PRK

On the 16.01.2009 I underwent PRK (PhotoRefractive Keratectomy) at the VistaVision clinic in Milan, performed by Dr. Paolo Fogagnolo.

I am near-sighted and have slight astigmatism on the right eye. My measurements before the operation were:

  • -2.25 = -0.50/170° on the right eye
  • -2.25 on the left eye

After 3 visits with my ophthalmologist and a series of pre-operatory exams, I was ready for the operation. During the operation you don’t feel any pain (local anesthesia to the eyes). Two metal instruments keep your eyes open and you have to stare into a cloud of red dots (the laser). Before the laser, they pull aside the epithelium (the membrane protecting the cornea), which heals in the days following the operation.

The laser was a 193nm ultra-violet laser (the human eye can see between 380nm (blue) and 750nm (red)), so I guess the red dots are for psychological reasons. The laser «burned me» for a total of approx. 15 seconds total on each eye. After the laser they clean the eye and put protective (neutral) contact lenses on you, to protect the cornea from infections.

Immediately after the operation you see perfectly and feel no pain. After 10-15 minutes, you start crying and start feeling the pain. You take antibiotic drops, cortisone drops and tear drops, as well as pain killers.

For me the pain lasted 2 days. The sensitivity to light receded quickly, and on the 6th day I was at home with the drapes open. On the 5th day the doctor removed the protective lenses and the pain briefly came back on the right eye. The left eye now sees almost perfectly and I feel practically no pain, while the right eye still sees everything in a haze.

Finally, after the pain subsides, you can move freely around the home, but you cannot use a computer, watch tv or read a book. So what do you do? I found the solution in audiobooks!

Update 21.01.2009: Brief description of the 2 other laser eye surgery techniques.

  • LASEK is very similar to PRK, with the only difference that the epithelium is not pulled aside but «lifted»  by applying an alcoholic solution
  • in LASIK a flap of the cornea is cut (mechanically) and lifted, and the laser burns underneath this flap, which is afterwards repositioned on the cornea. This procedure usually has faster healing times than the other two, but has many potential complications, so (if possible) PRK is preferred
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