I got LASIK just a bit over two months ago and I cannot sing the praises of it enough. The gift of clear, unaided vision is probably one of the best gifts I've ever gotten for myself. I know this is going to sound cliche, but I really feel like I have a new lease on life.
Ever since I heard about LASIK in my pre-teens, I just knew that it was something that I was eventually going to get. Having worn glasses since I was in the third grade, I was already pretty blind without the aid of glasses or contacts by the time I hit fifth grade. Blind, as in, if I wasn't wearing glasses or contacts, I couldn't see past five inches within my sight. My vision was that bad. -8.50 in both eyes.
I've been going to the same optometrist since I was 13, and every year that I went in for my routine exam, I would ask him about LASIK and he'd tell me the same thing -- that I should wait for my vision to stabilize for a few years before getting the procedure done, and that that tends to happen at around the mid-late twenties, that around 25 would be a safe bet. Thus, I always held age 25 as some magical number and decided that I would wait till I was 25-30 to get this done.
....But then, I cut my eye in late July. Not my eyelid; my actual eyeball (don't worry, it wasn't that bad, you can read all about that fiasco here). Pink eye, cuts in my eye -- that stuff happens to me about once a year with contact lens. I was used to it. This time, though, the cut seemed extra bad -- bad enough for me to seek medical attention and for me to be confined to glasses for over two weeks. As cute as my rhinestone-encrusted frames are, I absolutely loath wearing glasses, and after two weeks in them, I couldn't take it anymore and started to seriously consider LASIK despite not having reached that magical age.
That night, I pulled out all of my vision prescriptions from the past few years and noticed that my vision had been really stable for several years now and realized that 25 was just an arbitrary number. There's nothing stopping me from getting it done at that point. It was something that I had saved up for long ago, and the one key thing for me was that I had been wearing my glasses for weeks at that point. If you wear contacts, you need to have been out of them for several days prior to the consultation, and out of them for at least a couple of weeks prior to the actual procedure as contacts do change the shape of the eye. So this seemed like the perfect time to get it done.
From the time I had my mind made up to when I actually had the procedure done (that's including all the prep work plus consultations with four different doctors, etc) was only a week. I work fast. Once I had my mind set on getting it done, here's what I did in preparation for it...
Research the heck out of the procedure -- I really wanted to know what I was getting myself into. I researched all the possible procedures and variations in it, the side effects, how it would be in the long term, traditional versus Wavefront, Intralase versus keratome, etc. I learned more about the anatomy of the eye than I ever thought I would -- all about myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, etc.
Research the heck out of doctors -- Being practically blind, I know the value of vision -- I'm only ever going to have one set of eyes that are suppose to last me a lifetime -- so I want to go to the best that there is. I ended up going to consultations with four very highly regarded doctors who specialize in LASIK in my area. It's good to get a second opinion. Or in my case, a third and fourth. I learned something new about the treatment or my eyeballs at each appointment.
Go to consultations -- They're all about an hour or two each. They numb your eyeballs and run all sorts of test and measurements. One place even dilated my eyes. I took the opportunity to ask the gazillion questions that I had and pretty much every doctor and nurse answered them to my satisfaction. This was also a chance to feel out the office and the doctor and decide which one I felt the most comfortable with. I ultimately went with the super awesome Dr. Newman of Newman LASIK for a host of different reasons. I'll write a separate review about him later.
Ask others about their LASIK experience -- I didn't know this until I mentioned to my friends that I was going to get LASIK, but it turns out that a ton of my friends had gotten this procedure done before and I was able to ask them about their results. I also cold emailed about two dozen former patients of the four places that I was considering to ask them about their results as well (you gotta love the internet and social media for allowing me to do that!). About half the people responded and everyone was so nice. During a skin appointment, I found out that my esthetician had also had LASIK, so I told her, "Well, we're going to be together for an hour -- tell me EVERYTHING!". Yup, I practically asked everyone I know who had had LASIK. Not because I was scared of the actual procedure itself, but because I was paranoid about the results. Every single person who I talked to eased my mind.
