The chronicles of LASIK
The ramblings on this site never seem to have any consistency. Actually, that’s a bit of the point. And to that point, I am going to journal and present something that I have wanted to do for as long as it has been doable. LASIK. Laser eye correction, to be more specific. I’ve wanted to not wear glasses or contacts since the day I got them in the 9th grade.
From back in the days of PRK to the original LASIK and now the iLASIK, I’ve always wanted to do it and either not had the means or the guts to make it happen. So, at age 40, and after several folks I trust had it done, I finally decided to take the plunge. Since my nature is to research stuff as much as I can, this was no different. However, I never really found a fully detailed account of the process that I could absorb, so, since I have this space I decided to create one for anyone else like me that wants to see the down and dirty details of the process. Hopefully this will help someone make a more informed decision.
After many half-hearted attempts, I finally made the appointment. I would be going to a well respected eye surgeon about an hour away. His credentials are quite impressive and his referrals are very respectable. The total cost was just under $2000 per eye, $3870 less a 5% discount from my eye insurance and a $140 fee for the evaluation exam. Most places take a wide variety of payment options, credit card, cash and even no interest for X months care credit. Total out of pocket for me was $3795.25.
The screening to assess if I was a good candidate or not was lengthy. They did dilated computer mappings of my eyes, eye tests and then more vision tests. Light sensitivity was at an all time high, but still not terrible. I probably could have driven home with sunglasses but they never would have let me. I had a responsible driver there to take me home. I ended up mowing the yard about an hour after I got back with minimal problem. Results vary. My friend thought that the dilation was worse than the procedure.
I had a driver take me to the clinic. Once there I had a bunch of paperwork to do, sign releases, pay for the service talk through the instructions and how the procedure would go down. Once that was done, they gave me a Xanax which I was completely uninterested in taking. I was pretty nervous but it was primarily because I don’t like taking prescription meds, especially things like that. I asked if I could just drink three beers before but they said no. 🙂
Once all of that was complete I went back to the room. It was a standard looking surgical room. Clean and neat. One seat in the middle of two machines. There were four people in there. The tech that did my eval, the doctor and two other people that ran different aspects of the procedure.
Their bedside manner was fantastic. The doctor explained every step as we went. The first thing they did was offer me a heated blanket, which at first I declined and then took them up on the offer. Take the blanket if they offer it. They then put numbing drops in my eyes. They verified my name, adds, DOB and that I was having eyes corrected. The put a patch over the eye not being corrected I presume to protect it.
Once that was done the doctor put a clip in my right eye that holds it open, kinda like clockwork orange but not as unpleasant looking. They then added more drops, I suspect for re-wetting but I don’t know for sure. Once that was done one of the other people in the room put a suction attachment onto my right eye. It felt like pressure and my vision started to fade. They then “applied suction”, which was slightly uncomfortable but not painful in the least. My vision went totally away in my right eye at that point.
This is the point of no return
From here the machine uses a laser to perforate the surface of the eye to make the flap. It takes about 15 seconds and once that is complete they moved me out from the machine and remove suction. The doctor then removes the clip and adds drops. From there he adds a new clip and uses some kind of a tool to open the flap. You can kinda see the tool but things are blurry. He had me focus on a blinking red light. You can feel the flap open, a bit like pressure but no pain. Again, no pain whatsoever, just an odd feeling. When the flap is opened the red light goes totally blurry. At this point there is a black and white ring with a hazy red light in the middle.
This is the burning laser.
They spend a few seconds calibrating the laser and then you hear what sounds like shocks. I smelled what seemed like burning hair. The correction part was very quick at well. They tell you to look straight ahead just like with the laser to create the flap, but I don’t know if I could have moved my eye if I wanted to, the ring seems to hold it pretty still. Once the correction is done the doctor moves you back out of from under the machine. He then folds the flap back over using what I can only describe as a tiny wallpaper smoother. I couldn’t really see it but that was what it seemed like. A few drops are then applied after the flap is put back and the clip is removed.
That’s it. That eye is complete.
