I know several years ago Tynan did a blog post on getting laser eye surgery (PRK Waveform) and I was wondering what his and other people's experiences here was afterwards for a long period of time. Did you develop permanent dry eyes? Is everything hunky dory? What are some things you wish you knew after the fact? What were the surprises?
I had no bad side effects whatsoever. My vision isn't as good as it was 60 days after the surgery, but it's still probably 20/20 or 20/25. I have the feeling that if I didn't sit in front of computer screens all day, it would still be the same.
Here's an account of my experience and some tips (I wrote this as a yelp review for the doctors office that performed my procedure):
I saved up for 3 months to pay everything up front. It was a nervous 3 months. As the date got closer, I watched videos on youtube of the procedure and read lots of first-hand accounts. By the time I went in for the procedure, I was well informed and incredibly nervous. The receptionist offered me a valium and ibuprofin, which I happily took. Within about 5 minutes, I was brought to a room where numerous eye drops were put into my eyes and I was given medical booties and a hat (hair cover). Then, I was escorted into the operating room where all the cool equipment was! Dr Hyver and several assistants were waiting. They all greeted me and were very friendly. They had me lay down and position myself. I was then looking up into the cool green laser light show as everything was being calibrated. They verified that it's me and not someone else, which is something I was secretly worried about.
My left eye was covered with a patch while my right eye was numbed with drops, taped open and a device was inserted to keep my eyelids open. All of this was completely comfortable. I could hear Dr Hyver speaking with the others about various things and then he would speak with me about what was happening. Throughout the entire process, he spoke with me about what was happening and what to expect, which I found extremely comforting.
The first part: Creation of the flap using the femtosecond laser:
Ok, this was really awesome. I love technology and was really happy I'd read about how this thing works. I'll just describe what my experience was like:
It was placed comfortably on my eye and I could feel the suction of it to my eye. I was instructed to keep watching the green light and that it would get darker and darker. Eventually my vision faded all the way in that eye, but I wasn't afraid because I knew it was most-likely due to the suction causing the blood to be diverted away from where it needed to be. Then the laser did its thing, creating all the little gas bubbles. It was super quick and I never felt anything. The cool part though is what I saw. I saw a beautiful star pattern appear across my vision in that eye - like I was in a planetarium. It was absolutely amazing and over in a flash. The device and the suction was removed and my vision returned. At this point, Dr Hyver worked on loosening the flap and finally moving it out of the way. This was also really cool. My clear view of the light turned into a blurry vision of a light.
The vision correction:
I was instructed to keep looking at it even if it moves. It didn't move for me. I just kept focusing on the center of the blob of light. Other lights turned on, which I'm certain were the eximer laser. They did their thing for about 5-10 seconds. Afterwards, drops were put on my eye and the flap was repositioned. Everything just kind of looked wet and awesome and then super clear. The eye was left to air dry for a short period (maybe 20 seconds?) and then everything was switched and repeated on the other eye.
A little bit of follow up back in the other room and I was sent on my way. My friend who drove me was shocked because it was so fast.
I kept my eyes closed the entire way home, with occasional peaks through my provided sunglasses to see how well things looked. Things were a little hazy, but I could read license plates. Once home, I stayed in bed for about 5 hours with the eyes closed, Eventually, after dark, I went outside to see the world. I had some halos, which is to be expected right after or even for a few weeks or longer, but they were actually really neat looking and not distracting. I could see so far and just kept looking around. My neighbor thought something happened because I was just standing there looking at 'nothing'. I explained how I was seeing the world in a new way after my Lasik.
Before surgery: Clean your house, close all the curtains, stock up on easy to make food, drink tons of water before so you're really hydrated, get your podcasts/music ready in case you don't sleep while recovering. Also, set many alarms so you never miss any eye drops.
So far, day 3: Best money I've ever spent.
Just a quick update to my previous review:
I had my month follow up today. I went to the Daly City office instead of the San Ramone office and had just as great an experience with the staff. I'm seeing 20/15 in both eyes. The day after surgery they were about 20/25, which is to be expected since they were healing.
The night time halos are almost gone and my eyes don't get dry, although I sometimes still use artificial tears when I would have previously rubbed an eye due to an itch or something. Not rubbing them has greatly improved their general well-being. I don't feel tired all the time and allergies affect me less.
It's been really fantastic not wearing glasses. I've been to concerts, the movies, ridden my motorcycle about a thousand miles, ridden my bicycle all over the place, gone running and just stared at things - from high up in skyscrapers and bridges to street level and looking around. One of the best experiences was going on a hike in the berkeley hills one Sunday and being able to make out fine details about a half mile away down a mountainside.
I got a lasik a couple of weeks ago. Overall the experience was good and my eyesight is far better than it used to be even with glasses or contacts.
However, dryness is still an issue and I don't feel like it's going away anytime soon. It's not too bad, but I do have to use eye drops every once in a while. Hopefully it will get better over time, but even if it doesn't I still won't regret anything. To me the benefits of not having to wear glasses or contacts totally outweigh the inconvenience of having to use eye drops.
If you are considering eye surgery yourself, stay away from contacts as much as possible. They can make the dryness worse as they probably did in my case.
I never got it but heard a story of someone who got the procedure at a supposedly reputable doctor and they ended up messing up slightly. Something about not getting the right measurements of the eye or not taking into account some abnormalities of the eye as not everyone has a supposedly perfect 'shape' per se. I don't know if I even should be giving out advice on this but I'd consult at least 2 doctors in addition to making sure you know if you have a non-standard eye shape (I believe it's astigmatism? But this one seemed misshapen beyond astigmatism since that's common to eye docs.). They turned out fine for the most part but have needed slight adjustments and relensing/correction with contacts or whatever eye doctors do. I guess the result wasn't 'perfect' to put it that way. Sorry about the vagueness it was a while back and I wasn't paying too much attention at the time.
I've had 2 other friends who've had it - one with a slightly differently curved eye than what is considered normal - no probs whatsoever. One of them recent, the one with the curved eye it's prolly been 10 years no issues. I haven't asked them in depth but I don't recall any of them complaining about dry eyes and post surgical issues.