It was something I avoided for years. My optometrist always told me I was a candidate for Lasik eye surgery, but I was never quite sold on the idea. What if I was that 1% statistic that lost my vision instead of having my eyes corrected? Why take the risk right?
It wasn't until my dad had his vision corrected last year that I started to think about doing Lasik myself. He had to have his cataracts removed, so while he was at it, they told him they could fix his vision. He was going in for laser surgery anyway, so what's one more simple procedure. He can now see clearly without glasses. I was convinced.
My Lasik Eye Surgery Experience
The problem was, we were never home long enough to have a consultation. We travel a lot and having lasik eye surgery is a process that involves 3 months of your time.
But after Dave fractured two vertebrae in his back last November, we found ourselves in Canada for several months while he recovered from his injuries.
In February, I decided to get Lasik Eye Surgery Done.
We went to TLC Lasik Centres in London, Ontario where I met with the doctor to discuss my eyesight. They aren't cheap, but I didn't want to take any chances with my eyes. I am willing to spend top dollar for the best, and apparently, this is the best! It cost $5000 to have laser surgery on both of my eyes.
My prescription was strong at -6.0 in each eye with a slight astigmatism. I was a good candidate, but since I am over the age of 40, I now have to worry about my reading vision. With my glasses, I didn't need bifocals or reading glasses yet, but in time I will need to wear them…everyone does! They gave me the option to have one eye corrected for reading and one for distance. I opted for distance only. Having clear vision at a distance suits my lifestyle better and having one eye adjusted for distance and the other for closeness seemed to complicated to me.
I want to be able to go on a camping or kayaking trip for several days at a time and not have to worry about sticking my dirty fingers into my eyes each morning as I fumble in a tent putting contacts in. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself in a desert prying my eyes open as I try to stick contacts into my eyes with semi-clean fingers. My glasses and contact lenses have been a burden with my lifestyle from worrying about having them pop out while snorkelling or whitewater kayaking to having to deal with them while camping or trekking for several days in the backcountry. To be able to see without glasses while traveling was going to make my life much easier. My lifestyle
I Was Terrified
I don't think anyone is comfortable when going into surgery so admitting I was afraid is nothing surprising. But the doctors and nurses are so comfortable and kind, they put you at ease. Every part of the procedure is explained to you and the risks are quite minimal. From what I understood, you can't really go blind. The complications more often happen after the fact from infection or rubbing of the eyes.
Initial Lasik Consultation
Once I made the decision to have Lasik done, they did a complete eye exam to find out my current prescription and to discuss any concerns or irritations. I told them that I suffer from dry eyes, but I think it's mostly due to wearing contacts for hours on end each day. They warned me that I will probably still suffer from dry eyes for a while, but eye drops would help immensely.
They then made a map of my eye.
This map told where the problems were in my eyes and how they were going to fix them. The laser would follow this map when it came time for surgery. The computer is so precise that there is only a very small chance of anything going wrong.hey know exactly where the cutting and shaving needs to be done. They input the data into the chart and you are set. When you are in surgery, the laser follows the movement of your eye. Should you panic and move your head or eyes suddenly, the laser automatically shuts off. That's a relief.
After they appointment, they sent me home with a prescription of eye drops and wipes for a preparation routine that I would have to start following 2 weeks before my surgery.
Note: You cannot fly 1-2 weeks before your surgery and you cannot do any activity for 1 week after your surgery. After that it's not recommended to fly for another week.
The Day of Surgery
The morning of the surgery, I was quite nervous, but I was put at ease the moment the nurse came to get me. There were quite a few patients in the waiting room and we were all taking back one-by-one to the pre-op area filled with large lounge “Lazy Boy” type chairs. We all sat together talking about our procedures as the Dr's assistant gave us a pill to relax our nerves and put in the recommended doses of eye drops.
I was first up. I was led into the operating room filled with bright lights. I laid down on the bed, they gave me two rubber balls to squeeze for stress and I listened to them reading off a list of numbers which I deduced was the settings for the laser that was about to cut into my eye. A suction was placed over my eyes to keep them open (they don't take them anymore) and the procedure was over in 12 minutes.
