Authored by: OCC LASIK
By: Chris Kowalczyk
A lot of great things have been happening at OCC LASIK, and I want to do my best to keep you updated. As some of you may know, I recently received LASIK surgery, and it has been nothing short of spectacular. My vision has changed forever and I’m always happy to say that I no longer need glasses at my bedside! It has proven to be one of the best and by far one of the easiest decisions I have made in my life, and I’m sure there are also many others out there that could say the same!
I could go on and on about my own experiences but I want to share with you a transformation of a different kind. Ms. Nancy Davis, our Senior Clinical Research Associate/Manager, was the first to experience PRK treatment at OCC LASIK. For us, and undoubtedly for her, it’s exciting news! But you might be wondering, what is PRK? PRK stands for photorefractive keratectomy, which is a type of refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This is very similar to LASIK surgery, but instead of creating a thin flap with your cornea, the entire cornea is removed. Once removed, the excimer laser then reshapes the cornea just the same as in the LASIK procedure. There are many reasons as to why PRK might be a better option for someone other than LASIK, but in Nancy’s case, her cornea prior to surgery was very flat and thin. This would make LASIK a difficult procedure as it would be tough to put the flap of the cornea back to its original position. The cornea is then covered up with a contact lens style bandage and within days, it grows back.
Since OCC LASIK established its own history in performing its first ever PRK treatment, I gave Nancy the opportunity to share her experiences with me and the rest of the world. Here is what she had to say.
Chris: So Nancy, what inspired you to get the PRK procedure? Were there any specific reasons why? For myself, I’m an extremely active person, so in order for me to do something active, about 99% of the time I needed to put my contacts in. When I woke up in the morning, I had to have my glasses by my bed. When I showered, I had to rest them on the counter. In other words, I always had to consider every daily task which becomes a task within itself. What motivated you to make the final decision?
Be free of bedside glasses!
Nancy: Well much like you, I went through the same experiences. For example, I would have to place my glasses in the same spot when I would go swimming, have a shower, or when I went to bed. If I didn’t place them in the same spot or someone moved them, I would always need someone’s help to find them. It was always an ordeal! The thought of being free of glasses and being able to enjoy the simple things in life again… so much easier.
Enjoy the water free of contacts and glasses!
I also had to adjust my lifestyle because of my vision. I couldn’t do the things I loved like water-ski, and play other sports because I couldn’t wear my glasses if I wanted to participate. I love to ride my motorcycle but it came to a point where it was just too difficult and unsafe. I used to wear my contacts when I would ride, but they would dry out and become irritated which affected my vision. It just wasn’t safe so I stopped actually riding and unfortunately just became a passenger. When you’re on a bike, there’s just no room for error and you need to be aware of everything and everyone around you.
‘I couldn’t do the things I loved like water-ski, and play other sports because I couldn’t wear my glasses if I wanted to participate.’
And of course, Dr. Armogan and Dr. Ali. Given their track record of experience, I completely trusted them.
‘When you’re on a bike, there’s just no room for error and you need to be aware of everything and everyone around you.’
C: What did you know about the procedure beforehand? At any point, was there anything that made you think twice? Worries? Concerns?
N: I had actually been contemplating this type of surgery for many years, but I was very apprehensive about it. I know many people that have had LASIK and the majority of them were very happy with the results.
For me though, all of the doctors spent a great deal of time with me on a few occasions to make sure I understood all of my options and was able to make an informed and educated decision. At first it was unclear if LASIK or PRK was the best option for me, but regardless they explained all the potential risks and benefits for both procedures.
They performed many different tests to determine what would be the best procedure, and after everything was reviewed by the doctors, the decision was made. They decided that because of my thin corneas, PRK was the right option. I was a little apprehensive about PRK but I had complete faith in the doctors and knew that they were doing whatever was in my best interest. I trust them. They are brilliant doctors!
As far as research goes, I took a look online, but I never believe what’s on the Internet. I preferred to talk to the doctors and surgeons directly. I was aware of the potential side effects, and I had already experienced problems with night vision and halos beforehand so this wasn’t a factor for me going into the surgery. I also understood that at age 47 it is expected that I would have to rely on reading glasses, but that’s okay because I welcomed the idea of only using glasses for reading! In the end, every person is different and you need to be educated about the procedure to make the best decision for yourself.
C: What did you do for testing? How was your experience with Dr. Armogan, Dr. Ali, and the rest of the staff?
