John's LASIK Experience
When I decided to look into laser eye surgery, I read a lot of information on the Internet. There are newsgroups, web sites for and against laser surgery, web sites for the companies that do laser surgery, and more. After reading all the stories of people who had bad experiences, I wanted to read about good experiences. They are usually found on the Laser institute's sites. Most sites have a testimonial section where patients praise the doctors and tell of the incredible experience of seeing for the first time without glasses. I read several testimonials and experiences about Lasik surgery. After reading the "horror stories", some experiences made me feel a little better! They had nothing but good things to say about their operation. I found out statistics on how many people have complications out of a thousand, etc. This information may not mean a lot, because I worried I could end up being part of the "bad" statistic, but I guess that is the chance we all take when we go for the operation.
July 7, 2000 - Lasik Appointment At 10:30 a.m., I arrived for my appointment, filled out some simple paper work, handed it in and waited for the testing. The office was nicely decorated; lots of abstract art on the walls and all the staff seemed very professional. The first series of tests was done within 15 minutes. They did a topography graph on both of my eyes and looked into my eyes with lots of different microscopes. The topography test was the best, because it had flashing lights and swirling circles. After these tests were conducted, the doctor then checked my prescription. It was as follows: Myopia of -3.00 in both eyes, mild myopia. So far, I was a very good candidate. Next the doctor measured my pupil size. This was another key factor in whether or not I would be a good candidate. My results: Pupil size of 7mm in both eyes. The doctor told me that this is on the "high" side, but still within their threshold. Average is 6mm. Maximum for their laser is 8mm. The larger the pupil size, the more concern of developing bad night vision because of halos, etc. All of the other tests were perfect. I had no scarring, scratches or anything else wrong with my corneas. The counselors spoke with me and went over the side effects of the surgery including possible negative outcomes and the details of the procedure. This stuff I already knew since I had been researching it for a while now. But I listened patiently.
Overall, my laser center did a good job at letting me know the risks involved. If someone were hesitant or very nervous about doing Lasik, they would probably back out at this point. A consent form, information booklets - all of this got me thinking about whether or not it is all worth it, but I wanted to take the chance. I was a very good candidate for the Lasik surgery, so I am scheduled to have this done on July 21, 2000. I can't wait.
July 21, 2000 - Lasik Surgery At 10:00 a.m. my mother-in-law came by to pick me up and take me to my Lasik appointment an hour early (they ask that you show up an hour early before your surgery). Nervous? You betcha! I wasn't the night before, but when I got up in the morning, I started reading some more horror stories on the Internet about bad experiences. I think I was just trying to get my nerve up to continue on with everything. Well, it worked because I didn't back out of it. I had been waiting so long to do this and nothing was going to stop me now! When I arrived, my mother-in-law left to go home as we didn't know how long I was going to be. I walked in the door and was greeted by the receptionist who told me to wait in the large waiting room, and that I would be called to have my forms signed and witnessed. OK! Moving along... I signed papers and was given last minute instructions, etc. The waiting was killing me. I couldn't wait to get it over and done with. My eyes were tested again, basically making sure that the same results were achieved from my last appointment. Everything checked out and I am clear to go.
When it was my turn, I was called into another waiting room where I put on surgical booties and a surgical cap. I stared at a few other people who looked just as silly as I did and waited about 10 more minutes. Nervous yet? No. I was just staring at the walls, thinking of silly things. Waiting... waiting... seemed forever but it was only about 10 minutes. Then I was called into the Laser room (I figured this out all by myself because the door said "Caution - Laser"). My doctor greeted me and then checked my eyes again. He told me I was a great candidate, and asked if I had any questions, I said no. He told me that one thing to watch out for is halos and starbursts because of my pupil size (7mm). He did say that I might experience either for possibly up to 6 months while my eyes are healing. I moved over to the laser and was introduced to the Chiron Technolas 217 by B&L. My left eye was taped shut, and instead of the doctor using a speculum, he taped my right eyelid open. This seemed a lot more comfortable than a speculum. Next were the eye drops that froze my eye. They dribbled these into my eye, and then after a few seconds they tap my eyeballs to see if I had any feeling there. Tap Tap... nope... didn't feel anything! I was instructed that I would feel some pressure while my eyeball was being suctioned so that the microkeratome could function properly. The Microkeratome (fancy machine that's basically a blade that cuts your flap) cut a small flap in my cornea. That felt a little weird, but no pain. At this point, the world started to look like I was viewing everything through a stained glass window. Very NEAT! The red dot that I was supposed to focus on was all crystallized, as were all the other lights in the background. My flap was lifted up, and then the laser started. I think the worst part of this WHOLE experience was the smell when the laser was used. The smell, I was told, is caused by the combination of gasses or ozone created by the laser. It's GROSS. Ever smelled burnt hair? The smell lasted with me most of the day until I washed my face. The residue must have been left on my face and that's why I could still smell it.
