The Scary Truth About PRK Recovery and Complications

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As I sit to write this, it is almost three years to the day of my first PRK procedure at a vision center in Illinois. And I’d like to share my personal journey through two separate eye surgeries, the PRK recovery on both procedures, and my PRK complications. 

You may be asking yourself why a travel blogger is writing a health-related experience on her travel website. Well, the main reason I decided to get my eyes corrected was that I thought it would be helpful when traveling long-term.

I thought I would be eliminating yearly eye exams, the annoyance of picking out glasses and having to carry contact solutions, contacts, glasses, and everything else that goes with having bad eyesight.

Boy was I wrong, PRK recovery was not what I expected at all! 

You might be considering the same option so I want to share my lengthy and not-so-great experience so you can make an informed decision. 

I waited three long years to share my experience so my eyes could stabilize and I could give you the full outlook. Also for my anger to subside, because let me tell you, there was a lot of anger, disappointment, and utter dismay. 

Keep reading for my full PRK recovery journal…

What is the Difference between PRK and LASIK?

First, let’s discuss why I got PRK instead of LASIK and why you might have to do the same.

Both PRK, which stands for Photorefractive Keratectomy, and LASIK are laser vision correction procedures performed to correct eyesight.

The main difference between LASIK versus PRK is the way the procedure is completed. 

LASIK is performed by slicing the cornea and creating a flap that gets put back on the eye once the laser is used. When PRK is performed, a layer of the patient’s cornea (the corneal cells) is completely removed which has to then grow back. 

Supposedly, the procedure time, result, and cost are the same with both procedures. And only the healing time and potential complications differ. 

My personal PRK recovery journey through two surgeries (because the first one didn't work). Read about the day to day recover and my complications.
Apparently, my photographer needs eye surgery.. a little blurry but you get the picture on how excited I was!

LASIK and PRK Recovery & Risk

The overall healing process is longer and more painful for PRK but with less risk of complications from the surgery itself because there is no flap.

Other possible risks for both surgeries include dry eye, infection, haze effect on vision, halos, night glares, redness, and long-term light sensitivity after PRK. 

LASIK has little downtime with only a day or so for recovery whereas PRK is much longer.

Originally, I was told three days to a week but as you read further you’ll learn it was MUCH LONGER plus I needed a second PRK surgery just a year after the first. 

There are many reasons PRK may be recommended. Examples include thin corneas, dry eye issues, and irregular corneas. Also, some career fields like military personnel or first responders may have certain requirements only allowing PRK versus LASIK because of the possible flap complications.

My ophthalmologist recommended PRK because of the shape of my cornea. And after some research and figuring out the right date for me before our mega three month trip to Spain and Portugal, I was ready. 

PRK Cost

The cost for both procedures is relatively the same and can range anywhere from $1,500 – $3,000 per eye depending on your prescription and whether or not you have astigmatism or not.

I paid $3,363.12 including a discount of $1,000 for my type of insurance to correct my nearsightedness (-5.50 in both eyes).

If you see any other promotions lower than that proceed with caution and/or know you will probably receive the whole bait and switch scam once you get there.

PRK Success Rate

Here are a few facts I wish I would have read before I began my PRK journey.

How long does it take to get 20/20 vision after PRK? According to WebMD, only 70% of PRK patients achieve 20/20 vision.

92% of PRK patients get 20/40 vision or better. And it works better for low to moderate farsightedness than high.

How to speed up PRK recovery

What is the fastest way to recover from PRK? 

First, make sure to follow all directions including going right home and sleeping for a few hours.

Also, use all eye drops and prescriptions exactly as recommended. Avoid rubbing your eyes and use the eye protection given to you by your doctor even longer than the recommended timeframe.  

Post-Procedure Activities and Restrictions, the Do and Don’ts after PRK

  • Keep both eyes closed as much as possible the first day. Sleep then rest as much as possible for the remainder of the day following your surgery. This is VITAL to your recovery.
  • How long after PRK can I watch TV? Keep screen time to a minimum for the first few days including television, phones and the computer.
  • PRK Recovery Tips: Download a few audiobooks or podcasts to keep you entertained. Check out this great Audiobook deal if you don’t already have an account. 
  • Do not shower or take a bath for at least 24 hours. Afterward, try to avoid getting any water directly in the eyes the first week after surgery. Do NOT rub your eyes in the shower or afterward with a towel. 
  • PRK Recovery Tips: Shower the morning of surgery and wash your hair.
  • No swimming, hot tubbing, spa, or whirlpool for at least 2 weeks to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Resume driving only when advised by your doctor and when you feel confident and safe. This generally occurs after one week. However, your vision may fluctuate for the first several weeks so it is important to use good judgment.
  • Do not wear eye makeup, lotions, cologne, or aftershave for one week.
  • Light sensitivity is no joke. You will need to wear sunglasses all the time while outdoors even on cloudy days for three weeks to a month. 
  • PRK Recovery Tips: Put eye drops in the fridge for extra soothing on your itchy eyes. 
  • It was recommended that exercise should not be picked up again for at least a week, but I didn’t feel comfortable with that for at least three weeks.  
  • If you are like me and still need to wear glasses, check out these lightweight computer glasses that effectively reduce blue light by up to 90%, immediately reducing eyestrain and its associated effects including headaches, dry eyes, tired eyes, and blurred vision. 

Disclaimer: I earn from qualifying purchases. Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links and will provide me with a commission at no additional cost to you.

My PRK Recovery Timeline 2017 – First Surgery

And now to begin my infuriating experience.

What to Expect the Day of Surgery

I was told not to wear my contacts for at least two weeks before the procedure. My original appointment was about three weeks prior so I never put them back in afterward. 

On the day of my surgery, I arrived with my contacts out, no makeup or lotion in comfy clothes, with a driver (my husband), and with the prescriptions, we picked up beforehand. 

Many people I spoke to before the procedure were extremely uncomfortable with the idea of someone touching and messing with my eyes.

For some reason, it really didn’t bother me until the morning of. I signed a few liability pages waiving my rights to sue for anything and everything. After signing away, I went for another round of tests. And then had to wait about an hour to be taken back which is when I started feeling a little nervous. 

While in the waiting room, the nurse gave me a valium (which absolutely helped with the anxiety) and an anti-inflammatory pill. Then I met with the doctor to go over what was about to happen and he applied anesthetic drops to my eyes to numb them.

A few minutes later, I was led into a surgical room. I laid down and the doctor put an instrument over my head that held my eyelids open. 

It was a very strange feeling and I felt some pressure and heat, but it did not hurt at all. He put an alcohol solution in my eye to loosen the epithelium prior to removal. He then told me to focus on a target light while he removed the surface layer of the cornea (the corneal epithelium) and then used a laser to reshape the cornea.

FYI – At the eye center I went to, (not sure if all places have this) the surgical area is lined with windows and your driver can watch the whole process live also on a television in the waiting room. So my husband was able to watch the entire thing. Kind of strange but very cool at the same time. Talk about something to keep you busy while you wait!

The whole procedure probably took 12 – 15 minutes at the most. I was given some blue blocker-type glasses, an additional prescription for Ambien, and instructions for the next few days. 

My personal PRK recovery journey through two surgeries (because the first one didn't work). Read about the day to day recover and my complications.
Trying to sleep after PRK surgery

PRK Recovery Timeline: Day 0

Is PRK recovery painful?

Everything was a little blurry but not too bad when I was leaving the office. The worst part of the whole day was going outside. The bright sun was HORRIBLE. I could barely keep my eyes open walking to the car and keeping them shut the entire ride. 

Once I arrived home, I climbed in bed, took my sleeping pill as directed, and slept for about six hours straight. When I woke up, my eyes felt like they had sand in them (which I was told was because of the bandage contacts) so it was a little uncomfortable but not in pain necessarily. I started my rounds of eye drops immediately. 

I made a little chart for all the meds because it was hard to keep track of when and how many to administer.

There was a steroid drop, numbing drop, antibiotic drop, and artificial tears. The number of drops was tiered over the course of 7 days with the numbing one only to be used a few times when in pain. THANK GOD FOR THAT ONE!

PRK Recovery Timeline: Day 1 & 2 

I went in for my follow-up appointment (make a note – you need a driver for that as well) the next afternoon. The appointment was quick. I did not see my doctor but another one that was in the office that day. He said everything looked okay and to just rest and keep up with the drops as directed. 

I remember feeling SO TIRED. Like I could barely keep my eyes open.  Apparently having your eyes corrected, takes a lot out of you! I slept off and on for most of the first two days with mild discomfort here and there. Just when it would get bad it would be time for more drops which made them feel better.

My eyes teared constantly which gave me a runny nose and I was still really sensitive to light. So with the shades drawn, I listened to an audiobook in between napping.

PRK Recovery Timeline: Day 3

The doctor told me that day 3 was going to be the worst and he was right. At this point, I thought the PRK recovery wasn’t too difficult. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t horrible either. Well, that all changed on day three!

It’s when the cells begin to grow back over the eye that you start feeling what I can only describe as the sandy sensation turning to toe-curling-pillow-squeezing pain. 

