I had been wearing contacts and glasses for 18 years. For the past several years I wanted to have LASIK eye surgery and on November 16, 2017 I took the plunge and finally did it!
Before I decided to have the surgery I did quite a bit of online research and spoke with a few people who had experienced LASIK. I was concerned about the potential side effects of laser eye treatment. However, when I connected with actual people who had the surgery done, it was much more of a realistic response and they provided a positive explanation of their experiences.
I also spoke with my optometrist and he had me come in to make sure that from a preliminary standpoint I was a candidate for the surgery. After a quick examination he determined I was a prime candidate as my nearsighted prescription was relatively low, I was in the best age range for it, my vision had stabilized over the past two/three years and I am healthy.
Once I decided to have the surgery, came a tough part for me. I had to stop wearing my contacts three weeks prior to the surgery. Now if you already wear glasses all the time then this isn’t a problem, but I wore contacts all day every day so it was a bit of a challenge to wear glasses instead. I knew that it would be worth it to reach my end goal of the surgery so I resolved to wearing my glasses only. Not wearing contacts is a requirement as my optometrist wanted to make sure that my vision wouldn’t drastically change as my eyes adjusted to not wearing contacts. Apparently the FDA only requires in the USA that you stop wearing contacts three days before your surgery but I’d rather be safe then sorry. Especially when this surgery was going to dictate my vision for the rest of my life.
One week prior to the surgery I had an appointment with my optometrist and he heavily dilated my eyes, ran my eyes through a series of tests and reconfirmed that I was good to go for LASIK. My husband picked me up after the appointment due to the heavy dilation as it was pretty hard to see for several hours.
The day of my LASIK surgery I was very nervous. I didn’t wear any makeup as the pre-op instructions tell you to come in with a clean face. My optometrist had also recommended that I not drink alcohol the night before or coffee in the morning of as you want to be well hydrated for the surgery.
My husband and I arrived for my appointment (you must have a driver to take you home) and checked in at LASIKPlus. I finished up some paperwork and then they ran some additional tests on my eyes. Then I waited for a bit and they did one more separate eye exam. This took about an hour with some wait times in between. Then I was taken to a different room to meet with the surgeon. This was actually the first time I had met with him. He and I chatted briefly. He explained the details of the surgery to me and that based on my prescription, age and other variables that I was a prime candidate for the surgery and should be very pleased with the results. He then handed me a Valium, which based on how nervous I was this worked out well. I had been informed that this would be an option earlier and thought that it would be a good idea. The medication helps you to relax before and during the surgery.
He then put several eye drops in my eyes and took one final look at them through one of their machines. Then I was led into an additional waiting room. From that room I could actually hear a LASIK surgery happening in the room next door which was somewhat helpful but nerve-racking all at the same time.
About fifteen or so minutes after I had been brought into the waiting room, another assistant came into the room and gave me some additional eye drops. I was starting to feel pretty relaxed at this point, I think the Valium had started to kick in. She asked if I was ready and she led me into the room where the surgery was going to be held.
I remember seeing several large machines and two additional assistants in the room aside from the surgeon. They had my lie down on a reclining chair, similar to what I’ve sat in at the dentist. The surgeon then put some numbing drops in my eyes. At this point he said they were ready to begin and they covered my left eye with what seemed to be an eye patch. Then he started to work on my right eye.
This was probably the most uncomfortable part of the surgery and my right eye felt worse than my left. But honestly, both weren’t that bad really. I felt quite a bit of pressure as he put this clear round object on my right eye, and it was uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure that this is what they used to hold my eye open. I had seen some weird pictures online that made me pretty nervous of large clamps, but it didn’t look anything like that. He then pulled a machine over my face and it turned on. He told me to hold really still and then my vision changed and went to a grey color with stars. He had cut open a flap into my eye and then they removed the suction device. It all happened really quickly.
They then covered my right eye and did the same procedure again to my left eye. For whatever reason I felt far less pressure on my left eye, but maybe it was just because I knew what to expect this time around. Once that flap had been created I was ready for the laser.