N: I did the exact same testing as you would if you were going to get LASIK, but it was completely painless and the staff was great! They explained each test to me as it was being performed and, on top of that, they took a lot of time to explain the different options and gave me lots of time to think about what I wanted to do. All my questions were answered clearly and completely. And as you now know, PRK was chosen because of my thin corneas, but I was excited and couldn’t wait for the surgery date!
C: Let’s move on to surgery day. How were you feeling before the procedure, were you nervous? For myself, I was definitely nervous, but I still felt calm. I think the entire preparation for the procedure, alongside Dr. Armogan’s track record of success, is what helped me get excited about it. Things transitioned smoothly and I found myself thinking about how the procedure would be just as smooth as the initial testing period. I trusted the doctors and I knew that as long as I did what’s asked of me, then I had nothing to worry about.
N: The day of the surgery was great and I was excited to get going! I had a good healthy breakfast before coming in and took the prescribed medication as directed the night before. The staff then took me into a quiet, dim lit room and I was given some medication to calm my nerves and help me relax. The staff was great though. They were very friendly and helpful throughout and would often come in at different times to see how I was doing and if there was anything I needed. Even Dr. Armogan came in to see how I was doing! I felt very comfortable and was very confident and excited with my decision for surgery.
C: Now for the surgery itself. What was that experience like for you?
N: Before we even started the doctors took the time to verify all the details, which is always a comforting feeling. They wanted to do one final check just to make sure everything was right. The information was then verified, at which point they decided to move forward.
At first, when I walked into the room, there were many doctors and staff there but I could not see them with my glasses off! When you rest your eyes in the quiet, dim lit room prior to surgery, you’re no longer wearing your glasses at this point. Then they have you lay down in the chair which is very similar to a reclined dental chair. All you can hear after that are the doctors and staff verifying certain details and making sure the equipment is ready to go. I was relaxed though, because as everyone in the room was talking amongst each other, I almost fell asleep in my chair! Dr. Armogan thought that was pretty funny! But the doctors were great, they literally explained each step of the procedure during the surgery.
To begin, they put numbing drops in my eyes and inserted the speculum, which is the device that keeps your eyes open. Dr. Armogan then smoothed my cornea to remove the cells on my eye. It sounds terrible, but the procedure was completely pain free. I really didn’t feel anything. During this time though, you have to focus on remaining still.
Once that was complete, the excimer laser was the next step. I was given 40 seconds under the laser for my left eye and 25 seconds for my right. You have to remain still during this part as well, which was not a problem. I remember that I just kept thinking about the long term results and that kept me going! I did find it hard to focus on the light when it came time for the laser, but I just did what I was told and didn’t feel a thing. A cold fluid was then applied to my eyes which provided a soothing effect. Before I knew it, the surgical lenses were placed on my eyes, which help them heal and keep them protected, and I was finished.
Then I got up and I was escorted into the examining room where both Dr. Armogan and Dr. Ali took a look at my eyes with the slit lamp. Everything went well so there was nothing to worry about. At this point I was already able to see and there was absolutely no pain. And believe me, I was so excited! I could not wipe the smile off my face!
Once the doctors were finished, I left and went home.
C: So now you’ve been through it all. When you woke up the next day, how did you feel? What was your vision like?
N: My vision was very good the first day after surgery, in fact it was 20/15. I had never seen that clearly before and I could not stop smiling that day, my vision was amazing. The bark on the trees was so clear and detailed.
‘The bark on the trees was so clear and detailed.’
At this point, it has been one month since the surgery and I have recommended it to many of my family members, friends, people I see in the grocery store, the pharmacy, you name it! It has already changed my quality of life and I can’t wait to see the results with a full recovery. I feel much more confident about my appearance and I’m excited to finally buy a nice pair of sunglasses without having to get a prescription!
C: Congratulations! It sounds like you’re very happy with your decision! I know that after my surgery it was almost hard to believe that I could see so clearly and not have to wear glasses. A very surreal experience. I’m very happy and excited for you!
When it’s all said and done, were there any negatives you took away from the experience?
N: The procedure for PRK was not as bad as I expected. In fact, it exceeded my expectations and I would do it again if required. PRK sounded like it was going to be painful, but it’s nothing to worry about.
C: Thank you Nancy for taking the time to answer all of my questions and providing those out there who are interested in the PRK procedure, an honest, detailed, and very informative experience. I hope that your story encourages others to take that next step towards clear vision and a much improved quality of life.