My Lasik Experience - Virginia, VA

I am Active Duty United States Air Force. I signed...

I am Active Duty United States Air Force. I signed up to have this procedure done after much procrastination. I got orders to Korea and being overseas last time, wearing contacts and glasses was hard. Korea is a great country but they do not have the cleanest facilities when you are out and about, most public restrooms do not even have soap! The process was easy, I went to the local optometrist on Langley AFB and they gave me all the necessary paperwork. After submission it took around 3 months to get a response. They sent me more paperwork for my unit and commander to sign and after submission I received my appt dates. You have two appointments before surgery. The first appointment is a thorough examination. My eyes were checked and rechecked, dilated, numbed, checked again etc... Once they determined I was a good candidate and there were no problems I had to wait two weeks for my next appointment. At my next appointment I met my surgeon and was shown two videos, one for Lasik and the other for PRK. I live alone with so the more viable option for me was Lasik because of the quick recovery time. I was given another examination by the surgeon and she told me about possible problems I may experience due to my eyes. I was -4.00 and -4.25 with severe astigmatism. On top of this I had a slight scar where the laser would make the cut for the flap in my right eye. She told me that due to the scar the laser may skip over and not complete the full cut and if that happened they would have to let that eye heal for 30 days then come back for PRK, luckily though I did not have to!

Sept 3rd 2013 was the day of my surgery. I stopped at the pharmacy 15 min before surgery and picked up my meds. I got optical steroids and an antibacterial drop called Vigamox. I also got a bottle of refresh preservative free tears. I went in and first had to sit at a split lamp so that the doctor could mark my corneas due to my astigmatism then I laid down on the bed. They handed me two stress balls to squeeze. After a few minutes to let the numbing drops kick in they put the lid openers in my right eye, more numbing drops, then marked my corneas for the flap placement. The suction cup was the worst part, not applying it to the eye but when they moved me over to the cut laser and cranked it down it felt like they were going to push my eye into the back of my head. Numbing drops could not help this feeling, it was painful like someone pressing hard on your eye. My vision was slightly blurred but the nurse counted down, I saw a bright ring of white light and then saw the laser make the cuts on both eyes. My vision was cloudy as they moved me over to the other laser that would perform the ablation on my corneas. They lifted my flap with what looked like a dental tool and it looked like I was staring up through water. they lined the laser up with my pupil but had some problems with my right eye. My pupils had shrunk to needle points, I wasn't scared but I guess my body was reacting anyhow without my brain. They told me to take deep breaths and squeeze the stress balls, flex and relax. Once my pupils reached a normal diameter they proceeded. As I stared at the red light I could hear the laser snapping and the red dot got smaller and smaller. A bit of a burnt hair smell and 5-4-3-2-1 from the nurse and I was done. They moved the laser and doused my eye with a cool fluid, aaahhhh. The surgeon replaced my flaps and as she was positioning them I could see two, three and four of everything until she got it in the right spot. She smoothed it out with a squeegee like tool, then i got a steroid drop, an antibacterial drop and I was done... Repeat left and I stood up and walked out. The ride home was almost unbearable. After the numbing drops wore off I had severe sensitivity to light, I couldn't shut my eyes tight enough. The ride home was 45 minutes but felt like 3 hrs. I had to open my eyes to walk up to my third floor apartment but after getting out of the sun and walking into my dimly lit living room (shades drawn prior) I could open my eyes all the way and the pain was almost gone. I put some more drops in my eyes, took a 2 hr nap and when I woke up I was good to go. The milky haze was all but gone and I could see everything in my apartment. I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house and watching movies.

The next day after surgery I had a follow-up appt. My right eye had some slight discomfort. They let me read the eye chart and I could read all of the 20/20 line although really blurry and 2-3/5 letters on the 20/15 line. The doctor discovered that the edges of the flap on my right eye were slightly raised and moving slightly as I blink causing the discomfort. They applied a bandage contact lens and told me to come back the next day. I ended up having to wear the contact for three days until my eye healed enough to remove it. They send to let that go would run the risk of epithelial growth under my flap which could lead to problems. After removal of the contact they also noticed some white spots in both eyes so they increased my antibacterial drops regiment to every hour. They also noticed my eyes were not producing adequate oil levels so they prescribed a 60 day regiment of Doxycycline Hyclate...This medicine treats malaria but also has the added benefit of softening oil glands in the body, especially the eyes.

Week #1
At my first week examination the white spots in my eyes were almost gone. My vision was still slightly blurry and it was hard to focus. My right eye was burning due to dry eye. The doctors were very upfront in saying that I may be slightly under-corrected but it was too early to tell. I was starting to feel the lasik depression and regret a little. I was reading online that the nerves in your eyes could take a possible 5 years to completely recover from the trauma of being severed and I was putting drops in my eyes every 30 seconds. I went through two full bottles of refresh tears 10ml in just a couple of days. Not only that but my vision at night was horrible! I had trouble reading the license plate of the car in front of me. I had extreme light sensitivity and all of the night vision problems due to lasik... Glare and Starburst. I couldn't read the giant signs on the highway until I was right on top of them and I felt agitated. I went to the movies and although I could see the screen, walking around the theater my eye were in and out of focus. Everyone told me to relax and that my eyes would take at least 1-3 months to fully stabilize but I couldn't relax, these are my eyes!

