Laser Eye Surgery Experience
A 30+ year old man's LASIK eye surgery journal including costs, prescriptions, tips, what to expect, eye pictures and results.
|Why I Decided To Have LASIK
I've been wearing contact lenses and glasses since my first year of high school. Contact lenses have occasionally been a pain to use, but they were a far more preferable solution for vision correction than my bothersome eye glasses.
My brother and father traveled down to South America about a decade ago to have laser eye surgery done at a family friend's ophthalmology clinic. They both had excellent results from the surgery. I was too young at the time to be a good candidate for the surgery but they have been persistently encouraging me to get checked out for LASIK surgery for the past few years.
What finally got me to make an appointment with a local LASIK clinic was a combination of running low on contact lenses, trying to order new lenses online, and having my order be cancelled due to an expired prescription. Rather than drive five hours down to my eye doctor by where my parents live, I figured this was a perfect time to just get Lasik done already.
|How I Chose A LASIK Clinic
From my previous research about the LASIK procedure, I knew that it required at least a few follow up visits with the ophthalmologist. So I wanted to choose a local clinic in my small city rather than one five hours away in the large metro area where my parents live.
I started with a Google search for "LASIK" plus my city's name. I examined the first 10 results, read former patient reviews, and checked the doctors' medical records for any patient complaints or lawsuits.
The clinic I finally ended up choosing was one of the first few search results in my city (organic results, not paid advertisements), the doctors had many years of experience, none of them had any infractions on their professional records, and the location is convenient to my home.
Although I would describe myself as being frugal, I never shopped around to compare LASIK procedure prices. I had a general idea of how much it should cost at a reputable facility and decided on an acceptable range of around $2,500 to $4,000 for the procedure. As tempting as those Groupon and Living Social deals for discount Lasik can be, I didn't want to be cheap when it came to having someone fire a laser beam into my eyes.
|First Appointment - Laser Eye
Surgery Candidate Screening
I removed my contact lenses the night before and wore my glasses to the appointment as instructed.
The receptionist handed me a form to fill out that asked a variety of standard questions about health issues, allergies, and current medications.
My only concern with the form was that it mentioned Accutane (a powerful anti-acne drug), which I had taken for six months back in 2004. A very common side effect of Accutane is dry eyes, but the doctor later confirmed that they are only concerned about proceeding with the laser eye surgery if a person is currently, or recently took Accutane (Isotretinoin).
I handed in the questionnaire and a few minutes later a nurse brought me into a side room filled with various eye examination machines. She first had me remove my glasses to check their prescription using a special machine.
Then she had me stare into a machine where a cartoon character went in and out of focus several times. I later learned that this is an "autorefractor" or automated refractor machine which automatically figures out your approximate prescription for glasses or contact lenses.
The last machine she had me look into was the Wavefront sensor which has a red LED light in the center surrounded by about a dozen bright neon orange concentric circles of light. This machine creates a custom 3D map of your eye that allows the doctor to better customize your surgery and the map is also used to guide the laser during the procedure.
I was glad to see that they were using a Wavefront machine since I had read that "Custom LASIK" or "Wavefront LASIK" could help avoid some possible complications of standard LASIK including glare, halos, starbursts and haziness.
After using all of those machines in the first room, the nurse took me to one of the small examination rooms for even more tests. She had me read an eye test chart in a dimmed room with each eye, both eyes, with my glasses, and without my glasses.
Next she determined my dominant eye by having me hold up my hands in front of my face in the shape of a triangle while looking at the eye test chart.
The last test that the nurse conducted was to measure the dilation of my pupils by using a device that looked like a "ray gun" with a light at the tip.
A few minutes later the ophthalmologist came into the exam room and began another few tests starting off with a general examination with a standard "slit lamp instrument". This is the device that you put your chin into the cup and your forehead against a bar. Then the doctor moves a bright light around as they look at your eyes with a microscope.
The doctor put anesthetic drops into my eyes along with a green dye to enhance the visibility of my "tear film". He then examined my eyes again with the "slit lamp" microscope.
His final step of the examination was to measure the thickness of my corneas with a small electronic device that he gently touched to the surface of my eyes. I hardly felt the device touching my eyes due to the anesthetic drops that were previously administered.
