Nick Curran


I had PRK surgery done in 2006, and my vision since has been fantastic. I’ve generally been pretty comfortable, the dryness I had in the first two years stopped, and despite needing reading glasses lately, I couldn’t be happier about it. Below are the collected blog posts I made describing my experiences.

Day 0 - September 22, 2006

Three and a half hours until I go under the laser - specifically “Wavefront” PRK. I’m excited, a bit nervous, and extraordinarily curious about what life will be like without glasses or contacts, provided all goes well. Today they’re doing the right eye. Next Friday, they’ll be doing the left.

Day 1

I arrived at Fairview Southdale yesterday at 11:30 am to check in and take a valium. After a double check of my refraction, the doctors were ready for me. At 12:30, they brought me in to the operating room, where they had me lay down on a table and hold a football. They then confirmed with me that they would be working on my right eye (thank you!), and taped the left shut. They gave me some numbing drops, and propped my eye open. No more blinking for the next five minutes!

The most uncomfortable part of the operation came next. Unlike Lasik, which creates a corneal flap before the laser surgery begins, in PRK they do a “surface ablation.” They took a device that looked like a dentist’s drill but with a brown bristly head, turned it on so the head started spinning, and pressed it against my eye. My eye was numb, but they were really pressing, and that kind of discomfort doesn’t get numbed away. It wasn’t painful or anything, just sort of traumatic. Then they did it twice more. Yikes!

After that they gave focused the laser on my eye. “Are you locked on?” “Yup, good to go.” What followed was 15 seconds of clicks and pops while I stared at a red dot surrounded by a bright white ring. With the clicks and pops I could detect tiny flashes, which I assume was the laser doing its magic. One of the doctors counted down, “You’re 5% done. 10% done… 50% done. 95% done.” Done. “OK, you can blink.” I could already tell my vision was improved.

Then they put the contact lens “bandage” on my eye. Yuck. A plastic eye shield (like a pirate’s patch) was taped over my eye, and they gave me a bunch of drops. I went home and slept for a few hours, and since then I’ve just been moping around the house and marathoning The Office. I saw the doctor again last morning, who said everything looked “better than good.” Since the surgery, I’ve been napping and moping around while taking advantage of excellent care. The eye has been very uncomfortable, but getting better consistently. I think the worst part is the damn contact lens, but it could be the healing of the surface ablation.

Everything has been about what I expected or better so far. I’m really looking forward to getting the contact out and seeing what the healing vision bring.

Day 2

After my pain and discomfort started increasing last night, I took a vicodin at around 8:00 and hit the sack at around 9:00. I awoke this morning at 8:00 feeling the best I had since the operation. Good thing, too, as today was the day the boys and I had tickets to our annual Vikings’ game. I was able to go out tailgating, and the our spot in the shade treated me well. I tried taking a walk around the lot, but the sunny areas proved too bright for my constantly dilated right eye.

We walked to the game, which was nice, but by midway through the first quarter, my eye started to feel uncomfortable again. I left at the end of the quarter, went home, and took a long nap after icing my eye. I spent the rest of the afternoon napping and relaxing, the eye feels much better now, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I’ll lose the contact lens I’ve been wearing for the past two days!

All in all, today was much better than yesterday.

Day 3

Back at work today. I was able to drive to the doctor today without much problem. It was not necessarily comfortable though. The morning was very sunny, which my constantly-dilated right eye does not like. I’m also driving with somewhat compromised vision. It’s glasses on (and therefore perfect vision) in my left eye with my right eye shut, which compromised depth perception. Or sunglasses on, uncorrected left eye, and improving right eye. This gives me better depth perception and seems to yield the safest driving. My doctor agrees (and also confirms that I have driving-legal vision).

He took the contact out this morning, which did not provide the big gasping relief I thought it might. In fact, for most of the morning afterward, my eye hurt worse than it had in the last day or so. That tapered off, and after my noon eye drop cocktail, I’m feeling as good as ever.

I have noticeably improved vision in my right eye, but nowhere near the end goal. Dr. Croissant is happy with the progress, and things look to be on track for my left eye surgery on Friday.

Day 4

Major milestone last night! At Spanish class, I was able to read the board from the back of the room without my glasses. I haven’t been able to do that since junior high! Amazing. I’ve noticed that I can read a lot of things with my healing right eye that I can’t even tell exist with the other eye. The ability to read my computer screen is markedly better than yesterday. There is still a lot of healing to go though. I’m not near ideal vision yet, and there is quite a bit of haloing around bright lights at night. All seems to be going well and as expected with the PRK healing process.

Another thing: much less discomfort and itching than even yesterday, at least so far.

Day 5

I’ve noticed a subtle but important improvement in my vision today: I can read my computer monitor from a normal distance. This doesn’t mean I can read it well or with the sort of clarity I get with my glasses, but it’s definitely an improvement over yesterday. Assuming linear improvement each day, I should be ready for my left eye surgery on Friday. Fingers crossed!