Week #2
The doctors extended my use of the steroid and antibacterial drops for another week with a regiment reduction to 4 drops a day. I was reading up on my medication and found that the Vigamox causes dry eye and blurred vision as two possible side effects. Sure enough I stopped using them on Sunday and by Tuesday my left eye was crystal clear and my right is just slightly blurry. I was able to read things at work from distances that other people couldn't which from going from not being able to see in front of my face without glasses and only 20/20 in contacts, my new vision feels like 1080p HD. I was able to read the 20/15 line with each eye clearly and I could see 3/5 letters on the 20/10 line. The dryness in my eyes have also subsided and I am now just using the drops to keep my eyes as moist as possible but not because I feel that I need them anymore. So far I am happy now... I hope my right eye catches up to my left soon.... It feels like a dirty contact being slightly out of focus. I keep getting a "ghost contact" feeling and an urge to take it out to clean it but I can't because it's my eyeball! It is now Tuesday Sept 17th and I just finished week #2.

4 Comments

I had my LASIK done 2 days ago. Everything was done just like Mike described. Only I didn't experience any discomfort during the suction cup and making the flap step at all! And the night before I didn't do myself a favor by reading tons of reviews on the surgery. I didn't get any sleep at all. I felt vary slight pressure on the eye during that step, my vision dimmed, and that was it! No discomfort or pain whatsoever. I would've saved my nerves if I knew how easy the procedure was! And the laser reshaping step was just a breeze. Exactly like in the description above. Some burning hair smell (or, more exact, the smell of a tooth being drilled for a filling), blinking green light, 5..3,2,1. Complete. Some very slight burning sensation within a couple of hours afterwards (as if you got soap in your eyes, not too bad), tearing. Next morning (which was yesterday) I almost had 20/20 (my Rx was -10 and -9.5). Hopefully, it'll stay like that (or, may I dream, get even better)!
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Thank you for sharing all of the details of exactly what the procedure was like! I'm considering laser eye surgery and it's so helpful knowing what to expect. I actually thought Lasik was a much easier process than this. :-/

I hope your right eye keeps improving! Hopefully you'll be at 100% soon. I'll be following your blog, so please post an update when you can.

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So far it seems to be worth it. If you're not a water drinker though be prepared to be drinking water constantly! I buy 20oz bottles of the 24 pack Sam's club water at wal-mart and go through them in about 3 days. If I skip a day of drinking water and my body gets slightly dehydrated it really effects the quality of vision. I'm having great days and horrible days so far. Yesterday I woke up seeing great but I volunteered at a beer tent for a local event. Even though I wore my sunglasses all day being outside took a heavy toll on my eyes. By the end of the night my vision was horrible. I went home and rested in the dark for an hour or so, drinking water and putting eye drops in them and after a bit they improved. I can't wait until they fully stabilize lol

Week #3 and 4

Week 3 from what I remember was pretty much the same as week 2. My eyes were really dry and my vision was still fluctuating but I had more clear days than not. I just passed week 4 and the eye doctor put me on Restasis for my right eye. Now my left eye is excellent at all distances however my right is only clear at distances and slightly blurry closer than 20ft. My doctor told me I may be far-sighted now in my right eye but they won;t be able to tell until my next eye exam at week 5. I will be getting my first actual prescription test instead of just covering one eye and staring at a chart. The over-correction is a little unnerving however it only really effects me when I am looking at LED lit displays such as my car stereo or the alarm clock. Also traffic lights and car headlights are still slightly fuzzy at a distance. I haven't had to use my eye drops too much anymore. My night vision is really good now but I still have the same amount of glare and starburst. Hopefully this goes away in the future months!

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3rd Month Exam

I had my 3 month post-op exam and the results were kind of disappointing. Due to my astigmatism they were able to get very close to perfect vision but not quite 20/20. I am now -.25 in my left eye and -.50 in my right. Sucks because my eyes are now too good for contacts which start at -.75. The only real problems I notice aside from everything not being sharp and crisp is at night while driving. Due to the low light and fuzzy headlights it is a little hard to drive. I also asked about an enhancement in the future but I am not in the range for needing an enhancement as the laser is not precise enough to correct my vision as slightly as is needed. Owell, at least I am not dependent on glasses and contacts anymore to see, i'm not completely helpless without them and that is exactly what I hated about having to wear them.

5 Comments

Thank you so much for your detailed review. I have astigmatism as well and have been considering lasik. Every bit of information helps me with my decision to move forward or not. I'm completely dependent on my contacts and I don't like glasses so this seems the most logical route. Your last post is exactly what I fear happening...too good for correction, but not 20/20. Keep me updated on your progess.
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Hey, Well it's been almost a year and my vision has not changed. It has not gotten worse or better but the halos and starburst have dramatically improved so my night vision is much better. In the daylight I can't even notice that my eyes still have a slight prescription but at night road signs, license plates, and far away lit store signs are a bit blurry. My final prescription ended up being -0.25 in my left with no astigmatism and -0.50 in my right with a slight astigmatism. I can see a slightly blurry 20/15 but i'm getting used to things not being as sharp as in my contacts. The huge plus is not having to deal with contacts or glasses anymore, not having to worry about running out or forgetting them when I go on trips, and my eyes drying out when running the heat or the air in the car! When you first get it done the first 6 months are depressing, doubtful, regretful, painful, annoying but after that I am overall completely happy that I went through with it.
Oh, I almost forgot... If you're active in the gym or running etc... getting sweat in your eyes burns like the devil's fire haha! It's been almost a year and it still stings getting sweat or ocean water in my eyes!!
Dr. Harrison, CDR Lynch

Both of them are awesome. They are very upfront, do not give me false hope and tell me exactly what to expect.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
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