The doctor said that I was a great candidate for LASIK surgery for several reasons: 1. I only had a moderate amount of myopia (Nearsightedness) 2. My prescription had remained stable at around -4 for several years 3. My corneas were normal and thick enough. and 4. I was young enough (early 30's) to enjoy the benefits before needing reading glasses sometime after 40 years of age.
At the end of the visit, the nurse handed me a sheet of paper with the cost of my surgery and the payment options. The total price was either $3,100 for cash / personal check or $3,300 for a credit card payment or if I financed it.
Before my first appointment, I had applied for financing through Chase Health Advance. They approved me for a loan with 18 months no interest. I decided to not finance the procedure since I didn't think that 18 months of no interest was worth paying an extra $200 for the surgery when I could pay for it out of my savings.
The receptionist scheduled my "pre-op" appointment for two weeks later and my surgery for about a month later. She reminded me that my contact lenses needed to be out for seven days before the pre-operative appointment and again seven days before the actual surgery. This was repeated several times on the Preoperative LASIK Instruction papers they gave me including one line that read "Failing to remove your contact lenses will result in postponement of your surgery!".
Removing your soft contact lenses a week before surgery is very important since the lenses can alter the shape of your corneas leading to inaccurate measurements and less than perfect vision after the surgery.
|2nd Appointment - "Pre-Op"
As I had expected, only being able to wear my glasses and not my contact lenses for 7 days wasn't very pleasant. My glasses were most bothersome at the gym where they would slide down my nose or fall off during certain exercises.
The preoperative appointment began with the nurse once again taking me to the side room filled with machines to undergo the same tests. They included the auto refractor (cartoon character in/out focus) and the Wavefront scanner (bright orange concentric circles). Then she moved me into a small examination room to again take the standard letter chart vision test.
Everything was going well until one of the doctors came in to talk me through the procedure so that I would know what to expect. My glasses were off so I was trying to focus on this doctor's fuzzy face as he described every detail of the surgery including the corneal flap being cut.
The next thing I remember is waking up slumped down in the chair with a nurse shaking my legs asking if I was OK. They brought me a juice box and had me sip on that until I felt better. Apparently I had fainted and was passed out for a minute or two before coming around.
I can recall feeling really dizzy a few times in my life in similar "medical" situations and also during strenuous workouts at the gym. But I haven't fainted like that since the one time in my childhood when a soccer ball nailed me in the groin.
I blame a lack of sleep, an early appointment time, not enough breakfast and not having my glasses on for the fainting spell that I experienced.
The doctor continued the examination by using the slit lamp microscope, then dilating my eyes with drops, and looking at them again with the slit lamp.
He made a comment about my eyes showing early signs of retinal degradation which could lead to retinal detachment after head trauma or just when I am much older. Some of the signs of retinal detachment that I need to look out for are "floaters" in my vision or any dramatic vision changes.
Next he measured my corneal thickness again with the small electronic device that touches your eye and then gently checked to see how wide my eye lids opened with his fingers.
At the end of the examination, I informed the doctor that I had felt dizzy a few times after the fainting incident. He was concerned about me fainting the day of the surgery and decided to prescribe me Valium (Diazepam) to ease my anxiety.
The doctor also thought it was a good idea to schedule a "trial procedure" appointment a week later where I would go through all the same steps as on the actual surgery day except without the laser part. I was instructed to take one of the two 5mg Valium pills at bedtime the night before the trial procedure and the other pill an hour before the procedure in the morning.
I was also given prescriptions for two medicated eye drops that I needed to use four times per day starting three days before the surgery date. They included Zymaxid (Gatifloxacin ophthalmic solution) antibiotic drops and Prednisolone which is a Corticosteroid anti-inflammatory drug.
I took the prescriptions to a Publix Supermarket pharmacy after the appointment to have them filled. Their costs were as follows: 1. Diazepam (generic Valium) two 5mg pills $5.95, 2. Zymaxid (Allergan) 2.5ml $100.95 (No Generics Available), and 3. Prednisolone Acetate (Pacific Pharma) 10ml $27.95.