Prepare for my recovery -- I know that they say that you can see and drive and work the next day, but just to play it safe, I had everything in order. House cleaned, work stuff done in advance, fridge stocked, plus anything else that I needed for a comfortable recovery. And of course, I picked up all the necessary eye drops, from the antibiotics to the preservative-free ones.
And I have to add -- I probably could have gone to any of the four highly reputable doctors that I had consultations with and had gotten fantastic results. Surprisingly, quite a few of my friends did just that and went to one consultation and just stuck with that one doctor with no second opinions. They all had great results. Heck, some of my friends weren't even aware of what treatment or what tools and machines that their own doctor used on their procedure until they talked to me. But as it is, I was paranoid about the results and wanted to know everything about the procedure and to make sure that I picked the right doctor.
The Actual Procedure On the day of, I had arranged for a friend to chauffeur me to and fro the appointment. I signed some consent forms, paid, took some Vicodin and went in. I was so tired and woozy from the Vicodin that I barely remember the actual procedure. The procedure took less than 10 minutes and I only remember the nurse telling me to look at the clock on the wall right before the procedure, and then again right after. Before, I couldn't make out the time. After, though fuzzy, I could. Then I went home, took some sleeping pills and slept the whole day. By the next day, I was able to drive myself to my followup appointment and was told that I had 20/20 vision.
All I can say about the actual procedure is that there's nothing to be afraid of at all. You'll barely feel a thing. Recovery, on the other hand, sucked.
Recovery People talk about eye dryness and seeing starbursts and halos, but out of the dozens of people who I talked to, only one person told me how much recovery truly sucked. And even though you read about side effects, to really experience them firsthand is a whole other beast. It's a trip.
The first ten days post-op were hell, especially since I work with computers and small gemstones. My eyes were dry all the time, it was hard to read, it was hard to drive at night, I saw starbursts and halos everywhere in the dark, and to make matters worse, both of my eyes were recovering at different speeds, so vision in one eye was fuzzier than the other. At the worst point of my recovery, I was using my preservative-free eye drops every 15 minutes, which my doctor said was excessive, but I thought it was necessary.
Ten days isn't typical recovery time -- it just happened to be it for me. Though it was really unpleasant, in the grand scheme of things, it was only 10 days. I followed doctor's orders for what to do and what not to do, and for the most part, I was able to get back to doing all of my regular every day activities, except for vigorous exercise -- I didn't want to risk getting sweat in my eye.
Patterns I Noticed Soon After Post-Op
My vision starts off hazy when I wake up, but starts to stabilize more and become clearer throughout the day
My eyes needed extra time to readjust from when I go from dark to light settings and vice versa. It’s like they’re recalibrating.
When I’m tired, my vision gets worse.
When I’m stressed, my vision gets worse.
My eyes were not the biggest fan of dim lighting right now. Things looked hazy.
Driving at night sucked. The longest I think I could tolerate doing so was half an hour to an hour long at night.
That said, my night vision improved slightly each day. Actually, I made small improvements in general each day.
Milestones in My Recovery
Day 1: I actually went back to the doctor the night of my procedure, about nine hours later, because of a slight complication and was told that I was seeing 20/25 already. Took sleeping pills and slept most of the day.
Day 2: Drove to my follow up and was told I had 20/20 vision. I did a relaxing two mile run on the treadmill then went home and ended up staying up till 5 AM, simply just staring at things and being amazed at my new eyes. Vision was still pretty blurry though.
Day 3: Went for my first outdoor run for four miles.
Day 5: Started up my normal, intense workout again with weights and running.
Day 7: Went to a really dusty and windy outdoor music festival. I wore sunglasses for as long as I could. When Deadmau5 came on, it became the ultimate light show for me what with the halos and starbursts.
Day 8: Tried my hand at grading diamonds, but could only get as far as the color. I could not see into the diamond to check for clarity.
Day 12: Bought all new makeup and wore it for the first time since surgery, including eyeliner, eyeshadow and mineral powder.
Day 15: Ran my very first race. A very dusty outdoor one, so I wore sunglasses the whole time. Brag: I got 1st/2nd place in my age group.