For about 12 hours, the pain was unbearable. I used the numbing drops accordingly and the prescription pain meds but nothing helped. Fortunately, once those twelve hours were over, the pain subsided. I don’t know if I could have taken any more than that. 

Read here what others are saying on the PRK Recovery Reddit thread.

PRK Recovery Timeline: Days 4 – 7

The rest of the week my vision would come and go. It was so-so to good (never 20/20 but less blurry than the night before) in the morning with my eyes feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep but then would taper off by getting more blurry in the evening.

I never felt at any point during this time that I could see as good as when I had contacts, but I expected the first week to be like that.

During the first week after the procedure, I could not sit at my computer or watch television for very long at all. I would get headaches and an overall tired feeling in my eyes. It’s hard to explain but it took effort to be able to look at the screen. 

The sixth-morning post-op, I could actually see the alarm clock when I woke up without glasses! I was so excited and thought this was a great sign. That day I also went for another follow-up appointment where they removed the contact bandages. 

Again, a little discomfort but no pain. After a few eye tests, the doctor said everything looked great. I thought I was on the road to recovery. Just in time for my three-month hiking trip in Spain. 

PRK Recovery Timeline: Days 8 – 15

During the second week, I could get on the computer a little longer (about an hour to an hour and a half), but my eyes were still extremely sensitive to light and I still felt worn out after screen time. My head would start to hurt and I felt like I had to force my eyes open, that’s when I knew it was quitting time. 

My vision would come and go so I was not confident enough to drive yet. All I kept thinking was thankfully I work from home right now but what about the people that would have to have gone back to a job especially someone on a computer all day. 

PRK Recovery Timeline: Days 16 – 30

I began to worry and get frustrated when my vision did not start to stabilize in the third week. Because I had blurry vision 2 weeks after PRK, I still needed someone to drive me to my third appointment which I had on Day 27 where the doctor assured me everything was right on track. 

I vented to the doctor regarding my aggravation that I was never told the healing process could take this long. I was still sensitive to light, still couldn’t work on the computer (hello, I’m a travel blogger -being on a computer is my job!), and couldn’t drive. He told me everyone heals at a different pace. 

So I waited…

PRK Recovery Timeline: 1 & 2 Months Post-Op

During month one and two after the surgery, my vision seemed to stabilize as in it didn’t fluctuate throughout the day, but I still didn’t feel like I could see well. I drove only during the day, never at night. I did not feel comfortable with it but what was I supposed to do… I didn’t have a chauffeur at my beck and call. 

I was still sensitive to light but not as severe and I was able to get on the computer for about 4 – 5 hours a day. 

PRK Recovery Timeline: 3 Months Post-Op

All my symptoms remained the same as month one and two. My vision was way better than before the procedure but still blurry. I did not feel comfortable driving and my eyes themselves felt extremely sensitive to the touch. I wore sunglasses the minute I got outside since bright lights still bothered me and any wind blowing in my eyes felt terrible. 

My three month follow up appointment was a lot of the same responses from the doctor. I told him about my blurred vision and he assured me again, that it was part of the healing process.

He wanted to see me in another month, but I reminded him I was leaving on a three month trip to Spain and Portugal. He told me not to worry and by the time I got back, I’d be seeing great. 

PRK Recovery Timeline: 6 Months Post-Op

So I went ahead and hiked 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago feeling like everything was a little off. My vision was WAY better than before the procedure but I still felt like I couldn’t see great especially in low light or at night. 

My sensitivity to light got better every day but my eyes would still tear up on super sunny days. I would ask myself am I going to have long-term light sensitivity after PRK for the rest of my life? 

And on the complete opposite side, my eyes would feel dry later in the day so I would use eye drops at least 4 or 5 times a day. 

At my eye appointment, I asked why I had blurry vision 6 months after PRK. The doctor (again, not the big honcho who performed my procedure because apparently he only does surgeries and never follow-up) revealed my eyes should basically be done healing. They had not changed since month one which left me with astigmatisms in both eyes that I did not have before the surgery and recommended a PRK touch up. 

A SECOND PRK SURGERY! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

He handed me a prescription and said to get glasses in the interim because he would not want to do the second procedure for another six months or so. I asked all the important questions – while trying not to burst into tears with the idea of doing this all over again – like: 

  • Is it the EXACT same recovery because it was extremely long and drawn out? Answer: Yes. Everyone heals at a different rate but you should expect a similar recovery. 
  • Why did this happen? Answer: No particular reason. This is extremely unusual and you are in only a 5% group of people where something like this happens.
  • What are the chances the second procedure will work? Answer: I would say there is 99% chance everything will turn out perfect. I wouldn’t worry at all.  
  • Who is paying for this? Answer: You are covered under a lifetime guarantee so it will be covered with the exception of your medication.
  • Are you going to pay for my glasses? Who do I talk to, to get reimbursed for the prescription because there is NO WAY I’m paying for all this again! Answer: the front desk can leave a note for your doctor.

My head was spinning with the thought of going through all of this again. When would I have the time and how do I know this will work if it didn’t work the first time. Not to mention, it is my eyes which I was nervous about in the first place.

What to expect with PRK surgery - complications and recovery. Blurry vision 6 months after PRK.
How long does it take to heal from PRK? Here is my PRK Recovery Timeline.

My PRK Recovery Timeline 2018 – Second PRK Surgery

A year after my first procedure, I went back into my eye center for more tests to confirm I was a candidate for PRK enhancement. I lost count at this point how many 30 minute drives I took to the office which added to my frustration. I had so much time and energy invested in something I thought was going to take a week!

The doc looked over my results and said I was definitely viable for an enhancement. I came back within a few days to do it all over again. 

I’ll summarize here as this story is getting quite long. Imagine how I felt going through it??

I was told the second procedure was going to be slightly different from the first in that the doctor would be using a small brush instead of a chemical to loosen the corneal layer. He told me there had been studies that the change in the procedure was giving better results as far as recovery time. 

I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I took that with a grain of salt and prepared myself for the worst.

But all in all, the recovery and the pain on the second PRK surgery (the enhancement) was far less unpleasant. I would not go as far to say it was easy, but it was definitely an improvement which leads me to believe the brush technique is a better option. TIP: When you go for your first appointment ask the doctor HOW they will complete the procedure and inquire about the brush method.

The first week was still tough with being tired and all the eye drops but by the second week I was already back on the computer. I went through the same light sensitivity issues but it lasted only about ten days. 

I followed all directions and went in for follow-up appointments as directed. And again, I felt like my eyes were MUCH BETTER yet still not perfect. I couldn’t see as crisp as I used to with contacts and had a hard time reading signs far away. The doctor told me, I was not done healing and to give it time. Three to six months to be exact. 

Did my Second PRK Surgery Work? Blurry Vision 2 Years after PRK

Seven months after my surgery, I went for a regular eye exam at a Vision Center. I did not tell them about my history until after the consultation. She confirmed my suspicion that I needed glasses or contacts to gain a 20/20 outlook. Oh and I still have a slight astigmatism in my left eye. 

My prescription is low with a -0.75 in both eyes, a 20/25 visual acuity. It’s not terrible since my old prescription pre-surgery was -5.50 in both eyes BUT my vision is not as crisp as before with contacts (and I’ve been used to that clarity for my entire life), I do not feel comfortable driving without glasses, and now that my eyes are so dry I cannot wear contacts which annoys me because I can’t stand glasses. 

Also, my eyes are extremely sensitive and they were never before. I thought it would subside after some time but after one full year after my last procedure, it hasn’t. For example, if I am cutting onions my eyes don’t just water and get a little red, it feels like someone threw acid in my eyes. And if an eyelash gets in there, watch out because it feels like someone is gouging them. 

I reached out to the eye center and they would not give me any of my money back and told me if my eyes get any worse to come back in to see if I am a candidate for a second enhancement. A THIRD EYE SURGERY??!! I don’t think so. 

So here I am two eye surgeries later with a new astigmatism, many missed days of work, chronic dry eye, and a prescription for glasses.

Thanks for sticking around to read about my personal experience. I felt compelled to share so people out there contemplating corrective eye surgery are fully aware of all the risks and complications that can happen. I am told I am in a 2% – 5% group but the more I read, the more I am discovering that percentage might be drastically understated. 

The more research I did on PRK complications after my first procedure, I realized my experience is not that uncommon, there are so many PRK recovery stories out there. After a reporter in Michigan committed suicide, some are asking if it was linked to her LASIK complications. Have you had an experience with PRK or LASIK? Please share it with us in the comments!

GET THE WORD OUT! SHARE ON PINTEREST!

My personal PRK recovery journey through two surgeries (because the first one didn't work). Read about the day to day recover and my complications.

Lasik versus PRK Surgery plus complications and recovery. #lasik #PRK

89 Responses

  1. Laura

    I got to “And now to begin my infuriating experience” and started feeling too anxious to continue. I did see the headings and photos and knew I was better off not reading in detail about your horrible experience. I hope you’re doing better today.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Laura! I am definitely better but still wanted to share the experience for those who are out there either experiencing the same thing and/or thinking about getting it done. I know many people that had no issues but when they do happen it really makes you think.

