It is now 6 days after my Lasik eye surgery at Lasik MD and I remain in awe of the experience with my mind remaining confused by the change. I keep having this flash in the evening ‘take out your contacts’. It truly is life changing.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had walked away from surgery 8 years ago for a host of reasons. This time I went through with it after a very informative initial assessment and conversation with the consultant followed by a host of reading. The internet is full of stories on what it is like, so I thought to post my experience for the benefit of others.
The whole thing starts in an office where they do a very thorough eye exam. You find out if you qualify, if you have potential issues and what level you need to buy. Simply put, if you remain within their norms, you can go for the standard – lower cost option. If you deviate, you need to go to the more expensive custom option. I went with the custom option simply because it offers a life time warranty (i.e. I can get redone if there is an issue) and due to the fact that it takes less tissue off of your cornea (up to 30% less). The last step is selecting your surgeon, which is a unique experience. They give you the credentials on each surgeon including their educational history, specialties and number of surgeries performed. A far cry from the ‘begging for a Doctor’ experience in the Canadian medical system.
On the day of the event, I was nervous. It is, after all, my eyes. The night before I did a little more reading and found an interesting statistic; no cases of blindness have been recorded by the FDA due to Lasik surgery. I am not sure why that had such a significant settling effect on me, but it did. We arrived at 9:30am and went through the check-in steps: fill out a form (which included a few very scary caveats with regards to the downside potential), go through another eye exam to confirm the readings (very reassuring) and then in to the final consultant to learn about post operative care, to hand over a credit card and to get a tiny little white pill that will relax you (Ativan).
Ten minutes later they call you up and you enter the room. My Doctor was fantastically friendly. He started by asking me if I had any last minute questions or concerns and reiterated a few things about relaxing, taking deep breaths. As I lay back under the machine, I asked him what number I was – how many had he done? This was my way of seeking reassurance but he handled it in a completely unexpected and impressive manner, he said ‘I have a lot of experience but you are not a number to me. This is all about giving you a great experience, right now’. Impressed, it started.
As best I can remember (I was not really in the ‘write it all down’ mood), these are approximately the next steps. They put numbing drops in your eyes. The doctor then tapes one eye closed, the other is taped open. More numbing drops are added to the open eye. He asks you to look into a green light and inserts a clamp into you eye. He mentions that it is about to get dark, at which point another device is lowered onto your eye and you hear the word ‘suction’. It all goes black for a second. Staring up at the green light, he then cuts your eye (I assume that is what he is doing), opening a flap. Everything goes a bit blurry and he asks that you stare at the green light. A big red light appears. It is an odd light as it appears like a hundred little dots making up a big red circle. I was asked to relax and take deep breaths and I assume the laser starts. I say this as I could smell a little burning and heard the nurse call out a few numbers. A few seconds later the light is gone. I believe he flips the flap back in place and rubs your eye with some instrument. The other instruments are removed and voila, you are done. All in all, I would wager it took less than 5 minutes.
He then does the second eye.
When I was getting up the doctor asked me to open my eyes and said it would look like I was underwater, which I found to be an accurate description. I could see quite well, but everything was a bit out of focus. They take you to a couch, administer drops and ask you to relax for a few moments.
Now, how does it feel? I will admit, it felt claustrophobic and very unsettling. I would imagine, how could it not? After all, it is your eyes. But with my entering and leaving in a total of less than 15 minutes, it was surprisingly painless and super quick.
After resting and the nurse administering more drops, you head to the waiting room for an hour where you continue resting. Slowly, my vision improved but I avoided the temptation to try them out and simply rested with sunglasses on. After an hour I was called up to go through an eye test, everything was fine and I was released. In the literature, they say your eyes start to heal after 1 minute.
I spent the day sleeping and resting, as per a friends suggestion. He found that sleeping for a few hours in the afternoon really helped – I would agree. The Doctor reiterated this, sleeping will speed the healing process. Throughout the day I administered drops every two hours, as per the instructions and kept sunglasses on. It is made very clear, you must adhere to the drop schedule to ensure proper healing. Through the day, my eyes felt like there was dirt in them, slowly getting less sensitive.
I slept with the sunglasses that evening (to protect from accidental eye rubbing) and woke the next morning with clear vision. I went in for my check up and was cleared with 20/20 vision, a slight swelling and a prognosis that my vision would get even better through the week. I go in for my next test tomorrow, and I have to say, I expect that I have better than 20/20 vision. Yesterday I sat at the far end of a conference room table and had no problem seeing the screen. All scratchiness is gone.
I will not say that I wished I had done it earlier, because I do not. I finally felt comfortable so the time was right for me. But I can see how this is going to change my life. No more water sports with goggles (I went surfing 2 weeks ago with goggles), no more contact lens issues while playing hockey, tennis or golf. No more fumbling around in the morning after I wake up. It is surreal and I keep smiling every time I look in amazement at something far away and can see it clear as I could with glasses.
We live in an amazing time.