I GOT CROSS-LINKING!

Image Source: http://keratoconuscanada.org/images/c3r_2.jpg

Well, it’s been 6 weeks since I had my corneal collagen cross-linking surgery in Los Angeles.  The surgery itself was a breeze.  I was only in L.A. for 2 days so on day one I had the pre-op exam in the morning—basic eye exams for keratoconus, then I went back to the hotel for lunch, and came back in the afternoon for the surgery.  Day two was the post-op exam.

The details are a little blurry now—literally, but I just remember going into a freezing cold room for the surgery and laying in a reclining chair of sorts.  Then my doctor came in and someone put the anesthetic drops into my eyes and he put the thing in your eye that holds your eyelids open (felt that!) and removed my epithelium on both eyes with a laser and then used something to rub the cells off of my eyeballs.  I felt nothing from the laser and the manual rubbing part was just a pressure feeling.  There was a gross out factor because there was a burning hair smell from the process and knowing someone is rubbing your eyeballs is weird.

Since I was having both eyes treated, my doctor’s assistant started putting the riboflavin drops into both eyes every 2 minutes for 30 minutes. She told me to let her know when my eyes felt uncomfortable and she’d put more of the numbing drops in.  I felt like I needed them every few minutes, but was doing fine.

After the first phase of the surgery, I was lead into a room so my doctor could make sure the riboflavin had saturated my corneas and a “blue flare” was visible.  I’m not sure what that is, but I guess I got the go ahead.  Then it was back to the freezing room and reclining chair and the assistant got the UVA machine ready.  She had to take measurements to get it in just the right location.

They did the right eye first and also continued to put the riboflavin drops into the left eye so I’d have enough in there while it waited to be treated.  Once again, I felt the thing that holds your eyelids open (just at first) and then the light was on my cornea.  I couldn’t even see it so I was convinced it wasn’t working, but I guess it was.  The assistant said I should see a flower shape—negative.  I saw a very faint light that reminded me of a very dim moon.  More like half of a moon or some weird shape.  So much for the stories I read of staring into the sun—not at all.  I had to stare at it while she put more riboflavin drops in every 2 minutes and numbing drops as needed.  The hardest part was staring at something for 30 minutes, especially when you can hardly see it.  I was getting really sleepy.

Finally, my right eye was done and everything was switched. Suddenly I could see the flower shape, which was more like a flower made out of cotton balls.  My right eye was my better eye vision-wise pre-op so that must have been the issue. Well, pretty soon I was having trouble staring at that, too. It’s boring and I was getting so sleepy I really could have taken a nap if I could have closed my eyelids.  That’s when I started talking and the 30 minutes went by much faster.  Should have thought of that earlier.

Following that, I went back into the little room and my doctor looked into my eyes again and said, “Good” or something along those lines.  My eyes were dilated for comfort—still confused on that—and bandage contact lenses were put in both eyes to protect my corneas.  Of course, my vision was already worse, as expected.  I was also given goggles to wear in the shower and while sleeping until the lenses could be removed and numbing drops to take home in case the Rx pain drops weren’t strong enough.  I was offered narcotics for a day or so but they make me sick so I declined getting an Rx.  Then, I went back to the hotel with my “cool glasses” due to light sensitivity.

That’s the good part.  It’s taken me 6 weeks to write a post about my surgery due to all the complications which were NOT my doctor’s fault, but due to my very dry eyes pre-op and the fact that I also live—and recuperated—in the desert. I’ll save that nightmare for my next post, but I do have some good news.  While my left eye is healing very slowly, my right eye is reading almost 7 lines better on the eye chart—WOW! Just wish I could drive my car.

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