      • rose

        can you plz tell me about the third day in a lil more detail. dr told me it would feel like sane in my eyes for at least 4 days. this concerns me because it sounds like i might not be able to control the pain in my eyes. i have really dry eyes already and sometimes they burn so bad i can barely stand it. i can’t imagine it hurting worse that that. lady at dr office told me it could be 8 months or more before i no longer will have an issue with the sand feeling. i don’t think i could handle that feeling for more than a week. i had lasix and had no problem at all after. no pain etc. did you have a prior surgery before prk

        • Dang Travelers

          Hi Rose, I did not have any other surgery before the first. I’ve only had PRK twice. The bad day for me was day 3 – the pain was unbearable for half the day then it subsided. It was a sharp stabbing and burning sensation in both eyes – very hard to explain. And yes, the sand feeling did last for months. I did not have dry eyes before the surgery but do now. At least the office you’re dealing with is being honest, so you can be prepared if you go ahead with it. I know a few people who had no issues at all but also a few like me who’ve had nothing but issues.

      • Diman Med

        I’ll share my personal NEGATIVE experience with PRK procedure.
        The first one was taken on both eyes at age 21, I had – 1.25 & – 1. The recovery was painful but quick! After 1-2w I’ve gained perfect 20/20 vision on my both eyes, and 2-3w I could perfectly well read at close distances.. So far so good.
        At almost 39 y.o, I’ve decided to go and fix – 1 on my right eye, the number that got back over tye years. WHAT A RUSH DECISION!
        Ok, so I’m exactly 5m after second PRK procedure on my right eye, and I’ll count all the problems Ihad and have till far:
        1. Approximately 2-4w after the surgery, I got a complication called HAZE. Don’t think there is need to expand here, simply google ‘haze after prk’, and you’ll get plenty of results on this one! Have been 2m on fml eye drops, now stopped, a very slight/little haze left (physician says it shouldn’t bother me at all).
        2. Dry eye – it varies, but hadn’t such a problem before. Need drops several times a day.
        3. Almost constantly reddish and sensitive eyes – still no reasonable answer for this one, and I was forbidden to use Stilla (or similar) eye drops.
        4. Somewhat blurred vision for close distance – THIS BOTHERS ME THE MOST! Compared to mt left eye, my reading distance is somewhat blurry and NOT crisp!
        5. Slight convergence problem – got ‘pencil push-ups’ exercises, seems it got better.
        6. Blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) – didn’t knoe such a problem before, got a special foam (with a tea tree oil extract) for treatment.
        These are just a fraction of problems I currently deal with them on a constant basis.
        So, just to sum up – my far distance vision gor corrected, no complaints, but at what price?! My short distance vision crispness is sh**, I got various inflammation problems, the well-known dry eye after prk surgery, I got haze complication.
        So, if you are thinking about doing a PRK surgery, these are my recommendations when you SHOULDN’T EVEN CONSIDER doing it:
        1. You have small numbers.
        2. Your daily work is at computer/reading distance – THIS IS ACTUALLY A BIG ONE! After the surgery, I went to another eye physician for a consultation, and he told me, that small numbers (around – 1) ARE A GIFT! Because it will keep you from having reading glasses until older age!
        3. You’re not so young – healing of our body is worsening as we get older, and risk for complications arises!
        In a nutshell – I WOULDN’T RECOMMEND DOING A PRK SURGERY, unless you have a very big number, because the risk of many complications (as described above) IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO IGNORE!

        • KS

          Hi. Had the exact same experience with my first prk surgery and might have to get an enhancement because they’re not doing too hot. Think we maybe went to the same dr in Chicago. Was he on Washington?

        • Yesenia

          What do you mean by very big number? Thinking about doing it but trying to get all the information

      • Engy

        Hello guys, I’m having my PRK scheduled in three days. I have myopia of -8.50 and -7.50 (I’m 23 y/o) and I was told that PRK and ICL are my only options. Being extremely near sighted makes me eager more and more to do the surgery but after reading this article and the replies I’m really hesitant. I also have a desk job that requires 8 hours of computer use everyday in the office. I was thinking how many days do i need to take off from my job? 2 weeks? 1 month? Also did anyone have severe myopia and did the prk?

        • Helena

          Hi Engy, I had severe myopia (- 11) and had PRK done 4 months ago. Honestly, it took me 2 months to recover and be able to drive again, work normally and even live normally (see my comments above if you’re interested) but I am so happy with the result today! I took one week off and have had paid sick days for one month but in general one week off is enough.

      • Jennifer Worple

        I had PRK done August 2021 after many years toying with the idea. I chose PRK because I am a heavy eye rubber and was terrified that I’d rub the flap off. Also I had a family member have it done with minimal recovery time. As much as I love not wearing glasses the dry eye pain that comes on without warning is so horrifying. I had a horrible first few weeks. Yes day three made me want to rip my eyes out. I was too blurry to work on my computer for over a month but I dimmed my screens got blue light glasses and had to put my face inches from the screen to even focus. Month 3 I can say that I could see very well but still had super dry eyes. 6 months later I still have to put the ointment in my eyes before going to sleep because if I Don’t I’ll wake up in so much pain I want to scream or when I try to open my eyes and they don’t and I have to manually open them and it feels like I’m ripping layers off which make me want to cry but I can’t because they are so dry. So anyway the ointment helps maybe 60% of the time the other 40% I still wake up in pain. Please any additional advice would be greatly appreciated. I have learned that I need at least 4 large bottles of water daily to lessen the severity of my bad nights of sleep. Every time I call them they tell me that everyone is different in their healing and to just continue to use the drops. Oh and don’t get me started if a speck of dirt hits my eye from the wind. It hurts so bad. Help please

        • Dang Travelers

          I’m so sorry Jennifer. All I can say is that my dry eye did get better as time went on. Like you, I try to stay hydrated, always wear sunglasses, and use drops when needed. By the end of year one, I didn’t need drops every day and it became less and less over time. I only use them every once in awhile now 5 years later. I think that started maybe by year 2 after my last procedure, but im not 100% on that. I hope this happens for you as well. Please keep us posted on your situation.

  2. She Foyster

    This should be read by anybody who is considering this procedure. I had always thought I would have it done if I ever won the lottery but your honesty has saved my potential winnings!! Nice to know the truth, thanks

      • Robin

        I had the same experience as you did. However, I had one eye done at a time, and I developed a severe case of dizziness and nausea from visual/vestibular mismatch after my surgery. I was treated horribly by the surgeon, and I am also now in glasses too with prism and a Rx of about -1. My eyes had been about -7.5 prior to PRK. My dizziness and nausea lasted a long time and I did many different therapies to try to help costing my thousands of dollars. I did vision therapy for many months. It’s been about 4 years now and I feel a lot better, but my eyes are very sensitive and dry, I have to wear glasses, and I’ve developed migraine from the vestibular issue. I wish I never had the surgery. Thanks for sharing your story. I wish more stories like this were out there to save us from this misery!

      • Anthony Tenerelli

        I wish I would have read this story before I had PRK surgery.
        I has LASIK in 2001. Eyesight was perfect afterwards as I was nearsighted prior.
        In December 2009, my eyesight started to travel backwards. I allowed this to go on until November 2021.
        I had PRK in November 2021. After the first week, I knew something wasn’t right. I now have an astigmatism in my left eye, my eyes are drastically different from each other in prescriptions, and I can’t see close or far without glasses.
        Because both of my eyes are different prescriptions, I need different cheater lenses for each eye in addition to different lenses for both eyes-with astigmatism correction for my left eye-to see in the distance.
        Without glasses, I have double vision in the left eye. Additionally, when I don’t wear glasses, there is a haze, similar to walking through a campfire smoke, permanently.
        Basically, I am screwed. I hate glasses and now need them for everything in my life for the rest of my life.
        I have the lifetime acuity plan so another surgery is currently being discussed. I got a second opinion from world renowned Mayo Clinic and the recommendation stated “forgetaboutit.”
        I’m not certain what I am going to do at this point. My suggestion is to anyone considering PRK surgery: like the author stated, do your homework because the success rate is extremely exaggerated…

        • .

          What is your age range Anthony? As you get older the likelihood of needing readers grows quite a bit. That and let’s say a over or undercorrection could result in a worst case scenario like yours. I’m no doctor, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. Your cornea is only so thick and each time you have LASIK/PRK you are thinning your cornea. Too thin and you run the risk of conditions like kerataconis. Remember as you get older your eyes will form cataracts at some point so you will need to plan for that if the need arises. Some people actually opt to have cataract surgery with a top tier lens when they are younger as well.

      • Liza

        Hello! I also like to share my PRK surgery story. I was 29 when i first fid PRK, since it is free from where i work, i grab the opportunity. I have myopia and astigmatism and both eye -4.25. PRK surgery lasted for less tham 10 mins both eyes. 1st day It was so blurry and painful and it continued for a week, but after 2 weeks pin subsided and I can see clearly. I remember how happy I was waling up and seeing my alarmclock. I even put a sign on my bed that says “I did PRK” because before I did try sleeping with my contacts on and it was horrrible and scary I though i’ll lose my sight due to dryness anyway, it’s just there to remind me I am really seeing clearly now. What symptom that mostly annoyed me was the dry eye syndrome where I wake up some nights due to painful dry eyes! Now I am 3 years post op I’m still experiencing this. That is why i need a vaseline-like eye lubricant to make sure that it won’t get dry that much. Anyone experience the same??