The cost for my LASIK procedure was now $3,100 for the ophthalmology clinic plus $134.85 for the prescriptions which is a grand total of $3234.85.
That's not too bad if I'm lucky enough to get close to 10 years of enjoying life without contacts or eyeglasses. I figured out that I spend close to $300 a year on contact lenses and multi-purpose saline solutions. Add in $200 for annual eye doctor visits and $200-$300 for a new pair of glasses every few years, and hopefully the LASIK procedure should pay for itself in about 6-8 years.
|"Trial Run" Mock Surgery
As instructed, I popped a Valium pill at bedtime the day before my mock surgery procedure and the second one an hour before my appointment time. I ate a light breakfast consisting of a small bowl of cereal and a fruit smoothie. The Valium had me feeling very calm and confident about the trial run. I highly recommend the Valium to anyone who gets nervous in medical environments.
A nurse took me into the pre-op room and placed elastic booties over my shoes and a hair net on my head. Then she moved me to the surgical suite and had me lay down on the surgical bed with a triangle shaped pillow placed beneath my knees. I assume that the pillow helps keep a person's knees from locking which can lead to dizziness and/or fainting. She also handed me a stress ball to squeeze in case I started feeling nervous.
The doctor entered the surgical suite and electronically moved the bed towards the laser machine until my head was just below it.
He verbally walked me through the LASIK procedure process without going into too much gory detail to prevent me from feeling dizzy. Then he inserted an ocular speculum into one of my eyes to securely hold the eyelids open. It wasn't the most comfortable sensation but it didn't cause me any pain especially with me being under the influence of the Valium.
Everything went well during the trial run and I felt fine the entire time, so the doctor gave me the OK to proceed with the actual surgery on my scheduled date. He told me to eat a light meal about an hour before the surgery and to try and sleep well the night before.
I was given another prescription for two 5mg Valium (Diazepam) pills for the surgery. I made the mistake of going to a CVS pharmacy where they charged me $11.99 or almost double the $5.95 price that I previously paid at the Publix pharmacy.
|Three Days Before Surgery -
Begin Rx Eye Drops
I began using the two prescription eye drops the Saturday night before my surgery which was scheduled for Wednesday morning. Technically I could have waited until Sunday morning to begin using the drops, but I figured it couldn't hurt to start them a bit early.
I nicknamed the Zymaxid antibiotic drops "stingy" because they sting my eyes and I called the Prednisolone anti-inflammatory drops "cloudy" because they have a milky white appearance that momentarily clouds my vision.
"Stingy" (Zymaxid) was the tiny 2.5ml bottle which cost over $100 or about $2 per drop. I missed my eye at least a few times which had me thinking "well there goes $2 rolling down my cheek for nothing."
Besides rolling down your cheeks, the
drops also drain through your tear ducts which causes an unpleasant
medicinal taste in the back of your mouth. I also noticed that they
started to slightly irritate my throat on the third day. Drinking
water after putting in the drops helps to reduce the bad taste in
your mouth and prevents throat irritation.
|LASIK Surgery Day! - 9 AM,
Wednesday, March 21st
I felt nervous the night before my surgery, so I was really glad to have the Valium since it helped me get to sleep. I woke up at 7:30 AM the next morning and had a light breakfast of some oatmeal and a fruit smoothie.
I had taken a thorough shower the night before to get rid of any loose hairs or skin cells from my body. The pre-op instructions sheet mentioned that the laser is very sensitive to scents and odors so I avoided putting on any moisturizer.
I took another shower the morning of the surgery with no soap and afterwards didn't put on any moisturizer or deodorant. I also warned my family members who were going to be at the clinic that morning to not wear any perfumes or colognes. Just in case, I also told them that I wouldn't be hugging any one until after the surgery.
I popped my last Valium pill at around 8:15 AM since I assumed I wouldn't be taken in to surgery until just after my 9 AM appointment time. I wasn't sure how long the effects of the Valium would last, and I wanted to make sure it wouldn't wear off in case my surgery got delayed.
We arrived at the LASIK clinic a few minutes before 9 AM. Because of my paranoia about scented lotions, perfumes and colognes, I greeted my family members without touching them. It was strange, but I didn't want to take a chance with something negatively affecting my surgery.
