PRK Surgery Nightmare - Anonymous

Emailed to webmaster of 8/16/2011

I had PRK Surgery on my Left eye in May of 1998 scheduled out of a facility in Providence, RI. A group of us were bused into Boston and underwent PRK one by one. My vision was -6.50 at the time (both eyes). I was not wearing reading glasses prior to surgery. I was 44 years old at the time and wanted to get rid of my glasses. I did not wear contact lenses. I decided to have one eye done at a time. I am glad that I did this. After the surgery I noticed some improvement, but it was still to soon.

An initial problem was that since I didn't originally wear contact lenses, I could not correct my vision in my right eye with eye glasses since it was now greater than -2.50 from the corrected eye. So, when I removed the left lens of my existing glasses, they didn't work because of the big difference in vision. I was now left with trying to get used to putting a contact in my right eye until my left eye healed.

This caused stress in itself, but was nothing in comparison to the three months of double vision, star bursts and ghosting that I had. No one could tell me for sure that the double vision would go away along with the star bursts and blurring. So I stressed out and eventually became depressed and had to be hospitalized and go on medication.

The surgeon compared the original topography image of my left eye to the post-corrective topography image and it showed that the surgery had left my cornea uncorrectable. It was never confirmed by the original surgeon (of course), but after searching out online support at the time, much from Canadian surgeons, I found that something called "pooling" may have occurred during the surgery. I believe this is when the eyes surface is not thoroughly dried and when the laser is applied it irregularly corrects the cornea.

The surgeon had me wear a very flat contact lens on the corrected eye for a month or so to try and resurface the cornea as it healed. That didn't work and it was very uncomfortable to wear. All during this time I was struggling with depression and being obsessive compulsive about this choice that I had made.

Long story short....each year that I went back to my regular eye doctor, he saw that the vision in my left eye was slowly getting better. The double vision had stopped 3 months to the day (thank goodness) so now I was only dealing with star bursts and ghosting. Each year things got better. What was happening was that every time I blinked, I was basically smoothing my cornea to correct the irregularity.

My vision is 20/20 in my corrected eye, but I still have some faint star bursts in the evening, but nothing like it was originally. My reading glass prescription went from +1.25 in 1998 to +2.25 in 2011.

In 2010 I noticed that I had flickers of light in my corrected left eye so I visited my eye doctor who said he saw a tear in my retina. He sent me to a specialist and they immediately performed surgery which involved freezing my eyeball to induce scarring to correct the tear. It seems to have worked, but I wonder if this was somehow caused by the PRK in 1998.

To this day, I have never had my right eye corrected and continue to wear a long-term contact lens which works just fine. I change it every couple of weeks. I suspect I will never have this eye corrected.

The surgery at the time was probably a couple of thousand dollars for one eye, but the cost of the treatment for acute depression and time lost at work was over $10,000, so this was a costly choice and a life lesson.

My hopes are that my daughter will not ask to have this surgery because it scares me so much.