Also notable: I’ve had practically no pain or discomfort in my right eye in the past day. To be honest, it has felt better than the as yet uncorrected left eye, which makes little sense. Perhaps because the left is still doing most of the work and the right is closed more often. At any rate, it’s great, because I was worried I’d have severely dry eyes with this.

Day 6

Not much improvement today, although my computer screen does seem a bit easier to read. Still not great, but I feel like I can work using only my right eye all day, where as yesterday I used my left eye with my glasses on. At any rate, I’m confident enough to go through with tomorrow’s surgery on my left eye instead of delaying it a week, which had been a possibility.

So I guess that is a significant milestone: for the first time ever, I’m working without glasses in reasonable comfort. Wearing contacts at work had always driven me crazy from dryness.

Wish me luck at tomorrow’s surgery!

Day 7

Not much improvement today. I’m on the way to my left eye surgery as I type. More tomorrow.

Day 8

The left eye surgery went about the same as the right, which is to say it went well. The pain and discomfort, while quite sharp for a moment yesterday afternoon, hasn’t been as bad as the first time around, but I think that is at least partly due to the fact that I’m managing it better (thank you, Vicodin). And let’s just say that the blackout cellular shades I put up in the spring are really paying off. It’s 70 and sunny outside, but in here it’s nearly pitch dark.

The follow up this morning went well too, and the doc says everything looks fine. Vision in the left eye was at 20/25, slightly better even than the right eye. Lighting and tearing are a factor as well as fluctuations due to the healing process, so at this point it’s certainly not as good as my right, which has been healing for a week.

The right eye is doing nicely as well, if nothing else reading and computing is much easier than two days ago.

Day 10

After a long weekend of sitting in the dark and nursing my occasionally painful left eye, I’m back at work. At my follow up this morning, my right eye could read the 20/20 line - a marked improvement over last Friday! My left eye, which could read the 20/25 line on Saturday, could read very little today. This sort of fluctuation is normal as the outer layer of the cornea heals and changes, and I’m constantly tearing from that eye as well, further blurring my vision.

The contact is out, and like with the last eye, the doctor seems pleased and all appears to be healing per normal.

Day 11

Day 11 for my right eye is day 4 for my left eye, and in that regard my experience with the left seems very similar to that with the right. Like the right, yesterday was not painful, but there was significant discomfort and itching. Also like with the right, today it’s gone, and my vision in the left has improved significantly from yesterday.

The left is still really dilated though. I’m trying to work without my sunglasses on, but it’s not easy. My vision out of my right is great, at least 20/20, and I’ve only had slight dryness, which I expect is partly due to the fact that I have to use it more while the left eye stays shut.

Day 13

Since Tuesday, I’ve noticed slow improvements in my left eye and little if any improvement in the right. Certainly the left eye is much more comfortable that it was. It’s still a bit dilated, but I don’t need shades in normal light. I’m seeing pretty well with my right eye, and I’m getting there with my left.

Even without further improvements, I have to say that I’d do it all over. Yes, the PRK procedure is initially a bit traumatic and the recovery process is somewhat painful, certainly uncomfortable, and nervously uncertain. But for the first time in my life, I can see well. I wake up in the morning with vision as good as it was in my contacts*, without the discomfort they brought or the bother of my glasses. It’s really a great feeling.

*But not as good it was in my glasses, which was remarkably good. I might improve to near that, which would be awesome, but as it stands I’m pleased.

Day 17

I saw the doctor on Friday morning (Day 14), where he found everything to be in very good shape. I was seeing 20/20 in both eyes, with slightly better vision in the left eye (the second one I had done). He did find a small amount of residual astigmatism in both eyes, which he expected would heal away over time.

My vision since Friday has improved further, and I’m just seeing great. Just looking around my cubicle, text I couldn’t read then I can now make out, and I’m talking about small print from a distance. The first weekend since both surgeries was great! I really love my new vision.

Day 47

Just had a follow up with the eye doctor. I’m 20/10 in both eyes! I can read the bottom line on the eye chart, and the Dr. Croissant said after his examination, “I can’t tell you even had anything done.” Simply amazing.

My only side effects lately are moderate dryness in the evenings. It feels like I sort of want to take my contacts out. Easily remedied with a drop.

Day 780

My vision is still fantastic, but very once in a while I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and my eyelids will be stuck to my eyes. Opening them quickly before I realize this is then very painful.

It happened again early Sunday morning and my right eye still stings today. I saw Dr. Croissant (his real name), and he explained that it’s not uncommon and nothing to worry about. I have a “recurrent abrasion.” My eyes are dry, and small areas of my cornea are not totally healed since the PRK procedure; this is normal. The dryness makes my lids stick to those healing parts of the cornea and then pull them off. I’ll be using a salve at night for a while to keep the eyes lubricated until they full heal.