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17 Helpful Tips For Anyone Getting LASIK Or PRK Eye Surgery

We went through the process and we're here to share our tips.

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Hi everyone! We're Arielle and Jamie, and we both recently got LASIK and PRK eye surgery (respectively).

What is LASIK and PRK? It's an elective eye surgery used to improve your vision for (ideally) an extended period of time. However, the surgeries have their differences.

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LASIK: With LASIK, the surgeon creates a protective flap in the cornea with a laser or a blade. The flap of tissue is lifted and the laser reshapes the inner layers of the cornea to repair imperfections that lead to distorted vision. The corneal flap is then put back and heals relatively quickly, usually within a couple days.

PRK: With PRK, no corneal flap is created. Instead, the outer layer of the cornea is removed and the laser reshapes it to correct vision. Because the cornea has to grow back, the healing process is more painful and intensive (but more effective). Once the PRK surgery is completed, the doctor places a temporary contact lens, which is used as a bandage on the eye for improved comfort. PRK is a better choice for people with thin corneas or chronic dry eyes.

Read the differences between LASIK and PRK.

We learned some things to make the recovery process a little easier, and we wanted to share our tips from both perspectives.

Remember that not all surgeries and recoveries are the same. Some people have complications, some people don't. This isn't necessarily a reflection of how your experience will be, we're just sharing ours.

Disclaimer: Please always consult an ophthalmologist before making any changes or taking suggestions!

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1. Meal prep before surgery.

Instagram: @ariellesays, Jamie Urso

Arielle: The thought of cutting apples after surgery is both laughable and terrifying. I'm glad I had everything done and all I had to do was grab my food from the fridge.

Jamie: I don't normally meal prep so instead I just loaded up on some of my favorite comfort foods from Whole Foods (mainly gluten-free vegan mac & cheese and Siete chips).

2. Or pre-order delivery to avoid cooking.

seamless.com

Arielle: I didn't actually do this, but I thought about ordering Indian later in the day, but didn't want to mess around with my phone screen. This would have been ideal.

Jamie: I also didn't do this, my groceries were all I needed/wanted.

4. Take a shower and wash your hair the morning of your surgery.

Arielle Calderon, Jamie Urso

Arielle: For LASIK, they tell you not to wet your eyes for a few days. I thought it would be easier to just shower morning of and not shower the next day (sorry).

Jamie: With PRK the initial post-surgery recovery was INTENSE and I really didn't want to do anything, I basically slept for two days straight, so showering was out of the question (not sorry).

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5. Download audiobooks, music, or podcasts since you can't really look at screens.

itunes.apple.com, itunes.apple.com, Via open.spotify.com

Arielle: I only had to avoid screens for a day, but let me tell you, it can be SO BORING. Having podcasts was the only thing keeping me from going crazy. I mainly listened to Matt Bellassai's Unhappy Hour and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.

Jamie: I was also advised to stay off screens and away from light in general as much as possible, but the sound of people talking actually made me feel worse. I opted for some really nice mellow music that I had on repeat. It was so soothing and calming it really helped me feel better.

6. Eat a filling meal before your surgery.

Instagram: @ariellesays, Jamie Urso

Arielle: For me, I had to be at the doctor's office for three hours (paperwork, payment plan, waiting for the Valium to kick in, the surgery, relaxing after, etc.). I also just wanted to nap right when I got home, so the fuller I was, the less cranky.

Jamie: I don't actually remember eating before the surgery, I'm sure I had a bar or something, but I was only at the doctor for 45 minutes so I wasn't that concerned I was going to get hungry like Arielle. I was hungry when I got home though and had all my groceries waiting for me.

7. If you have pets, consider having a family member or friend take care of them for the day or next few days.

Arielle Calderon, Jamie Urso

Arielle: I have a cat, and I was actually fine with her. I had shields on the whole day so I wasn't really getting hair in my eyes. But my doctor also advised not to take pets out for a walk the first day.

Jamie: This was a definite must for me. I have a dog (named Pasta, how cute is she?) and there is NO WAY I would have been able to take her out for walks within those first few days. Luckily my parents live close by and love taking care of her so she stayed with them until I was better.

8. Ask someone to take you home and get you settled.

Arielle Calderon, Jamie Urso

Arielle: For LASIK, the healing isn't that intense and they tell you that you're able to go home alone. But I asked my friend, and I'm glad I did. I was stumbling a little from the Valium and walking to the cab was sensitive on my eyes since it was bright out.

