your progress? I’m also a Taiwanese with bad eyesight 🙂 4.25 and 7.75

  2. How have your eyes been – 3 years later? I hope that they are doing well!

    • Athena Chang says:

      I am doing well! Eyesight is still perfect. I feel dryness in the morning when I first open my eyes but it is mild. I don’t need additional lubricant other than that. Great decision!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s