Well, since I have had a lot of people ask me about what it was like to have laser eye surgery, I thought I’d put up this little page all about my specific experience with having the procedure done. Let me tell you, I’ve only been without glasses for less than a week now but if this is any indication, it was the best decision I ever made.
About 6 months ago, I had made the decision to start wearing contact lenses. The reason behind that was I was unhappy with wearing my glasses and didn’t really like the way they looked on me. I figured I would try out contacts and see how they work. It wasn’t long after starting to wear them that I realized I didn’t really like them, but I was able to see good, and they are pretty easy to put in, once you get the hang of it.
Just shortly after starting with contacts, a woman I work with mentioned how she had had the laser surgery to correct her vision and she was so happy with it. I asked a lot of questions and was deeply intrigued by the idea. I knew it was expensive but she gave me a lot of information and told me that the consultation to see if I can have it done is free. I figured, why not get an appointment and see what happens. I also found out how much it cost her and it was around $1200 an eye which was pricey, but not the $2000/eye I had been told before.
After I booked my appointment, I did some figuring out of my finances and figured I could get a loan from a local creditor that would pay for the cost of the surgery. Because I have few expenses right now, I’d be able to pay the loan off in a short period of time, so I figured, it would be the perfect time for me to have this done, since circumstances could change quickly.
I had my appointment and they did a lot of tests on my eyes, including putting some weird drops in it that made my pupils dilate really badly. I couldn’t drive and the light was extremely bright for the rest of the day. It was a bit weird but the outcome was good. I was a perfect candidate for the surgery and they said I had good healthy eyes and there should be no problems. They wanted to book me a date then, but I didn’t know when I would have the money so I told them I’d want to wait until January.
It was like a month or so that went by and I kept thinking about it and then realized something. They had told me that the procedure is tax deductable so I could claim it on my taxes next year. If I waited til January, I wouldn’t be able to claim it until the following year. I then made arrangements to get the money, and funny enough, booked my appointment to have the surgery on December 11th, my birthday. It was also around the same time that I found out my work would pay for $2000 of the surgery. Since the total amout for my surgery would come to $3198, that meant that the final cost to me would only be $1198. Having surgery for that amout seemed to good to be true, but I checked and checked and all was good so I booked the surgery for December 11th, my birthday. One interesting thing that did unfold while I was waiting for my surgery date was the company’s change in policy about the amount they would reimburse me by. Suddenly, it dropped from $2000 to $1000, after already promising me a $2000 rebate. I was very pissed and made a stink about it and the company did make an exception since I had already been promised this amount. Anyone else that should get the surgery from now on, will only get the $1000 back. I count myself EXTREMELY lucky in this case.
The day came and I was there at 8:30. I had to sign some papers, and pay for the procedure and wait, wait, and wait more. It was about 2 hours of waiting before I actually had the procedure done.
When it came time to start, they brought me into this one room and put surgerical coverings on my shoes and head. They gave me a pile of eye drops and a mild sedative to take the edge off. I kept breathing pretty deep as I was extremely nervous but I knew it wouldn’t take any time at all for it to be over. Just before going into the laser room, they put some freezing drops in my eyes so that I wouldn’t feel anything. They then lead me into the room and laid me down on a chair and tilted my head way back. They slid me under this big machine which was of course, the laser and cutter. At this point, they give you two stress balls. One for each hand, that you can squeeze during the procedure. It was all about to begin.
It started with the surgeon taping my eyebrows back, putting this weird metal thing on my eye to prevent me from blinking, and then placing this suction thing on my eye. It didn’t hurt but felt a little weird. I never even felt or noticed the fact that I couldn’t blink. She (the surgeon) told me that everything was going to go gray for a moment, which it did. She then said, “The flap has been created”. In case you don’t know specifically what is done with Lasik, they actually cut a small flap off your eye, peel it back, use a laser to correct your vision, then put the flap back and it heals on it’s own. I never felt a thing. In fact, I said to the surgeon, “That’s it?”. There was no pain or anything. Just a little light I was supposed to concentrate on.
The next part involved the laser. They peeled the flap back and said that it was perfect and that they were going to continue with the treatment. If the flap isn’t perfect, they stop right away as they do not wish to risk infection. The nurse told me I would have 17 seconds of laser time during which I would hear this clicking noise. It was completely painless and before I knew it, it was over for one eye. They closed the flap, and went on to my left eye.
They did exactly the same thing with the left eye as the right. Made the flap, checked it, did the laser time, checked it, put the flap back, and that was it!
They gave me some very dark glasses to cover my eyes and then lead me out of the room. I was very tired and kind of dopey but glad to be done. I sat back in the chair where I had originally been given drops and then rested for a few minutes. I also received more drops and instructions on what to do for the rest of the day. REST! There was a mild stinging feeling in my eyes that didn’t hurt but was somewhat uncomfortable. They said that was the freezing agent wearing off and that it’s best to go home, take a nap to rest, and when you wake up, the freezing agent will be worn off completely.
Thanks to mom & Tamara, I got home safely and was very anxious to take a nice long nap. I did however take the glasses off and take a look around. Things were extremely blurry at this point which they said was normal and that it would be like that most of the day. The weirdest thing was that as soon as I looked in my living room, everything looked like it was covered in fog. White all over the place. It was like clouds were floating everywhere. It was so weird. But, I knew I needed rest so Tamara helped me up to bed, and I laid down. I will say at this point even though the surgery was over, I was quite tense and almost more scared. I think all of the tension and worry that was inside me had finally let go but was taking a toll on me physically and emotionally.
One of the things they told me to do was to wear these weird clear plastic eye shields when I slept. They said that it was best so that nothing could push or touch the eye while I was asleep. During the first four days, it’s very important to take extra care of your eyes since they are healing from the surgery. Following doctor’s orders, Tamara helped me put the shields on and I laid down to take a nice long nap.
When I woke up, I felt a hell of a lot better. I put the black glasses on and pretty much wore them the entire time I was awake. I had to put drops in 4 times a day plus, the tear drops which had to go in once every hour as needed. My vision slowly got better during that day but I really noticed a huge improvement when I woke up the next morning, along with a badass bruise.
I had to go to the laser center the following morning for a day after checkup. It was necessary to see how my vision was at that point, along with how well the flap was healing. Everything was healing good and my vision was tested at 20/20 that morning. It seemed nuts to have 20/20 vision the following day. I did however have a nasty bruise above my right eye that was just barely out of sight. The doctor told me that it was normal for some people to get a bruise like that from the metal ring that held my eye open. She said it was harmless and would go away on it’s own in no time at all. I was pleased.
I went a little nuts the next few days as I was not supposed to drive, read, watch TV, use a computer, or shower. What the hell else was I supposed to do?!?!?!? I managed to get through it, although I did cheat and use the computer a tad, and watched Survivor but I did ok.
I have since stopped wearing the black glasses and no longer have a need to wear the eye shields, or put drops in. My vision is awesome. I can see better than I ever did with glasses. There are some mild halos and glare from lights at night but I was told that was normal and it will pass on it’s own. The woman here at work said she noticed the same thing and it does slowly disappear. That’s not such a big deal to me but it will be nice when everything is normal. I was told it would take about 6 months to get back to normal completely.
I would totally recommend this procedure to anyone who has ever hated the idea of having glasses or having to wear contacts. The mild discomfort from the freezing and a bit of nerves is all I felt. It was totally painless and even in such a short time, I’m so happy with it. I know that people think of the cost of such an operation and freak but if you think about the amount of money people spend on glasses, contact lenses, solution, and extra eye appointments, it adds up fast. Believe me, it’s so worth it!