The nurse brought me into the pre-op room at about 9:15 AM to cover my feet with the elastic surgical booties and my head with a hair net.
She had me lay down on a hospital gurney (narrow stretcher bed) with another person next to me on another stretcher. We were separated by a privacy curtain but I could hear her being prepped for surgery and given instructions.
Once that other person was rolled into the laser room, another nurse came to take my glasses from me and clean my eye area with Betadine (iodine topical antiseptic).
Right after he finished cleaning my eyes, he told me that I could open my eyes if I wanted to. I wish I had just kept my eyes closed because the Betadine stung my right eye as soon as I opened it. He cleaned off the Betadine with cotton balls 20 seconds later so there was really no reason for me to open my eyes at that point. His last step was to administer the Zymaxid antibiotic drops into my eyes.
I waited on the hospital gurney for another 15 minutes before I heard the other person being led out of the laser room and into the recovery room. I wasn't very nervous due to the Valium but I was feeling excited and anxious to finally get the procedure underway.
A nurse walked me over to the laser room, had me lay down on the surgical bed, placed the triangular pillow beneath my knees and handed me the stress ball.
The doctor pressed the button to move the bed until my head was just below the laser machine. He then explained that they all knew who I was, but they needed to state my full name for the record. I also had to agree to the statement that we were there to perform LASIK laser surgery on both of my eyes.
He instructed me to stare at the the green light while they aligned it with my right eye with red lights on either side. The nurse put anesthetic numbing drops into both my eyes.
They taped over my left eye, taped my right eye lids open and inserted the ocular speculum to further open my eye lids. It wasn't comfortable, but the speculum didn't cause me much pain either.
The nurse also placed tissues over my ears and under the hair net to catch all of the eye drops that were going to be used during the procedure.
The doctor explained that they were going to "mark" my eye as he touched a ring shaped device to it. Then a vacuum device was placed on my right eye. I heard them say "vacuum on" and I felt a slight pressure.
Because of my previous fainting spell, he didn't explain the next step which was to cut the corneal flap with the "microkeratome blade". My vision went away almost completely and it was admittedly a bit scary.
The nurse asked me if the green light went away. I answered "yes" and she replied "good, that's what we want". I hear the doctor say "vacuum off" and the other nurse repeated "vacuum off". My vision re-appears but the green light is very blurry.
They confirmed with me that the green light had reappeared, then told me to stare at it and hold still.
As the laser machine turned on, I heard some muted fan noises, something whirring and then I smelled the faint odor of something burning. It seemed as if the laser only took about 10-15 seconds to reshape my cornea.
I wasn't too concerned about accidentally moving my eye because I had read that the laser is re-aligned automatically every few milliseconds or about 200 times per second. So if for any reason my eye moved out of range, the laser would automatically stop until it was back in position.
I noticed that my vision instantly looked better as soon as the laser stopped. It was an amazing experience that made me want to smile, but I also didn't want to move.
The doctor inserted some drops into my right eye, closed the corneal flap and used a white tool that looked like a small brush, spatula or squeegee to smooth it out. He administered some more drops, did some more smoothing with the white tool and then added even more drops.
He told me to keep my eye still for 30 seconds while the corneal flap adhered or "dried" in place. He gently removed the ocular speculum from my right eye and peeled off the tape holding my eye lids open.
I was then allowed to gently blink my right eye before it was taped over. They uncovered my left eye and proceeded to repeat all of the same steps again.
They had me carefully get off the surgical bed and asked me if I could see the large wall clock located on the other side of the room. I could see it very well, but it wasn't super sharp. They told me that my vision would continue to improve as the corneal flap healed.
The total surgery time must have been only about 15-20 minutes from when I walked in the laser room to when I walked out.
The nurse led me to the small post operative room and had my wife called in to the room for the post-op instructions. They told us that I needed to wear the protective goggles for the first 24 hours and then just at night for the first 7 days.
She instructed us to administer the same two prescription eye drops four times a day spaced out by 5-10 minutes and to use the artificial tear drops every 1-2 hours or as needed.
