Here is the story of a National Guard soldier who had PRK

What made you decide to have laser vision correction surgery?

I have been wearing glasses for 42 years and they have continually been a hindrance to me when I was active in sports.

When I was deployed to Iraq in 2003-04 my glasses were a constant disabler there as well. My glasses made it difficult to properly wear goggles and they quickly became hazy in the dust and eventually became scratched from the constant cleaning. These problems were the motivation for my PRK procedure.

I decided to have the PRK surgery when I heard of the opportunity to have it done for deploying soldiers. A co-worker of mine had the surgery prior to me and had nothing but positive comments about the surgery and Dr. Sher. I contacted Dr. Sher's office and they made it an effortless process.

How long had you been thinking about it before you went ahead?

I had looked into having the LASIK surgery more than a year ago but wasn't sure if it would be conducive to my military status. I had never really known about PRK until I talked with my co-worker and investigated it online at Dr. Sher's web site.

What made you decide to have surgery with Dr. Sher specifically?

I learned about Dr. Sher from my co-worker and was confident in him and comforted by everything I heard. I also discovered that I could have this done prior to my upcoming deployment.

How hard or how easy was the process (appointments, testing, surgery, follow-up)?

Nancy, Dr. Sher’s refractive coordinator, made this whole process unbelievably easy.

She gave me specific instructions on everything I needed to do prior to the initial visit. At my initial visit, Dr. Sher, Nancy and the staff clearly explained the entire process to me and answered any questions or concerns I had. The staff performed my evaluation very professionally and left me confident that electing to go ahead with this surgery was the right move for me.

How hard or how easy was your recovery (discomfort, vision, etc.)?

I would say my recovery was very easy. I had only moderate discomfort in my eyes during day two and into day three. I would describe it like having contacts in too long and the dry sensitive feeling you get from that. Of course I was impatient with my vision because I wanted to see clearly immediately but my eyes healed and cleared up just as it was explained to me prior to the surgery.

What surprised you the most about procedure (surgery) itself?

I was very pleasingly surprised at the speed and ease of the surgery. I had originally expected it to be much more invasive and time consuming. It ended up only taking minutes from the time I entered the operating room until I was done with no discomfort during or immediately following the procedure.

What has been the most interesting or unique thing that you've noticed about your new world without lenses?

I would have to say that the most interesting thing to me is that I frequently reach up to take my glasses off. Because I wore glasses for 42 years, I am programmed to remove the glasses to put a pull-over sweater on, wash my face or put eye drops in despite the fact I am not wearing any. I even find myself feeling around for my glasses in the morning until I realize I can clearly see the alarm clock numbers and don't need glasses anymore.

How has the surgery made a difference in your work life or your hobbies and other pursuits?

It has removed the limitations that glasses bring. While wearing glasses, there is a specific scope of clarity (like looking straight forward).

I work in a maintenance facility and have to be able to see while climbing in, around and under equipment. This creates the need to be able to see when looking in all directions. Glasses do not work well for that. I enjoy golfing and motorcycle riding. Both necessitate wearing sunglasses and I couldn't do that and have clear vision without buying expensive prescription sunglasses. Having this surgery has given me the ability to easily wear non prescription sunglasses whenever I need to without putting in contacts or planning ahead.

Laser Vision Correction
and Space Flight

The safety of PRK laser vision correction is so widely acknowledged by experts that it is an accepted procedure for commercial and military aviation; including those pilots that perform combat missions in the most advanced high performance aircraft.

The PRK procedure has been performed for over two decades on pilots involved in commercial aviation. Dr. Sher has personally performed many PRK procedures on individuals who needed to achieve mandated levels of uncorrected and best-corrected vision to qualify for civilian and military aviation tasks. To this date, all of these individuals have achieved their visual goals.

Laser Vision Correction for Astronauts

In 2009, NASA approved laser vision correction to visually qualify an astronaut to go into space. A recently published study looked at the visual performance in space of a 47 year old NASA astronaut, Richard A Garriott. Mr. Garriott had PRK laser eye surgery 14 years prior to flying a 12-day mission on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station and back.

During the mission, the astronaut took part in an extensive ophthalmic evaluation. Garriott was not a typical astronaut. His father Owen Garriott preceded him in space three decades prior. Garriott is better known in the video game world having created a series of successful video games. The sale of the video game company earned him millions and helped to finance his trip.

The extreme conditions of launch, microgravity exposure in space, and reentry create challenging conditions for the eye. 

In addition, the confined environment and poor lighting in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft creates an environment that is visually demanding for the astronaut's eyes. Contact lenses cannot be worn in this environment and a severe eye infection from contact lens wear would be dangerous and very difficult to treat on a long space mission.

In addition, during liftoff, G-forces reach 3 to 4 times that of those on earth for 10 minutes. These extreme G-forces push the eye backward for a time, and then resolve as the astronaut enters space. There is also a corresponding rush of a third of the body’s blood volume towards the head that results in a rise in intraocular eye pressure and facial swelling. Despite all of these contributing factors, the astronaut's PRK vision performed extremely well.

In conclusion, PRK not only works extremely well to improve vision of civilians, the procedure also stands up to the rigors of the most extreme aviation missions.