Oct 7, 2017

Eyes of the Tiger - My PRK Surgery

On September 28, 2017, I had PRK laser eye surgery at TLC Laser Eye Center in Waltham, MA. This picture of Cartman from South Park totally represents how I was feeling before my surgery.  Can you see that freaked out concerned look in his dilated pupils? That was me wondering if I was making a really big mistake messing with my eyes or if I was doing a really positive thing for my future self. And no, I didn't use a Groupon to make such a big decision, but there was a $1k TLC discount that swayed my decision to do the surgery this year vs. next.

I visited TLC for an initial free consultation to determine if I would be a good candidate for Lasik eye surgery.  I filled out their paperwork in the waiting room on a Saturday morning wondering how I would answer the question 'Why do you want to get eye surgery?'

My answer was simply that I was entirely tired of cleaning my glasses every five minutes with all the mysterious smutz that somehow gravitated toward my lenses during my every waking hour. I just must love touching my face a lot because I could never keep those glasses clean. I was fed up with buying moist wipes and having them be too moist which consistently left smears on my glasses that dried in weird patterns and never left me feeling like I had a clear view of the world through my glasses.

After going through many comprehensive tests, I learned that I had thin corneas which were probably a result of a lifelong habit of rubbing at my (dry) eyes using my knuckles. My dry eyes were most likely related to the long-term computer use over the years. While Lasik surgery involved cutting some sort of flap in my eyeball to correct my distance vision, my thin corneas increased the chances of that flap collapsing and causing vision complications. I didn't pay too much attention to the details of what I couldn't do but perked up when I learned that a safer surgery that I could qualify for was Photorefractive Keratectomy (aka PRK) which is a type of surgery where the surface of the cornea is reshaped using an excimer laser. The recovery time is much longer than Lasik which meant that I'd have to be out of work for 5-7 days and ultimately my distance vision could take up to one year to fully recover. 

Since I don't know if you're squeamish about eyeball stuff, I won't go into the details of what they did to reshape them, but know this - I didn't turn out boss-eyed and my surgery was a success. I was the perfect patient following all the instructions, went to visit my eye doctor every day to monitor my progressive healing and created a complicated spreadsheet to keep track of three different eye drops that were needed every day.

It's been 10 days since the surgery and I'm doing really well. My last eye doctor appointment showed that my distance was 20/25 which is freaking amazing considering how poorly I could see without my glasses before the surgery.

Here are just some of the positive changes in my life as a result of choosing to do this surgery:
  • Watching TV without glasses
  • Walking around the house and moving about the world without glasses
  • Driving without glasses
  • Stepping into the rain and not having my glasses get wet or fogged up
  • Not reaching for my glasses upon waking up
  • Being able to wear brightly decorated magnifying glasses for reading and PC work
There aren't really many troublesome downsides.  Sure, I still need to wear glasses for reading. I have to put lubricating eye drops in my eyes every hour and I'm down to one prescription eye drop three times a day which will most likely continue for a couple of months.  I'll have to buy a pair of expensive polarized sunglasses from either Ray-Ban or Maui Jim to replace my $19.99 pair that I bought from Walgreens right after my surgery. It's probably not a good idea to go crazy with the mascara because I shouldn't be rubbing my eyelids to remove unnecessary cosmetics, but I'll figure all that out with time.

I've worn glasses since I was 18 years old and have never thought that I looked attractive in them. In recent months, I discovered a discounted online site called Zenni Optical where I've purchased quite a few pairs of prescription glasses that didn't look half bad on me and were highly affordable compared to my eye doctor's office.  Who knew I'd love those cat eye frames so much?  But now that I'm presenting myself to the world sans lenses, I feel like my round fat face has gotten more pronounced and I'm self-conscious about it which just means that's the next big step to tackle.  

I know eventually, I'll get used to looking at myself in the mirror without glasses each day. It's going to take some time to truly become comfortable with myself.  So far, I  have zero regrets getting the PRK surgery and I'm glad that I didn't let my fear and anxiety prevent me from improving my life.  This was a good decision.




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