        • Dang Travelers

          Thanks for sharing Liza! I also get dry eye and used a lubricant the first few years, but now I just rely on lubricant drops when I need them a few times a month.

  3. Lisa

    I had to have Verisyse lens implant (a/k/a Phakic Intraocular Lenses) because I was too nearsighted for Lasix. The first eye, no problems. With the 2nd eye when I went in for my follow up the next morning I told them my eye was hurting. The assistant blew me off, but when she examined me she realized that I had a corneal erosion (not just an abrasion). I think that was because I had to wear a contact in that eye for the two weeks between the surgeries. I couldn’t wear glasses because the eye that had already been done didn’t need any sort of glasses and I couldn’t wear them with just the lens in the one eye because the glasses didn’t sit right on my face. After a few weeks, everything was good for about six years. That is when the one in my right eye failed. I had to have a cataract procedure (even though I didn’t have a cataract, but they had to replace the lens). Then a cornea transplant because I had damaged my cornea. Unrelated I had to have a membrane removed from the retina. My left eye is still great. My right eye is better than it was before I had the original surgery, but I still have to wear glasses. I hope you are doing better. Good luck with your recovery.

    • Dang Travelers

      Oh wow Lisa, what a long road. Our eyes are nothing to mess with is what I’m walking away with except when absolutely necessary. Good luck to you as well. I can’t imagine going through all that.

  4. Chris Essington

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear of how horrible your PRK experience ended up being for you. You have certainly been through the wringer!
    On a more positive note, I hope you adjust to wearing glasses, as you do look cute in them! All the best to you, Angela!

  5. deborah johnson

    I had RK back in 1979. I was one of the first 50 US people to have it done in U S. It was nothing like yours. In 2 days I was up and still sensitive to light had to wear dark sunglasses. But my doctor said before surgery that I would get better but always be sensitive to bright light. Also he told me that as I get older I would need glasses. This also came true. But other than this I had a a two day recovery on both eyes 3 months apart. I had two friends and they went to different doctors and theirs were the same. I have heard that some vison clinics are not good. I guess it’s TRUE. So sorry you are having such trouble. Prayers.

    • Serine

      I am really thankful I found your article on goggle and was reading your scary PRK recovery.
      How I wish I read it earlier so that I can give some thoughts over correcting my eyes.
      I am into Day 11 after PRK surgery.
      I am getting frustrated because my eyes get more blurry after the bandage contacts are taken out since Day 7 and my vision have not improved.
      I can see better than before but the blurriness annoys me.
      It is definately not true that someone can drive or go back to work in Day 5 after surgery.
      I hope I can get a much clearer vision soon so that I can resume work.
      By the way, I am residing in Singapore and we are not cover by insurance for this type of eye correction surgery as it was consider to be under the comestic surgery catergory.
      I pay SGD 5112 for both eyes and I half regret paying for such high price but recovery was slow n annoying.
      Once again, thank you for sharing your experience and hope u r pretty fine and better now.

  6. Lauri

    Oh no, I’m so sorry for what you had to endure. I had LASIK in 2006 and have had no problems whatsoever. My eyes before the surgery were -6.00 and -6.50. I went to an eye surgeon in Arlington Heights, Dr. Thomas Koziol, who is now retired. He holds some patents on some of the procedure. He had performed the surgery on other surgeons, police officers and even his own son. The days leading up to the surgery and the day of were very similar to yours – no contacts before the surgery, someone to drive you, spend the day in bed sleeping after the surgery, don’t get your eyes wet for at least 3 days, use the drops, etc. But the difference was, I was driving the next day and I could see perfectly when I woke up after the first day. I feel very fortunate not to have the follow up issues that you had. Everyone has to do their research and talk to people who have the procedure done at the place you’re considering. I would recommend LASIK to anyone based on my experience. But you need to find the best doctor you can. My price was around $3K. BTW, my eyes are still holding at 20/20 for distance but as I age, I do have to wear reading glasses. The doctor told me that’s normal and nothing he can do about getting older.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks for sharing Lauri. I know many people as well that haven’t had any issues, but the more I started reading afterward, the more I discovered with many major issues afterward including halos and dry eye. As with any surgery, there are always risks of complications unfortunately.

  7. Amy

    I had PRK done in Jan 2019, and it has ruined my quality of life. I too was so exited about the idea of no contacts or glasses, but my outcome from the surgery is constant discomfort from dry eyes, astigmatism, starbursts at night making driving difficult, overall decreased vision in dim light, I require bifocal glasses to see clearly (I can’t wear contacts because my eyes are too dry), I battle MGD and blepharitis (which I had never heard of before the surgery), and my right eyelid is droopy. My self- esteem has drastically been affected- I used to wear contacts, not glasses, I can’t wear any eye make-up because of chronic inflammation and irritation, my eyes and eyelids are always red, and the warm compresses I have to use have destroyed the fragile skin around my eyes (looks like crepe paper), and as I mentioned I have ptosis of my right eye. I’ve had to pay out of pocket to see a corneal specialist, have expensive treatments, and I spend over $350/month for eye drops and supplements. In addition to all these new expenses, I have been forced to decrease my work hours due to the pain and burning in my eyes. I have to sleep with ointment in my eyes, and my eyes taped shut. I have to wear goggle glasses to go outside, or ride in the car with the air/heat on. I used to love the outdoors- biking, hiking, swimming, but now with dry burning eyes and photophobia, nothing is enjoyable. This has been a nightmare for me and many others. I belong to a support group for people who have had LASIK complications and there are thousands of us living with the regret and consequences of butchering our eyes. As the doctor reminded me after the surgery- all surgeries have the potential for unforeseen complications. It is my opinion that no one should risk their precious eyes! Surgeries are a one way journey, you can’t undo any damage that was done. This was the biggest mistake of my life! Those of us that have had horrible experiences need to share with others because I do not feel the eye surgeons are properly informing their patients of the potential risks.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks so much for sharing your story Amy. It’s so frustrating and disappointing. I definitely agree we have to all share so people are aware of what’s going on. The more and more I read, I believe the potential risks are miscalculated significantly. I had issues and I highly doubt they were ever recorded anywhere. I sure hope your symptoms subside as time goes on.

  8. Ariel

    I had PRK done 2.5 weeks ago for myopia (-7.0 both eyes). I wanted LASIK but my corneas were too thin. It has been nothing but hellacious, beginning as soon as The numbing drops wore off after surgery. I had the worst pain imaginable. It felt like someone was pouring acid in my eyes. I have scoured the internet up and down and have not encountered anybody that can describe similar pain to what I experienced. The pain was the kind that is like waves travelling through your brain. I screamed and begged my husband to kill me. I’ve had a baby and this was way worse. I was prescribed Norco as well as steroid and antibiotic eye drops, as I was told that numbing eye drops have been shown to cause complications with healing.

    I’m now 16 days out from my surgery. My vision is spectacular. No, it’s not crisp, but if this is the vision I had the rest of my life, I would be fine with it… happy with it even. BUT… I have severe and debilitating photosensitivity. Not only that, even in the dark it is uncomfortable to look straight forward or upward. I am still unable to drive at all, and my computer usage is very limited. My eyes have good and bad days, and are no longer painful; don’t feel particularly dry either. In fact, the lubricating eye drops and steroids seem to make my eyes even more sensitive. I’m not sure if I’m having an allergic reaction or what gives.
    I know I have a while yet to heal, but I feel really desperate. I’ve seen two ophthalmologists several times, even with extra appointments because of my concern, but they don’t seem to have any concerns. This has been a huge hardship for my family. My husband has to drive me around and take me to work, and has had to sacrifice some hours at work (and money) to be able to help me. My job is suffering because a huge chunk of it is using a computer, and I don’t know how I will feel from hour to hour. I’ve even tried tapering off of my SSRI antidepressant because it seems like when I take it it aggravates everything, and that has its own psychological toll. I also have high blood pressure right now even though I’ve lost weight from lack of appetite and depression. Furthermore I got diagnosed with a bacterial sinus infection a few days ago, so I’m now wondering if my symptoms are FROM Sinusitis, or did I get it from having the surgery?
    In conclusion, I am improving very slowly. I expect my photosensitivity will last for quite a while longer. I do have a follow up appointment in 2 weeks, and am trying to hold out until then. I think if I’m still in the condition I am in now… I will insist on more answers. Because that’s all I can do.

    • Dang Travelers

      Oh Ariel, I am so sorry you are going through this. All I can say is little by little my light sensitivity and all-around sensitivity did get better (still not like before) but unfortunately, it took WAY longer than I expected. This is the whole reason I shared my story because I felt like I read nothing like it on the internet before going through with the procedure. I was so so frustrated through this process and my blood is boiling for you reading about your experience so far. I am sending positive thoughts your way in hopes of a speedy recovery.

