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I’m Considering Lasik Eye Surgery

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I read this article on Yahoo Finance about Lasik Eye Surgery and chatted with a co-worker about it over email last week and it’s turned me back onto the idea of lasik. I blogged about lasik from a cost benefit analysis perspective and concluded that lasik isn’t better financially, though the comments indicated it’s not a money thing at all (I agree).

Here’s what my friend said (I added some edits or comments in bold):

LASIK – Best money I’ve ever spent! I freakin’ love it and both myself and [a friend of ours] got our eyes done at the same place, [some lasik eye surgeon]. The way we did the financing was to put money into our Flexible Spending Accounts. It takes the loot out of your paycheck, and does so before taxes (woohoo!). You’ve got to set that up during the enrollment period each year which is like May-June (I think). The Vision coverage we get here at work, VSP, does not cover LASIK completely, but they do give a 10-20% discount if the LASIK doc is in the VSP network [our vision plan]. That being said, I could only find one LASIK doc that was in the network, and didn’t end up going to them.

As far as the procedure, it’s really quite easy. Getting your teeth cleaned is more painful. I’m not very squeamish about people touching my eyes, so it was easy. Whole thing takes about 10 minutes once you are in the room. I can tell ya tons more about what I learned as far as the details of the procedure if ya want, just gimme a ring.

It’s been like 2.5 weeks now since I got it and I’m seeing 20/20 easily, and more like 20/15. The only side-effects that I’ve had are some dryness of my eyes and at night you tend to see halos around lights. Both of those usually go away during the healing period which is about 6-8 weeks.

I might be pumping up my FSA next year…

{ 16 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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16 Responses to “I’m Considering Lasik Eye Surgery”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Good luck! When see you see the majority of opthamologists themselves getting the procedure, I’ll be next in line :)

  2. Jane Dough says:

    I have really wanted to get Lasik for years, but it is stories like this that stops me. If I should lose my vision I am screwed. I am not sure if having an elective surgery that has the potential of blinding or severely impairing my vision is worth it.

  3. Jason says:

    I am kind of in the same boat as you are. I have been pondering it for awhile. Everyone I’ve talked to always says how great it is after they have gotten it but there is always a small chance of something going wrong. I haven’t been able to convince myself that it is worth it yet.

  4. dakboy says:

    I’ve considered it for a while myself. Quite a few people I know have had it done and have loved the results. But yes, there is always a chance of something going wrong.

    You only get one set of eyes, they cannot be replaced, and you can’t take medications to help them perform their functions if something doesn’t go right. Deciding to buy a house and have a kid was an easier decision than this.

  5. Cap says:

    yeah seriously, like everyone else so far, the risk is just a bit too uncomfortable for me.

    unless my eye sights are seriously impaired, it doesn’t seem worth it yet. I’ll do it the year after Jonathan gets his done. just to be safe, ya know.

  6. Dus10 says:

    While I would probably do it if it cost more money, it is about the money for me (and more). Each eye is going to cost me about the same as a pair of glasses. However, I absolutely hate wearing glasses, and contacts become a real pain (both literally and figuratively). I am, however, hesitent.

  7. mapgirl says:

    There is a reversible surgery which carries less risk. It involves inserting a plastic ring in the eye to bend the cornea into shape. A friend of mine needed only one of his eye corrected before he joined law enforcement. He chose this technique over risking losing his chances of joining the Feds with a botched surgery. I think he said the cost at the time was about the same, but that was 6 yrs ago.

    I think about Lasik too, but an old boyfriend’s mom had it done and her story scares me. Botched first surgery, two corrective surgeries later and she still has lots of halos. The only good thing is that she no longer has to wear sunglasses indoors! She hatefully squints at me, but it’s not out of malice, just a struggle to see me clearly. And she had it done at a reputable place! (Stanford!)

  8. Steve says:

    Don’t forget it has to be re-done every few years, with an increasing risk of a bad outcome for each successive procedure on the same eye.

  9. There are many, many issues surrounding the decision whether or not to have Lasik or similar refractive eye surgery, and it is absolutely not just about a cost/benefit analysis.Conventional or custom wavefront Lasik, IntraLasik, PRK, LASEK, Epi-Lasik, NearVision CK, RLE, P-IOL or any refractive surgery procedure all have one purpose: to provide the convenience of a reduced need for corrective lenses. To achieve that convenience one must accept some element of risk.
    Our nonprofit patient advocacy has evaluated many different studies and thousands of patient outcomes to determine that about 3% of refractive surgery (all types) patients have some sort of unresolved complication at six months postop, with about 0.5% having a significant complication that either requires aggressive maintenance or invasive intervention. All risk is relative. Some may say 97% without a complication is pretty good. Those would be the ones not in the 3% group. Risk also is relative to the personality of the person and relative to the physiology of that person's eyes.
    Some people are so obsessive about any perceived imperfection that unless their results are superb, they will not be satisfied. That is probably not a candidate for Lasik. Some people just don’t think contacts or glasses are inconvenient. If the benefit is a reduced need for corrective lenses and the patient does not mind corrective lenses, then the perceived benefit is significantly reduced…but the risk stays the same.
    Some people have large pupils, thin corneas, high refractive error, dry eyes, or other problems that either make them a less than ideal candidate or need to be managed before having any kind of eye surgery. For all the concerns about Lasik, it is one of the most often performed surgical procedures in the world and is considered by medical standards as one of the most safe, reliable, and predictable.
    A major key to that reliable outcome is the selection of surgeon. Our organization created the “50 Tough Questions For Your Lasik Doctor” to help people evaluate a potential surgeon. We also directly evaluate and certify select surgeons. The most important step for anyone considering Lasik is to select a competent surgeon who will provide a comprehensive examination and will properly advise the patient based upon his or her individual circumstances, needs, and expectations.

