Custom Wavefront PRK

by Erika Torres

This is a review on my experience with Custom Wavefront PRK.

I wanted to get Lasik surgery on my eyes as one of my goals this year. I set aside $5,000 in my flex spending account to cover the expense with pre-tax dollars. I did my research for the best lasik in Orange County. I knew that I wanted personalized attention and I did not want to go to a big shop where they herd you in like cattle and you don’t meet your surgeon until you’re under the knife laser.

My research led me to the Chao Vision Institute in Irvine and I could not be happier with my decision–I truly believe he is one of the best lasik surgeons in Orange County.

I called to set up a consultation and I showed up on a Saturday morning–only Dr. Chao and his receptionist were working that day. He met with me personally and we decided that because of my large pupils and thin cornea, I would need Custom Wavefront PRK.

Custom Wavefront PRK is a different form of lasik, that involves scraping the outer skin of the eye (under anesthesia of course) rather than cutting, as with lasik.

Custom Wavefront PRK Procedure

The actual procedure took 15 minutes max from beginning to end, with me being under the laser about a minute total for each eye. It didn’t hurt at all, and while I was awake and able to see everything, I couldn’t feel anything.

Immediately after the procedure, I felt fine and also felt like I could see better than before although my vision was a bit hazy. In order for the eye to heal, they place a thick clear contact on your eye.

On the twenty-minute drive home (my husband drove) , I started to feel mild discomfort. By the time we got home, I needed to lay down and put an ice pack on my face. Anytime I tried to open my eyes, they would immediately start watering and burning. I’m not gonna lie–it hurt.

Throughout the day, Eric would place drops in my eyes as part of the recovery process. Unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do except lie down with my eyes closed and an ice pack over my eyes.

The first night, I woke up in the middle of the night with my eyes burning. I was crying from the pain. My husband had to get up and place drops in my eyes, plus a special Comfort Drop mixture prepared by the Chao Vision Institute. I ended up sleeping the rest of the night on the couch with the ice pack on my eyes to ease the pain.

Custom Wavefront PRK: Day 1 Recovery

The morning after surgery, I wanted to die. My eyes burned. Dr. Chao said it would feel like an eyelash in my eye, but it felt more like someone was peeling an onion in front of my eyes and would not relent. I went into the Chao Vision Institute for my first post-op appointment. He assured me the pain was normal. My eye vision, which had been 20/150, was now 20/50.

Custom Wavefront PRK has a longer recovery time–about 4 or 5 days–as opposed to Lasik, which is almost instant.

By that afternoon, my eyes were feeling unbelievably better and I was even able to watch nominal amounts of television. I still had to sleep with an icepack on my eyes.

Custom Wavefront PRK: Day 2-4 Recovery

By the third day after my surgery, I was much, much better. I would have nominal amounts of discomfort and would simply place the comfort drops in my eye to help with the pain. On Day 4, I went in for my second post-op appointment, and my vision was now 20/40. It was on this day that they took the bandage contacts out of my eyes. This felt great because those little things were annoying! It felt like there was something in your eye every time you blinked.


I am now almost four weeks post-surgery and had my third check-up appointment with Dr. Chao of the Chao Vision Institute in Orange County. My vision as of last week was 20/25 and I’m hoping I’ll be at 20/20 by my next check-up later this week.

Even though it was painful at times, I am SO happy that I got my surgery done–and more specifically, I am thrilled that I chose the Chao Vision Institute. I feel like I got the highest level of care available. His staff was SO nice and accommodating and Dr. Chao himself checked on me during all appointments. The cost of the surgery was all-inclusive–I didn’t pay anything extra for drops, or check-up appointments. And should I have any complications with my eyes in a few years, the touch-up surgery would be included in the price as well.

I can’t speak highly enough of Dr. Chao and his staff at the Chao Vision Institute and would totally recommend him if you were thinking of getting eye surgery.

I am still not completely used to the fact that I don’t need contacts or glasses. At night time, I still sometimes reach for the contact solution and the other night, Eric caught me poking at my eye trying to take my contact out–no joke! I have to remind myself I don’t need glasses and stop reaching for them. Last night, I finally threw out my last contact solution bottle.

I love my new eyes!

In accordance with FTC guidelines, I was not paid or received any form of compensation for this review. I am simply one super satisfied customer and wanted to give the Chao Vision Institute my highest recommendation.


researching lasik July 22, 2013 - 1:36 pm

How have you been doing? Are your eyes still doing ok now that they’ve had a year to adjust? Hope you’ve been well!

Canadian Finance Carnival #78 – Canadian Finance Blog March 11, 2012 - 9:22 am

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Miiockm March 10, 2012 - 9:23 pm

Damn, that sounded like fun…

Gail March 17, 2012 - 2:49 pm

I had Intacs surgery done on both eyes about four years ago,next friday i am going to have PRK done on both eyes.I am a bit scared but mostly worried if i will be needing glasses after.Anyone would like to relate their experiences after having Intacs then PRK? Thanks Again Gail

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Stef (City Girl) February 29, 2012 - 4:58 pm

Not surprised you loved it! Glad you wrote the review to help spread the word, even though nothing was comped. xoxo

Carolyn February 16, 2012 - 10:54 pm

I just had PRK 3 weeks ago and it was a terrible experience for me pain-wise. I couldn’t keep my eyes open more than a few seconds for a week solid (so…boring). It’s taking me longer to “see” results since my vision wasn’t terrible to begin with (20/50 or so), but I’ve improved to around 20/40 now. I hope I can be one of those people who achieve 20/15!

