PRK – LASER Vision Correction (Photorefractive Keratectomy)
24 Seconds to one of the best gifts ever!
I am writing to thank you for the time and care you took helping me through the PRK surgery performed on October 22nd, 2007! I was very excited in the days and months leading up to the surgery, a bit of anxiety the day of the surgery, and finally, to my surprise, disappointment at the results immediately following the surgery. I had so hoped for a dramatic, immediate restoration of my sight. When I sat up after the surgery, the doctor asked me if I could see the clock. I told him I could but that I could see it BEFORE the surgery. Then he showed me his watch and asked the same thing. I mustered as much enthusiasm as I could when I said I could. Disappointment in immediate ‘amazing’ results was mounting.
That first week I could see nothing well. No reading, no computer, no movies and halos around lights, especially at night. I was frustrated. However, I knew from the information you gave me that the first few weeks were critical process that required patience, especially the first week. I continued to remind myself that PRK takes time to heal and that the eyes improve over time, weeks, sometimes months. Even after the first week of hourly medication, eye drops and checkups I felt let down, however, I reminded myself that the process takes time, even in the best of circumstances.
I did notice that healing was taking place. The halos had gone, the blurriness was significantly reduced and driving at night and the glare of the various lights at night presented no noticeable difficulty. I knew I was in the major phase of healing and rebuilding; cautious hope and patience were the watchwords that kept me looking for more clues to the process. In fact, the monthly visits to the clinic were my “scoreboard” of success. After every follow up I was astounded at the improvement in my eyesight as indicated by the test results. Previous 20/50 vision was now around 20/20 (ultimately ending up at 20/15).
I waited longer. Then, another gunnery rotation at Grafenwoehr, Germany, in December 2007, convinced me of the complete success of the surgery. I was faced with the prospect of all my weapons qualifications without corrective lenses. Coupled with another deployment to Iraq in the spring of 2008, I wanted my eyes to be ready. I found out just how ready when we went to the M4 range for the first time. Conditions were poor; wet, cold, windy, rainy, foggy and new laser optics for the M4. This would truly be a test of the effectiveness of the PRK.
I first grouped and zeroed my weapon using the iron sight. Keep in mind that we were using brand new laser optics and new backup iron sights so this would be a true zero, not the fine tune zero I was accustomed to making. I noticed right away that my vision area was larger, no longer constrained by the protective eye wear inserts and the blurry outlines of an object due to astigmatism. My first shot group was tight, about the size of a nickel. Then it took only two subsequent adjustments to put my zero at center of the target. I was very excited! This allowed me to move on to the laser sight calibration (essentially the same as iron sight zero but with a red laser aiming dot through optics). At this point I noticed that my astigmatism had diminished to the point where I could make the laser dot much, much smaller than my target, offering me more flexibility in shot placement. Before PRK surgery, the ‘fuzziness’ at the edges of the dot prohibited me from making such fine adjustments. As a result of the excellent iron sight zero, I only had to make minor adjustments to the laser to put the dot at target center. Not only was I able to use a much smaller dot for targeting, I now had a much greater range for accuracy. I could now pick a specific location on the target; head, left shoulder, right shoulder, not just a vague center body mass. I was no longer praying after each shot that I had mentally calculated the appropriate level of adjustment. I KNEW I was hitting what I aimed at. It’s sort of like the difference between trying to find where your friend lives from a map of the United States to finding your friend using a city map.
And now we come to the true test. M4 qualification. By now the cloudy skies had cast a gloomy pall over the range; wet, cold and excited to lie in the mud I prepared my magazines and firing positions. 20 targets from the prone supported, 10 from the prone unsupported and 10 from the kneeling position.
Here I was, ready to test everything out, and suddenly the targets began popping up! I say suddenly because I wasn’t actually ready when they started due to miss-communication with the tower. It didn’t matter. My shots were on target and quick. The thrill of shooting the target with the first shot every time was exhilarating! My decision time to target had dropped markedly. No longer was I double checking my sight picture. I was pointing and shooting. Target up, target down. I was ecstatic! It felt like I couldn’t miss. 300m targets? No problem! I shot 35/40 and shot 10/10 of my kneeling targets. This was how I knew the surgery paid off; no more decision time to target. Before, with all of the astigmatism, I double checked my center body mass sight picture to make sure that I had averaged the edge blurriness of my front sight post with the edge blurriness of my target. Not only did my decision time drop to nearly zero, my confidence went up 10x.
My last check up was February 22nd, 2008 (the fifth checkup), just in time for deployment. My children (4 boys, 1 girl) and wife all enjoy the benefits of no glasses. I no longer have to call a ‘time out’ to take off my glasses before I wrestle my kids and play. I have at last thrown away all my old prescription glasses and now only have sunglasses to wear!
Throughout my second tour in Iraq, a 15 month deployment, I was reminded time and time again of the benefits of the PRK surgery by Dr. Hammond. Night driving with night vision, not having to change prescription inserts between sunglass and clear eye protection and conducting over 18 small arms ranges. In spite of all the sand storms during training in Kuwait and over 232 missions (over 19,000 kilometers of driving covering 2,500 square kilometers in the east and south of Baghdad) in Iraq dirt storms, my eyes never once experienced relapse or failed. Another subtle and important improvement for me was an increase in color vision accuracy. Prior to the surgery my substandard color vision was further impaired by the ‘blurriness’ caused by astigmatism.
I wrote to thank you for helping me through the entire process and the professional staff that performed the surgery. Your pre surgery meetings to explain the process were super and helped set me at ease, especially the session the day of the surgery. I am grateful that my surgery was performed with the latest technology. I was shocked that the surgery time in each eye was so short. I was told initially that my surgery would take 45-60 seconds in each eye but the actual laser time was only about 12 seconds per eye; 24 seconds to one of the best gifts ever!