  10. Herb says:

    I had it done last summer and would of course recommend it. I used the FSA route and had a good deal through my insurance if I went with someone in the plan. I did not, but talked with my doc about the price difference and they knocked $600 off the price, from $4000 to $3400 for both eyes. I actually went with LASEK and if you can find a surgeon in your area that’s done a lot of them I’d recommend that over LASIK. It’s more painful afterwards (massively painful for 24 hours) and takes about a month to fully recover (you’ll be just fine after 3-4 days, but the eyes continue to heal for 30-60 days) but is less risky than LASIK in that they use alchohol to burn off the top of the eye instead of cutting (which cuts two nerves and is the cause of the large # of dry eye issues). The eye naturally heals itself, the burned part that is. I ended up with 20/15 when it was all said and done and the only minor issue is that sometimes (every couple months) if I go to bed dehydrated, I wake up and my eye feels like something’s in it. Hop in the shower to rinse it off and I’m fine. Someone said you have to keep doing it, which I’ve never heard of. Of course your eyes could continue to degrade, but the whole point is to get the surgery once you’re eyesight has stabilized and stopped degrading. You can also play contact sports again with LASEK since they don’t cut which compromises the stability of the eye. Remember that it won’t fix the need for bi-focals once you get old, that’s a completely different problem :)

  11. Steph says:

    My husband is quickly loosing his eyesight due to a rare disease caused by a fungus that is spread by birds. Prior to this, he would have jumped at the chance to have LASIK performed. He hated contacts and almost never wore his glasses. Now, with correction he can see 20/100 in his left eye and 20/60 in his right. He can no longer wear contacts, sunlight is dangerous for him, and we don’t know how long it will be, if ever, that he will continue to see as well as he can today. He often says that he would give up all of our money, our home, and 10 years of his life to just have the vision he had prior to this disease; which was correctible to 20/20. There is no current cure for the disease. He and his retina doctor feel that there is no true gauge for how people’s eyes who are having LASIK performed will age in the long term. What I mean is, if you are 20 and have the procedure, how will you see when you are 70; no one knows yet. Living daily with someone who can’t see a big screen tv and who is at risk of not seeing his children grow is enough for me to say not to risk your eyesight. You really won’t know how bad things can get until you can’t see. Think for one moment about how you get to work, how you do your job. It is not as easy as you think. For all of you considering LASIK, please just be content with the fact that you CAN see.

  12. Jonathan says:

    That’s pretty much the gist of it – 95% of the people who have had surgery love it. They can see, it’s wonderful, best thing evar, yeah totally do it do it do it. Then you talk to the rare person who can’t drive at night anymore. To me, I think I’ll have it done someday just not yet.

  13. Ralph Morgan says:

    Most people are fine with the surgery, but some are not. The problem is that you can’t be sure that you won’t have problems until after it’s been done.

    A friend of mine was going to have her eyes done, but the first one reacted badly so they didn’t proceed with the second eye. She now is still wearing contacts, has worse vision than before in the treated eye (less correction required, but with some ‘artifacts’ that cannot be corrected with lenses). Plus she had to pay for a bad outcome.

    All in all, I’m happy to keep wearing my cool, photochromatic, frameless titanium glasses…

    Just wait ten years – you may be able to choose between having gene therapy and nanobots doing nanosurgery!

  14. Tao of Cash says:

    Luckily, I received PRK 2 years ago all expenses paid (military) and now see around 20/15. I agree that it all really isn’t about the money. Knowing what I now know I would gladly have paid to receive the surgery. It is a complete lifestyle change and makes a huge difference everyday to not have to worry about wearing glasses/contacts again. There is risk in everything we do even just getting in your car everyday, so I think eye correction surgery has a pretty high reward/risk ratio.

  15. Prairie Dawn says:

    I had the PRK procedure 3.5 weeks ago, so am still in the adjustment phase. 10 years to psych myself up, and 30 seconds per eye to have the procedure actually performed. Both eyes at the same time, regular vision, not monocular. I experienced some discomfort (in the first couple of days I had light sensitivity, but no real pain. A stubbed toe is pain. This was more like grit in my eyes on a dusty day. My clinic provided a number of pain killing possibilities, none of which I even cracked the tamper seals on). 4 days of light duties/bedrest/listening to audiobooks/avoiding the computer later and I was at 20/20. Vision is a bit fuzzy now when I’m tired or when my eyes dry out, but that seems to be getting better day by day. My doctors predict that my eyes should settle at about 20/15 when the healing process is complete… 30-60 days is what I was told.

    The LASIK procedure was an option offered to me, but I was squeamish about the actual LASIK procedure itself… the thought of anyone slicing a flap off of my eye kind of freaked me out. Brushing away the outer layer and doing the “magic” from the top seemed to make more sense to me.. that layer regenerates itself naturally anyway.

    After wearing eyeglasses for 30 years, I’m absolutely delighted with my “new eyes” and wish I would have had the courage to have the procedure done years ago.

  16. Arnold says:

    I had lasik and would not recommend it to anyone. Ruined my life completely.

    Recently found out that there is metal particulate in my eye as a result of the surgery – the clinic that did it told me no particulate matter was visible but when I went for a second opinion they took a picture which clearly showed a large number of rectangular metal pieces in my eye reflecting light. The pain is unbearable I I don’t know how I will continue on with life. Vision did not really improve fromt the surgery, in fact now I get double vision along with the pain.


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