My own Lasik experience

I had LASIK down about two years ago. The first thing I did was to research all reputatable Opthamologists who offered the procedure in my area. I also spoke to co-workers who had the procedure done. I finally picked a well-known doctor with a stellar track record and many recomendations. Hell, I even researched the particular machine he uses for said procedure. Of course, the first step is to find out if you are even a candidate for LASIK. Mine was a two hour test of all things eye related. Turns out, even with astygmatism, I was still considered low risk.

The Cutting Day

I asked no less than 5 people I knew who had LASIK done to them. I knew the whole story and what to expect. There are certain surreal aspects to this procedure that I was dreading beforehand. The procedure is in two parts. The first is to cut the flap of the cornea and the second is the actual reshaping of the surface of the cornea. I had opted for the All-Laser procedure. It is standard now, but two years ago you had the option of cutting the flap with a razor like mechanism or to use a laser. Of course, the All-laser is said to be more accurate.

The actual cutting of the flap was much as described in the article. From a procedural standpoint, they use eye clips to keep one eye lid open. The other eye is covered with gauze to remove it from use. They squirt a whole bunch of numbing and lubricating drops in your eyes. They then attach a tube about the radius of your eye's iris with a suction cup on the end. They then attach a small hose to this tube and apply a vacuum. All this does is to keep your eye fixed in one position and get it to stand up in the socket so they can lower a laser microscope on top of your eye. A normal side effect of the suction is a temporary blindness in that eye much like when you rub your eyes too hard and they go dark for a second while they readjust. The laser scope then takes about 30-60 seconds to cut a very shallow perfectly shaped perforation on the top layer of the cornea. They do the same thing to the other eye and you are on to phase 2. Oh, I forgot to mention that my eyes were slightly blurred after this process from what they tell me is a normal build up of tiny air bubbles caused by the process.

The second part was, to me, a lot easier and quicker. They moved me to a new room with a nice comfy laid back sort of dentists chair. The laser apparatus is swivel mounted and they can swing it up over the eyes. After a re-application of the eye clips and numbing drops, they go to work, one eye at a time. The laser is a red blinking light that you focus your eye on as best you can. This is the distraction while the doctor gently lifts up the flap and folds it back. This is where things get surreal. The somewhat focused, blinking red light suddenly became a blinking red mist. The moment your flap is lifted, your eyesight is severly out of focus and light tends to disperse across your cornea. Once the laser has your eye mapped and tracked, there is a sharp , repeating clicking sound to let you know the laser is at work. The real clue is that you can actually smell the burned corneal cells from the laser. I should add that there is absolutely no pain or other discomfort. It is all in the mind. I had resigned myself to just getting it over with and I had practiced a rhythmic breathing just to keep myself still and give myself the best chance at a successful outcome. The actual cutting was only about 20-30 seconds. The doctor then gently replaces the flap and smooths it over with a small brush and some kind of viscous clear goop. As soon as the flap was lowered, my vision was sharp and clear, albeit a bit watery if that makes sense. The other eye follows the same procedure. Each eye took a few minutes from start to end. I did not have the benefit of the ski-type goggles to wear for my post-op. They taped some frameless goggle eye pieces to each eye. The tape was a pain as it pulls on the skin. I had to wear these things for 5 nights to prevent me inadvertently rubbing my eyes. That's the trick. If you value your eyes, you should give yourself every chance of success. I followed the post-op directions to the letter.

Post Op Problems

I was one of the rare cases that actually suffered from post operative issues. I suffered from what is called Epitheleal Erosion. You see, the flap consists of epitheleal cells, some of which need to be cut to lift the flap. Once the flap is replaced, the epitheleal cells start to regenerate and fill in the area where the cut line exists. The trick is, the cells take a little longer to essentially cement into place and stick to the rest of the cornea. In my case, I was suffering from excessive dry eye over night, even though I used the drops to prescription. What would effectively happen is that at night my eyes would dry and get a little tacky under the eyelid. Upon waking up, I would open my eyes a little too quickly and it would tear out some of the newly reformed epitheleal cells. This irritates the eye and causes a longer recovery time. Initially, the doctor said this happens and not to worry. In my case, because it kept happening, they prescribed a thicker version of the drops, which was actually more like petroleum jelly. This allowed the eyes to stay moist and lubricated all night. After a few weeks of this treatment, my eyes normalized and I was on the road to 20/20 vision.

Although I did have some minor issues, overall, I was thoroughly happy with the outcome. If you are thinking of getting this procedure done, then pick a good doctor. The best doctors are most often not the cheapest ones, but hey, how much are your eyes worth to you? In all reality, this procedure is so well understood that it is really become a very minor outpatient surgery. I wouldn't worry too much about going blind. In comparison to other forms of surgery, the chances of death from any sort of surgical anathesia are listed at 1:10000. To me, I do not like those odds because they equate to one person in every 10,000 dying in the operating room for even the simplest of surgeries. For the millions of people who go under the knife each year, that is too many. I asked an Anathesiologist about this and he simply said that the ratio is much more favorable but just that 1:10000 is really just the ceiling of the whole risk scale. Perhaps any medical types can confirm or deny.