    • Helena

      Hi Ariel, how are you going now ? I had PRK done 3 weeks ago for severe myopia and have now the same problems as you mentioned: severe and debilitating photosensitivity that results in unability to look straight forward or upward, unability to drive or to watch TV and difficulty to use the computer… How long did your photosensitivity last ?

      • Desiree

        I too am having problems look straight on or upwards. It has been 17 days since my surgery and driving is miserable. My eyes like twitch and keep trying to close on their own. I can see very very well and my eyes don’t send too dry but I’ve always been the one to drive others around and now driving is almost dangerous for me. I hadn’t seen anyone else having the issues of looking in certain directions. How are you both healing?

      • Helena

        Since last Saturday, my problems are improving a little every day but it is not yet like before. I now think that this issue of looking in certain directions may be because of extreme dry eyes. During PRK surgery, corneal surface is modified and nerve endings are damaged, which perturbs the lacrimal system. As “the more open your lids are (i.e. when looking upward), the faster your tear film evaporates” and as “the tear film protects nerve endings from the irritation of light”, I think that our eyes tend to cry and/or close in order to protect themselves from dryness. But being so affected seems indeed to be quite rare…

  9. Jess

    I’ve had a very similar experience and after 6 months of my first PRK, I’ve just underwent a second PRK plus PTK few days ago in my right eye. Due to the first PRK I have developed Chronic Corneal Erosion. Can’t describe the pain and the medication I’ve had to take. They ALWAYS tell you just the 5% develops these complications but I honestly think it’s a huge BS.
    I am here now, in so much pain, feeling low as never before and as a Graphic Designer the worst thing is knowing I can’t work without my eyes. Don’t know when I will be able to go back to work.
    All I can say is, I know exactly how you are feeling and unfortunately the only way out is accepting this.
    I think I will need some psychologists sessions after all this…
    Good luck mate!

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Jess, It is unbelievable how many stories are out there just like us! I am so sorry you’re going through all this. Since I work on the computer all day, I totally get it and it is so tough. Stay strong and positive that’ll eventually get better. I waited a LONG time and finally feel like my eyes stabilized.

  10. Anna Gomez

    I had PRK in June 2020. I had a mild prescription. Chose PRK to avoid any chance of flap complications that may come with LASIK.
    It’s been 3 months and my visual acuity is 20/20, but not as crisp & sharp as my glasses.
    Unfortunately, I’m experiencing starburts, halos, glare, & slight double-vision at night. My vision in dim lighting isn’t good either, as if it’s a bit more dark. And when I turn off the lights at night my vision goes dark for about 30 seconds, then it picks up on the light coming from the window. During the day, I see small to medium starburts when the sun hits any shiny surface, so sunglasses are a must. Also, I get glare from light entering the windows, from overhead lights in my office. Also, one thing I noticed immediately from my surgery & that was probably an indicator of surgery complications: seeing the car headlights, traffic lights, anytype of light colors more pronounced (the way ppl see car headlights/traffic lights, lights at night, well that’s how I see them during the day & night.) Really bothersome.
    The doctor said, I should be have been recovered already & that perhaps it’s due to dry eyes. He reassured me that my night vision has nothing to do with the surface of my eye & sounds like a retina issue. I’m waiting it out another 3 months & I’m remaining hopeful. However, I did get a second opinion from another doctor who specializes in fitting scleral lenses for ppl who have similar issues to mine after PRK. He said my healing has just kicked into high gear & I should take the advice of my other doctor to wait it out…but it may or may not get better. Toss of coin. If complications still persist, then the scleral lens doctor is equipped to conduct the proper test to diagnose what I have.
    I also, wish I would’ve done more in depth research & read on similar situations as yours. All my friends had success with LASIK, only complaint was mild dry-eye. I guess you really have to reach out beyond the circle of ppl you know & get real feedback from others.

  11. ilis

    thank you for sharing this. i just had a consultation at which i was told i was only a candidate for prk and not lasik. I drive at night for work and i only have four days left of the year i can take off for vacation/sick time. i was certain if i did go forward i would only do one eye at a time but realized i won’t have enough days off left off to take anyway, so that was that. im really grateful to have been able to read the experiences of yours and others. it’s helped me feel more confident about my decision that the long recovery and potential risks really aren’t worth it for me personally. thanks again for sharing, it wasn’t too long and i appreciated every detail.

    • Dang Travelers

      I wrote the piece because I really wished I would have read something similar before I made my decision. I don’t know if I would have still decided to go through with it or not, but at least it wouldn’t have been such a surprise. Thanks for leaving a comment, appreciate it!

  12. Catherine

    My experience has been almost identical to yours. I’m now 6 weeks post surgery#2. According to the eye charts, I’m on track for healing etc. But nothing is crisp, I have astigmatism. I need glasses for everything, but can’t really go get a prescription because things are supposedly changing still. Have spent as much money, or more, on drops and reading glasses, and taking time off work, as I would have on glasses or contacts anyways. Still not comfortable driving– I was so surprised when the follow-up doctor told me 20/40 is legal for driving!!
    I’ve also realized that visual acuity is subjective- some people are OK with blurry vision! Maybe, like you, a life of crisp 20/20 due to glasses, made our expectations too high for this procedure?!
    I’m feeling pretty frustrated and low right now.

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Catherine, What a journey for you, I’m so sorry. It is so frustrating and disappointing. It’s been almost four years now and I still have a little dry eye and sensitivity, but have gotten used to the idea of glasses. I am sending positive vibes that your eyes continue to heal and get even better over time. Thank you so much for commenting. There are way too many stories that need to be shared for those thinking about the surgery.

    • Mike

      20/40 isn’t that bad. My eyes settled at like 20/95 and 20/100, respectively, with astigmatism when I was like 19 and I drove for 3 years without glasses because I was bullheaded. Wasn’t that tough, to be honest. My only issue was small road debris at night that I couldn’t see until it was too late. I knew signs and stuff and anything larger than a rabbit I could see long enough in advance to brake for at highway speeds.
      It’s sad to see that this woman had such a hard time, but my vision sucks and has sucked for 1ike 15 years so I’m probably gonna pull the trigger on the PRK soon. Just hoping to be the 95% lol

      • Lee

        My vision has over the last year improved from 20/400 to 20/200, i as well have a mild astigmatism. I am confident in driving with my blurry eyesight, and even back then i was as well. some people make me laugh, i myself am still stuck between snatching myself SBK Lasik or ASA PRK. I’m going to be paying $5900, both procedures have similar results but Advanced PRK of course takes longer. I want my true vision and even now rather my natural vision over corrected. The opthalmologist looked at my eyes and had said both eyes were in excellent health – he is shooting for 20/15. I’m doubtful of 20/15 but would be grateful. I’m 19

  13. Joe

    I have had the prk surgery and it was done by a close friend who is a Dr. I’m writing this for anyone who is thinking about it. It has completely ruined my life. I am in constant pain. It feels like I have a sunburn on my right eye and I can not see anywhere near as good as I could have with my glasses. I am literally considering suicide as an out from the pain.

    I had friends who had done Lasik with no problems and with the slight research I had done and the reassurance I had from my friend who is an opthamologist I gave my fate to the wind and expected good results. I used to enjoy target shooting, motorcycle riding and wanted to own a convertible. All those things are just something I used to enjoy and now will probably be selling pay for anything that would help restore my vision and take away the pain. I cannot think straight. Ten minutes don’t go by when I don’t feel a deep regret. Literally.

    Everyday when I wake up I am reminded of my mistake and then begins the battle of what I could possibly do to improve my condition. Anywhere I inhabit is littered with the tiny plastic bottles of preservative free eye drops. The cupholders in my car are full of them. My job choices are now extremely limited. They are dependent on not needed acute eyesight and environments that don’t contribute to my misery.

    Also because it’s something people can’t see, so they don’t understand. I work in a kitchen and doing things with vinegar, cutting onions, being near a stove or a grill are a constant struggle and my coworkers and boss think I’m being dramatic. Most of my day is spent with my right eye closed. I wonder if I had it removed if the pain will stop. I don’t recognize my coworkers sometimes from across the room.

    I used to love travel but I can’t imagine going to places like Iceland again because I would never be able to see it again like I did when I had gone before. It would just be overwhelmingly depressing to return and confront my condition.

    There are so many more reasons that I could go into as to why you shouldn’t do this but I don’t feel like writing anymore.

    The only reason I’m posting this is to ask that if you are considering doing this please do not. Do not do it. Do not get any elective eye surgery. You are blessed with glasses. Please be grateful for what you have. Please do not do it.

    • Dang Travelers

      Please please do not consider suicide. I truly believe your situation will get better with time. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me and my readers. How long ago did you have the surgery and what did your friend, the doctor, say about your complications?

    • John

      Where do you live? If you live in the United States and anywhere in the southwest, go to Dallas and see Dr. Bowman with Cornea Associates of Texas.

      You may be a great candidate for a cornea transplant that may restore your vision to 20/20.

  14. J

    I have had the prk surgery and it was done by a close friend who is a Dr. I’m writing this for anyone who is thinking about it.

    It has completely ruined my life. I am in constant pain. It feels like I have a sunburn on my right eye and I can not see anywhere near as good as I could have with my glasses. I am literally considering suicide as an out from the pain.

