Yes, I had my LASIK eye surgery, and everything went great! I now have 20/10 vision, and it corrected the astigmatism that was keeping me from seeing clearly for over five years now. Chris had LASIK about a month before me, so I had the benefit of already being familiar with the process and the recovery. For this week’s Self Care Sunday, I thought I would share the process step-by-step in case any of you need some encouragement.
My Vision before LASIK
I have worn glasses or contacts since middle school, and I am now 37. My biggest concern with my vision was astigmatism. I had slight astigmatism in my left eye, and worse astigmatism in my right. For my right eye, I was using a contact lens specifically designed for astigmatism, but I never saw clearly out of that eye. I could pass an eye exam for 20/20 vision, but it was never clear.
The astigmatism-specific contact lenses are designed to sit in a particular position on your eye. When you put the contact in, it is blurry. Blinking allows the lens to adjust about 1/4 turn, which will bring your vision in to focus. The problem is that every single time you blink, that little lens can make up its mind to shift every so slightly. Thus, my vision was never clear.
At night, when I would take my contacts out and try to read, I could not read out of my right eye due to astigmatism. I could bring the book all the way to my face, but it wouldn’t matter. Astigmatism was blurring my vision in that eye and, quite frankly, driving me nuts.
What is LASIK?
In brief, laymen’s terms, LASIK is laser eye surgery. It is a process in which a laser reshapes the cornea to the desired curvature. Our vision is extremely complex, a real miracle, and is based on how light enters our eyes. Light passes through the cornea, which does the majority of focusing, and then through the lens, which adjusts the focus (Source). By reshaping the cornea, our eyes can then focus and adjust the light differently, allowing for improved vision.
What is the process of LASIK?
Here is a rundown of my experience…
- Choose a surgeon. We chose Kremer Eye Center in King of Prussia; because of their quality. They were the very first to perform LASIK in the US. They have been doing it for over 30 years, and while on the higher end in price, their price reflects their commitment to the latest, best technology. We wanted the best, so we chose them.
- Free consultation to determine if LASIK would be helpful. They ran some tests, checked my vision and answered all of my questions. I chose the same surgeon that Chris had, Dr. Aronsky. (Chris chose him because he did the Eagles’ quarterback’s eyes – we aren’t Eagles fans, but it was a good recommendation.) I spoke with the surgeon at my consultation, and he looked over the data from the tests and answered our questions too. He was also really fascinated by our life as fulltime RVers, and he spent a lot of time with us, and we liked him from the start!
- Schedule surgery. Since I was approved for surgery, I scheduled it at my free consultation. They walked us through financing and everything we needed to expect in the process. The rule is that a patient may not wear contacts for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery. So, I scheduled my surgery for 2 1/2 weeks later. At that time, they also scheduled my pre-surgery and first post-surgery appointment. I left with the necessary prescriptions and instructions.
- Prescriptions. I had two prescriptions, one for antibiotic eye drops and one for steroid eye drops. I purchased these before the surgery, along with preservative-free lubricating eye drops as instructed.
- Pre-surgery appointment. The day before surgery I had a pre-surgery appointment. They measured my eyes again and ran several tests. They also dilated my eyes for some of the tests to make sure that the readings were accurate. I saw an optometrist, and he went over the process again and answered any questions I had. I also found out that my LASIK procedure was scheduled for 5:00 pm the next day. Like any other surgery, they do not give you an actual time until the day before.
- LASIK surgery preparation. I had no restrictions for the day of surgery, other than not wearing any makeup or lotion on my face. Upon arrival, I signed additional paperwork and paid for my procedure. Then, I was taken downstairs to the procedure waiting room. After about a 15 minute wait, I was taken back for preparation prior to surgery. I was given a gown for over my clothes, and a hair cap for my head and booties for over my shoes. They also gave me a sedative. I was not nervous, and I actually was going to say that I did not need the sedative. But, when she placed it in my hand, she told me to chew it up so that it would work fast, because I was next. I figured I should just do as I was told. I can’t say that I felt any difference with the sedative, but I wasn’t nervous to begin with. I will remind the reader that I have had two abdominal surgeries, one of which was 3 hours long. In comparison, LASIK was a walk in the park for me. However, Chris, who has never had a surgery, was nervous for his, and it is understandable to have some anxiety about any type of surgery. That is why the sedative is standard practice.
- I was taken back out to the waiting room to wait my turn. There were other pre-LASIK procedure patients there, and Chris and the other families were there too. I waited about another 15 minutes.
- LASIK surgery step one – cutting the flap. They took me back to the first room. I sat in a chair, while they put numbing drops in my eyes. I believe they put in some antibiotic drops as well. The drops made my eyes blurry. They had me lay on a bed under the machine. Then, the worst part of the whole process – they popped some type of ring around my eye to keep my lid open. I have large eyes, so that may have made it a little worse, but that was the only point that I felt some pain. It was only for a second while they pushed it in place. They then adjusted me to the perfect place under the machine. Next, they precisely cut the flap on my eye. I felt nothing, but as soon as the flap was cut, my vision became very blurred. They then popped the ring out of that eye and repeated the process on my other eye. Dr. Aronsky talked me through the entire process. I believe I spent about 3 minutes in that room. Oddly enough, you are allowed to blink after the flap is cut, and they have you sit up and walk to a second room. (I literally did not see that coming – I thought everything would be in the same room, on the same bed.)