My wife was handed a bag with my two Rx drops, a small stack of post-op instruction papers and a few sample boxes of "Refresh Optive Sensitive" preservative free lubricant eye drops made by Allergan, Inc.
The nurse's last instructions were that I should go directly home and try to take a 2-3 hour nap or just lie in bed with my eyes closed. She told us that keeping your eyes closed for the first few hours helps ensure that the corneal flap adheres to the surface of the eye.
I had my wife drop my old glasses into the donation box in the lobby of the clinic before we left for the short drive home.
Once we got home, I tried to take a nap but instead just spent a few hours lying in bed with my eyes closed. My eyes felt a bit scratchy as if there was a piece of sand, an eyelash hair or dust in them. So it felt better to just keep them closed and to only open them to put in the prescription eye drops or the artificial tears.
My eyes felt slightly better after each passing hour and putting in the Rx drops or artificial tears also gave me some relief from the scratchy feeling.
At around 9 PM I received an unexpected call from the doctor. He just wanted to check up on me and make sure everything was going well. It was a nice addition to the office's already excellent patient care.
By 11 PM I was exhausted and ready to try and sleep. Getting to sleep while wearing the protective goggles was difficult so I took a melatonin sleep aid pill.
Below are some pictures of my eyes the day after the surgery. My eyelashes are all crusty from the prescription eye drops that had dried in them. I finally took a shower a few days later and carefully let the warm water run down the front of my face to clean my eyelashes. I'm not sure if the prominent red marks at the lower inner corners of my eyes are from the vacuum device or if that's where the corneal flap was cut.
My Eyes The Day After LASIK Surgery
First Post-Op Appointment - Day After Surgery - Thursday 9 AM
I woke up early at 6:30 AM the day after surgery. I noticed right away that my eyes felt much better with only a hint of that gritty scratchy feeling. They felt even better after my morning Rx drops and some artificial tears later.
The most exciting part of the morning was how well I could see. My vision was still a bit hazy and cloudy at times, but everything in the bathroom looked so sharp. I noticed the red bloodshot marks on my eyes from where the doctor had cut the corneal flap, but I wasn't too disturbed by that since I knew they would heal over time.
Since the post-operative instructions warned me to not let water hit my face, I took a very careful shower and just washed from the neck down with the goggles on.
We arrived at the doctor's office just before my 9 AM appointment time and the nurse took me back to a small examination room. She said that I could officially remove the protective goggles and just wear them at night for the next week.
She had me do the standard eye chart test with each eye by itself and then with both eyes.
The final result was 20/15, which is slightly better than 20/20 vision!
I was very happy to hear those results, especially since it had been less than 24 hours since the surgery was performed.
The doctor came in a few minutes later, asked how my eyes were feeling and examined them with the slit lamp machine. He said that the corneal flaps looked good and they were healing well.
He told me to keep on using the two prescription eye drops and to put in the artificial tears about every hour or as needed. Then he emphasized that "wetter is better" and that I couldn't overuse the artificial tears. Keeping the eyes moist helps the flaps heal quickly.
He told me that the red bloodshot marks on my eyes were from the vacuum device that immobilizes the eye before the corneal flap is cut and that they will go away on their own in a few weeks.
Then he handed me a signed "to whom it may concern" form explaining that I had 20/15 vision after "corrective refractive surgery" which I could take to the DMV in order to have the corrective lenses requirement removed from my license. I just spent a few hours at the DMV this past summer to renew my license which is now valid until 2019. So I think I'll just keep a copy of the form in our cars just in case I need it.
He asked if I had any questions, so I asked if I should be taking eye health supplements such as Lutein / Zeaxanthin or eating foods rich in Lutein such as kale or other leafy green vegetables. He said it wasn't necessary for a man in his early 30's like myself and a multivitamin with some Lutein in it would be plenty.
I also asked him about working out at the gym and when I could resume lifting weights. He said to take it easy for the first week and just do cardio or light weights with more reps. The most important thing was to not strain so much that I squeezed my eyes shut. After the first week had passed, I was cleared to lift heavy weights again.