When they were finished with the laser, they put my flap back down and "painted" it against my eye. The same procedure was performed on the other eye. They taped down the right eye, taped the eyelid open on the left eye, cut, lifted, zapped and smelled. I was afraid to open my eyes! I got up and walked to the next "eye machine" and the doctor looked at my eyes, and said, "Perfect!" He then shook my hand and walked me into the recovery room. At this point, my vision was better, but it was a bit blurry. I put on some dark granny glasses and I was given a lot of eye drops along with more instructions about the antibiotic eye drops. I was told that when I felt comfortable, I could leave from the recovery room. I called my mother-in-law to come pick me up and I left the building to wait outside for her. It's that quick! Sign, sit and wait, move, sit and wait, look at your eyes, lie down, tape here, tape there, cut, lift and zap.
Now, this is the part that no one knows yet. When I was leaving the building, I snuck into one of the rooms where they test your eyes. I wanted to sit in the chair and see if I could see the 20/20 board. I could read every letter on the 20/20 line with both of my eyes. I could even read the 20/15 line with both of my eyes! Less than 10 minutes after having my eye surgery I could see BETTER than 20/20.
When I was waiting outside sitting on a bench, I got so excited about everything that I could see! I could see the license plates. I could see signs. I could see people's faces. For those of you who have worn glasses or contacts all your life, you know the feeling you get when you wake up and you can't see anything until you put on your glasses.
It's amazing to be able to see everything without the aid of glasses or contacts. This feeling is amazing. The feeling gives me shivers and goose bumps. Honestly... when I could see I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. People who don't need glasses don't realize what it's like to depend on glasses to see.
My mother-in-law drove us to her place (I could have driven, my eyesight was that good). I sat in a chair and kept my eyes closed for a while. I felt some burning and it almost felt like I had an eyelash in my eye, but this feeling only lasted for an hour or so. I used the eye drops all afternoon and by suppertime my eyes stopped feeling dry. There was some mild discomfort, but if you just sit there with your eyes closed, or take a nap, it's over before you know it.
Let me tell you though, the best part of my day? The one thing that I will never forget? I heard my wife's car in the driveway as she drove up to pick me up, and then something wonderful happened. When the door opened, my wife walked in and I could see her! No glasses, no squinting... my beautiful wife. I could see her smiling face, her beautiful eyes... the love of my life. I don't think she realizes how much I have wanted to do this Laser surgery. I love her with all my heart. She is so beautiful. I am so happy she was one of the beautiful things I was able to see on the first day with my new eyes. I drove us home that evening... without glasses.
The Weeks After
July 28, 2000 - One Week Post-Op Appointment Well at 11:15 a.m. I went for my one-week appointment. I was brought into the exam room, asked to read the charts in the dark and in the light. With the lights on, I could read the complete chart... 20/40... 20/30... 20/25... 20/20... 20/15... 20/10. When the lights were out, I could only get the 20/15 line and most of the 20/10 line. Prognosis? Between 20/10 and 20/15 vision! A little look into my eyes with the "microscope thing" and the doc said that my eyes were healing fine. A few more questions about my drop usage, and we were done! He told me to come back in three weeks.
The only thing I have to add today is my continuing BIONIC VISION (insert here the sound effects from the Million Dollar Man TV Show) and my drop usage... So, still perfect vision. I use my drops a few times a day, and I tend to stick to the TearGel at night. I use the Tears Naturale during the day. All in all, I'm still on CLOUD 9 with my new eyes. I have also been answering lots of questions regarding my experience. If anyone has any questions whatsoever, big or small, I'd be happy to answer anything you ask.
August 17 2000 - One Month Post-Op Appointment
My appointment today was at 11:30 a.m. I swear, by 11:31 I was already inside one of the examination rooms and my eyes were being looked at. The basic questions were asked, "How are you, how are your eyes, any problems, dryness, drops?" I can honestly say I only use the drops in the morning now, as soon as I wake up, and I might just do it because it's something I've been doing regularly. But I've been told that if my eyes aren't dry, I can stop using the drops all together. No night vision problems - my halos and star bursting are basically non-existent now. If I stare directly into a light source, I can't tell if there is a halo or starburst so it must be basically gone. I read the charts... 20/30... 20/25... 20/20... 20/15... I can read all the letters on all the lines with no problem, with both eyes. Man it feels great to be able to see so well. I went to a Blue Jays game yesterday and we sat in the 500 levels (very high) and I could STILL read the name and number of the players. Everything was so clear it almost looked fake, or like I was watching a big screen television. I can't tell you how happy I am. It feels so great!