LASIK is a life changing procedure. What exactly are you getting yourself into though?
I took notes about my experience every day, and you can read my day-by-day experience below. Overall I love my LASIK results, and I think it is worth the money. It is important to understand though that it does not come without side-effects.
Nov 4, I have often thought about getting LASIK. I am sick of glasses, and I never liked contacts. As a software engineer, I have a special pair of glasses to decrease eye strain throughout the day since I spend about 12 hours a day in front of a screen. Switching from my computer glasses to my regular glasses is such a pain, which is made even worse by my perscription sunglasses as well. I feel redicuous carrying 3 pairs of glasses everywhere I go. Today, I talked to some people that got LASIK before and they all say that they loved it. I decided to dig a little deeper and see if I knew anyone else that got lasik and what they thought about it. Today alone, I found an additional 2 people that have got LASIK with similar results. I am going to keep searching, but I went ahead and booked a free consultation with a local opthemlogist.
Nov 7, I found a handful more people that got LASIK and they all love it. I did extensive research online and it sounds like a safe procedure to me. The idea of getting my eye cut open and a laser shot in to burn tissue away still frightens me though.
Nov 11 - Consultation Appointment I had my first appointment today. It was all a pretty standard appointment. They did all of the same tests I am used to and a few new ones. It was all very fast and I breifly met with the surgeon. Having done my research, I didn’t have too many questions other than qualifications. The business manager then met with me to discuss cost and financing. The price is actually exactly where I was hoping it would be, and it of course included all of the follow-on appointments. I am definitely leaning toward financing. That in combination with my HSA makes the price doable. All in all, the staff were very professional and I was in and out of there within 45 minutes. I did some extra research on the doctor and he looks qualified. He taught at a university and has performed thousands of surgeries. I wanted to give it some thought before proceeding, so I didn’t schedule anything just yet. After arriving home, I discussed it with my wife and we were both in agreeent that it sounded like a worthwhile procedure. I went ahead and scheduled my dialation appointment, procedure and post-op appointment.
Nov 15, I read online that one of the FDA officers who approved LASIK said it was a mistake, and LASIK never should have been approved. This gave me some pause, and I started researching again. Complication rate is extremely low, aside from the common symptom of halos around lights in the nighttime. Even this gets a little better over time. The general consensus was to not do those dirt cheap options you see on ads. Find an established company with an experienced, licensed doctor.
Nov 16, I went to a training for work today. I met an additional 2 people who got LASIK and loved it. One even used a groupon and didn’t have any problems.
Nov 18 - Dialation Appointment Today was my dialation appointment. Again, I was seen very quickly. The person who called me back gave me conscent and disclosure forms. With my livlihood on the line, I was sure to read every word on the pages they gave me. It talked about everything that could go wrong. From what I understand, companies that administer LASIK do not actually need to give you this information (which I find crazy), so it was good to see that they gave me a list. None of it was enough to scare me away, particularly because I am not a particularly physically active person. If I were playing sports, my decision may have been different. While reading the forms, the technician called me back. I told him I was still reading the forms. He sounded both suprised and unamused. He pressured me a bit and told me he was going to see another patient. So far this technician has been my first negative experience, but I cut it to the tech having a bad day. I finished reading and was shortly after seen by another tech. We did all of the same tests as last time with a few additional tests. It seemed like the tech may have still been getting used to the job. I was assured in the fact that the doctor would review her work and she had a reference point to work from my last visit. When it came time to dialate my eyes, the tests took a bit longer than I would have liked becaused she had to do it a couple of times. I guess my eyes were too blue, so it was difficult to see. She did a test on my cornea after the numbing drops wore off. That was a bit unpleasant, but as long as it doesn’t hurt my eyes, I really don’t care. I met with a different doctor today and he said that everything looked great. I was sure to ask him about how good of a LASIK candidate I was, and he said due to my low astigmatism and relatively low perscription, I am an excellent candidate. I iterpreted this as marginally above average because he was clearly selling. The last part of the appointment was the financing and procedure instructions with the business manager. I wish they would put a curtain in her office. The sun was beaming through the blinds and it was difficult to read any of the papers. Fortunately, I had already read the conscent forms. I didn’t feel like they were trying to hide anything, but the experience today almost felt like it was built in such a way so that you don’t read those conscent forms all the way. Hopefully they invest in some curtains soon! At this point, I had done my research, so I felt comfortable with the procedure and the surgeon.
Nov 20, Several people at work saw that I was taking the day off after the procedure and reached out to me about their LASIK experience. Again, all positive! I picked up the medicated eyedrops and valium from the pharmacy as explained by the business manager.