    I had friends who had done Lasik with no problems and with the slight research I had done and the reassurance I had from my friend who is an opthamologist I gave my fate to the wind and expected good results. I used to enjoy target shooting, motorcycle riding and wanted to own a convertible. All those things are just something I used to enjoy and now will probably be selling pay for anything that would help restore my vision and take away the pain. I cannot think straight. Everyday when I wake up I am reminded of my mistake and then begins the battle of what I could possibly do to improve my condition. Anywhere I inhabit is littered with the tiny plastic bottles of preservative free eye drops. The cupholders in my car are full of them. My job choices are now extremely limited. They are dependent on not needed acute eyesight and environments that don’t contribute to my misery.

    Also because it’s something people can’t see, so they don’t understand. I work in a kitchen and doing things with vinegar, cutting onions, being near a stove or a grill are a constant struggle and my coworkers and boss think I’m being dramatic.

    I used to love travel but I can’t imagine going to places like Iceland again because I would never be able to see it again like I did when I had gone before. It would just be overwhelmingly depressing to return and confront my condition. I’m

  15. Vivi

    I did a lasik 3 years ago and my eyes got a little bad so I went back for a PRK. This is the 6 weeks after the surgery and my vision is way worse than before. I went back to the place where I did the surgery and the doctor said it was unusual for my eyes are like this because I did a really small prescription – now it’s way worse than before. I’ve seeing doubles, my eyes are always blurry and I can’t even see close. The doctor give me bunch of other eye drops and hopefully can help the healing process. I am so frustrated here and so tired of not able to see! The doctor also told me I can go back to work in 4-5 days which is a BIG lie. I can’t imagine how I lived for the past 6 weeks because I can’t see! Even right now I have to put the phone on my face to type. And my eyes are always dry and I feel tired all the time! Because I can’t see I feel like I can’t think clearly either! Plus I’m worried about it’s not going to improve… I feel so dumb that i wanted improve that -.75 vision and now my eyes are way way worse than before!! Im definitely NOT going back for a third surgery… does anyone seeking for legal help for the experience?? I think they let us sign a waiver before the surgery but I can’t remember…

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Vivi. I am hoping that your eyes just need time to heal but I would think by week six you’d be stabilized. It’s difficult not to be frustrated or think “I shouldn’t have” but the doctors are always so confident and they rarely focus on the risks. I am so sorry you’re going through this and really hope it gets better. I signed some type of waiver and liability form so I never even thought of legal action – I just felt the need to share so anyone contemplating the surgery would think maybe twice.

  16. Amy

    Definitely do not have any more surgeries! Join the LASIK Complications Support Group on Facebook. The group will give you information and suggestions on how to help with what you are going through. I’m 2 years post PRK and my eyes are better, but will never be “normal” again. It is the biggest regret of my life. I suggest you get a second opinion from a doctor who is not in the office where you had your LASIK done. See a corneal specialist. I hate that you are going through this, I definitely understand. The LASIK doctors are pretty much protected from a legal standpoint because of the consents that are signed before surgery.

    • Josh

      Good recommendation, it is shocking how many people have bad outcomes. Maybe there should be a list with LASIK/PRK surgeons like the healthgrades website. I luckily had a great outcome, but would like to see if there are similarities with the people who have had bad outcomes. What laser, corneal thickness, procedure done, etc…

  17. Kyliegh Romine

    I had my PRK in Nov of 2020. The clinic told me it would be around a 5 day recovery. My eye doctor told me it would be about 6 months. My first week of recovery was similar to yours, except I didn’t have any pain meds, anti anxiety meds, or sleeping pills before or after surgery. My vision was blurry for about 2 months after. One morning I woke up and realized I could see clearly. At my 3 month post op I was seeing 20/20. The only time I have issues now is when driving. My eyes have a hard time focusing, but it gets better everyday. Going from a -6 and -6.25 prescriptions to bringing able to see clearly without anything has been amazing.

  18. Steven

    I had PRK in 1996. The ablation was not large enough for my pupils and was off-centre. The healing was irregular. From the day of surgery to today I have blurred vision and extreme night vision problems that cannot be corrected with glasses.

    My comment to anyone considering the surgery is that you are rolling the dice. You may never see well again. Is it worth it?

  19. Alan

    Hindsight is 20/20, but, unfortunately, not my eyesight. I appreciated your thoughtful and informative post and all of the commentary that followed. I would like to add my personal experience, although the story is not over yet. I went to a surgeon who is considered among the very best in Washington D.C. metropolitan area. When I decided to have surgery, I had about 20/80 distance vision corrected to 20/20 with glasses/contacts, needed a +2.50 correction for reading, and used yet a third pair of glasses for computer work. Last September I had cataract surgery plus intraocular lens (IOL) implants (right and left eye three weeks apart). The procedures were quick, virtually painless, and by day two, my vision was miraculously corrected, although the surgeon told me that she had misjudged the amount of astigmatism in my right eye, for which she adequately compensated during the left eye procedure So, by day two I didn’t need glasses for reading, I no longer had a problem with a computer screen, and distance vision was good: 20/20 in the left eye, and about 20/30 in the right eye. Really, there wasn’t a problem. Sounds like a great outcome, doesn’t it? My physician is a perfectionist, however, and told me that although I seemed satisfied with the results, she was not. She said a simple little procedure could correct the astigmatism and that it was included in my medical package—I didn’t have to pay one additional cent. Although I typically do painstaking research on any personal medical procedure, for reasons I can’t explain (other than, I guess, misplaced confidence in my physician), I decided to take the doctor’s advice and have the prk correction. It sounded quick and easy and free. I’m sure you can guess what comes next. (If only had read your blog sooner!) After prk I had blurred vision which left me debilitated because of headaches and difficulty working on my computer. Being ignorant of the prk procedure, I just assumed I would have great visual acuity the day after surgery, just like with IOL Not until after the procedure, however, did I learn (my fault entirely) that I should expect up to a month of blurred vision. Since then, I’ve been told (does this sound familiar?) that it will heal, but that everyone’s recovery can be different. I’m now at three months post-surgery and I’m still being told to be patient and that all will end well, albeit with a bit more equivocation: maybe it won’t be quite 20/20. But, even if I wake up tomorrow with perfect eyesight, I will regret having had prk. It’s been painful, it’s made normal life impossible, and often I wear a patch over my right eye to prevent headaches from the constant blurred vision. And all this just to make my vision eyesight just a little bit better. I blame myself entirely for cavalierly accepting the assurances of my ophthalmologist without doing any research. There’s no way I would have had the procedure if I had just known the basics—that a month of recovery was typical, not the exception, and, as your blog demonstrated, complications should not be discounted. Anyway, I write this comment in hopes that at least someone will read it before making a final decision on prk and think very carefully about whether the risks are worth the potential benefits.

  20. KYM J BROWN

    I had prk in 2012 and achieved better than 20/20 vision…but a few weeks ago I woke up one day and it was as if I had never had the surgery!! My vision is as bad as before, maybe worse! How could it just reverse overnight??

  21. Amy

    Do your eyes feel dry? Dry eyes can affect your vision. Whatever the cause I would see an ophthalmologist right away because you shouldn’t have a drastic change in vision over night. Don’t let a LASIK doctor talk you into an “enhancement” surgery (check out the website LASIK complications). Good luck to you.

  22. jenny terry

    I went to LasikPlus institute and the same thing happened to me. I was DEVASTATED when I was told I had to re do PRK almost 8 month later due to blurry vision amoung other things like dry eye and light sensitivity. I got PRK because I couldn’t stand the headaches glasses would give me…. now instead of headaches from glasses I get them from light and dryness or eye. I probably spend about the same amount in dry eye drops as I would in contact solution ( the point was to save money over time with not having to buy all these extra things)

    I also had to take ALOT of unexpected work days off to have the same surgery LUCKY I wasnr fired/ let go due to it.

    Its been 3 years now since 2nd round and my eyes still get dry I have to wear sunglasses every time I leave the house AND I barely can wear mascara as for some reason it really bothers my eyes and what girl doesn’t LOVE mascara. I spent 3,850 on my procure in 2017. Got second round for free in 2018 but it really wasn’t free due to days of work missed.

    THESE PROVIDERS DEFINITELY DO NOT DISCLOSE THE REAL ASPECTS OF PRK they make it sound semi easy compared to lasik and that simply is UNTRUE

  23. Cristo

    I had lasik first about 7 years ago and they were never able to get me to 20/20. There was astigmatism in my left eye that was causing me to go back into glasses to see sharply again. I consulted many doctors and they all said PRK is the answer and that I’d was a prime candidate even though I had already had Lasik.

    Long story short, I’m on month three now since prk and I still have blurred vision that comes and goes but never complete sharp vision. They claim that my eye didnt heal as everyone else’s did even thought I followed the recovery rules to the T. Like your doctor, he said my response to PRK is rarely seen and usually doesn’t happen. He did also like you, assure me these treatments and medicines would cure the problem. Both proved to be wrong so far. I’ve been put in contacts to see if they can help sand down the build up of tissue that has formed in response to the procedure. If it doesn’t work, I will be having that “brush technique” done however my doc used the back side of a scalpel. If that doesn’t work, it in for a second procedure. Looking back, I would have done things differently.

