On Friday I change my vision and all it took less than two hours! After years or saying I wanted to get laser eye surgery but waiting to near the ripe age of 30 so that my eyes would have a less likelihood of changing, I finally went through with it and got laser eye surgery. If you aren’t familiar, LASIK (Laser Assisted in situ Keratomileusis) is a procedure in which a ophthalmologist uses a laser to reshape the eye’s cornea in order to improve vision. Basically you can say goodbye to glasses and contacts immediately after laser eye surgery.
I decided to get the procedure done at the same place my dad and step mom got their eyes done at about a year ago. My dad offered to drive me to my appointment and I’d have to spend the night at their house in Orange County since you aren’t allowed to drive day 1 of Lasik and I’d have a follow up appointment the next day. On Friday I left work at 1 p.m., drove the 1.5 hours to my dad’s house and was in the waiting room of Excel Laser Vision Institute in Brea by 3 p.m. My dad came with me and went from room to room with me for the entire procedure. It was really comforting to have him there!
The appointment began with three tests in which I had to open my eye really wide so that they could take photos of the shape, etc of my eye. Next we moved into a room where I gave a brief medical history to the nurse as well as did a typical eye test using the chart of letters on the wall. Embarrassingly enough, my vision was SO bad going into the surgery that I didn’t even recognize the huge E at the top of the chart!!! I first got glasses for seeing the board my sophomore year of high school but I’m pretty sure I needed them way before then. Within a year or so of getting glasses I started wearing contacts regularly and my prescription got progressively worse. As of the last couple of years though, it has steadied at a nice solid -4.5 (i.e. i can see my hand in front of my face and can read up close but can’t read a single sign or see a computer screen clearly from my desk chair).
Next the doctor came in and started with a test to see if my eyes are thick enough to do the procedure. This is a deal breaker -if your eyes aren’t thick enough, you can’t have the surgery. Luckily mine were! Next we went through a routine eye exam to figure out exactly where my eyes are at so they could use the information to shape my eye during the surgery.
After that, they dilated and numbed my eyes and I signed more paperwork, got an overview of the procedure, and went over the post-operative care instructions. Soon after we were sitting in the tiny waiting area right before entering the surgery room. My hair was put into a hair net and I sat down on a chair similar to a dentists chair except it was surrounded by huge machines.
As soon as I sat down things were in motion. One eye was covered at all times and based on what I could feel, they used some device to pry my eyes open so they wouldn’t close at all during the surgery. The doctor’s soothing voice was constantly telling me to focus on the green light or red light and I could tell they were cutting a flap in my eye. At one point it went completely black and I panicked a bit thinking I had gone blind. They moved to the other eye and did the same thing and then moved back to the first eye. This time I think is when they used the laser because it smelled horrible like frying flesh (sorry gross I know!). Throughout the procedure everything was blurry and all I could do was focus on a blurry red or green light, using that as my beacon of hope that I wasn’t blind! I realized early on that I was holding my breath so I focused on taking deep breaths and getting as much air as possible. I did not feel ANYTHING during the surgery – no pain at all, yet it was highly uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait for it to be over, just because it was so disorienting and somewhat scary.
The entire thing was over in less than five minutes. I was relieved when they said I could sit up and when I did, I could see perfectly! They had taped some crazy clear eye covers over my eyes so things were a big fuzzy, but there was no pain and everything looked fine! My dad drove me home and we were back at the house just after 5 p.m. The entire process was less than two hours. I was instructed to take a long nap and if I couldn’t, I needed to at least keep my eyes shut as much as possible for the next 2-3 hours. I took a 1.5 hour nap and then talked on the phone to Mike and my Mom with my eyes shut for the next 45 minutes or so. My dad filled my prescription of eye drops and I took them starting 2 hours after the surgery every 4 hours, even throughout the night (set an alarm).
The next day I was allowed to take my eye masks off but had to continue the drops 4 times a day. I headed to my post-op appointment at 9 a.m. and was told that my eyes looked great and my vision is 15/20! I couldn’t’ believe how well I could see and how pain-free the whole experience was. The only downside was that I have some inflammation in my right eye so I have to use the anti-inflammatory drops every 2 hours and come back for another appointment on Tuesday (i.e. drive 3 hours round trip during the workday for a 10 min appointment…). But in the grand scheme of things, I couldn’t ask for an easier process to get perfect vision! This will change my life!