He gave me another "free" box of Optive Refresh eye drops with 5 single use vials and reminded me that I only had to wear the goggles at night now but I should still be protective of my eyes. I later decided to also wear the goggles any time I was doing something "risky" for the first week such as cooking, cleaning, or showering.
At Home After The First Appointment
As soon as I got home, I ordered a box of Allergan Refresh Plus Lubricant eye drops with 100 single use vials for $24.28 from Amazon.com. I learned from reading the user reviews that the vials can be resealed with the twist off cap in order to get 2-3 uses out of each within a short period of time.
I looked online for a charity that would accept the few unused contact lenses that I had left over, but apparently most places don't accept them due to health risks and liability.
Later that night, I sneezed while cooking dinner due to the cold tile floor in our kitchen. The sneeze caused me to squeeze my eyes shut which is not recommended due to a risk of dislodging the corneal flap. I immediately put on a pair of socks. If you live in a cold climate, be sure to keep warm so that you don't sneeze.
I had trouble falling asleep again that night due to the uncomfortable goggles so I took another melatonin pill and went to bed at around 10:30 AM. I woke up at 3 AM, went to the bathroom, watched a half hour sitcom and fell back asleep until 9 AM.
Friday - Two Days After Surgery
My eyes feel great today with no scratchiness, itchiness or discomfort of any kind. My overall vision is great although it gets a bit fuzzy at times until I put in some more drops.
I haven't noticed any halos or starbursts around lights but then again, I haven't been outside at night yet. My eyes did seem to get tired quickly while reading, watching TV, looking at my phone and working on the computer. The artificial tears and Rx drops provide some relief.
To rest my eyes when they got tired, I got into the habit of keeping them closed while listening to old funny movies or comedian standup routines which really helped to fight off boredom.
My new box of 100 artificial tears vials should arrive just in time today via UPS thanks to our Amazon Prime membership. I had been making the "free" drops from the eye doctor last longer by putting in two drops and resealing the vials. The vials contain about 6-8 drops each which equals 3-4 uses.
I'm planning on going to the gym on Sunday and Monday as per my usual routine. I'm going to limit myself to light cardio and maybe some low weight / high repetition exercises.
Next Wednesday (one week after the surgery) will be my first day working out with heavier weights. I'm still going to focus on not squeezing my eyes shut and keep a paper towel in my pocket to keep sweat from falling into my eyes.
I read online that eating fish or taking Omega 3 fish oil pills can help with dry eye after LASIK / PRK / LASEK eye surgery, so I'm try to remember to take at least one Kirkland 1000 mg fish oil pill per day. The instructions on the bottle recommend taking three (3) pills daily.
I'm still wearing the protective eye goggles at night, although I usually wake up with them up on my forehead or loose in the bed next to me. I probably should have used some medical tape to hold them securely in place over my eyes.
Saturday - Three Days After Surgery
I did some computer work in the morning, went to lunch with friends, re-wired a car's AUX audio input adapter cable, and then went out for dinner.
All of that eye strain, especially re-wiring the auxiliary input cable, has caused my eyes to ache this evening. I'm definitely going to take it easy on Sunday and spend more time listening to old movies with my eyes closed.
It was difficult to fall asleep with my eyes aching, so I took an ibuprofen pain killer pill and also a melatonin.
Tuesday - Six Days After Surgery - Second Post-Op Appointment
The nurse took me into the side room and had me look into the autorefractor machine which has the cartoon character going in and out of focus several times.
Then she led me to one of the small examination rooms for a standard eye chart exam with each eye alone and both eyes together. I was still seeing about 20/15 or slightly better than 20/20.
The doctor came in the room and examined my eyes with the slit lamp microscope machine. He said that the corneal flaps were healing nicely and I could stop using the prescription eye drops ("stingy" & "cloudy").
I was really glad to hear that I didn't have to use the Rx drops any more since the tiny bottle of Zymaxid ("stingy") that cost over $100 had just run out that morning before my appointment. I still had plenty of the large 10ml bottle of Prednisolone Acetate ("cloudy") left, but that only cost me about $27.
The doctor reminded me that using the artificial tears often speeds up the healing process and that I could now stop wearing the protective eye goggles at night. He also said that the red bloodshot marks on my eyes are starting to fade and should be completely gone in a few weeks.