The process begins with my left eye, same as the right. I did notice that the left eye felt a lot different. I felt more pressure and it was actually noticeably less comfortable when the vacuum was applied. I mentioned this and they said that every eye is different and that there was nothing to worry about. It wasn’t painful, just different, so I took them at their their word.
1 hour after procedure
I took it pretty easy, wearing the glasses they gave me to protect my eyes. I could not focus on anything close at all. Anything I tried to read was blurry and unreadable. I didn’t try much, instead opting to rest my eyes as much as possible. I slept with the glasses on so as not to accidentally rub my eyes.
Feels like I have really dirty, old contacts in. Everything bright has a halo. Everything. Slight double vision / ghosting in my left eye. Re-check went great, I drove myself to it no problem. So far 20/15 in my right and 20/25 in my left. They said it’d chance a lot over the next week but that I was doing fantastic. I did some network maintained in the late afternoon and e screen was a tad fuzzy. I kept it pretty simple after that and wore sunglasses pretty much until I went to bed. I watched one TV show with the sunglasses on without issue.
I wore the crazy big glasses to bed so that I didn’t rub my eyes accidentally but took them off around 4am.
Showering was an adventure. I just avoided washing my hair or face with soap. I kept my eyes shut and very gently patted them dry when done.
Still feels like I have old, dirty contacts in. I still have some dryness, worse after the steroid drops, which is not unexpected. Re-wetting drops are a must. I have two kinds and one is far better than the other. The refresh optive is the superior product for me, I can only describe the feeling as “luxurious”.
The systane balance drops are good too but not as refreshing and don’t have the lasting power of the others. Had a lot of halo around lights but they went away toward e end of the night. First day I worked most of the day on the computer, my eyes were very tired and later in the day the text was a tad fuzzy.
Eyes a little dry in the morning, not much blur but not perfect. Slight halo. Left eye feels like it has something like dust or an eyelash in it unless I keep drops in it. It’s not painful at all, more like a mild periodic irritation. Not intolerable by any stretch of the imagination.
No real discomfort at all in the morning. Mid-day my left eye felt like I had a dirty contact in it. Vision constantly improving. No halos in the morning, they came and went throughout the day. Did normal stuff, mowed the yard and did errands. Wore good sunglasses. By the end of the day they were feeling dry and I had a lot of halos. Blood rings were significantly less.
Continued improvement. Every day is clearly different and the eyes adjust and change more than I expected.
More of the same.
Much better during the day. This evening I had a weird pain in my left eye, like I had something in it. Still a lot of halos in the evening but far fewer during the day.
Days 8 – 15
More of the same. Continual improvement and shifting of how my vision works. Some days the left eye is better, some days it’s the right. Haziness at night in some cases and varying levels of halos. The really bright white headlights are pretty severely bright. I still use drops at night at least once and thought the day, especially when working at the computer.
I traveled for 4 days during this period and needed a lot of drops on the airplane rides, no other issues traveling other than that.
Today was the first day I did not need drops on a semi-regular basis. I used drops first thing in the morning out of habit and a few times during the day but had no real discomfort without them. Vision is much more normal, with little haziness and halos only at night or around very, very bright LED lights.
Red rings around where the laser cut the flap are nearly gone.
Significant improvement. No discomfort and very little dryness. Halos around LEDs and at night when my eyes are tired.
I can FINALLY rub my eyes. I still have a little bit of halo around bright LED or bright white lights. Very little blood red at the site of the laser flap. Almost no dryness at all, but I still use drops at morning and night, occasionally if I stare at a screen too long. I have one more check-up at the 3 month mark but my overall feeling is that this was a fantastic endeavor. I should have done it 10 years ago.
A few pointers that worked for me:
- Get some decent sunglasses that you like. Your eyes will be very photosensitive. Then buy two pairs. Keep one with you at ll times, even at night for the first few weeks.
- Keep eyedrops in with you at all times, at least at the beginning.
- Sleep with the protective glasses on for the first few nights.
- Do not freak out. My eyes changed dramatically from day to day. One day the left eye would be perfect and the right hazy, the next day it was the opposite. It levels out.
- Ask a lot of questions of the doctor. Don’t be afraid to speak up.