Nov 21 - The Procedure I am writing this retroactively, as I had the procedure done today. Work went as usual today, since my appointment was at 4:30 PM. I was instructed to take the first Valium at 4:00 PM sharp. A few things came up at work and I ended up just barely getting home on time to take it. I was super nervous at this point, and it showed with my normal symptoms: shaking and singing loudly along to music. Was this truly necessary? Are glasses really that bad? What if something goes horribly wrong? When I got home, I ate a light snack as instructed and took the first valium. I dressed super warm since I get cold easily. I put on sweats, a sweater AND a jacket. My wife and I got in the car and I quickly felt the Valium kick in. Suddently, I stopped shaking and was very calm. I still had those stressful thoughts in my head, but it was as if they were a mile away now. I took a deep breath and was okay with the fact that they were going to cut my eye open and burn part of it away. When I arrived at the office, they quickly plled me back into an exam room. Time seemed to fly by somehow. I took the second Valium and then waited 15 minutes before going into the operation room. I wasn’t quite prepared for everything that would happen in the procedure. I understand the business decision in not really saying much about the details of the procedure until you are hopped up on Valim. They did ask me several times throughout the procedure what my name and date of birth was, what procedure I was getting and on which eyes. I am assuming they were making sure that I was still coherent enough to stare at a laser without moving my eyes. I was laid on a bed with several devices above my head. There were two or three nurses with the surgeon. Several drops were placed in my right eye as the left was covered. After a few seconds, my eyelids were essentially taped open. I was told to lie perfectly still. I felt that my eyes were moving with the reaction of blinking, but I was assured that they were not. A machine was then placed over my eye and it was a bit heavy. My eyes were numb, but I still felt a sudden pressure on my eye, and it startled me. The green light I was looking at suddenly dissapeared. This was scary, but the doctor informed me of this before he did it, so I didn’t freak out. My vision returned as they removed the device. The doctor then brushed my eye, folding the flap to the side. Everything was very blurry at this point, as if I was looking through wax paper. I could still faintly see the green light. I steadfastly gazed at it as the laser was turned on. Here I saw maybe a little bit of red static and I began to smell what smelled like burning hair. Again, I was informed of this so I didn’t freak out. The laser lasted about 15 seconds, and the doctor brushed my flap back. He then removed the eye guards. The process was then repeated foor my left eye. After it was finished, the nurse slowly lifted me out of the bed and walked me over to an exam chair. I could already see very clearly, just a little foggy. The doctor then checked my eyes, confirmed they looked good, and gave instructions to my wife and I that I needed to go home and sleep. The pain would subside in about 4 hours. The drive home was a bit miserable. It was rush hour traffic on a very busy road, so I think it took about 45 minutes to get home. Once those numbing drops had worn off, I was not feeling great. I wish I had taken some pain killers before the procedure! The feeling wasn’t too different from getting shampoo in your eyes. Perhaps not quite as much of an acute pain, but I definitely kept my eyes closed. When I arrived home, I went straight to bed thinking I would fall right asleep. Everybody told me that the Valium would knock me out, but it didn’t. Perhaps I needed a little bit of a larger dose. My wife put the medicated eyedrops in my eyes, which burned a little bit. After that, I laid in bed, miserable. I couldn’t open my eyes, it felt like I had a bad contact lens in my eyes. I couldn’t breath properly because my sinuses were full from tearing up. After about an hour, I asked my wife to get me some Ibuprofen. My pain slowly went away and I was able to doze off for a bit. I was a bit disoriented from the Valium. By the time my wife came to check on me, I felt like I hadn’t fallen asleep, but I knew that was asleep for at least an hour. At 8:30, my eyes still felt a little strange, but not in any sort of pain. My wife gave me dinner, put more drops in my eyes, and I slept. Since I took a nap so recently, I wasn’t able to sleep the whole night. I woke up at 3 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I did a few things around the house, and that wore me out enough to sleep for another few hours.
Nov 22 - Recovery Day No screens is a hard thing to bear. I took the day off from work to recover, so I didn’t need to look at a screen, but I never realized just how much I use screens throughout the day! My post-op appointment was first thing in the morning, and the doctor said everything looked fine. He said that my right eye was a little bit dry, so put extra eye drops in that one. He said that I can use screens now, but I like to play it safe when it comes to my eyes, so I was devoted to avoiding them as much as possible for the weekend. I tried to sleep as much as possible today, but I had to fill my time when I was awake. I played guitar for a bit, then listened to an audio book. Toward the end of the day, I crawled into bed, turned on Jimmy Falon on Hulu, and bunched the duvet up in a way so that I couldn’t look at the screen if I was tempted. The system worked out quite well. A couple of times today, I felt like somebody pricked my eye with a needle. I wasn’t too concerned about it, and there was no other pain. At first glance, my eyes were pretty normal, I didn’t see any redness. Then I looked on the top of my eyes, and I saw some big blood spots. I heard that this often happens, so I again, wasn’t concerned. It was great to be able to properly see without glasses today! The fogginess has gone away for the most part, and I can see very clearly. I do see a pretty significant glare around lights right now, but I have been told this dissipates with time.