Day 16: Did Bikram for the first time since surgery. Didn't think I would do this for another month or so, but I felt ready. Tried to avoid getting sweat in my eye, but I ended up doing it anyways and it only stung a little.
One month and a half months: I did Tough Mudder. That's right -- I swam in mud water. I accidentally drank some of it, too. I had ask my surgeons beforehand if it was okay and he jokingly said that LASIK or not, no one should be swimming in mud water, but seriously, it was okay. I actually had planned on not doing any underwater courses, but I accidentally fell into mud water pretty early on, and it was fine, so I ended up doing every obstacle course after that.
Two months: I surfed and went swimming in the ocean for the first time since I was 11, when I went swimming in Hawaii and couldn't see anything. I was so flustered by that experience that I hadn't been back in water since, but now I realize how much I love being in the water and can't wait to do more water sports. I was always a beach girl.
Things I Wouldn't Miss About Glasses and Contacts
Having my glasses fog up when drinking soup
Getting water droplets on my glasses and subsequently having them fog up when it rains
Being unable to do water sports, which sucks because I used to be an avid swimmer. Sure, there are goggles, but goggles just aren't meant for some sports and wearing contacts creates opportunities for infections.
Having all outdoor activities, like camping, seem like a huge hassle.
Having to travel with contact lens solution. I hate checking in bags when traveling and contact lens solution takes up 1/3 the space of the plastic bags allowed in carry-ons.
Having to turn down last minute offers from friends to sleep over even though it probably would have been the smart and/or convenient thing to do -- just because I didn't have a place to store my contacts or a spare pair of contacts or glasses.
Cutting my eye with my contacts or getting pink eye on an average of once a year. The first couple of times it happened, I went to the doctors. Eventually I just learned to self-treat over the years if it wasn't too serious.
And of course, all those inevitable times that I put down my glasses to do something, like put on face cream or look at something up close. ...And then I couldn't locate my glasses again. Because I can't see sh*t. To those who have never had such bad vision before -- these things happen.
Ugh, I will not be missing any of that.
Two Months Post-Op So two months later, where am I at? Well, my recovery has been remarkable. I had friends telling me that they were experiencing severe dry eyes and still bothered by night time driving months later. Of course, results vary from person, by person, but I fared really well. Past that magical ten day mark that I mentioned earlier, I miraculously felt no need for artificial tears any longer and only use them once in a while because I know I should, but not because I have to. Two weeks ago, night time driving was still bothering me, but I feel like I can probably drive for several hours before that happens now. My vision has stabilized and evened out. Everything's just been great and I'm looking forwarding to my see what my vision measures in at during my two and half month followup. My vision's suppose to get even better from here. One concern was that since my eyes were so bad to begin with, my vision might not be that great, but I can see things up close and far away really clear. Sometimes annoyingly clear.
My life is back to normal. ...And then some. I can't wait to go out and do all those things that I had previously felt like I was held back from doing because of my vision. I so love waking up and being able to see things, and being able to fall asleep when and wherever I want without worrying about waking up with glued on contacts.
Getting LASIK was definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made. Results differ for everyone, but for the most part, from what I've experienced, I highly recommend it. If you have any questions about the procedure or the results, please don't hesitate to comment on this post or message me. I know this is a major life decision and I'd be more than happy to answer your questions.
Now to go off into the world and see with my new bionic eyes :)
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About the reviewer
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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Wavefront-guided LASIK is a variation of LASIK surgery in which, rather than applying a simple correction of focusing power to the cornea (as in traditional LASIK), an ophthalmologist applies a spatially varying correction, guiding the computer-controlled excimer laser with measurements from a wavefront sensor. The goal is to achieve a more optically perfect eye, though the final result still depends on the physician's success at predicting changes that occur during healing. In older patients though, scattering from microscopic particles plays a major role and may outweigh any benefit from wavefront correction. Therefore, patients expecting so-called "super vision" from such procedures may be disappointed. Still, surgeons claim patients are generally more satisfied with this technique than with previous methods, particularly regarding lowered incidence of "halos," the visual artifact caused by spherical aberration induced in the eye by earlier methods. Based on their experience, the United States Air Force has described WFG-Lasik as giving "superior vision results".