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Looking Back at Lasik One Year Later

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Lasik!Nearly a year ago, I did a cost benefit analysis of Lasik eye surgery and determined that I was ultimately paying around $500 an eye, after deducting the expense of eye care for twenty years. When I was doing the analysis, I had already decided to get the procedure done and I was running the numbers just to see if anything surprising jumped out at me. The fact that I could peg the additional cost at around $500 an eye over the course of 20 years did surprise me but when you’ve already agreed to spending a few thousand an eye, finding out it’s only $500 won’t change your decision.

Looking back (get it?), I’m glad I made the decision.

The Procedure

The procedure was much faster than I expected. I was ushered into a room where I spoke with the eye surgeon, whom I’d been seeing for a couple years to deal with my dry eyes, and we went over the procedure, the risks, and all that scary stuff. I got a few drops and walked to the room where the procedure would be performed.

My first reaction to the room was that it was kind of cold, the room was spartan, and the machine was bigger than I expected. I laid down and was asked to look up at a ring of lights. There were a few more drops, more numbing and cleaning drops, then the surgeon lowered a suction ring down on my eye to immobilize it. The procedure took a few minutes for each eye but basically you look at some lights, you can feel the laser, the lifting of the flap, your eye going dark for a few seconds (eerie), the replacement of the flap, and all that jazz. All the while, the surgeon was explaining what he was doing, what I should feel or expect, and it was generally a good experience.

So the weirdest part comes after you get up and look around for the first time because everything is hazy but clear (like looking through fog). When I went into the room, it was all blurry because I took off my glasses. When I left, I could read the clock on the wall and that was weird.

Recovery

Recovery wise, I slept the rest of the day, mostly because my eyes hurt so much, and had to sleep with plastic shields on my eyes for the next two weeks. They were there to prevent me from rubbing my eyes in my sleep. I also had drops that I was supposed to use to help the healing process. In the beginning I had some haloing at night, which is what you get when you get out of a chlorinated pool, which made it trickier to drive. After a few weeks, that subsided.

I now have 20/20 in one eye, 20/15 in the other – which is only really noticeable when I’m driving and trying to read street signs. One eye gets it clearer than the other, fortunately my dominant eye is the “good” one.

Would I Do It Again?

About a year ago, my contacts started bothering me, which is what prompted me to seriously consider surgery. Even knowing what I know now about lasik and the after effects, if my contacts hadn’t been bothering me, I wouldn’t have done it. Surgery is serious stuff and given what can go wrong, I don’t think it’s worth doing unless you have a good reason. My contacts were messing up my eyes and that was enough to push me to do lasik.

If you have any questions about it, let me know and I’m happy to share my experience and my thoughts. If you did lasik, especially if you did it several years ago, I’d love to hear about what you think, how it’s been, and any words of wisdom you might have for someone who is only a year in.

(Photo: justin)

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24 Responses to “Looking Back at Lasik One Year Later”

  1. Glenn Lasher says:

    Would you mind dropping me an email? I’m not so much wanting to discuss lasik as dry-eye and I don’t want to drag this thread off-topic.

  2. Matt says:

    It sounds horrible from what you describe.

  3. Texas Wahoo says:

    If you wear hard contacts you have to stop wearing contacts for something like 6 months before they can determine if you are a good candidate for lasik. That is the reason I will probably never get lasik, I can’t stand the thought of wearing my glasses for 6 months.

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, I had to stop wearing my soft contacts for two weeks. Since I was dealing with the dry eyes issue, I was already not wearing them as often as I used to. Stopping for two weeks wasn’t too difficult.

  4. So are you saying you wouldn’t do it again if you had not had the dry eye problem? I’m considering it, but I don’t have any major problems with my contacts – only later at night.

    • Jim says:

      This is a little tricky – so knowing what I know now, I would get it. It’s so much easier without contacts or glasses and the slight difference in vision isn’t hardly noticeable.

      That said, I think there’s a bit of luck involved in the process and the recovery, so I don’t know if I’d have the same results if the process were performed ten times.

