Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Glasses: My Personal Experience with LASIK

If you looked through my Google search history, you would find a ton of questions about LASIK. "Does LASIK hurt? What happens during LASIK? etc" Being a person who likes to be prepared, I probably over researched every piece of the procedure and finally decided to make the consultation appointment. Mike had PRK last year, a different eye correction procedure and no longer needs any glasses or contacts.It was finally my turn to get my eyes fixed and I am now 2 weeks post op so I thought I'd share the process with you. It's nerve wracking to think of someone shooting a laser in your eye so I figure the more you know the better!

We are lucky to have an eye doctor we love close to home so I started the whole LASIK process with him. I called the office to let them know I was interested in the procedure and I was scheduled for a consultation with their LASIK specialist.

LASIK Consultation

At this first appointment, I went through lots of tests to see if I was a good candidate for the procedure. They took photos of my eyes and made me look into lots of machines. None of these tests hurt at all. The most uncomfortable part was the tear test to check the moisture level of my eyes. They put a small test strip into one of my eyes and had me hold it shut for what felt like forever, I'm sure it was only for a minute or two. It felt scratchy and annoying, but not painful. Then they dilated my eyes, I was told dilation would be extreme and let me warn you, it is. It's not painful at all but I couldn't see anything out of my glasses while my eyes were dilated. Everything was fuzzy, I couldn't even read anything on my phone. They didn't warn me how fuzzy everything would be and I was freaked out! My sight cleared up pretty quickly and I was able to drive after the appointment. This appointment was about an hour. At the end after determining I was a good LASIK candidate, the specialist scheduled my pre-op and surgery date appointments so that I could plan ahead.

Pre-Op Appointment

My eye doctor's office had already determined that I was a good candidate for the procedure so my visit to the actual LASIK procedure office was to take my final cornea measurements to figure out which type of LASIK would be best for me. I just so happened to be right on the edge of qualifying for both standard and custom LASIK. Now I wish I understood what the real difference between the two of these is, but as it was explained to me, my final results would be the same either way I went and custom would cost about $600 more than standard. Saving $600 was a no brainer for me so I decided on the standard procedure. They gave me my prescriptions for the eye drops I would need for my surgery day and all I had to do was wait for the day of my procedure.


My mom came to stay with the kids while Mike drove me to the clinic and I quickly regretted the decision to schedule my procedure at 12:30 PM. I wish I would have done it in the morning because the waiting around all morning definitely didn't help my anxiety level. Despite knowing many people with successful outcomes, the very unlikely risks kept popping into my head. But the time finally arrived, I was quickly led into a room and offered a Valium. I originally intended not to take it as Mike had mentioned it didn't do much for him, but with my nerves I decided it couldn't hurt to take it. Well it certainly worked for me because within minutes I felt myself relax. So my recommendation, TAKE THE VALIUM! The tech gave me my first round of numbing drops while the Valium took it's time to kick in. After about 20 minutes, they gave me another round of numbing drops and explained every step of the procedure so that I would know what to expect. By this point I was having trouble staying awake I was so relaxed.

After explaining everything, I was led into the procedure room and they helped me get comfy on the table. The doctor put tape on my top and lower eyelid to help keep my eyes open and quickly got to work. They covered one eye to protect it while working on the other. He placed a metal holder between my eyelid to prop it open. My eyes were completely numb by this point so I didn't feel anything. Despite feeling like I was blinking, the holders kept my eye wide open. He then cleaned the surface of my eye and created the flap. I felt pressure at this point but no pain and it only lasted about 2 seconds. I was then instructed to focus on the lights. I figured that it would be a single dot of light, but instead it looked like lots of circles and half circles. I've never done drugs but it felt very trippy to me. Especially since I could smell something funky, the tech warned me before that it wasn't my eye burning, instead it was the smell emitted by the lasers. My procedure included four 10 second laser treatments on each eye. After the laser was finished, he closed the flap and removed the eyelid holder. He then did the exact same thing to the other eye. The entire thing only lasted about 5 minutes, super quick and totally painless.

The doctor did a quick check that the flaps were looking good and I was given my first round of antibiotic drops. I was instructed to go home and take a 4 hour nap and let me eyes rest for the rest of the day. They did say I could watch a little TV that night if I felt up to it. They gave me a dark pair of sunglasses to help with the light sensitivity on the way home.

My vision was fuzzy but I was amazed how quickly it started to clear up. On the way home I could read some of the license plates and signs on the roads. The Valium I had taken was working it's magic and by the time we got home, I was ready for my nap! I put on the eye shields they gave me to wear to prevent me from rubbing my eyes while sleeping and easily slept for 4 and a half hours. When I woke up, I started my first round of drops. If you aren't comfortable putting drops in your eyes, you will be after having LASIK. For the first week, I used a steroid and antibiotic drop multiple times a day and a preservative free re-wetting drop every hour.

After napping, my vision was pretty much clear. It was amazing to me how well I could see so quickly after the procedure. I was never in pain at all but I will say my eyes got very tired quickly. If I waited too long between drops, my eyes got scratchy and it felt like I had something in my eye. That was easily remedied by putting in the lubricating drops. For the first week, I needed to rest my eyes pretty frequently. I took small breaks throughout the day to close my eyes for a while because if I didn't my eyes were very sore and tired by bedtime. I was very light sensitive and couldn't sit at my computer or watch TV for long. I needed my sunglasses every time I was outside even when it was cloudy. Honestly the worst part of the recovery for me was having to wear eye shields for the first week while I slept. It was hard to get comfortable with them on and taking them off in the morning was painful due to the medical tape I had to use to attach them. I was happy to be done with those after a week! I am still using the lubricating drops every 2-4 hours just for comfort and will be doing so for several more months.

The day after my procedure I had my follow up with my eye doctor and he was impressed with my results as my vision was very close to 20/20. My prescription had been extremely high before so LASIK made a huge difference for me. I couldn't see the clock at night without my glasses before and now if I hear one of our kids in the middle of the night I don't need to fumble around for my glasses or contacts before going to their room. And despite the high price tag, after a couple of years of not having to pay for contacts and supplies, we will be actually saving money because of it. It was totally worth every penny and I am so happy with the results. I only wish I had done it earlier! 

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