They talked to me during the entire operation telling me what they were doing and asking me how I was doing. They did both eyes and the minute they were done, I was led out of the room and I could see!
I put on my dark sunglasses and that was that. The entire experience took about an hour.
I met Dave at the reception and we promptly donated my prescription glasses to their collection. Doctors pick up glasses to be donated to needy people overseas and at home.
As soon as we left the building, my eyes began to sting. I couldn't stand the light. I had dark glasses on but I had to put a coat over my head for the drive home. Needless to say, you cannot drive yourself. It is required to have someone be able to drive you home.
They told me the best thing I could do was to go home and sleep as much as possible. The pill helped with that a lot and I promptly went to bed.
Dave woke me up hourly all day long to put eye drops in my eyes and I could barely open them wide enough to put them in. But by about 6pm, I was out of bed and eating dinner and feeling much better. I still had to wear my sunglasses, and I couldn't read or watch TV, but I could open my eyes without excruciating pain.
I went back to bed for the night and by the next morning, the pain was gone.
It is required that you go back to the doctors the next day for an eye exam to make sure that there are no problems with the lens. You see, when you get lasik eye surgery, they cut a flap in the lens of your eye, open it up and then the laser reshapes your eye. It's the shape of the eye that affects vision. Afterwards, they put the lens back and you go home while it heals.
No Rubbing of eyes allowed!
For the next week, I had to wear dark glasses for two reasons. One because I was sensitive to the light. But two, the dark glasses protect your eyes from inadvertently rubbing your eyes, or poking them with anything. Even if you feel ok with light, you should wear those glasses until your next eye appointment which takes place 7 days later.
I also had to put in prescription eye drops at different intervals. The first 4 days required a lot of drops. I had two different kinds that needed to go in my eyes every hour. After a few days it was every hour for moisture drops and then every couple of hours for the prescription until it went down to once when I woke up and once before bed.
After 7 days, I went back to the optometrist for an exam and they told me that my eyes were still swollen and very dry, but looking good. That explains why my vision still wasn't 20/20.
They told me that since my prescription was quite strong and because of my age, my eyes would take a bit of time to adjust. I never needed reading glasses before, but my doctor told me to buy a pair of light prescription reading glasses for when working at the computer and that would help a lot. It did!
You need to be home for an extended length of time when getting lasik surgery.
I had to go back for another consultation 1 month later. Sadly, my eyesight wasn't 20/20 yet, but the doctor said it can take some people 3 to 6 months to gain stable vision. My eyes were still having a bit of trouble focusing on the smaller letters fo the chart. She wasn't worried though, the eyes were looking good and my prescription was getting better.
My final appointment was last week before leaving for Spain. I was 1 month shy of the required 3 month meeting, but I had to go in early because we're in Europe for the summer. They checked out my eyes and I am happy to say that my left eye is 20/20, my right is still a work in progress but it's close.
My eyes are still very dry, but I've been told by people that the dryness goes away in about 6 months to a year. I just keep using my moisture drops (the individual tubes that don't have any preservatives) and I keep my computer work to a minimum.
My eyes get tired quickly, and I still need to occasionally wear reading glasses when working, but not as often and I can see perfectly for distance.
I do love the fact that I can get up in the middle of the night and I don't have to fumble for glasses. When I wore glasses my biggest fear was always what would happen if there was an emergency. If I had to act fast and I couldnt' find my glasses, I would be useless. I couldn't see a thing. Now I feel secure knowing that I will be useful should I need to act fast in the middle of the night.
But most importantly, I am comfortable traveling and doing adventure sports. I no longer have to carry extra contacts should something happen, I don't have to worry about water knocking my contact out or deciding if I should wear prescription sunglasses or go with contacts. It's always been a burden carrying so many sets of glasses, changing from sunglasses to glasses when going indoors and having my glasses fog up in cold weather. Now I can truly enjoy our adventures.