Another machine was brought over my head and my right eye was placed under the machine. I was told to look straight at this bright dot in the middle of blackness and not to move. I had been told that the laser moves if you move but I sure was focused on not moving at all. During all of this, I should mention that the surgeon was really nice and was talking me through all the steps. I could ask questions at any points if I needed to.
The laser started and it made a strange clicking noise for about 19 seconds. Yes I counted to keep myself focused, and then it was over. The surgeon then used a tool and it seemed like he was wiping my eye with a solution. I also heard a strange sound and asked the surgeon if my eye was sizzling. I’m sure he found that amusing… He was really professional though and informed me that it was just a suction tool that they use similar to that a dentist uses to suction out excess water from your mouth.
The same process with the laser occurred on my left eye but only lasted for about 13 seconds I believe, so it was really a quick process. He finished up with the left eye and then the slowly sat me up and walked me over to a chair. The surgeon looked a my eyes through a typical eye machine I’ve seen several times at optometrist offices and said everything looked great. I was given a pair of sunglasses and escorted to a separate dark waiting room.
At this point I was still pain-free and feeling really great, probably due to the Valium and the long-awaited surgery being over. I think I probably was in that waiting room for about 10 minutes before they brought me out to my husband. I was able to open my eyes and could see but it was somewhat blurry which was normal and to be expected. It felt better to keep them closed though.
I was instructed to go home and take a nap for a few hours to let me eyes rest and heal. Unfortunately, we hit rush hour traffic on the way home and it took way longer to get home than expected and the numbing drops wore off when we still had about 20 more minutes until we were home. This was the beginning of a very painful next couple hours for me.
Very quickly my eyes felt like they were burning and tears began to stream down my face and this continued to for several hours. The pressure I was feeling in my eyes moved up into my forehead and it was pretty unpleasant. Once we got home I did lay down and I took an excedrin pm hoping that it would help me sleep. Well it didn’t really work and I ended up maybe dozing off for about 30 minutes after lying in bed for about two hours. Unfortunately, it was an extremely unpleasant couple of hours.
In hindsight, I wish I would’ve taken some pain medication earlier and I’m surprised that the LASIK office didn’t offer me something before I left. However, if I had been able to fall asleep it would’ve been basically a pain-free experience.
Once I got out of bed, about four hours after my surgery I went out into the kitchen and had some dinner. I kept the sunglasses on at this point as I was very sensitive to light. I do remember looking up to see what time it was from across the room and being completely shocked that I could see the clock perfectly! I was so excited and couldn’t believe how perfect my vision already was! Over the next couple of months I was told my vision should continue to get better before it settles.
The rest of the evening I just listened to a podcast on the couch as my eyes were too sensitive to light to watch the tv. I had already started putting the required eye drops in as well. I slept really well that night and my eyes felt way better in the morning. They were just dry when I woke up but felt better once I put the drops in.
Over the next couple of days my eyes continued to feel better and better. They really didn’t feel bad even 48 hours after, just a little scratchy. I was hyper aware of them though because I was making sure not to touch or rub my eyes at all to let them heal properly.
Now, about three weeks post surgery I’m back to wearing full makeup and absolutely love the results! I can see better than I did with glasses or contacts and it’s been so freeing to not have to bring glasses or contact solution with me when I travel. I am still putting in eye drops several times a day, but only when my preset alarms go off. My eyes don’t typically feel dry which is great, but I just have to put in the drops for the next 3 to 6 months and it’s totally worth it.
I was told that the average lasik eye surgery cost is around $2,000 per eye. We have VSP as an insurance provider and they were able to reduce the cost by 15%, which was great. Overall, the cost came to about $3,700 for both eyes, which included the procedure, all eye drops/care and all follow up appointments.
Overall, I’m beyond pleased with the results! It has truly improved my quality of life and it was pretty painless (aside from those first few hours). I highly recommend LASIK surgery and I think it was worth every penny. If you have any questions, please just leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them!