June 23, 2011
About 2 weeks ago I had laser eye surgery with TLC Lasik. It was to correct nearsightedness in both eyes and an astigmatism in one eye. My surgery was done by Dr. Dean Smith, who also happens to be a family friend.
I have been thinking about having this done for years. I’ve been wearing prescription glasses for at least 10 years. This wasn’t an easy decision for me.
In many ways, wearing glasses felt like a status symbol of being a nerd. Though not always factually correct, it instantly marked you as spending too much time reading or looking at a computer screen. Perhaps it’s a step in the evolution of my identity from student to something else.
The cost was another big factor in deciding about this. I knew it would be around $4000 for both eyes. It’s actually suspicious that some companies advertise at $490 per eye, when most companies charge around $2000 per eye. My health plan from work was no help, so this is all out of pocket.
The biggest factor influencing me to have this surgery was my new sportier lifestyle. Yoga is awkward because all I could vaguely make out was the position of the instructor. I haven’t swam in years, but it would certainly be better if I could see without glasses. Wearing glasses is awkward at the gym. And of course, running is the big reason why I want to be rid of my glasses. In the winter they fog and freeze.
This was surprisingly simple. I went in for an assessment which was probably the most intense part. They did about a dozen tests and examinations, poking my eye, lights, scanners, drops and other examinations.
I went in for the surgery about three weeks later. For a few days before that I took 4 drops in each eye, each day. I also had a bunch of papers to read and sign beforehand.
On the day of the procedure, I walked in, and after handing in the papers, paid with my Visa.
Then a quick chat with the doctor, then a nurse put a ton of drops in each of my eyes.
The nurse gave me a pill sedative of some sort, but I don’t think it did anything.
There were 3 other people going in with my group. I’m told that they were schedule to do 16 people that day. The other three people, all girls, seemed really nervous.
When the first person finished and walked out, it was pretty reassuring. Right before my surgery, the nurse shoved some sponge things in my eye.
The whole procedure was less than 10 minutes. After lying down on some table thing, the doctor put even more drops in my eyes. Then he attached some sort of suction cup to my eyeball and wheeled me under one machine. From what I understand, that machine was a laser to cut the flap on one eye. I didn’t feel anything and it took less than 30 seconds. Then they repeated the suction cup and laser cutter thing on my other eye.
From what I understand, there are few nerves in the eye so I’m not surprised there was no pain.
After that, the doctor put some sort of prop in my eyelids to keep them open, put lots of drops in the eye, then carefully peeled back the flap. I couldn’t see anything out of that eye. Then they wheeled me under another laser which reshaped my lens. There was a tube sucking the smoke away but I still smelled it. The whole laser part was also about 30 seconds. Then the doctor put the flap back and put more drops in.
Then repeat the above with the other eye.
Immediately After Surgery
After, I walked out into a recovery room. I probably already had perfect vision, but everything was blurry from the like 7 litres of water in each eye. In the recovery room, the nurse put like another 7 litres of drops in each eye. After that an ophthalmologist examined my eye, and then I was on my way home less than 10 minutes after the surgery. I could walk fine but things were blurry because of all the drops. I wore sunglasses to prevent dust from getting in my eyes and to discourage rubbing.
As they recommended, I went right to sleep after getting home. Sleeping was kinda awkward because I had to wear these ‘night shields’ they provided. They are essentially plastic lenses I wear over my eyes. The awkward part is I had to tape them to my face to keep them on.
After a 3 hour nap, I woke up with no pain and was surprised at the clarity of my vision.
First few days
One really awkward part of the first day was that I wasn’t supposed to watch TV, movie, look at a computer, play video games or read. Coupled with the restriction that I’m not allowed to exercise for the first week, that left very few things I could do! Time went by pretty quickly because I had to put 3 different drops in each eye, each hour for the first 2 days while awake. That takes a lot of time because I was supposed to leave a few minutes between each drop.
The morning after the surgery, I went for a scheduled eye exam and was already seeing 20/20 and was cleared to drive.
Coming off a tough racing season I didn’t have any difficulty resting and sleeping, but I didn’t enjoy taping and removing the night shields.
The next little while felt weird.
I’d wake up and reach for my glasses on my nightstand before realizing I didn’t need them.
I would have to wear sunglasses everywhere to protect my eyes. The suction cup thing from the surgery left red marks on my eyeballs, which is the only lingering mark. That was another reason to keep wearing the sunglasses.
And I did the drops diligently, the number reducing a little bit at a time as per the schedule.
Wearing protective glasses felt awkward for a while. I was wearing glasses more than before the surgery!
I determined that Pred Forte, one of the drops I had to take, tastes awful. No, I wasn’t drinking them, but apparently drops in the eye can go through the tear ducts, into the nose, and then into the mouth. Tastes really bad!
I’m currently suffering from the often reported night vision problem. I can make out contrast the same as before, but bright lights tend to ‘burst’ or have halo’s around them. On another exam, the doctor told me it might fade as the flap continues to heal.
I don’t regret it at all. I’d recommend TLC and Dr. Dean Smith to everyone!
It’s kinda odd seeing myself in the mirror because I don’t really recognize myself yet. I felt a little naked without the glasses.
I had the surgery for practical reasons, but I realize it’s a huge cosmetic difference too. Makes me feel quite different about myself. Not sure what I feel like yet, but I’ll find out.
I’m in the market for sunglasses. I’m having trouble finding a pair that fits me well because I have a small nose and ears that are far forward.
I’ll still wear some sort of glasses while running, if for no other reason than protecting my eyes from UV rays… and looking cool!