- LASIK surgery step two – reshaping the cornea. Now, things really got weird. Not painful, just bizarre. By this time, my vision was very blurry, so I really could not see things as they happened. They had me lay down again. They put a heavy cloth over my face, head and shoulders. They did ask if I was claustrophobic before placing it on me, and I am not; but I can see why it would be a problem. It covers your breathing and weighs enough to put pressure on you. Plus, it makes it difficult to hear too. Only my eyes were exposed. I don’t remember the exact sequence of the next steps, but I will relate what I remember. They put in more drops, and at that time, I literally felt like I was underwater looking up. It was bizarre. Again, they worked one eye at a time and Dr. Aronsky talked me through the entire thing. He popped something different in to my eye to hold my eye open, but this time, it did not hurt at all. I saw some sort of yellow piece move in front of my eye, and it opened the flap. Weird. I saw a blurry, distant blinking light that I stared at. They adjusted my head in to the correct position. They told me I may see what looks like smoke, but not to worry. They started the laser, and it made loud noises while it worked. It was only 5-10 seconds while the laser worked. It smelled like something burning, and I felt just the tiniest bit of strange pressure; but that was it. No pain, just weird, and I did not see any smoke. Then, he replaced the flap, and it felt like he went around in a circle with a tiny blower to seal it. I am not sure that is actually what happened, but that is what it felt like. He repeated the process on my other eye. I believe I was in that room for about 8 minutes total.
- After LASIK surgery. After the procedure, they brought me to another room and had me sit in a chair. Dr. Aronsky brought Chris back to be with me. Dr. Aronsky checked a few quick things and said everything looked great. We thanked him and said our goodbyes. One of the assistants came in and took my robe, net and booties. She put dark goggles on my eyes and taped them in place, and we were released to go with instructions to keep my eyes closed for the next 7 hours and the goggles on.
- We made the 45 minute drive back to the campground. As the numbing drops wore off, I felt some discomfort. Not painful, but uncomfortable. It felt burny, dry and sandy. By the time we got to the RV, I was ready to lay down. I ate a snack to hold me over, and got in bed. It was around 7:30 pm. I slept (with the goggles) until the next morning just fine, which was the best thing for me. I was so grateful that my LASIK was in the evening, and that I could just sleep right through the night. Since I had to keep my eyes closed for 7 hours, sleeping was the best option. Plus, by the time I woke up; the discomfort was gone. The featured image at the top of this page was taken that morning after I put my eye drops in. My eyes felt a little dry, but that went away as the day progressed. And…I COULD SEE! That first day was a little hazy, but I could see.
- Post-surgery appointment. The day after surgery, I went back to Kremer for a post-op with an optometrist. He couldn’t believe how great my eyes looked for surgery the day before. I had no blood spots, just the tiniest specks of blood along the upper part of the cut. And my vision was better than 20/20.
- Follow Ups. I have several more post-LASIK appointments this year, but Kremer comanages it with your regular eye doctor, so I do not have to go back to Kremer for those appointments. All of those appointments during the first year are covered in my surgery cost.
- Eye drops. The day after surgery, I began my eye drop regimen. Day 1 was steroid every hour, antibiotic four times a day and lubricating drops four times a day. Days 2-7 were steroid, antibiotic and lubricating drops four times a day. After that, it is lubricating drops four times a day for at least two months.
- Goggles. I had to wear the goggles for sleeping for 7 nights. I was glad to be done with them, but it was a small price to pay.
- I made a conscious effort to rest my eyes during the first few days after surgery. I avoided computer work, my phone and other screens. I used sunglasses during the day just to not strain my eyes. I spent my time reading actual print in books, which I prefer to screens anyway. I also, took long walks to make sure I was using distance vision, since our living space is so tiny. I also made sure to eat healthy, balanced meals and plenty of food and water due to the steroid and antibiotic – I like to make sure that stuff is moving out of my system. I also took my Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic that we talked about last week. I upped my daily dose of Ningxia Red starting a few days before the surgery, as it is a superantioxidant and also specifically targets normal eye health – my personal opinion is that that is why my eyes looked so good post-surgery.
My Vision after LASIK?
My vision is fantastic! I can see individual leaves on trees at a distance. I no longer have the problem reading. I can’t believe I was putting up with so much blurriness prior to surgery. I just had my second follow-up and my vision is 20/10. I truly wish I had LASIK performed a long time ago. While it has corrected my distance vision, I will still face reading glasses at some point in my 40s as a natural consequence of aging. But, I am ok with that.
And I really can’t explain the magnitude of being able to wake up in the morning and see, without fussing with glasses or contacts. I can see my bedroom, I can see in the shower and my eyes are not dry by the end of the day like they were in contacts. It it truly life changing.
It has been such an improvement for me, that I wanted to write this post, to encourage anyone who is on the fence about LASIK. I also want people to know that it works for astigmatism. I had written it off in my mind, because I did not think that it worked on astigmatism. It does!
If you are wondering if LASIK is a good option for you, Kremer eye center has a Self Test. I can full-heartedly recommend Kremer from both my experience and Chris’ experience. They offer 0% financing for 24 months too. And isn’t it nice to know that as RVer, we can go where the best is offered!
Ok, enough of this computer screen; I am going for a walk where I can practice my eagle vision on distant objects!