What to expect before, during, and after surgery will vary from doctor to doctor and patient to patient. The following information serves as a guide, but cannot replace the dialogue you should have with your optometrist. Read this information carefully and with the checklist, discuss your expectations with your doctor.
If you decide to go ahead with PRK eye surgery, you will need an initial or baseline evaluation by your optometrist to determine if you are a good candidate. Your optometrist should perform a thorough eye exam and discuss whether you are a good candidate, as well as what the risks, benefits, or alternatives to the surgery are.
You should tell your optometrist about your past and present medical and eye conditions, about all the medications you are taking including over the counter medications and about any medications you may be allergic to.
If you wear contact lenses, it is a good idea to stop wearing them before your baseline evaluation and switch to wearing your glasses full-time. Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea for up to several weeks after you have stopped using them depending on the type of contact lenses you wear. Not leaving your contact lenses out long enough for your cornea to assume its natural shape before surgery can result in inaccurate measurements and a poor surgical plan, resulting in poor vision after surgery.
If you wear:
After your optometrist's evaluation, an additional assessment will be done by the Horizon optometrist, or by the surgeon at the laser center, to confirm whether you are a suitable candidate for surgery. They will discuss what you should expect before, during, and after surgery and what your responsibilities will be during those times. We will provide an orientation session at the Horizon Laser Vision Center so that you are familiar with the facility and the procedure and provide you with the opportunity to ask any questions you may still have. Prior to your surgery, a PRK consent form must be read and signed after discussion with your surgeon.
You should carefully and thoroughly remove your makeup. Debris along the eyelashes may increase the risk of infection during and after surgery.
Before your surgery, you must arrange for transportation to and from your surgery as well as for your first follow-up visit on the day after surgery. On the day of surgery your doctor may give you some medicine to make you relax; this will impair your ability to drive and may blur your vision.
You should allow yourself approximately two hours at the Center on the day of surgery. You should wear comfortable clothes. You need to bring a friend or family member along to sit with you before the procedure and to drive you home following the procedure. Medications and detailed instructions for aftercare are provided.
A mild oral sedative such as Ativan will be offered to you prior to surgery to help you relax. You will be escorted into the surgery suite and positioned on the laser bed. You will be given eye drops to numb the eyes. Most patients report little or mild discomfort.
The procedure only takes 10 minutes per eye, although the actual laser time is usually only 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the amount of correction required. You may become aware of sounds and smells associated with the surgery. The pulse of the laser makes a ticking sound. As the laser removes corneal tissue, some people have reported a smell similar to burning hair.
At the conclusion of the procedure, a soft bandage contact lens will be placed on your eye. Medicated drops will be placed in the eye and you will return to the exam room for an assessment with your surgeon. Your vision will be blurry, like you are looking through a fog.
A shield will be placed over your eye as protection. It is important for you to wear this shield to prevent you from rubbing your eye and putting pressure on your eye while you sleep, and to protect your eye from accidentally being hit or poked.
Prior to leaving the center, the Horizon Laser Vision Center optometrist or a patient consultant will review your post-operative care. All medications you will need are provided.
You will need to have someone to drive you home. It is important after PRK surgery to get plenty of rest with your eyes closed; you will experience discomfort that will range from scratchiness to moderate pain. You will need to rest your eyes in a darkened environment for 48 hours. This will accelerate the healing process and minimize discomfort.
It is very important to not to rub your eyes after surgery. You should also lubricate your eyes regularly with the prescribed artificial tears and to protect them with a good pair of sunglasses. This will also help to accelerate the healing period. You should not drive for at least 72 hours following treatment and under no circumstance should you drive until your vision is clear and meets the required standards for driving.
The soft bandage contact lens will be removed 3 to 4 days after surgery and you will continue to use the medications as instructed.
You may need to be away from work for 7 days. Your vision may be blurry and may fluctuate in the first few weeks following surgery. You will require appointments with your own optometrist at one week, one month, three months, six months and one year after the procedure. These appointments are very important for your ongoing care and are included in the cost of your surgery.
To help prevent infection, you may need to wait for up to two weeks after surgery or until your doctor advises you otherwise before using make-up. You should also avoid swimming and using hot tubs or whirlpools for at least 2 weeks, or on the recommendation of your optometrist.
You should wait one to three days following surgery before beginning any non-contact sports; contact sports may resume at 2 to 4 weeks depending on the amount of activity required, how you feel, and your doctor's instructions. During strenuous contact sports such as boxing, football, hockey, it will be important to protect your eyes from anything that might get in them and from being hit or bumped. Wear eye protection.
Once your vision has stabilized, which may take up to six months, further treatment may be considered if necessary. Some patients have trouble tolerating the fluctuating vision even on a temporary basis.
Contact your eye doctor immediately, if you develop any new, unusual or worsening symptoms at any point after surgery. Such symptoms could signal a problem that, if not treated early enough, may lead to a loss of vision.