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Personal account of getting PRK (vision correction surgery)

Welp, here goes nothing... I was asked to make a post on my PRK surgery. I hope this post would be helpful to those who are considering vision correction surgery. This is an AMA post so if you get any question, please comment and I'll answer.

I should briefly explain the difference between LASIK and PRK. LASIK and PRK are both vision correction surgery. Here are the differences:
  • LASIK: Laser cuts the surface of the eye open, corrects the cornea, and closes back the surface. It leaves a flap.
  • PRK: Laser cuts the surface of the eye open, corrects the cornea, and the doctor puts on protective contact lenses you'll wear for 3~5 days. The surface grows back naturally.
With LASIK, there is a risk of the flap opening, although it almost never happens. The good side is that LASIK takes only a few days to heal and you don't need to avoid UV.
With PRK, there's no flap but it takes weeks ~ months for your vision to reach 20/20. Also it hurts a lot for the first few days and you have to avoid UV for the first 6 months by wearing sunglasses.

Whether you'll go with LASIK or PRK depends on the thickness of your cornea, your eyesight, and what risks you're willing to take. The worse your eyesight is, the more cornea the laser will cut. PRK is recommended to those with thin cornea or very bad eyesight because it cuts less cornea than LASIK. The idea of having no flap is also an advantage of PRK. But the aftermath of PRK can be very annoying. Having done PRK, I had to wear sunglasses everyday and I had bad pains on the second day. Also don't forget that your vision grows slowly with PRK.

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My PRK surgery was done in May, 2017. (I'm gonna call vision correction surgery 'LASIK' for convenience) I got it done at a famous LASIK place in Seoul, Korea. I'm not sure if I can say the name of the place so I'm just gonna reveal it's where SM artists get their LASIK done.

I chose the place for two reasons. First, because I know a Korean acquaintance who got it done at that place 6 years ago. He still has 20/20 eyesight and recommended the place. Second, I wanted to get it done at one of those huge places instead of small places because they'd be more experienced (solely my personal decision). There are well-known huge LASIK places in Gangnam where tons of people go to and sponsor celebrities. My place was one of them.

In Korea, LASIK places offer checkups for free. You make an appointment, show up, and they'll do 10~20 tests with your eyes to see if you're a candidate. It takes 1~2 hours. Ideally, you would get checkups at 3~5 places and choose where you'd get your LASIK done. I got checkups at two places (the one I ended up with and another huge place). I wasn't impressed with the other place, though. The lady who did my checkup was kind of rushing and recommended me to get LASIK when even I could tell that my cornea was pretty thin for LASIK.

With the two checkups I got, I opted for PRK instead of LASIK only because my eyesight is pretty bad (-5 and -8) and my cornea was just above the average thickness (500~550mm is the average, my two corneas were around 500mm). I was still qualified for LASIK but I wasn't comfortable considering the cornea size. The decision was up to me and I went with PRK. 

The surgery day:
I showed up on the day, made the payment, they gave me eye drops & artificial tears, got explained on the eye drops, waited, walked into the room as my name was called, they took my blood (for making customized eye drops for dry eyes), and went through the surgery. The surgery itself took less than 10 minutes.

Right after the surgery, they put me in a room to sit down for 15 minutes with my eyes closed. I was there with like 10 other people who also just went through the surgery. After that, I was good to go. I put on the sunglasses I had brought and went back to my dorm. I didn't come out for 3 days and stayed with all lights off. I didn't forget to put the eye drops & artificial tears.

On the fourth day, I went back for checkup and they removed the contact lenses I'd been wearing since the surgery. Checked my eyes and told me everything looked good. I had to go back two weeks later for a second checkup. Everything looked good, again. Third checkup was a month after. Everything's cool. After that, I had to get a monthly checkup for 6 months. At every checkup, they also checked on my eye drops & adjusted the usage.

So far:
It's been 11 months since the surgery and my eyesight is excellent, 20/20. It feels amazing to live without wearing glasses / contacts. It helped with my self-esteem and improved the quality of my life. I'm glad I got PRK done and I don't regret my decision at all.
However - I have two side effects as well. My eyes became sensitive to the level of light. For example, when it's an evening and the sunlight is almost gone, my sight looks darker than what it used to be. It's the lack of light source that affects my vision. I think it's the contrast that went down? Anyways, it was very noticeable during the first months but I got used to it. Also, my eyes were VERY dry during the first months. I've always suffered from terrible dry eyes, so having dry eyes weren't new but they were worse during the first months. I lived on eye drops and still do, but the amount of artificial tears I use has decreased significantly.

Yep, that's the end of the post. Thanks for reading and AMA

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