Hack @ Smart Money Hacks February 16, 2012 - 11:41 am

I had LASIK done last year and it was totally worth it! It’ll get better 🙂

consolidation loans February 15, 2012 - 11:56 pm

I do not really have a option. The physician suggested PRK for my sight due to my slim cornea. You need a wider cornea of Laser eye surgery because the flap needs to cure effectively.

Addie February 15, 2012 - 4:32 pm

Thank you so much for posting this!!
I’m so happy you posted this! I just had a consultation with an eye surgeon and was told if I wanted Lasik this was the kind I’d have to get. It made me really nervous when he told me it was a more painful procedure so it’s great to read about someone who has experience with it I still haven’t decided if I’m brave enough to schedule it but I really would LOVE to be able to see my alarm clock in the middle of the night without fumbling for glasses first.

Hank February 15, 2012 - 9:18 am

I feel your pain. I had PRK done about a week before I had finals for my Masters. It was a nightmare. It took me weeks to feel back to 100%, but it was so worth it.

Erin Motes February 14, 2012 - 1:41 pm

I just had this procedure done, but I had LasEK. It is very similar to PRK!
Reading your blog described everything I felt and went through. I really thought I had made the wrong decision, but now I would do it all over again. My vision is better than 20/20!

Erin Motes February 14, 2012 - 1:44 pm

One reason I choose LasEK over LasIK is because they don’t cut your lens. So, if thirty years down the road I need another procedure done on my eye, it’s easier for them to go in and do it, since they won’t have to be working around cuts!

Miraela May 4, 2012 - 7:21 pm

Most laser surgeons don’t like to do sgreury until you’re at least 19, and preferably in your early 20s, because a large enough proportion of the population has small prescription changes even after age 18. Mine last changed I think two years ago? So I would have been 22. Some places will do it but won’t guarantee it (for free retreatments / touch-ups ) unless they’re convinced you’re old enough and stable enough. 0.25D change in 2 years is fairly stable, though You probably won’t need reading glasses until your 40s, but that’s the case for just about everyone, laser correction or not. Look up presbyopia if you want an explanation of why.

Kris@SimpleIslandLiving February 14, 2012 - 10:26 am

My husband wanted to get this, and wanted me to get it too. We were legally blind without our contacts. He went first, which, if he hadn’t I don’t know if I could have gone through with it. It’s amazing though!

my honest answer February 14, 2012 - 3:41 am

I had this done last year, and you’re right, it really hurts!! I knew it would, be I wasn’t prepared for how much. I can only liken it to being stabbed in the eye. Which I suppose, really, is what had happened.

I can’t believe how quickly I got used to not wearing glasses or lenses (I tried to take them out a few times too!), but not I barely even remember what it was like. I love being able to read my alarm clock in the middle of the night. And I was shocked to see how many cobwebs were hanging in the corners of our bathroom…!

justrealhappy February 13, 2012 - 5:23 pm

I feel like I’m Rachel from Friends…I don’t like the idea of lasers going near my eyes! But I’m so glad you did this…especially since you are pleased. I recently made a similar decision to get Invisalign. It’s not cheap, but I know my teeth will look awesome when it’s all said and done. And I will be happy. And happiness really matters. Hence, justrealhappy. 🙂

Karen February 13, 2012 - 4:58 pm

I almost had to get PRK. I had a friend tell me about his pain experience and it scared me. Fortunately, my one cornea ended up being ok for lasik. Although, I hear PRK is safer/better than lasik.
It took me a little while, too, to get used to not needing to get out of bed at night and take out my contacts. 🙂

Marissa @ Thirtys Six Months February 13, 2012 - 3:27 pm

I love reading super happy customer posts. What made you pick this procedure over Lasik?

SB @ One Cent at a Time February 13, 2012 - 8:33 am

Glad it work. I have the same question as Kay, why did you choose this over laser?

Newlyweds on a Budget February 13, 2012 - 8:40 am

I didn’t really have a choice. The doctor recommended PRK for my eyes due to my thin cornea. You need a thicker cornea of Lasik because the flap needs to heal properly.

Jai Catalano February 13, 2012 - 7:34 am

20 20 here you come. All in all the success of the procedure and your health being on track after surgery is wonderful news.

Michelle February 13, 2012 - 6:15 am

I really want Lasik but I was told I need to wait longer because my eyes keep getting worse. BOO I can’t wait.

Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer February 13, 2012 - 6:01 am

I think I might get Lasik someday but what made you pick that procedure over the laser type?

jobo February 13, 2012 - 5:44 am

Wow, my eyes are burning just reading this! LOL! But it sounds like it went really well, all things considered! I am so jealous!

Paul @ The Frugal Toad February 13, 2012 - 5:36 am

Glad to hear the procedure was a success! I wear glasses and have been thinking about Lasik, good to know there is an alternative!


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