If you are considering laser eye surgery, a few things to think about before scheduling your appointment that I didn’t realize. First, you cannot wear contacts for 2-3 days before your surgery so be prepared to wear glasses for those days. You can’t wear make-up or use lotion the day of your surgery. Also, you can’t wear eye make-up for 2 weeks post surgery and you can’t swim for 2-4 weeks (includes hot tubs). You have to wear the eye masks for 2 weeks and do the drops 4 times a day for one week. I can exercise but nothing too sweaty and I need to wear a sweat band while I do so to avoid sweat getting in my eyes. Laser eye surgery definitely will impact your life for a few weeks but not too significantly and it’s totally worth it for the amazing vision it produces!
Have you had laser eye surgery? If not, do you want to get it? Or are you blessed with perfect vision?!
I have had poor vision since the 5th grade! I started wearing glasses and then in 7th grade I got contacts. My eyes were like yours getting progressively worse each year after the contacts. Now, at 29 years old, I am -6.0 in my right eye and -6.5 in my left. I am desperate for Lasik surgery! I am very glad you posted this so, I know exactly what to expect. It’s earie that they pry open your eye though. I think that’s kind of what would hold me back. Super anxious about it.
Abby @ Change of Pace
Wow- that must be so exciting to see without any aids! I bet it felt weird even though you couldn’t feel anything. Good thing it was over so quickly!
What did you do in triathlons? Would you wear contacts, or have glasses waiting for as soon as you got out of the swim?
I always wore contacts, I literally NEVER wear my glasses except for the 5 min before bed and 2 min in the morning when I get up .It was so weird wearing them for 3 days pre-surgery! Sometimes the water would make my contacts stick to my eyes but they never came out in the water which was good!
Shannon @ Mon Amour
I would love to get laser eye surgery but my eyes are actually too bad for lasik so I would have to get this other procedure that often comes with complications and a long healing time. Hopefully by the time I’m 30 there will be something better out there for me. Being -8.0 makes it pretty challenging to do anything but luckily I’ve had contacts since 5th grade so I’m pretty used to them
Wow! Yeah my friend is similar to you and I’m not sure she is eligible either but really wants it because it’s scary to even wake up without contacts when you are that blind! I hope that they find something for you! But like you said, contacts aren’t that bad if you’re used to them. They didn’t bother me that much.
AWESOME! I’m so jealous!
meghan @ little girl in the big world
Thanks for doing this post. I have wretched vision and have always thought in the back of my mind that I’d do this one day. I’d never actually read about the procedure before, so this was helpful. That does sound super scary for the bit of time you were in the machines. I would have panicked when it went black as well…
Best money I’ve ever spent! Congrats on you’re successful surgery!
Omg I’m dying to do lasik! I put all of you other people who think you are blind to shame. I’m a -11!! I’ve had glasses since I was 6 and contacts since I was 10. My horrible vision is one reason I’m always uneasy in the water. I’m so scared of losing a contact and being blind and totally disoriented out in the ocean. I always steered clear of the crowds in the swim portion of a triathlon.
I’ve always put this off because of cost.. but one day I’ll do it.
oh yes, another terrible thing about being blind. When I was in the hospital at the end of the year for my surgery it was SO AWFUL to not be able to see anything! They took my glasses away in pre-opp so for operation through recovery I couldn’t see a thing. Just a flurry of blurry people around me. That sucked. 🙁
Yeah the water is scary because of that!! Because of your prescription you probably won’t be a candidate for the traditional lasik -you’ll have to upgrade to a different laser unfortunately. They actually recommended I upgrade with my -4 whatever but they didn’t insist on it. My dad was a +6 or something so he had to get the upgraded laser. But…if you can do it, it’s totally worth it!!!
Sierra @ Always, Sierra
I was so excited to read this post! I’ve had glasses since I was in 5th grade (when I put them on the first time, I was amazed that I could see individual blades of grass and leaves on trees lol). It’s such a pain in the butt going on vacation or doing something active and worrying about whether glasses or contacts are going to be better, and if the scuba rental place is going to have prescription masks, etc. I’ve been interested in Lasik for a while, but I don’t know anyone who’s gotten it and the idea of a laser cutting into my eye makes me a little nervous. Thanks for sharing, especially the last paragraph of all the special instructions. Those are the kind of things that are helpful to know before going into it!