My experience with LASIK
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Today, I want to discuss my experience with LASIK eye surgery. I want to address the FAQ's I have received since deciding to move forward with the surgery.
I have tossed the idea of LASIK around for quite a few years, I was just never able to commit. Back in the beginning of the year I began having issues with my contact lenses. They wouldn't stay in my eye, and my right eye was instantly irritated every time I attempted to wear my contacts.
I do have a confession though... I was a horrible contact lens wearer. I never followed the rules, I slept with my contacts in for months at a time. I only took my contacts out and replaced them every so often. Mostly laziness, and partially the fact of the matter was, I just had a difficult time getting them in and out of my eyes. So once they were in, I left them in.
I decided in the middle of May, I was fed up with my eye irritation, and wanted to move forward with LASIK. I found a new eye doctor (whom is awesome! If you're in the south west PA area and in need of a new eye doctor, send me an email for my recommendation!), had my eyes evaluated and it turns out I had extremely healthy eyes (which came as a surprise, considering my lack of self eye care.)
I was able to be scheduled for surgery two weeks later, on June 3, 2016.
Who performed my surgery // AIO Associates in Ophthalmology in Monroeville, PA. Dr.Santora performed my surgery. AIO, works closely with my local eye doctor, plus I have a friend who went through the experience and recommended this surgeon to me.
What makes you a good candidate for LASIK // You're eye doctor will determine if you are a good candidate for surgery by performing a number of vision tests, and eye dilation (eye dilation is seriously the worst part out of the entire process.), they check for thickness of corneas (if they are too thin, you are more than likely not a good candidate), your vision has to be stable, your eyes must be in good health, and if you're pregnant they won't perform the surgery.
What did you have to do pre-op // I had to remove my contact lenses for a minimum of five days prior to surgery. I had my contacts out for approximately two weeks prior, to ensure my corneas returned to their natural state.
Were you nervous before/during surgery // Not initially, but the closer it got to the surgery, the more tense and anxious I became. Dr. Santora and his staff were absolutely excellent though, and instantly soothed my nerves when I met with them prior to surgery. He explained each step he would take, and why he was doing it, so it wasn't as frightening.
How was the experience // Nerve wracking, because duh, it's my vision! The entire process is virtually seamless. You go in for your appointment, you sign your paperwork, and you run through a few tests. They invited Brad into the patient room with me, which was nice so they could also explain the surgery process to him also. That was a nice touch, the staff was friendly, informative, and comforting. This is an out patient procedure, and I was at the facility for about two hours. They ran different eye tests, just to verify they had the correct eye prescription. They are altering your cornea, so even though this seems to be a minor surgery, it is in fact a major surgery to the eye.
Step by step, how was the surgery performed // The assistant takes you back to the surgery room, where there is a large bed, that reminded me of a gigantic MRI machine, or a spaceship. You lay on the bed, and you keep your elbows inward towards your stomach. They give you a small teddy bear (or object) to hold to keep you still, and to calm your nerves. They then start inserting numbing medicine drops into your eyes. Finally, when your eyes are numb, they begin the process of creating the flap. You have an eye instrument that is inserted into your eye to keep you from blinking, and then they tape your eye open as well. The opposing eye has a patch on it. They then place a suction cup to your eye, and lift your head into the machine, they repeat this about three times until the flap is created, then move onto the next eye and repeat. This doesn't hurt, it is just foreign feeling. You can't really see what is happening, since your other eye's vision is blocked because of the patch, but your vision on the eye they are creating the flap for can temporarily cause your vision to go black. My first eye, I could still see color, the second eye my vision went black.
When that portion of the surgery is done, the bed swings over to the other part of machine which contains the laser, that corrects your vision. It only takes about six seconds to actually correct your vision with the laser. Just like in the first step, they insert the eye instrument to keep you from blinking, and put a patch over the opposing eye. Then you focus on a green light, while you see red and orange lights. Then they move on to the other eye.
Then it's all over and everything is a bit gray in color (temporarily), and I asked for a Tylenol PM. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open after the surgery, and I was extremely sensitive to light, so the Tylenol PM helped me sleep when I got home.
How was post-op // Like, I said I asked for a Tylenol PM so I was able to sleep when I got home. I kept my eyes shut the entire time. When I got home I had medicine drops I had to place in my eyes every few hours, and then preservative free tears, to keep from drying the eyes out. They give you special glasses you have to wear while sleeping. This is to prevent yourself from rubbing your eyes while you're sleeping. I found myself waking up to rubbing my glasses, so I kept these glasses on at night for about a week and a half until I felt confident that I wouldn't rub my eyes, and dislocate my flap.
I went to a follow up appointment at my local eye doctor the morning after, then two days, then one week after, then a month after (which I had today), I have a follow up appointment at the three month mark in September, and another at the six and twelve month mark. So far everything is good! I still put in my bottled tears twice a day just to prevent dry eyes. I have perfect vision. It is pretty amazing how you can instantly see everything.
Anything you weren't prepared for // Yes. A few things. I didn't expect to be totally terrified, but I was (and totally shouldn't have been!). I thought the numbing drops were really uncomfortable, my eyes burned, nothing that I couldn't handle but still. When the laser is on and correcting your vision, you can actually smell your eye burning, and to be honest it doesn't smell good and it isn't a smell I ever want to smell again. For the second eye, I just held my breath, and recommend anyone going for this surgery to do the same. The suction cup can cause broken blood vessels in the whites of your eyes, that can look scary. However, fortunately I didn't have that issue. My local eye doctor could barely tell I had surgery. Other than that everything was exactly as described.
What is the cost // Cost of LASIK varies by location and Doctor. Unfortunately, this procedure is considered cosmetic and insurance doesn't cover it. Check with your insurance though, they might provide a discount, or a hefty discount if you go through their preferred provider. At AIO the cost of LASIK was $2,150.00 per eye or $4,300 for both eyes. With vision insurance I received a 10% discount, for both eyes it was $3,870.00. It seems pricey, but this is your vision. I can't express that fact enough, it is your vision. They offer 0% interest free financing for up to 24 months with Care Credit. You have to pay up front for this surgery, so opening up an account with Care Credit was totally worth it. It keeps the payments low, and you have 24 months to pay off this fantastic surgery.
Would you recommend LASIK and would you do it again? // Yes and Yes! I absolutely would recommend LASIK to anyone considering it. With that being said please, please do your research and find a certified surgeon. Get recommendations from people who had it done. Don't go to a Doctor just because they are significantly cheaper. They are cheaper for a reason. Certified surgeons have the state of the art equipment, the knowledge, and training. Ask your surgeon how many surgeries they have performed. Please don't get your LASIK done through a groupon. Again, this is your vision. You want the best.
I would without a shadow of a doubt get it done again if I had to. It was virtually painless, and it was so quick. I have perfect vision, and couldn't be happier with my results. I live an active lifestyle, and I am still plenty young where I will get good use out of my surgery.