      • Hmm, well I’m still considering it. Not needing contacts would be great, especially for water related activities. My wife got intraocular lens implants (her vision was too bad for LASIK) and she loves it. She does have some weird side effects at night, but she says they’re minimal. For example, if it’s really dark and there’s a small, bright light source nearby, she can sometimes see it even if she’s not looking at it. I think it has something to do with light reflecting off the lens. Other than that they’re great. She has 20/15 vision now.

        I’d like to get LASIK, but the fact that it is surgery and the occasional bad results scare me off a bit.

        • Jim says:

          One risk I had was my pupil size, at full dilation, was larger than the area of the operation so I potentially could get halos around lights in the dark. While I did have halos in the beginning, after a few months those went away (thankfully).

  5. Lisa says:

    The reason I didnt do it was because there is no guarantee that after the surgery your vision will be good enough for no vision correction… so you still may need glasses or contacts…

  6. Ra'anan says:

    Thank you for this article.

  7. Sarah in Alaska says:

    Can I ask what kind of prescription you had prior to surgery. Nothing spacific but were you nearsighted only or did you have anything else in your prescription. I’m curious because I have a slight astigmatism in one eye.

    • Lulu says:

      I did mine in 2007 and I was -9.5 and -9 (extremely shortsighted for those of you who don’t understand the prescription). I am still 20/20 (0.0 and 0.0) in both eyes. I also don’t think I would do the surgery again because it was a bit weird and there is no guarantee.

  8. Tom says:

    Are dry eyes still an issue for you? And do you have problems if you stare at a computer screen all day?

    I’m a programmer and my biggest fear is that it’ll be uncomfortable looking at a screen for extended periods of time.

    • Jim says:

      They are no longer an issue for me and I don’t have problems if I stare at a computer screen “all day,” though I suspect I don’t stare as much as I used to. I had plugs put into my eyes (punctal plugs) and eventually they got squeezed out naturally as the drains tightened up.

      For the first month or so after the surgery, my eyes would get tired. I think they weren’t used to seeing 20/20 all the time. After a while, I got used to it and I don’t even notice anymore.

  9. Steve says:

    I had this done 2 years ago. It was pricy (around 4K total), but one of the best decisions I ever made. I also was having problems with contacts after wearing them 10 years. I would definitely do it again.

  10. Jenn says:

    I had mine done in 2000. It was great! Awesome! Wonderful! I had no side effects. Even though I really hadn’t disliked wearing glasses, I found it so great not to have to!

    My eyes did revert around 2008/9, and my vision got bad again (not as bad as it was), and I had the lasik redone – they could still find and peel up the original flap and then re-lasered. I’m still satisfied with the procedure and results.

  11. Josh says:

    I had LASIK done 2 years ago this fall on both eyes and it is by far the best thing I have ever done!

    Everything that you described in your post as for the process is exactly what I went through as well. It was absolutely crazy getting up after the surgery and being able to see across the room, although a bit hazy. I too had the halo effect and to this day still have a faint one at night. However, I LOVE not having to wear contacts anymore.

    I have at least 20/20 vision in both eyes if not better. Before surgery, my eyes weren’t that bad, I think my contacts were a -2.75.

    Pricing definitely depends on where you live. I happened to move to Colorado from Iowa when I decided to have it done and I was able to get both eyes done for the price of what it would have cost for just one eye in Iowa.

    I highly recommend if you are thinking about getting LASIK done to at least go in for an exam. I had been thinking about it for a few years and had a friend decide to go see about it, next thing I know I was in the next week seeing if I was a good candidate and within a month was having the surgery!

  12. Estrella says:

    My one year anniversary is on July 1st. I am so glad I got laser eye surgery, although I did LASEK not LASIK. I also got a really good deal because I got it done while I was living in South Korea and it cost USD$1700 total (surgery is very inexpensive there).

  13. Ryan says:

    I only started wearing glasses a year ago, and LASIK is likely in my long term plans, as long as I will be a good candidate. I’m not a fan of having to wear glasses – I like the idea of my vision being the same as before, without the need for glasses or contacts. But I’m not in any rush.

  14. saladdin says:

    1.5 years or so into mine.

    Best money I have ever spent outside of midget hookers.

    3,200 for PRK.

    Also, there are different types of “laser surgery” so make sure you do the research.

  15. KC says:

    I live in the same area and considering lasik. Curious what Doctor you had if you can remember?


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