PRK Procedure

I had a pre-op dilation appointment a few days ago that was no big deal. I’d been cautioned that my eyes would stay dilated for 24 hours or longer, but it had started to wear off by that evening and I was fine the next day.

I arrived at the eye center for my PRK procedure at 9 am. All the patients scheduled for that morning were brought into a pre-op waiting area with comfy loungers. We were given post-op care kits with eye drops and an instruction sheet. I was the only patient who had come in already knowing I would get PRK, but two other maybe-LASIK patients were converted to PRK by the surgeon that morning. This is common, but people usually have warning that it may go that way and it’s up to the surgeon to make a final decision. We were given hairnets and blue mesh shoe covers to put on. Each person got a green sticker on their forehead saying what procedure they were there for, as well as a name tag with our name and more details.

Our pre-op counselor Ben went over the instructions for after surgery — antibiotic drops, steroid drops, a pain-relief drop, wetting drops, all to be used on different schedules for days and weeks afterwards. PRK patients also get Vicodin for pain and Phenergan to help sleep that night, so he told us about that.

Dr. Woolfson came in and introduced himself to each of us. For an assembly line process he and his team do a great job of making you feel like they are treating you as an individual. He had a quick individual chat with each patient, marked our eyes with a special medical marker, and looked over our charts and made notes.

I was the second patient in line. The first patient went in and after a few minutes we heard a noise which Ben explained was the laser. It wasn’t very loud, but it made a staccato kind of noise. It stopped after a minute, and then started again a few minutes later. Then that patient was all done and it was my turn.

Ben had already put numbing drops in my eyes so the work started as soon as I lay down. Dr. Woolfson put a speculum device on my right eye which I had expected to find uncomfortable but I think I was numb enough that it wasn’t much bother. I focused on a red light as he instructed and he did a few things before the laser started. You read a lot that “the laser does everything” but I think that’s not really true. Dr. Woolfson applied a solution and then did some scraping kind of thing. I couldn’t feel any of it and it didn’t bother me that it was going on. But it seemed like there was quite a bit of manual activity to the process before and after the laser did its job. Then he did all the same on the left eye. Ben and Dr. Woolfson both warned us that they apply a very cold solution at the end which some people find unpleasant, and get an ice cream headache. It didn’t bother me though.

Then they sat me up and all of a sudden they were taking my picture. I was a little disoriented so I think I was a bit “WTF” about the picture part.

I sat in the outer hallway for just a couple minutes and then we were free to go. It was about 12:30. I had been so nervous that I hadn’t eaten any breakfast and I was starving. So we picked up take-out hibachi on the way home. I ate it all up and took a Vicodin and went to sleep. I woke up a few times and did the hourly drops, and then took the Phenergan and another Vicodin to go to sleep for the night.

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