    I’m going for a second opinion, see what other docs have to say about my results and future treatments. I’m not holding my breath. The level of frustration I have with this procedure dwarfs all others. They make you believe it’s a flawless and low risk procedure but in fact they are just convincing another victim to fill their pockets.

    The fact is that my eyes are in worse shape now than they were before getting lasik. Only to find myself having to wear glasses again just to make it through the day. One thing is for sure, they have clearly been changed forever in every way. I’ll never recommend it to anyone, and I’m most likely never letting those con artists touch my eyes again!

    • Dang Travelers

      “Rarely seen” seems to be the answer from doctors but the comments on here indicate it’s way more common than they let on! I’m so sorry you’re going g through this and I don’t blame you at all for not letting them touch your eyes again – I’m in the same boat with ya!

  24. Kim

    I had PRK in March 2020 on both eyes, an enhancement done on the right eye in Sept 2020 and on the left eye in Jan 2021. Still can’t see clearly and will not drive at night or during the rain. They say it’s because of dry eye, but before surgery I never experienced dry eye (probably used eye drops 3 times in my life before surgery, now 10+ times a day and 5+ times a night). They put in plugs which has cut down my eye drop usage to 5+ times a day and 2+ times a night so better but still ridicules. I wanted to avoid spending $500 a year on eye classes but now I spend $500+ a year on eye drops!

    I am beyond frustrated and don’t know how to proceed, I have missed more work in the last year than in the last 25+ combined between 3 surgeries and almost weekly visits to the eye doctor.

    Worst decision I ever made was to have PRK surgery and to believe the 10 recovery crap!

    If anyone has any suggestions, would love to hear them.

    • Dang Travelers

      Ugh, Kim, this makes me so angry to hear. It’s yet again, another story where someone is struggling so much after this procedure. Thank you so much for sharing your story. At the very least, I hope all our stories will help someone make the right decision regarding their eyes.

    • Josh

      Unfortunately any time you do durgery on the surface of the eye you run the risk of dry eye. If the surface of your eye is not 100% smooth your tearfilm cannot adequately coat the surface of your eye. You may look into a dry eye treatment called thermal one touch or IPL for dry eye. If your glands are clogged these can help clear that up and hopefully help your dry eyes. If you are sticking to drops then you may try different gel eye drops. Your vision will blur for a few minutes immediately after you use them but the effect lasts so much longer than normal eye drops.

  25. debi Mcdermott

    PRK surgery has ruined my life!!! I wear glasses 100% more then before it. No such thing as 20/20 vision after it. I paid extra for LIFETIME lasik and this was all he did. Dr. Horn in Oakbrook..dik!

  26. J

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I had LASIK in 2019 and have been going back every 6 months because my eyes backslid. Before LASIK I was about -8 in both eyes and thin cornea. They told me I was a candidate for either and ended up with lasik because of the lower healing time (i travel a lot for work). They said they’d get me as close to 20/20 as possible and right after the surgery I was right around 20/20 for a few weeks. Well now 2 years later I’ve slid back to -3 almost -4in both eyes. The doctor told me they could take me in for another go once my eyes stabilize but she said if I was Ok with the glasses she wouldn’t recommend it since I started with such a high number the first time. She also said they would possibly end up doing the PRK. I haven’t talked to the surgeon after the first op and honestly after reading this and others comments. I think I will stick to my glasses. Dry eye comes and goes and some days things seem blurier than others. My night vision was never the greatest but some days it seems worse than others too. They want me to come back in a year to see where my eyes are…. at this point, I think I need to cut ties and continue to see my regular eye doctor and not the one at the lasik center.

    • Josh

      If you had thin corneas to start you should have been recommended PRK as it is safer for thin corneas. If they continue to operate on your eyes and make the cornea too thin you can develop keratoconus or worse. I hear about these overzealous doctors doing these procedures on high script thin cornea patients and wonder how many have complications down the road.

  27. Josh

    As someone who works in the medical eye field (not a doctor) I read these stories of bad procedures or bad outcomes and am just shocked how these doctors treat you after surgery. Take my comments here with a grain of salt as I am not a doctor. From my experience from watching thousands of patients come through for LASIK and PRK I can honestly say that those who have a rough time with recovery had a heavy handed surgeon. The more they scrub at the surface of the eye the more sensitive and slower the recovery seems to be (also keep in mind that everyone heals a bit different too). Also they definitely should have told you that you should expect fluctuations for up to 6 months with the majority of changes happening in the first 4 weeks after surgery. I personally chose PRK myself and had a great surgeon that was very easy on the eye throughout the procedure and their method utilized a disc instead of a well to apply the alcohol directly to the treatment area reducing the after surgery pain. Also after the laser fired and before the bandage contact was applied they used the same type of disc soaked in mitomycin which has been proven to reduce complications and haze after healing. I would not recommend anyone going to any of the discount practices or any practice not using the most up to date equipment as you only get one set of eyes. As for LASIK Plus and LVI, they use marketing to get folks in with a lower pricepoint and base the price on your prescription. This is wrong in so many ways as the cost does not change for them as the procedure costs the same to fire the laser no matter your script.

    • Dang Travelers

      Wow Josh, thanks so much for taking the time to share your insight and personal experience! I’ve never heard of the disc method but it sounds promising as far as complications go which would be great. If I knew what I knew now, I wouldn’t have wasted my time or money on the procedure. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 (that expression is priceless in this scenario! LOL)

  28. Kristy

    I could have written this article , I had a very similar very difficult recovery. I am one and a half years post op. I used to be -9 And -8.75, after the surgery I am positive .50 and -.75 so I am nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other eye and has been causing me tons of problems. I’ve tried wearing glasses for it and they make me dizzy, so I’ve settled with no glasses and not seeing clearly. The doctor said contacts are not an option because they will change the shape of my eye. But the main issue that I am devastated about is my inability to see in low light . I am young but I feel like an old grandma because I can’t see anything . I can’t drive at night because I have no depth perception. I cant see into the cupboard without getting a flashlight. I can’t believe my eyes are ruined . When I brought this up with the doctor, all he had to say was wow I’ve never heard of that before, have a nice day. Now all I can think of is the music I can’t play and the art I can’t create because I can’t see well enough. I’m wondering how I am going to live the rest of my life like this. I would tell you not to get PRK ever.

    • Dang Travelers

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this as well Kristy. I feel your pain.. It’s devastating to hear these stories but I’m so glad you shared with us. Did your doctor offer a 2nd PRK procedure? I’m not necessarily recommending it, but was curious if he or she did.

      • Josh

        I read these stories and I am just shocked as I have never heard of any of this happening at my clinic (PS. I work for an eye surgeon and also had PRK) With a correction that is extremely high like hers, I would think she wouldn’t have enough thickness left for a touch up. Also, the more you correct the more you risk an over-correction. Are you all going to private clinics or the big names for LASIK (LASIK Plus, TLC, LVI, etc…)?

        • Dang Travelers

          Hi Josh, I went to a big name but I’m not sure about all the people that have commented. How long have you worked at your clinic? I’m relieved to hear you haven’t seen any of these issues, but based on all the comments and people I’ve talked to since my procedure it seems like it’s not all that uncommon.

  29. S.L.S.

    I got PRK in 2005 because I was military and into extreme sports. Have all the side effects you speak of still to this day. Can’t touch my eyelids, an eyelash feels like a knife, and onions are acid. Ironically, the scuba diving and cliff diving that was difficult with glasses/contacts became almost impossible in salt water. I’ve needed a second surgery for years, but no thanks. I had to get bifocals at the ripe old age of 32. I’m now 42 with 20/80, astigmatism, and +1.5 progressives.

    • Dang Travelers

      Mine are still so sensitive too! I think my husband thinks I’m exaggerating when I cut onions but it can be so bad..
      I don’t blame you on the second surgery. I was very hesitant and still can’t believe I went through with it but all I kept thinking was about how I spent so much money that they should fix their wrong!

  30. Shannon

    Your experience is exactly like mine. I was -5.75 in both eyes. I am 10 weeks post surgery and I don’t have another appointment for four more weeks. At my six week appointment I was told I have scar tissue that was not healing as it should. I pushed for a reading prescription at my six week appointment even though I knew my vision was not stabilized. However, regular readers do not work well with astigmatism. It has allowed me to work again, but I cannot see around my house using them so I have to use magnifying glasses and I use regular readers to help some, although it causes dizziness when walking. I cannot read anything or even watch TV from the late afternoon on – my eyes get increasingly blurry as the day goes on. I wear sunglasses outside but I see better with more light. Driving is dangerous and what am I supposed to do now that it will start getting dark at 5pm? I already feel like I am going to have to push for a prescription at my next appointment but I would rather pay for temporary glasses than live in a blur. I am just hoping and praying it gets better. I am doubting the wisdom of an enhancement surgery. Instead I will pay out way more in eye drops and carry around different glasses for different situations and be thankful I didn’t go blind.

    • Dang Travelers

      Wow, your experience is so similar. I am praying it gets better as well. Let me know what happens. I did go ahead with the second surgery and am still walking around with glasses and dry eyes. So disappointing.