Nov 23, I had to go to a training for work today. I brought my sunglasses and wore those while inside. Mostly to keep my eyes covered, but also to be able to tolerate the projector. I avoided looking at the slides as much as possible and did so pretty well. At the end of the training (9 hours), my eyes were pretty tired. It was dark when I left the office, so I experienced night driving. Like people say, it does suck after getting LASIK. The people I talked to says it gets better, but never completely goes away. If it is at its worst now, I think I can tolerate it. I do hope it gets better though. I am getting sick of the way I need to wash my haor right now. It is important not to get any water in your eyes while it is recovering, so you have to be sure that water travels down the back of your head when showering. This required me to contort my body in strange ways and it was extremely uncomfortable.
Nov 24, I had to go to the last session for the training today. Again, it was all day long. It was a bit easier today, but I had to tell the instructor that I would not be taking the practice exam, because that would require me to look at a computer screen for 4 hours straight and I was not ready for that. My eyes were a little less tired at the end of the day.
Nov 25, Today was my first day back at work and it was rough. I tried to take frequent breaks, but just after looking at my screen for 10 minutes my eyes would start to bother me. After half of a day of doing this, I decided to finish up my work from home, where I had my sunglasses. Unfortunatley, they didn’t help that much, and I just came to grips with the fact that I am just going to be in pain for a bit. I just hope I am not damaging my eyes. I have got really good and administering the eye drops! Before it would take me about 30 seconds to get the drops in properly. Now I can do it in about 5 seconds, and I usually don’t miss. The trick I found, is to aim with your thumb. Line it up with your pupil, lean your head back all the way, and aim just a little beyond where you think you should drop and it will land perfectly. Something I learned today though, eyedrops can drain into your throat, and they are extremely bitter. Don’t be suprised if this happens to you.
Nov 26, I brought my sunglasses in to work today. Some people poked fun of me, but it was worth it to have them. Since there was a bug in production on one of my projects, I had little choice but to fight through the pain of looking at the screen. My eyes feel like they are back to normal now. I don’t feel like I need to baby them anymore. I went ahead and cleaned around my eyes, cleaned my face, and cleaned my eye lashes. It was a long process, but it was nice to finally get 100% clean again.
Nov 27, My right eye suddenly is able to see super clearly today. All my life, my left eye as been the dominant eye, but it is by far my right eye now. It is a bit strange, but my left eye now seems fuzzy. I am sure that is because my right eye is so clear now, and my brain is adjusting to be right-eye dominant. I only worked half a day today, and I didn’t have any eyestrain. I went to the doctor for my week checkup and he told me that my eyes had completely sealed, so I can stop wearing the goggles at night, resume normal showering, and stop taking the medicated drops. That is a relief. I asked him about my right eye being dominant now and he said it is normal for the eyes to switch back and forth while recovering. The blood spots in my eyes are going away quickly. The one in my right eye is just about all gone, and the one in my left eye is starting to dissapear. I drove a lot today since we are visiting family for Thanksgiving. I drove for the first 2 and a half hours, but asked my wife if she could take the night time driving this time. We were driving through really remote, 2-lane roads, so the halos around the cars really bother me. I noticed while driving that I really only see halos around car headlights now.
Nov 28, Today was Thanksgiving here, so I didn’t have to look at screens all day like I normally need to. That was nice. The doctor told me about putting the eyedrops in the refrigerator to help with the blood spots, and it feels fantastic putting cold eyedrops in my eyes. I noticed that my eyes were dialating more than they typically would today. The room I was in was not particularly dark, so this caused me to see a lot of glare around lights. I was terribly annoying, and I hope that whatever caused my eyes to dialiate so much doesn’t continue. I can say though that the glare around lights is bothering me less now. Now that I know it is not because of dry eyes, I can tolerate it more. I still hope it diminishes in the next few months.
Feb 8, It has been two months since the procedure, and the side effects have mostly dissapated. At this point, my eyes really are not too dry. My left eye doesn’t see any halos at all, but my right eye still does. It is better than it was before though. My right eye is still a lot better than my left eye, but not nearly as pronounced. My brain has probably just got used to it.