My Experience with LASIK Eye Surgery and my Vision Today

December 28, 2013

I’m pretty sure I had my LASIK eye surgery done in early 2004, so it’s been nearly ten years. Surgery techniques change and the type of LASIK eye surgery I had done may be an outdated technique by now.

My eyesight hasn’t changed at all since I fully recovered from the surgery. Most people tend to start getting farsighted as they age but it probably won’t happen to me until I get much older and I probably won’t get cataracts until I’m really old, if I get them at all.

What Exactly is LASIK Eye Surgery?

I don’t want to go into too much detail about what it is since there’s a pretty good page about LASIK eye surgery at Wikipedia, appropriately titled “LASIK“.

A corneal suction ring (sometimes called a speculum) is used to hold each eye open while the surgery takes place. The eye doctor cuts a flap from over the cornea and folds it back toward the forehead. A laser is used to burn away a microscopic layer of tissue from the cornea and then the flap is reattached.

Eye Surgery Fears

With LASIK eye surgery, many fears are justified. Any sudden movement while the laser is operating can cause irreversible eye damage. It’s incredibly important to know the history of the doctor who’s going to do the surgery before you commit. Some things in life can be fixed if an error occurs. Eye surgery isn’t usually one of them.

Not everyone is good candidate for LASIK eye surgery. I was over 40 years of age when I had mine and I was cautioned about the drawbacks beforehand. The doctor explained everything thoroughly while my eyes were being initially examined and before I decided to go through with it.

The main issue with LASIK eye surgery is that the cornea has to be thick enough to have tissue that can be reshaped. My corneas were plenty thick enough, possibly due to wearing contact lenses for 20 years which also helped to keep my eyes from getting worse. When you wear eyeglasses, the prescription almost always gets stronger as you age. My contact lens prescription never got any stronger.

One of the drawbacks of LASIK eye surgery can be the loss of near vision (for reading and such). I could never read without contacts before the surgery, so it wasn’t an issue. Fortunately for me, it has had no effect on my reading ability. In fact, I read more now than I ever did.

My Experience

My wife was in the waiting room and watching the surgery take place on a monitor. She told me she a very hard time watching because she was afraid something would go wrong. Here’s how it went:

I was placed on an operating table below a huge laser device of some kind. Don’t ask me to describe it because I don’t remember. The first thing the doctor did was to swab both of my eyes with a numbing solution so that I wouldn’t feel anything.

He then put the corneal suction ring on one of my eyes and I don’t remember which eye was first. Because of the pressure, that eye couldn’t see anything for a second or two. Once in place, the eye was completely immobile and as long as I didn’t shake or anything, all was well. I didn’t shake. Trust me — I did everything I could to relax and remain motionless. Between individual eye surgeries, my left leg started shaking on its own and the attending assistant did something to make it stop and I don’t know what she did other than to hold it still for a moment or two.

The next step was cutting the flap on the eye and folding it back. My vision went from bad to non-existent immediately. All I could see was a blur above me. After he did some preparation, the eye doctor told me it would take no longer than 30 seconds (I don’t remember the specific time he quoted) for the laser to finish its job. He told me to stare at the light on the laser and then it activated.

Have you ever burned the hair on one of your arms? That’s exactly what I smelled as the laser burned the tissue of the cornea. By the time I realized what the smell was, it was over. The next few seconds were spent reattaching the flap and bathing it with some solution. There were no stitches or any of that nonsense involved. Once that eye was done, he moved to start working on the other eye.

The entire procedure, for both eyes, couldn’t have lasted more than 10 minutes and that includes the preparation time and the follow-up. He had me read an eye chart immediately after the surgery and it was crystal clear. Now, I was required to wear some dark glasses because of the light sensitivity until the next day, but I ended up wearing them for about a week (along with goggles while I slept). I also had to use special eye drops to promote the healing of the eyes and “artificial tears” until the healing was complete.

Because of my age, it took longer than they expected for my eyes to completely heal and adjust. I had more than the four allotted follow-up visits, but they didn’t charge me anything extra.

My Vision Today

I attribute living in the high humidity of the tropics to being able to see at 20/20 vision most of the time – not so much when I’m in Arizona. My vision fluctuates, and I can tell, between 20/10 and 20/40. It all depends on how long I’ve stared at the computer, how much reading I’ve done and how much sleep I’ve had.

It’s a far cry from my life before LASIK eye surgery when I had 20/400 vision (or worse) in both eyes and I needed either thick eyeglasses (with “coke bottle” lenses) or strong prescription contact lenses. The surgery cost me $1,800 at the time and it was worth every penny. The cost depends on how bad your eyes are to begin with and mine were really bad.

If you’re thinking about having LASIK eye surgery performed on your eyes, there’s nothing I can say to make your decision any easier. I can’t recommend or not recommend that you do it. I can only give this advice: Do your homework before you make any kind of decision.

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