  31. Nick

    Like you, I had PRK surgery. It took place on September 16, 2021. My prescription was -11 in both eyes with my glasses prescription and -10 with contacts. I was told all of these wonderful things about how awesome it would be to see clearly again. It’s October 26 (about a month and a half later) and I’m experiencing some of the same issues that you had. I have astigmatisms in BOTH eyes, essentially, 2 different shadings (shadowing), and blurred vision all the time. Nothing is clear at all. (Note: I did have an astigmatism in the left eye before this). It does not appear to be getting any better, either. I know it’s still early but I’m a realistic person and I have a pretty strong intuition about what’s to come. I wear readers (as expected) for seeing up close reading, using phone and computer usage at work/home. Without glasses, I cannot see ANYTHING clearly on any screen from most typical viewing distances, however, I can see pictures and images at farther distances but words are still REALLY blurry. I feel I may be a candidate for corrective lenses again. Or another PRK surgery. However, here’s the thing…

    I do NOT want to go through the PRK surgery EVER again. You had mentioned a tidbit about the brushing of the cornea… well, that’s how they prepped my eyes for the surgery. They did NOT use nearly enough eye-numbing solution and the little valium they gave me didn’t do a damned thing for me. It was like having a tic tac! I was not relaxed in the preparation for this surgery. I was cursing during the whole process… literally cursing out loud at the pain while I was laying on the table. I was so tense, uncomfortable, and completely miserable! It felt like I was being tortured on a rack of sorts! (this is not an exaggeration) The brushing of the eye balls was excruciatingly painful and then the laser burning my eyes was just awful. I could smell it, too. Ugh! I don’t know why my experience was so horrible when all I’ve heard were good things.

    I’ve learned an important lesson: Don’t ask or listen to other people’s experiences because everyone reacts differently to procedure and pain.

    I know I still have about 4.5 months to go but I will probably end up just getting glasses at the end if the vision doesn’t stabilize in the future — mostly due to how awful and painful the procedure was. The cost of my procedure was $4500 even. That’s a lot of money to spend on a horrible experience and still bad vision. No insurance covered this as it was an elective surgery. Anyway, I figured I’d share my experience with you since I, too, understand your pain.

    • Dang Travelers

      You are so right. Everyone’s experience is different just as the pain level. It’s like a dentist visit – one person’s cavity or root canal can be totally different than another! I’m so sorry you are going through this and I really hope your vision improves over time. Please keep us posted!

      • Nick

        Here I am, shortly after the 3 month-post PRK surgery mark. I received a (hopefully) temporary prescription for farsightedness back on November 5th from the eye surgeon’s office. I’m +1.75 in the right eye and +2.25 in the left. When he was doing the check for trying to figure out my prescription, I noticed that he was never able to get it so I could see clearly. It was always just a little better than my current shitty, post-surgery eye sight. That, still to this day, seems disconcerting to me. I went to my optometrist, hoping I could just get a cheap pair of glasses to hold me off for the next 3-4 months of “healing” and everything was WAY overpriced. They wanted $160 after several discounts applied and I said to them, “I’m not paying that much for some temporary vision” and I left. Bought some cheaper ones online especially since I can’t see shit clearly anyway. (Pardon my demeanor but I’m pretty ****ing bitter since my vision seems to be getting worse). Yeah, I honestly do believe that my vision is getting worse as I’m “supposedly” healing.
        I wasn’t able to go to my 3-month follow-up with the eye surgeon due to a stomach flu but it was postponed to January 7th. I’m pretty much going to be honest and up-front with them, as I always have been. I do not mince words with them or anyone else and I let my anger show from time to time. I really wish I had seen this article before I had gotten the surgery, to be honest. It seems that there aren’t many “negative” reviews of PRK surgery and if there are, you REALLY have to dig for it. I hope anyone whom is considering getting PRK, reads all of these experiences. I’ll keep you updated throughout my progress.

        • Nicholas

          8 month update – I went to my ophthalmologist and he stated that I now have +4 farsighted in both eyes with astigmatisms. I have not seen far away, clearly, since prior to the surgery and just ordered glasses for my farsightedness. I wanted to try getting contacts and he ordered some trial contact lenses for me but get this… when I tried them on, it was as if I was nearsighted again and everything was blurry at distances. Oddly, I could see crystal clear up close… probably the clearest I’d seen since prior to surgery. So it was exactly as it used to be-ish seeing nearsighted again. In other words, the farsighted contacts failed with flying colors and neither me, my ophthalmologist or my eye surgeon could make any guess as to why this was happening. Pretty disconcerting if you ask me.

          So, with that, I will be a candidate to get PRK again.. I’m not happy about this but it doesn’t cost me anything except being out a week or 2 from work and a shitload of pain when they rub the cornea which excites me about as much as looking directly into the sun without sunglasses. I do have a possible procedure to brush the cornea again as something (i can’t remember the term he used) is 60 microns thick, while a normal (insert term) should only be 40 microns thick… it’s something on my cornea. I’ll get more info on this on Monday (5/16) and update this update. 🙂

  32. John

    My story is very complicated. I had a corneal transplant due to keratoconus 20 years ago. I then had LASIK & for 14 years I saw a crisp 2020.

    Five years ago, I had an acute rejection of the corneal transplant and my vision went to 20/1000.

    My doctor saved my cornea, but the irregular astigmatism was awful. He performed cataract surgery and then PRK, which did not work.

    In April 2021 I convinced him to try PRK one more time and after seven months of healing, my vision is about 20/70.

    Here’s the interesting part: If I put some eyedrops in that eye, I can see 20/20. If I put a soft contact lens on with 0.5 diopters of distance correction, I can see 20/20, but eyeglasses will only get me to 20/40.

    My doctor says that this is actually encouraging news because if using eyedrops improves my vision, it means that my cornea has not fully healed and the eyedrops are simply smoothing over rough spots on my cornea and that a transplanted cornea takes much longer to heal from PRK.

    Any thoughts?

  33. Megan Ferin

    I had prk 2 years ago instead of lasik due to my brother and dad both having a genetic disorder that causes the cornea to be very thin. I wasn’t a candidate for lasik due to this but was for prk. The recovery was horrible! Having three babies was less painful than what I went through with prk. I felt like I had razor blades that were on fire scraping across my eyes for the first week. I didn’t feel like I could see well until maybe 4 months later. My contact prescription before surgery was a -6.50. I felt like it was never quite as crisp after than it was with contacts but not enough for me to notice a whole lot to wear I had an eye exam. I couldn’t see well to drive at night but I thought that was just because I was getting older. (I was 34 when I had the surgery). Finally 2 yrs later I started to really notice myself squinting to see things far away and got to the point I wouldn’t drive At all at night. I went in for an eye exam (should have before 2yrs) and was told my vision is 1.5 in one eye and -1.5 in another eye so I got glasses and they make a huge difference. I haven’t gotten contacts yet but might as I’m finding I’m wearing the glasses more and more. Originally only wanted to while driving or seeing something far away. I also still can not cut an onion for the reasons you say. It’s excruciating. Also even getting slightly bumped in the eye is painful for me. I am too scared to get prk again after the pain I had and recovery time and my eye doctor (different guy than prk doctor) doesn’t think I’d have great luck with it if I didn’t the first time. I really hope my eyes don’t continue to get worse again. I’d say it was worth it still to have gotten because before I felt absolutely blind without my glasses and they were like Coke bottle thick. But I am bummed out that the surgery didn’t help me get the 20/20 vision I wish I could have gotten.

  34. Jessica B

    I am only 5.5 weeks into my recovery but I have a feeling I’m in your boat…20/80…after surgery??? They said give it 6 months. So I CLEARLY (no pun intended) have to wear glasses for that time. I guarantee they will tell me I have to get a second surgery. Pretty upset.

  35. Rachael

    I too had prk twice. It was a very painful recovery and regret it every day. I had never put the onions burning my eyes like fire with the surgery. I still have very hazy eyes but according to the dr I have 20/20 vision but can’t see clearly. When I drive and it just starts to get dark it literally hurts my eyes. I unfortunately didn’t do any research and chose prk over lasik as my dr said I would probably have problems with cataracts when I was older so this just seemed like the best choice since I have been told this since I was like 10. My vision was -8.5 in both eyes. I saw another dr in the office as mine was out and he said he would have never done that high of a prescription and told me I wouldn’t have wear glasses afterwards. I mean after all that was the purpose of it. To anyone who is thinking about getting this surgery done I would highly suggest not to.

  36. Jamie

    Sorry to hear you story.I agree that the percentage of dissatisfaction from prk surgeries is understated .I did mine in 2014 and the recovery was brutal for the first week.The risks and the potential regression that i discovered after the surgery were not discussed by my surgeon.if i come back in time,i wouldn’t have done it, considering i has -2 in each of my eyes.After my surgery my right eye is -0.25 and left one is 0.75 eventually i will need glasses again plus i have had dry eyes ever since the surgery.
    So no not worth it unless you really have really bad vision and you have an outdoorsy lifestyle otherwise it is not worth those complications.
    Hope you get better and your message raises awareness regarding those surgeries.

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