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PRK Vision Surgery for Pilots

BagelBomber

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Does anyone have any experience with the vision correction surgery, PRK? What was the recovery time, results, etc? I would like to hear good and bad experiences with the procedure.
 

rf285

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I had it to go into the ANG, but never went. The surgery was done 6 years ago, corrected to 20/10 from 20/80. Night vision got better. Vision has not changed much, I'm still 20/15. The only downside was the recovery is MUCH longer compared to LASIK and it feels like sand is in your eyes for a couple of days.
 

jtf

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I did it 12 years ago. I went from 20/400 to 20/15. It has slowly regressed to about 20/50 so I had to go back to glasses about 3 years ago. If it gets much worse I'll get it touched up by LASIK. I would not do PRK again since you only do one eye at a time and it takes at least 6 weeks per eye before you can be at all sure it is stabilized (and some people take 6 months before their vision is stabilized). If you want laser surgery, do LASIK- both done in the same session with much, much quicker healing and the same overall results. PRK physically scrapes off the first layer or your eyeball- it takes a long time for it to heal and then for the new layer to smooth out. I did PRK when LASIK was brand new and most doctors had no experience with doing it- I went with a doctor who had done hundreds of eyes with PRK. Just like flying an airplane- you want to go with someone with experience. Good luck.
 

Crucianpilot

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I am getting it done in January. Only one eye, the other is good for LASIK. I will let u know how it goes.
 

jumppilot

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I had PRK done about 8 years ago. Still 20/20 in both eyes.

Took about 3 months to really feel like "wow, this worked". Prior to that I thought they botched the surgery, since i was seeing slight double vision out of my left eye - as others indicated, that is just the healing process.

I would do it again no questions asked.

Also, you are going to look online for surgery stories. 99% of them will be "THIS WAS THE WORST THING EVER! MY EYES ARE FALLING OUT OF MY HEAD! I CAN'T SEE! DON'T DO IT!!!"

Just keep in mind that most people who have success won't be posting online - they'll be on the beach enjoying their new vision.
 
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billy2331

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I just went in for an evaluation last week. The doctor told me that he would recommend the custom PRK vs. LASIK. He said that the healing time for PRK is longer (5-7 days) then LASIK (2-3 days). Both eyes would be done at the same time. I was a little surprised, I was thinking LASIK but he described that PRK has come along way from the early days of laser surgery and that not having the flap created by LASIK is what he recommends for my case. I am scheduling for the surgery next week.
 

BagelBomber

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Jumppilot,
How long did it take you to start flying again? It's my understanding, my doc has to submit a letter stating my vision is 20/20 and no side effects before I can get back to flying. I've also been told it will probably take 6-8 weeks for recovery. Is that what you guys have heard or experienced?
Thanks for all the advice.
 

jtf

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5 to 7 days for PRK is just not true for how long it takes for your vision to stabilize. It is that long for the first layer of your eye (that they must scrape off for the laser to work right) to grow back. It almost never will grow back without some irregularities that take much more time for your eye to smooth out. You will wear a special clear contact lens for at least a day to help protect your eye while the first layer grows back, but it can take some people up to 6 months for the irregularities to be fully healed and to be able to tell how well the surgery really turned out. I did my PRK before I shelled out any money for flight school in case it didn't work out. My right eye took about 3 weeks before it was as good as it ever was and my left took almost 6 weeks. I can believe they may have refined the process a little bit, but I just can't believe anybody's eyes can be fully good to go in just 5 to 7 days. Good luck.
 

jtf

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5 to 7 days for PRK is just not true for how long it takes for your vision to stabilize. It is that long for the first layer of your eye (that they must scrape off for the laser to work right) to grow back. It almost never will grow back without some irregularities that take much more time for your eye to smooth out. You will wear a special clear contact lens for at least a day to help protect your eye while the first layer grows back, but it can take some people up to 6 months for the irregularities to be fully healed and to be able to tell how well the surgery really turned out. I did my PRK before I shelled out any money for flight school in case it didn't work out. My right eye took about 3 weeks before it was as good as it ever was and my left took almost 6 weeks. I can believe they may have refined the process a little bit, but I just can't believe anybody's eyes can be fully good to go in just 5 to 7 days. Good luck.
 

another cfii

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I'm also considering lasik. So why would any doctor recommend PRK rather than Lasik, especially if the recovery time is much longer than lasik? It seems like they're seeling lasik at the street corner like a lemonade stand these days. How dependable is this procedure? Any botched stories for pilots you know of?
 

SPBRIAN

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A doctor may recomend PRK rather than Lasik due to the patient having a thiner than average cornea. Also it was my understanding that without the flap some sports, etc. may ultimately be safer with PRK than lasik.

I just had wavefront lasik done about 2 months ago now. My right eye wasn't too bad, I can't remember the 20-20 chart but they said it was a -3.5 correction and my left eye was over a -7 correction.

Within 4 days my right eye was fairly steady occasionaly it would be blury with fairly minimal halo's at night, my left eye was very halo and distortions until approximately a month after sugery, I still do have a few but they are minima and only when I have dry eye issues (being tired doesn't help).

I got my medical back a week after the surgery, all you have to do is take a form into the doctor with you and he will fill it out. You need to be able to have the eye sight as specified in the FAR's for your class of medical cert. I bluffed my way through it but after having gone through the surgery and a bit of the recovery time I think that you could take 2 weeks off and be sure that you will be safe.

It was the best money I have spent, I can't wait for this summer to enjoy sports without glasses.

If any questions feel free to PM me and I will try my best.
 

jumppilot

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Jumppilot,
How long did it take you to start flying again? It's my understanding, my doc has to submit a letter stating my vision is 20/20 and no side effects before I can get back to flying. I've also been told it will probably take 6-8 weeks for recovery. Is that what you guys have heard or experienced?
Thanks for all the advice.

I had it done before I started flying for the airlines, but from what I remember I felt able to fly within a couple weeks.
 
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