Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Experience With LASIK

I suffered from Myopia (nearsightedness) for 18 years. Over the years my vision has progressively become worst until I cannot live without my glasses. My glasses are the first things I reach for when I wake up and I even bring them with me in the shower. Sometimes, even with my glasses on, I still need to squint to read and see objects at a distance. Putting on makeup is uncomfortable, I have to be so close to the mirror to see what I'm doing and my brush handle often bump against the mirror. I can't count the number of times that I poked my eyes with a makeup brush. Having to wear glasses at all times is not fun and sometimes, it is downright inconvenient. I tried wearing contact lenses, but I never really liked the hassle involved in their care and after a long day of wearing lenses, my eyes are often tired and irritated.

I have known about laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) surgery for years, but it was only late last year that I started considering the possibility of having it done on myself. I was encouraged by my nephew's experience (he had the surgery and was happy with the result). I made it my new year's resolution to have LASIK surgery before the year ends. I started to set aside a certain amount of money each month to help me achieve my goal. 

I finally had the surgery done two months ago. First, I had a consultation with the surgeon where he explained the procedure and addressed my concerns. After the consultation, I decided to go through the screening. A screening is done to determine if I am a candidate for the procedure. I don't remember  all  that was done, but I remember that eye drops were instilled in my eyes to dilate my pupils and that the size of my pupils and the shape and thickness of my cornea were measured. Even my ability to produce tears was tested. The screening took about two and half hours including the waiting time between examinations. After the tests revealed that I'm an ideal LASIK candidate, I had another consultation with the surgeon where he gave me a more detailed explanation of  the procedure, told me my options and what to expect afterwards. After the second consultation, I decided to have the surgery. Some people would have been anxious, but I was excited by the prospect of  finally being being able to see clearly without my glasses.

I had the surgery two days after the screening. The procedure I had is called microkeratome blade lasik, there is another option called femtosecond lasik (bladeless lasik). The most delicate part of LASIK surgery is the creation of the flap. In microkeratome lasik, a blade is used to cut the corneal flap, while femtosecond lasik uses laser to do the job. There's a lot of information online regarding blade vs bladeless lasik, I suggest you look them up if you are considering having the surgery. I chose microkeratome lasik because it was safe, it significantly cost less and the end result is the same anyway. The procedure itself was very quick, less than 10 minutes per eye. I was given local anesthesia in the form of eye drops so it was not painful at all. I felt a slight pressure during the procedure, but it was only for few seconds. After the surgery, my vision was blurry. There was some discomfort which some might perceive as mild pain, it was very tolerable and did not bother me at all. I was prescribed a steroid and an antibiotic eye drops to use. I was also given an eye shield to protect my eyes from dust and injury.

I was instructed to rest my eyes after the surgery, so I slept after I got back to my hotel. When I woke up 3 hours later, my vision was better but still blurry. I noticed a marked improvement as soon as I opened my eyes the next day, everything was so clear, I could even see my freckles in the mirror. But soon after, I started to experience the visual fluctuations that I was told to expect. Sometimes, if I look at an object, it takes a few moment for my eyes to focus and for my vision to become clear. I also had difficulty reading small prints during the first two weeks. All these are minor inconvenience that soon disappeared as my vision continued to improve. When I had my consultation two weeks after the surgery, I already have 20/20 vision. I still experience some visual fluctuations, but only on my left eye, and mostly at the end of the day when my eyes are tired or when I spend too much time in front of the computer. The real problem that I had after surgery was dry eyes, especially in the first two weeks. My eyes became so dry that I had to religiously use artificial tears every 2-3 hours. If I forget to apply the eye drops, it feels like my lids are stuck to my sclera. But even this problem improved overtime. I still use artificial tears, but not as often, usually twice in a day. I expect this will eventually disappear as my eyes heal.

There are necessary precautions to take post LASIK surgery. Your own doctor will advise and give you instructions. There were several things I was told to do (or avoid). I had to wear my protective eye shield all the time, even on my sleep, during the first two weeks. Rubbing, squeezing and putting pressure are huge NO NO right after LASIK surgery as the flap might be damaged. I have a habit of rubbing my eyes when they are strained or itchy,  the eye shields protected my eyes on the times that I forgot myself and tried to rub them. The eyes can't be wet for three days post  surgery so I have to use wash cloth to clean my face, no makeup for atleast a week (I went without for two weeks just to be sure), no contact sports that may predispose the eyes to injury and no swimming for atleast a month.

I'm glad that I finally had the surgery. Yes, it cost me an arm and a leg, and it has only been two months, but I'm happy with the result. If you are planning to have the surgery yourself, I suggest that you do your research. Read what you can about the procedure, so when the time comes for you to have your consultation, you will be able to ask the right questions. Research the institution where you plan to do your procedure as well as the surgeon. Most institutions now have a bio of their surgeons online. I went to the surgeon who performed the same surgery to my nephew. Although I have my nephew's recommendation, I still did my own research before I set up an appointment with him. It was only after I met him that I decided to trust him with my eyes. Yes, he has an  impressive resumé, but all that would have been useless if I found him to be an a*hole. I don't mind my surgeon being a little arrogant, I just don't want a surgeon who cannot be bothered to listen to me, explain to me and answer my questions until I'm satisfied. My suggestion in choosing a surgeon is to find someone who was trained and affiliated only with reputable institutions, performs the procedure regularly, who involves himself in continuing medical education (a good surgeon is always up to date with the latest trends and technology) and someone you are comfortable with. You must be able to communicate with your surgeon comfortably.  Errors have been made because of miscommunication between patient and surgeon.

Overall I'm happy with my experience and the outcome of the procedure. After many years, I can finally enjoy clear vision without the aid of glasses or contact lenses. No more squinting for me. Finally, I can see.


2 comments:

  1. I wish I could unread the blade to the cornea part. O_O Can't even imagine ho tough it was for you to do your makeup with glasses on! I'm so glad the surgery did wonders for you and thanks for sharing!:)

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  2. Glad you are happy with the results. Thanks for sharing your experience (both the positive and the negative!) It's good to know what to expect before the surgery and stories like these help.

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