My Experience with LASIK

I got glasses when I was nine years old. Before then I was a happy kid with bad haircuts and (unknown to me) bad vision.  

1988 – a preview of things to come

In fourth grade we had our vision tested and I ended up with glasses.  

Show Biz Pizza – so glad I had glasses to more clearly see the creepiness

I remember driving home from the appointment and being surprised at how clearly I could see the trees on the side of the road. I didn’t know what I was missing before. 

I enjoyed being able to see, but I really hated the way glasses looked.  

Clockwise – 4th grade, not wearing glasses and smiling! 5th & 6th grades – giant glasses, small smile


Before I entered 7th grade, I got contacts. That summer was a struggle–do you know how hard it is to put something in your eye, especially when you’re just under 12 years old? But I eventually did it and the smile started coming back.  

 

I wore contacts from 1992 to last week, when I took them out for the last time and put on my glasses for the week to prepare for Lasik on Friday.  

My glasses and hair have gotten a whole lot better, but it’s still a pain to be dependent on something to see.


I had an initial appointment earlier this month, where the doctor told me I was a great candidate for LASIK. Despite wearing my 30 day disposable contacts for much longer at a time, my eyes were healthy with no scarring. Bad habits rewarded! They also dilated my eyes at that appointment, leaving me unable to see things close to me for about two hours. On the plus side, I got to wear these awesome glasses! 

I’m actually wearing my normal glasses over the pair they gave me because my eyes were so sensitive to light.

I had a second appointment the day before the surgery to recheck my eyes after being out of contacts for four days and everything looked great. I couldn’t wait to be out of glasses; not only was my depth perception off but I didn’t like exercising in them.

I had to be at LASIK Plus at 1:45pm for my surgery and they told me to expect to be there about two hours. There was signing of paperwork, paying (it cost me about $3,500, part of which is coming from my FSA), explaining of things, and waiting. They gave me two Tylenol PM to take around 3pm and recommended I sleep when I got home. I never take Tylenol PM, so to do so in the afternoon in public was odd. I was ready to curl up in my chair in the waiting room, but resisted.

Around 3pm the surgeon, Dr. Lawrence Gans, called me in.  

 

It was my first time meeting him (the rest of the time I saw Dr. Bruce Neil). He gave me a scrub hat to wear, a lint brush to clean everything off my torso, and explained everything he was going to do. Then he put numbing drops in my eyes and we went in.

There were two lasers. The first created a flap and the second one fixed my eye. I laid down at the first laser and he and the nurse secured my head, covered one eye and used an eye lid holder to keep my eye open.

 

I kept thinking of A Clockwork Orange – not helpful, Nora!

 
Once I was in place they had me say my name and birthday. Before they began the nurse said the same information along with some numbers that were meaningless to me, but it was comforting to know I was definitely getting the treatment meant for me. 

A ring lowered onto my eye and held it down while the flap was created.   

This was my least favorite part. It did not hurt, but there was a lot of pressure and it is unnerving to have something come at your eye and be unable to shut it. I had to remind myself to breathe in addition to the reminders from Dr. Gans. He was great–talked to me the whole time, and explained things as they were happening. He used language like “and the flap is almost done being created” so I didn’t have time to anticipate it and freak out, if it was already happening, I knew it was fine. 

Once both flaps were created, which only took a few minutes, they walked me over to the second laser. Dr. Gans taped back my eyelashes and put another eye lid holder on my eye to keep it open. Then the laser got to work. I was staring into a red and green light. At some point my vision went dim, which was normal and I didn’t mind. The laser generated a burnt hair smell that Dr. Gans had told me about in advance. He didn’t want me to think I was on fire. 🙂 Again, he talked to me the whole time in soothing tones, which was so helpful. I had to remember to breathe, especially when I caught myself clenching my hands and teeth. This procedure didn’t hurt at all but you feel so vulnerable with your eyes held open and knowing a laser is reshaping your eye is pretty anxiety producing. Once I was in place, the second laser only took about eighteen seconds per eye, and when it was nearly done Dr. Gans would say “only about six seconds left”. I liked that. I told myself I can do anything for that amount of time and then it was over. There was music playing the whole time and “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities was the last song. Thanks for the message, universe. 🙂

And then I was done. I sat up and was immediately taken to an adjoining room where Dr. Neil took a look at my eyes. He put more drops in my eyes–a steroid and an antibiotic, I think. He said the numbing drops would probably have worn off by the time we got home since it was a 30 minute drive, so I’d experience some uncomfortableness.  After about thirty minutes, start to finish, we walked out. My vision was hazy, but I could see! Tracy drove me home in my latest pair of free glasses. 

 

Near the end of the drive, as expected, I felt really uncomfortable. It felt like shampoo in my eyes but I couldn’t touch them. Shutting my eyes provided some relief. I actually was having trouble keeping them open and felt out of it. That was probably due to the Tylenol PM. We got home and I was in bed by 4:45pm, my eyes with protective shields taped in front of them.  

 

I was able to sleep for a few hours, which was great because I got to bypass the most uncomfortable side effects, which is the point of having patients sleep right after. 

  

I began taking the three prescription eye drops I’m supposed to take four times a day for a week. 

I also use the blink tears every hour I’m awake. And I wear safety glasses all the time.    

Recovering from LASIK is so glamorous.


I am very diligent about following the post surgery instructions. There are a lot of them.  

 

  
I had my first follow up yesterday morning and Dr. Neil said everything looked great. The redness I have on my left eye from the ring holding it in place will go away in time.  

My own version of A Clockwork Orange

Now onto the good stuff–I can see! I went from not being able to read the time on my alarm clock to 20/15 vision. Since I’m still wearing protective glasses all the time and I have occasional haziness the change hasn’t totally sunk in for me. I’m surprised when I take my glasses off and can still see; removing glasses used to mean entering a world of blurriness. I feel like one of those deaf people who get a cochlear implant and hear for the first time. To go from 25 years of glasses/contacts to waking up and being able to see is truly remarkable. I’m so glad I had LASIK.

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5 responses to “My Experience with LASIK

  1. Congratulations! I’m glad you’re being so diligent with the post-op stuff–which seems very complicated. I’m so happy for you.

  2. I’ve never seen so many pictures of someones eye before! I’m glad the procedure is going the way it’s supposed to!

  3. Carol Burkholder

    So glad the procedure was successful and that you are home now.
    Love, Aunt Carol

  4. Congratulations, Nora! I’m so glad all went well and that you can now SEE without assistance. This is a great description. xoxoxo Aline

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