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PRK surgery

PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
edited November 2007 in Naval Academy - Annapolis
Have any of your mids (or you) had PRK surgery? My S (NROTC) is considering having this surgery over Christmas break to correct his vision so he can try for Navy pilot or possibly EOD next Fall.

He is really wanting the surgery but I have been reading a lot of accounts of people having really bad post-op experiences. I have read of very long recovery times with poor vision quality for months after the surgery. I am concerned as to how he would manage the Spring semester of coursework with poor vision due to slow healing. I 've also read that there is quite a bit of pain during the healing process.

Is this the case with most PRK surgeries or were these isolated cases of people ranting on the internet?

S is so gung ho to get his eyes fixed that I'm afraid he is overlooking complications in the aftermath of surgery.

Anybody out there have PRK experience?
Thanks
PackMom
edited November 2007
17 replies
Post edited by PackMom on
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Replies to: PRK surgery

  • itlstallion422itlstallion422 342 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 344 Member
    I got PRK during my 2nd class year, and its the reason I'm in flight school now...
    I 've also read that there is quite a bit of pain during the healing process.

    I'd agree on that. I got my surgery in the early afternoon on a thursday and was in ALOT of pain that night. But after the first night it wasn't too bad. Some of my friends were in pain for the whole weekend. By saturday I was able to go to the mall with my parents (shielding my eyes any time I was outside). I took a Electrical Engineering exam the following tuesday and did well. After 3-4 days everyone is fully functional, and if he plans on doing it during christmas break than being ready for class shouldn't be a problem.
    I have read of very long recovery times with poor vision quality for months after the surgery.

    Before the surgery my vision was worse than 20/400. When I walked out, I think I was at 20/60. By the following monday I was 20/40. Within a month I was at 20/15. Those recovery times are on par with what all my friends experienced.
    Is this the case with most PRK surgeries or were these isolated cases of people ranting on the internet?

    They are definitely isolated cases. When compared to LASIK, PRK hurts alot more. However with PRK, you arent left with a flap in your eye that will never heal, which is one reason why the Navy uses it. Its also a much easier procedure for the surgeon.
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  • 2012mom?2012mom? 493 replies18 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 511 Member
    Am I correct that the PRK must be done by military docs to ensure that it will allow one to become flight eligible? If so, does that apply to all commissioning sources (i.e. USNA, NROTC, OCS)?
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    itlstallion422...thanks for your reply. It is encouraging. I have read a lot of horror stories on the internet.
    2012mom?..
    From what I (and S) understand, the surgery does not have to be done by a military doc.

    Anybody else with PRK experience out there? This whole thing makes me nervous!
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  • itlstallion422itlstallion422 342 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 344 Member
    There is nothing we do that is without risk. In my opinion, the risk in this case is extremely miniscual while the payoff, i.e. a chance to fly, is huge. The Navy has the procedure done every year for atleast 100+ midshipmen as well as countless other active duty personnel.
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  • JackTravelerJackTraveler 161 replies1 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 162 Junior Member
    I think everyone here goes and gets it done at Bethesda. I'm pretty sure it has to be done there.
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  • sdnavymom1607sdnavymom1607 44 replies3 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
    I had PRK last year (46 yrs old). I was scheduled for LASIK and at the last appt before surgery they found I had thin corneas, therefore they did PRK because cutting flap (LASIK) left no margin of error. I had severe nausea for two days (I think it was more due to pain med than pain.) They predicted I would exchange my distance glasses for reading glasses (oh the indignities of age!) but so far I see great. Well worth it!!!!
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    Good to hear sdnavymom1607. Hope S's procedure will go as well.
    JT...
    He will not be getting it done at a Naval medical facility as he is in NROTC and not considered active duty. We have to pay for the whole thing but hopefully it will be well worth it.
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  • 2sonmama2sonmama 172 replies15 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 187 Junior Member
    I had PRK last Friday. I too was scheduled for LASIK, but at the last minute the surgeon decided the topography of my eye made it too risky.

    My vision was pretty good Friday,but it went downhill fast SAturday. The light sensitivity I had was the worst - my husband put thick blankets over the windows even though we had drapes up. My vision was miserable Saturday and Sunday both for close and distant viewing. No books, no TV.

    By Monday I was doing a little better and went to work, though I had to be driven. I could see to read the computer and papers with a magnifying glass. By MOnday night, though, I could watch a little TV since the light sensitivity had faded. Tuesday morning I could read the newspaper and my computer screen without magnification. The right eye still seemed pretty foggy, though. I got the bandaid contacts out and was told the healing was progressing well.