After The Appointment
I'm experiencing a tiny bit of fluctuating vision including some haziness and blurriness. My vision is still good enough to drive, read, watch TV, etc and it improves after I put in the artificial tear drops.
I keep replaying what the doctor said about "wetter is better" and "you can't use the tear drops too much" in my head which has me putting a drop in each eye every 20-30 minutes all day long. The 100 vial box of Refresh Plus eye drops is going fast and I'll probably order another box soon.
From what I've read about eye dryness after LASIK surgery, I should be needing less and less of the tear drops as my corneal nerves heal over the next few weeks. I've been keeping a five pack of the tear vials in my pocket at all times.
I haven't noticed any night vision problems such as halos or starbursts around bright lights but I also haven't had a reason to drive after dark yet.
It felt really good to gather up all my old contact lenses, multi-purpose saline solution bottles, lens storage cases, and an eyeglass case before tossing all of it into the trash. I didn't like throwing away the unopened contact lenses but it seemed like none of the charity organizations are willing to accept them due to health and hygiene concerns.
I figured out that I used to spend at least one minute in the morning and one minute in the evening putting in or taking out my contact lenses. So the LASIK surgery has saved me at least two minutes per day, which is 12.17 hours per year or just over five full days in 10 years. That doesn't seem like a significant amount of time, but I have really appreciated being able to skip that part of my morning and evening routines.
Friday March 30th - Nine Days After Surgery
I just received a second box of Refresh Plus Lubricant eye drops that I ordered from Amazon.com for $24.14. The first 100 vial box only lasted me a week since I was putting in drops every 20-30 minutes.
I'm starting to feel as if my eyes are slowly regaining their own natural lubrication and I don't need to use the artificial tears quite so often. That's a good sign that the nerves severed when the corneal flap was created are healing well.
I put in drops every 30-45 minutes today while out of the house. I'm still using the tears every 15-30 minutes when watching TV or using a computer. I read that people don't blink as often during those activities which causes the eyes to dry out more quickly.
Here's a good tip for people using the Allergan Refresh single use vials. If you are desperate for another drop, you can usually recover a drop from the void in the cap by squeezing the vial and using it as a vacuum. A hundred extra drops out of a 100 vial box is almost like getting 15 full vials for free.
So far, I'm very happy with the results of my LASIK surgery. The only thing I still worry about is the chance of persistent dry eye. I read a study about LASIK eye dryness which stated that about 50% of people have dry eye 1 week after surgery, 40% have dry eye 1 month after surgery and 20-40% have dry eye 6 months after the procedure.
Those seem like pretty decent odds that I eventually won't need to rely on artificial tears.
I've read that some physicians, mostly outside the USA, have admitted to using the microkeratome blade that cuts the corneal flaps on more than one patient. Besides infection, that can also lead to a duller blade that cuts a rougher edged corneal flap leading to more nerve damage and a higher incidence of "dry eye".
I'm almost 100% certain that my doctor would only use brand new blades for each patient, but I still plan on asking him about at my next visit just to satisfy my curiosity.
From the studies I've read, about 1-3% of people experience long term complications from laser eye surgery. Those numbers should be even lower with better candidate screening and more use of the Wavefront machines that create a custom map of the eye.
All signs seem to point that I will be one of the lucky ones to have great vision after LASIK surgery. But I think that's only because I was a good candidate for the procedure due to my age, moderate and stable myopic prescription, thick enough corneas and a lack of significant "higher order aberrations" (astigmatism, cataracts, etc).
I still haven't driven at night yet, just during the relatively well lit "dusk" time of the day. I didn't notice any vision problems when looking at car headlights or street lights but I still plan on going for a night walk around the neighborhood for a better test of my night vision.
Monday - April 2nd, 2012 - 12 Days After Surgery - Night Vision Test
I haven't had a reason to leave the house at night since my surgery, so I finally got around to taking a walk after dark to put my night vision to the test.
I walked a few blocks that alternated between well lit areas, dimly lit areas and very dark sections. A few cars passed by and there were also a few street lights or house lights along the way. I was relieved to not notice any problems with halos, glare or starbursts.