Jamie: This was a must for PRK, I was also given Valium to keep me relaxed during the procedure and to help me sleep after. If I could do it over, I'd actually have someone with me for the first 24 hours. In addition to Valium, I was prescribed to take strong pain pills when I got home (and over the next few days as needed) which made me very tired and loopy. It would have been nice to have someone helping me with drops, making food and to comfort me since the pain was bad. With PRK I wanted nothing more than to keep my eyes closed and be in complete darkness for the first two days so I kind of lost track of what day/time it was. It's not a necessity, but something I'd recommend to anyone doing PRK.

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9. When you need preservative-free eye drops, try getting one with a resealable cap so you can take them on-the-go.

Refresh Optive, Systane Ultra

Arielle: I used Refresh Optive and it was great because you can reseal the caps. I didn't want the other ones to drip in my bag and go to waste so this worked out great.

Jamie: I used Systane Ultra Preservative Free Eye Drop. They were the vials, that's what my doctor recommended. They were amazing.

10. Make your phone text bigger and turn down brightness.

Apple

Arielle: I did not do this and now thinking about it, this probably would have made life easier. I was in general trying to avoid screens anyway, though.

Jamie: This is something I thought of on day two I think. I was off my phone as much as possible, but bigger text over the next few days just helped me focus less and not have to look at the phone too long.

11. And if you have an iPhone, you can ask Siri to read your notifications or text people.

Apple

Arielle: I really only needed this for the day, but it was super helpful to just yell at Siri to send a text message. Also, you can tell Siri to play your music or podcasts too.

Jamie: This was HUGE. I didn't think of doing it right away, but it's such a great feature. Siri read all my notifications and I was able to reply to text messages without needing to pick up my phone.

12. Have Advil/Aleve/Tylenol available for headaches or pain.

Jamie Urso

Arielle: I didn't really experience pain, but I did have a couple headaches. Just good to have on hand in case.

Jamie: One of the big differences between PRK and LASIK is the pain. The pain was bad. I was given prescription pain pills and numbing eye drops to use on the first two days only (when the pain was the worst.) After that since the pain was never that bad again but my doctor recommended taking ibuprofen for general pain management which helped a lot.

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13. Buy paper plates and cups so you don't have to do dishes.

Jamie Urso

Arielle: I did not do this but that definitely would have been easier lol.

Jamie: This was another thing I thought of after the fact. It just would have made things easier.

14. Invest in a good sleep mask.

instagram.com, Jamie Urso

Arielle: I personally didn't use this because with LASIK, they gave me these plastic shields to tape to my face, so I just used that instead. However, I do plan to use my sleep mask from now on just for extra protection.

Jamie: I thought I had a sleep mask but couldn't end up finding it when I needed it (of course) so I opted for a winter beanie that I could pull over my eyes. I just wanted pure darkness as much as possible.

15. Wear something comfortable to surgery so you can get home and go straight to bed.

Arielle Calderon, Jamie Urso

Arielle: THIS so hard. You will want to just go straight to sleep. Make it easier on yourself. It's just surgery, you don't need jeans for that.

Jamie: 100%. There's a chance I wore the same comfy outfit for two days straight.

16. Buy a cold compress for some relief.

Jamie Urso

Arielle: I actually didn't even think of this, but I might give it a go??

Jamie: Also this was so nice. I actually kept the cold compress in the fridge instead of in the freezer so it wasn't so cold I couldn't put it directly on my face. I still do this from time to time when I got to sleep. It's just nice.

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17. REST REST REST. Do not try to go overboard, let your eyes heal.

Arielle Calderon, Jamie Urso

Arielle: I cannot stress this enough. Even though I could see, I wanted to go out and do things and watch TV right away. But the best thing you can do is take it easy and relax. These are your EYES — let them recover.

Jamie: This is probably the main similarity with PRK and LASIK — REST! You may want to be active or think it's not that bad, but the first two days are critical. Stay inside, SLEEP, and stay away from light. Protect those eyes, they cost a lot of money now!

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Arielle: Overall, I absolutely LOVE my LASIK procedure. It was scary (you know, because all surgeries have risks and the last thing I wanted was to go blind), but quick and relatively painless. The healing process was short and I haven't had any complications, just some dry eyes here and there. It's an expensive surgery, but completely worth it for me. You can read about my LASIK surgery for more information.

Jamie: I still can't believe I got elective eye surgery. Like, what? The crazy thing is, I'd do it all over if I had to. I haven't had any complications and the result is incredible (I now have 20/15 vision). The whole experience was INTENSE, I will not sugar coat that. The first two days of recovery were very painful and hard, but by the end of day two/morning of day three, I was a new person with new eyes. It was expensive, but for me, it was an investment I was willing and able to make. I <3 PRK!

Both of us have documented our recoveries on Instagram stories. If you wish to get more of an idea, you can check out our story highlights on our profile pages at @ariellesays (LASIK) and @jamieurso (PRK).