    Today my vision seems foggier, though I have moments of great clarity just after I put in drops. They think I'll be able to drive by the weekend, but I have my doubts. My vision test yesterday showed I was at 20/60, but the foggieness makes it seem much worse. I guess since I was expecting the instant results of LASIK that the slow PRK results are a big disappointment.

    I'm trying to be patient and hope that I get the results everyone else seems to get in time. Right now I am having second thoughts about why I ever did this to myself in the first place!
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  • SimayanSimayan 106 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 115 Junior Member
    2sonmama - I talked to my eye doctor a few weeks ago about getting LASIK/PRK later on in life, and she said the latter is best to do when someone is young as the healing process is sped up significantly.

    I'm sure you'll think it was worth it in another week or so. My aunt had the surgery a year ago (she's about 40), and it took about 3 weeks for her vision to become perfect, but now it's 20/15.
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    S is at the Dr.'s office having the prescreening today (H took him). If all goes well, he will have the suregery done on Dec. 20 when home for Christmas.

    2sonmama...have you had a great deal of post-surgical pain or has the main problem been the fogginess and light sensitivity? He has heard of some having a lot of pain and some that said it was minimal.

    S is big into weight training and physical fitness. He consumes a lot of protein
    through diet and protein supplements. He is 20 yrs. old. Hopefully he will heal quickly since his Spring semester classes start on Jan. 9.
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  • vineyardmhvineyardmh 23 replies0 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 23 New Member
    Before any ROTC student gets PRK or LASIK performed, they should check/double-check and even triple check that the surgery won't cause disqualification for duty!!

    Prospective applicants to the Naval Academy are advised to NOT do it, and it can be disqualifying.

    The Navy will allow PRK to be performed, and with satisfactory results, the individual can become a pilot (but it still requires a waiver - fairly easy to get). But if the surgery is performed by non-Navy medical personnel - they might not be sure that everything was done to their high standards. So check before proceeding!!

    And rules do change - 2 years ago, LASIK was DEFINITELY disqualifying. But recently, I have heard (2nd hand) - that they are now allowing LASIK for pilots and SEALs. (but if it was for me.... I would still check/re-check!!!)

    At the Naval Academy - 2nd class Mids can put in for PRK. (My son had it done last year - and the results were excellent.) I had LASIK done last year - great results - and recovery from LASIK is MUCH MUCH faster. (And as to "age" - our former senior Senator from Washington, Slade Gorton, had LASIK performed when he was over 70 years old - and eliminated the need for "coke bottle glasses" or contacts.
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  • itlstallion422itlstallion422 342 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 344 Member
    A ROTC friend of mine had PRK done on his own dime, and hes in P-Cola now. That being said, I agree with the above statement that anyone not at the Academy should definitely have in writing from a credible source that any procedure they have performed will not affect their service selection chances.
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,667 Senior Member
    Update....S called yesterday to say that after sending an email to Bethesda requesting qualification info. regarding eye surgery, he received an email back saying that Lasik surgery was now approved for Special Ops. Now he plans to go with Lasik instead of PRK. And yes, my husband told S to save that email and print out several copies.
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  • USNA1985USNA1985 594 replies10 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 604 Member
    Packmom,

    You said in your initial message that your son wanted to be a pilot. The fact that LASIK is okay for special ops does not necessarily make it okay for pilots. I would reconfirm this before your son has the surgery (unless he's now sure he doesn't want to become a pilot and is sure he will otherwise qualify (i.e., physically) for special ops).

    Also, I don't know whom you emailed at Bethesda, but please be sure you're talking to the right people who are fully knowledgeable about the requirements in this area. The fact that you have an email from the CNO himself won't help if he doesn't know the requirements.

    As far as I know, USNA only permits PRK because that is the only corrective eye surgery that the USN and USMC accept for pilots. It is possible that this has changed -- although I haven't heard of it changing.

    In any event, it is absolutely critical that your son fully understands the vision requirements for each service option he is considering (pilot, EOD, etc.) and what type(s) of corrective surgery is/is not permitted for each option. If he proceeds w/o being sure -- and ends up with the wrong surgery -- all of the emails in the world won't help him. Trust me on that.
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  • GreatAmericanGreatAmerican 5971 replies443 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,414 Senior Member
    ^^^^^
    BUMED is the final authority in all medical requirements. According to the following article in the Navy Times, LASIK with IntraLase is being offered free of charge to sailors and marine. However, that doesn't mean that those who receive LASIK surgery will be qualified for naval aviation.

    Sailors, Marines eye free Lasik - Navy News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Navy Times
    ...In addition, Armstrong said Bureau of Medicine and Surgery officials are in the final administrative stages of approving the surgery for Navy and Marine pilots and aviation candidates....

    Beware, LASIK hasn't been approved yet.
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