Back in December, I wrote about how I’d be getting LASIK eye surgery. Many of you kindly chimed in with your thoughts and experiences, so I wanted to report back. While I shared my initial thoughts 36 hours post-operation, I wanted to share my thoughts now that it has been 30 days.
I don’t want to bury the lede, so let me just state upfront that I couldn’t be happier with the results. I now have 20/15 vision (that’s better than 20/20), and have had no real complications.
In this post:
Why I decided to get LASIK eye surgery
As I explained when I first wrote about my plans to get LASIK, I had pretty bad vision almost my entire adult life. My eyes were healthy otherwise, but my vision just wasn’t great.
I always wore glasses when I drove or when I actually wanted to see something at a distance, while I didn’t otherwise wear glasses during most of my day-to-day activities, including while working on the computer. I never used contacts, even though I probably should have.
I have several friends who have gotten LASIK eye surgery, and they all said it was one of the most life-changing medical things they’ve ever done. So while I’ve been considering it for years, I always kept pushing it off. That finally changed a few months ago, when I scheduled a consultation. The consultation went well, so I then ripped off the band-aid, and just scheduled the surgery.
Before I share my experience, let me note some very important points:
- You should of course do your own research before getting any medical procedure (including LASIK), as there are risks and potential side effects
- There are alternatives to LASIK nowadays, like PRK and SMILE, and they all have their pros and cons (which I’m not really qualified to speak on)
- As you’ll see in the comments section of my previous post, people have varying results with these procedures; many people say that getting LASIK was the best money they ever spent, others say it was one of the worst decisions they ever made, and many people report complications, ranging from dry eyes, to reduced night vision, to seeing floaters
Honestly, when I published the post about my plans to get LASIK and saw such varied responses, I got a bit more nervous than I had previously been. But I had already committed to it, and it was a risk I was willing to take. I also recognize that people tend to share extreme experiences on the internet, both positive and negative, whether it’s about a hotel stay or a surgery.
My LASIK eye surgery experience
Since so many OMAAT readers were helpful with sharing their experience with LASIK, I figured I’d report back on my experience as well.
For what it’s worth, I got my procedure at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami. Not only was this convenient in terms of location, but it’s also (apparently) regarded as one of the best eye hospitals in the country, so that worked out great. Dr. Yoo performed the surgery, though I also saw Dr. Perez Blanco before and after the surgery, and I’d highly recommend either of them.
For those curious, the entire procedure cost $4,300, and it’s not covered by insurance, since it’s considered cosmetic (at least for me, though other eye procedures may be covered). Obviously that’s a significant amount of money, but this is also a procedure that can change lives, and that price includes everything from the consultation, to the surgery, to the follow-up appointments.
The actual LASIK eye surgery experience
My LASIK eye surgery appointment was at 1:30PM on a Thursday, and I was on my way home by 2:45PM. I’m super squeamish, and I’m so lucky that I’ve never had to have any sort of a “real” medical procedure, so I tried not to think about this too much, or else I might have had second thoughts.
When I arrived for surgery I briefly sat in the waiting room, and met with the doctor, who asked if I had any questions. I was then given a Valium. That hit pretty quickly, though I was still more “with it” than I was expecting, and really just felt slightly relaxed.
After waiting for a bit, it was my turn, and I was brought into the room where the procedure is performed. You basically just lie down on a fully reclined chair, which can move around between the various equipment.
The surgical assistant sensed I was nervous, and said “don’t worry, it’s no worse than a roller coaster.” I responded “I really don’t like roller coasters, though.” “Neither do I,” she responded.
The entire procedure took maybe 10 minutes, and was performed in two parts — first a flap is created in the cornea, and then the laser is used to reshape the cornea. Each of those is performed separately for each eye, so really it’s a four-part procedure, with each only taking a couple of minutes at most.
I appreciated how the doctor talked me through everything in an honest way, and if anything, she overstated what I’d feel, rather than understating it. “You might feel a lot of pressure on your eye,” “you might briefly stop seeing the green light, don’t worry, that’s normal,” etc.
The first part of the procedure is probably the more unpleasant part, as your eye feels a bit of pressure. However, I didn’t find it to be painful at all, but rather it just felt kind of weird. The second part of the procedure feels like you’re watching some laser show while on mushrooms.
