Last year at this time, I put a few grand into my Flexible Spending Account for 2007 because I intended to finally get my laser eye surgery done. Well, after a year of procrastinating and basically being too chicken to follow through on it, I finally had the operation last Saturday. This is my recap on how things have gone and what I think of the whole process.
I first went in for a consultation two weeks earlier which consisted of watching an informational video on a portable dvd player, a complete battery of eye exams done by a technician, and then meeting with a doctor that reviewed the results of the tests and scans and discussed my treatment options with me. It turned out that my pupils were too small to get a good enough set of measurements to benefit from custom wavefront lasik, so traditional lasik was the choice for me. That’s both good and bad. Good that it’s a less expensive procedure, but bad in that custom wavefront supposedly provides enhanced correction of specific visual artifacts such as glare, halos and contrast issues. Oh well, at least I wasn’t getting upsold into a more expensive treatment that wouldn’t benefit me.
I could have scheduled my actual surgery just a week later, but Sterl was in town that weekend so I decided to push back a week. The day of, my friend Kerri drove me over there because I obviously wouldn’t be able to drive myself home after the procedure. They told me during the consultation to tell whomever was driving that they’d have to kill about 3 hours from the time they dropped me off until they picked me up. Well, it actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes!
They told me they had just finished the previous operations early so there was no wait at all for me. So I signed the requisite paperwork, received instruction on what I would have to do for the next two weeks, and then they led me to the the operating room. It was a big glass-walled room with several different laser stations. They configured the Bausch and Lomb one for my particular procedure, then told me to lay down on the table alongside it. I was handed a nubby rubber squishy toy, the kind a toddler would play with, and told that some people like to have something to squeeze if they get tense during the operation. I really didn’t need it, and it turned out to be more of an annoyance because I was holding it with both hands on my belly and after a couple minutes I didn’t feel like holding it anymore. Anyway, onto the surgery…
After a few squirts of anesthetic eyedrops, they started with my right eye, taping my eyelashes down, first the upper lid then the lower. Then they used a speculum-like device that got under the eyelids and spread them apart wide. Down came a round metal ring onto my eyeball, not painful or even irritating at all since the anesthetic eyedrops must have been working. Then a smaller ring or tubelike thing was inserted inside the first one. But the doctor didn’t like the fit. He sent an assistant to go find a smaller one. Would have been a perfect opportunity for a slant-eyed China-man joke, but the stoic doc just told me that I have “small orbits”.
It took a few minutes for the assistant to find and sterilize the smaller ring, but that was the only delay in the entire process. The ring was inserted, some sort of cap was then placed on top, and the doctor called for suction. A machine whirred as my vision went dim and then completely dark. The doctor said this was the part where he cuts the flap and is the most important step so I should try not to squirm or squeeze. That was easy since my eye felt like it was in a vacuum and I couldn’t move it if I tried, plus it all happened in like 3 seconds. There was a slight feeling of something being done to the surface of my eye, but hardly noticeable. The pressure was then released, the cap removed and I could see again, staring up at a red lighted dot and a green one. Then came the surreal part. A metal wire-like implement came in and lifted up the corneal flap. It was like the doctor was effortlessly lifting an ultra clear window shade off of my eye. He then called for the first blast of laster. The red dot and green dot suddenly became thousands of red and green dots like a planetarium show. That lasted all of about 2 seconds. Then the second blast was immediately called for and the same 2 second light show ensued. Then some swabbing of my eyeball, the corneal window shade brought back over, some eyedrops and more swabbing, and then he removed the ring, then the speculum and voila, it was done. Onto the same quick and painless procedure for the next eye and then I was done. Start to finish, only about 20 minutes!
After the surgery, I was instructed to take a 3 hour nap and then use the antibiotic prescription eyedrops 4 times a day for a week and to sleep wearing the big ass sunglasses they provided so that I wouldn’t accidentally touch my eyes in my sleep. Not the most convenient thing in the world, but not horrible either. So everything was blurry for that first night, but I awoke the next morning perfectly able to see and even drive. Which was good, because they wanted me to come in that morning at 9am just to make sure the flap was still seated properly after my first night of sleep. I drove over to my appointment with no problems whatsoever. The doctor took a look and said my flaps were doing fine and scheduled my next followup for two weeks later when the healing should have stabilized somewhat at which time they’ll assess my improvement in visual accuity.
So far, I can say that my right eye is perfect. My left however, while way better than it used to be, is not as sharp as my right. They say that 5-10% of patients have to end up getting followup adjustments (which are free), and even though it’s been less than a week since my surgery, I’m starting to think I will be one of those. I mean, I went through this process, I don’t want to settle for just ok vision, I want it to be perfect. In any event, I’ll definitively see how my eyes are at my followup appointment next week.
For now, it’s pretty amazing to be able to see, drive, cook, play poker and basically just do whatever I normally do, all without glasses. And for those of you wondering or contemplating the surgery, I can tell you that I had no pain, no burning or even sensitivity to light that they said might occur. My eyes literally felt completely normal in less than 24 hours. The lubricating eyedrops I’m supposed to keep using are the only annoying thing about this whole process. Because the drops are so viscous, it’s like dropping gel onto my eyes and makes everything blurry until my eyes can dry themselves back out. My eyes don’t even feel the least bit dry, but since I was instructed to used the drops every couple hours even if I don’t feel like I need them, I’ve been sticking to the program. Oh well, it’s just a small annoyance, and the thrill of being able to see everything certainly makes up for it!