My experience with Lasik eye surgery

This post is probably only useful if you’re considering getting your eyes LASIK’ed, like I had been thinking about for quite awhile. I finally had it done yesterday, this is my experience.

I went in last Saturday for a 2 hour appointment consisting of a a preliminary exam to see if I’d be a good candidate then a longer, fully-dilated eye exam to determine my prescription and the type of surgery I’d need (LASIK or PRK).  The result was that I was a candidate for Lasik and didn’t need PRK which, as I understand, has a longer recovery time and is an altogether different procedure. After reading scary 6 page list of things that could possibly go wrong, I signed the form and scheduled the surgery to be done the next Saturday.

Marcus before LASIK

Before LASIK

The surgery itself was pretty straightforward. I got there Saturday morning at 8:30 and was out by 10:00. First I met with a doctor who inserted small plugs into my tear ducts presumably to keep my eyes from tearing up too much during the surgery. They weren’t removed at the end of the surgery, I was told they dissolve in a month which, to me, was the most disturbing part of the whole ordeal. A few minutes later I was taken to the surgery room, reclined on a table and given a teddy bear and a blanket to “give your hands something to do.” Nice.

The surgeon came in and my eyes were numbed with drops that worked very quickly – they dropped them in and pressed my eye with an instrument–I couldn’t feel it at all. Then they pressed down pretty hard on the first eye with something that felt like it had maybe the diameter of a penny. They pressed hard enough to completely dim my vision for about 5 seconds. I definitely felt this, but it didn’t really hurt, just felt like an unhealthy amount of pressure on the eye. As soon as my vision was restored (or maybe while it was still dim, I’m not sure) they sliced my cornea to make a flap, I was a little nervous about that part, but mostly just curious, it didn’t hurt at all. I could see it being pushed back and my vision immediately became really, really blurry for a few seconds. My thoughts were “cool, I’ll never see like this again!” A nurse began counting down the seconds as soon as the flap was made so I assume it can’t be safely pushed back for too long. Soon afterwards there was a series of maybe 7-10 clicks and with each one my vision noticably improved. It was pretty amazing. Once the clicks (which were made by the laser) stopped, the flap was pushed back over and I could see clearly from the first eye. They repeated it with the second eye, all of this totaling maybe 5 or 10 minutes and I was done.

Ten minutes later I was in the car and on the way home.

I was told to sleep for 6 hours afterwards, and the valium they gave me (just one) before the surgery was supposed to help with that. That worked great for about an hour, then the pain began. For the next 2 1/2 or 3 hours my eyes hurt bad. Sleep was about the last thing I felt like doing, opening my eyes was difficult and painful and while I wasn’t crying (of course!) there were plenty of tears. It felt like someone was poking me in the eyes repeatedly. I got pretty worried at this point that something had gone wrong. In retrospect, I think that pain is normal, though they conveinently failed to mention this and acted like I’d sleep for 6 peaceful hours. Maybe I’m immune to valium, I never felt it kick, I don’t know. After what felt like forever, I was finally able to sleep, with a pair of protective goggles taped to my head to keep me from inadvertently rubbing my eyes. I slept for 2 hours and woke up with my eyes feeling fine and super hungry. I could see though! Perfectly!

Today (one day afterwards) it feels like I have in contacts that are maybe a day or two overdue for a change. I ocassionally notice it but I can see perfectly. I went into for a checkup this morning and they pronounced my vision to be 20/15.

The final cost at LasikPlus was (since all the advertising is so misleading and it’s hard to find the information elsewhere) $3500 for both eyes. There was also a $3000 procedure available which wasn’t “custom.” I was told that the custom procedure was recommended if your eye has more aberrations as it is supposed to map the irregularities and give you finer tuned vision. Whether this is mostly marketing hype or it really makes a difference, I’m not sure, but in the end I decided to pay the extra $500 since they’re my eyes and I love my eyes :) Was it all worth it? Definitely. If LASIK isn’t a miracle of science, I don’t know what is.

I highly recommed the Wikipedia article on LASIK if you’re interested in a much more detailed description of the process and want to have some of your doubts dispelled.