I wonder if I would have noticed any night vision problems a day or two after my surgery before the corneal flap got a chance to begin healing.
I've read that some people are more
likely to experience night vision problems after LASIK due to their
larger than average pupils which open up to the edges of the corneal
flap in low light. Part of the LASIK candidate screening that my
doctor performed was to dilate my eyes with drops and measure my
3 Weeks After Surgery
It has been three weeks since I underwent LASIK surgery and I'm happy to report that my vision is still great and my "dry eyes" symptoms have steadily decreased.
The first 100 vial box of Refresh artificial tears that I bought only lasted me a week. In contrast, I still have 25 vials left from the second 100 vial box. That second box should last me close to 3 weeks since I'm only putting in drops every 1-2 hours rather than every 15-20 minutes.
I had to buy a small box of artificial tears this past weekend when I forgot to bring some vials with me to an event. I made the mistake of purchasing Walgreens Pharmacy generic brand artificial tears that cloud my vision for a minute or two after I use them. It wasn't worth the few dollars I saved compared to the Refresh tears by Allergan.
I got a chance to do some driving at
night this past weekend and I noticed some very minor starbursting
when looking at bright headlights or street lights. The starbursting
didn't impede my ability to drive nor was it bothersome. My father
told me that his night vision issues went away after a few weeks.
Hopefully I'll be as lucky.
1 Month After Surgery - Eye Doctor Check-Up Appointment
I went to the eye doctor this morning for my one month after LASIK surgery check up appointment.
The nurse checked my eyes with the auto refractor machine (cartoon image in/out of focus) and then took me to a small examination room for the standard eye test. The results were that I'm still seeing great with a visual acuity of 20/15 or slightly better than 20/20.
The eye doctor came in, asked how my eyes were doing, and checked them with the slit lamp microscope machine (bright movable light).
He said that my eyes looked good, except for a little bit of irritation on the right one from dryness. He asked how often I was using the artificial tears to which I responded about once every 1-2 hours.
My next check up appointment is scheduled for one month from now.
I'm down to just a handful of Refresh Plus artificial tears from the second box of 100 vials, so that box lasted me just over 3 weeks (~4 vials per day). I've got my third 100 vial box on the way from Amazon.com at a cost of about $24.
The current grand total for my LASIK surgery is now $3,319.68.
It seems like I'm needing the artificial tears less and less every day, so hopefully this 3rd box of 100 vials will last me a very long time.
The doctor mentioned that I can
slowly taper off my use of the tears and after a few months, I
probably won't need them any more.
5 Months After Surgery - July
It has been just over five months since I had LASIK surgery and I'm happy to report that my eyes are still great.
After I finished that third 100 vial box of Refresh Plus artificial tears, I ordered a four pack of "large" 15mL (0.5 oz) bottles of Refresh Tears for $20.
My need for the artificial tears has slowed down dramatically and I really only need them first thing in the morning. Sometimes I jump straight into the shower and don't need the tear drops at all.
I recently moved to a drier climate and surprisingly still don't feel the need to use the drops more often.
The latest test of my eyesight was at the DMV where I could read the eye test charts from across the room while waiting for my turn. Reading the chart from the DMV required distance was very easy since they only require 20/40 vision while I'm seeing 20/15 with both eyes.
I've done much more night driving
since my surgery and haven't noticed any problems with my night
vision. I am still wary of it and find myself being extra cautious
at night. Possibly just from paranoia.
It has been a few years since my surgery and I'm now in my mid 30s.
I'm delighted to once again report that my eyes are doing great with slightly better than 20/20 vision and no problems with dryness.
Having LASIK surgery was the best money I ever spent and my only regret is that I wish I had done it sooner.
The only thing I worry about is the possibility of needing reading glasses a few years earlier. Perhaps in my early to mid 40's rather than my late 40's or early 50's. But that's not a big deal. Not having to deal with the daily inconvenience of contact lenses has been a real time saver.
I haven't done the math, but I imagine that I'm fairly close to the break even point for my LASIK surgery compared to the ongoing costs of contact lenses, backup glasses and annual eye doctor visits.
Please bookmark this page. I will be adding updates regularly with the details of my progress.
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