Perhaps the most unpleasant part of the procedure was the burning smell of the vaporized tissue of the cornea. I was kind of freaked out when it happened on my first eye, so I just avoided smelling as much as possible when it was done on my second eye.
And then as quickly as it started, the procedure was over. At the end of the procedure, the doctor taped clear shields to my eyes, and told me to keep them on until the next morning.
The afternoon & night after LASIK eye surgery
It’s such a weird feeling having just had LASIK, because you can see, but your vision is just very blurry, and you have a lot of light sensitivity. So I was told to go home, eat something, have a second Valium, and sleep through the night, while the following morning I could resume my normal activities.
I got home, I ate something, and by 4PM I got in bed, hoping for a long slumber. I had been warned that in the few hours after surgery I might feel the most discomfort… and that did indeed happen. About 15 minutes after getting in bed, I felt a horrible burning sensation in my eyes. My eyes starting tearing up, and I felt like water was gushing out of my eyes.
It wasn’t anything unbearable, but for at least 90 minutes I stayed in bed under the covers doing breathing exercises to help with the discomfort. Fortunately the pain subsided, and then I felt fine again. I managed to sleep through the entire night, and woke up at my normal time the next morning (4AM).
The sensation of waking up with perfect vision!
I was a little nervous to remove my eye patches and fully open my eyes the following morning. It took me about 30 minutes to fully open them and adjust to everything around me, because the area around my eyes was super “crusty,” and for a moment, everything was blurry and seemed very bright (even though it was dark outside).
But then when I actually managed to fully open my eyes… OMG, I could see like never before! I couldn’t believe it. I see better now than I did with my prescription glasses. When you’re a kid and have good vision, you don’t appreciate what a gift that is. Meanwhile when you’re an adult, you maybe just come to accept that your vision isn’t great without some help. But my gosh, I can’t believe how well I see.
The morning after the surgery I had a follow-up appointment, where they confirmed that everything is looking good, and gave me an eye test — I now have 20/15 vision.
The LASIK recovery experience
There’s always still the possibility of complications as your eyes heal from the surgery. Fortunately I’ve had almost no issues. Here are the precautions I was advised to take following the surgery:
- For the first week, I needed to take two kinds of eye drops four times daily (which was quite the adventure, because I’ve never regularly taken eye drops before)
- For the first several nights, I needed to tape shields to my eyes
- I had to be careful not to touch my eyes, had to be careful with showering, etc.
- I couldn’t swim and was told to generally avoid water for at least a couple of weeks (which I’m totally fine with, because I’m not aquatic)
In addition to that, for the first week I just mostly stayed at home, which frankly is no different than my usual life. 😉 I didn’t work out (I didn’t want sweat to get into my eyes), and I also avoided being outside too much, because it was a windy week in Miami, and I didn’t want anything to blow into my eyes.
The only real complication I had from the procedure was cosmetic in nature. My eyes looked really bloodshot for some time. That’s because during LASIK, it’s normal for small blood vessels to break in your eyes. So in the days after my procedure, my eyes were outrageously red, while within a couple of weeks it got much better.
A month in, everything is fantastic. I’m lucky, as I’m not noticing any of the other complications I’ve heard of, from dry eyes, to reduced night vision, to floaters. This is truly nitpicking, and it might even be my imagination, but the one thing that I’m maybe noticing is that lights look a bit “shinier” at night.
I just keep pinching myself over how good my vision is. Obviously it’s just what I’ve been used to in recent weeks, but every few hours I think to myself “wait a second, I can see perfectly, THIS IS AMAZING!” I’m currently on my first trip since the surgery, and I can’t believe how much easier it is to navigate airports when you can read the signage from so far away. Heck, it’s even more fun to gaze out the window when you can see things clearly, rather than everything being a blur.
I had LASIK eye surgery a month ago, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision, as it has completely changed my life. The surgery itself was fairly painless but super strange, and I did experience a bit of pain within the few hours after surgery, in terms of having a burning sensation in my eyes.
However, when I woke up the following morning, I had perfect vision, and I just can’t believe it. I could resume most of my normal household activities the following day, though I had to take some precautions for a couple of weeks, which were no big deal.
The world is such a beautiful place, and being able to see it clearly is such a gift. Thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences ahead of the procedure. And if you choose to get any sort of eye procedure, make sure you do your own research, are aware of the risks, etc. Obviously not everyone’s experience is as positive as mine.