Monday, August 16, 2004

Miss O'Hara Asks a Question

Our lovely blog-sister asks about LASIK surgery. I had LASIK done 3 years ago after wearing glasses or contacts every day since the 4th grade. My advice:

Find people in your social circle who've had it done and who performed the operation. If you were in Nashville, I would recommend either Dr. Ming Wang (who performed my surgery) or the guy who did Bama Girl's. She used to work in his office. His name escapes me at the moment but it started with an S. Like that helps, I know... :)

Make sure your doctor has alot of experience with LASIK. Do NOT go to those $299 places. There is something to be said about paying more and going to a Dr. that is at a hospital or closely affiliated with one should something go wrong. This is an out-patient operation but it is an operation. There is alot of information on the web about LASIK. Also, bladeless LASIK is no less or more safe than traditional LASIK. Don't let them tell you talk you into something more expensive when you don't need it.

Talk to them about their experience. Why did they have it done? What, if any, problems did they experience post op? Did they need a second operation shortly after? Sometimes that has to be done.

Do NOT have LASIK done if you are not prepared to do the aftercare. You will have to put the moisturizing drops in your eyes religiously for up to a week. Every 15 minutes (you'll know when because they start to hurt and need the extra moisture). Keep them in the refridgerator - they feel so much better when they are cold. This could also be a life-long side effect of the procedure, even though it is rare. No mascara or eye make-up for at least a month. No swimming for several weeks. Studies have shown the best time of year to do it is in the winter. Those that have it done at that time are less likely to need follow-up surgical procedures.

I had mine done in January 2001 and did not need a follow up procedure. My eyes are 20/20 in the right eye and 20/40 in the left. My left eye was significantly worse than the right. It was 20/200 I believe. I couldn't see anything without my glasses/contacts. It would have to be inches from my face to be clear.

The one side effect I've experienced, and it is pretty common, is diminshed night vision. I see alot of halos/glare around lights at night. I keep a pair of orange-tinted sunglasses in my car to wear at night. I wore them quite often at the beginning but now, it's been a couple of months since I've had to wear them.

Here's how it goes: you will wear your glasses for a few days prior to surgery to allow your eyes to return to their natural shape. On the day of the operation, when you arrive, you'll take some perscription only super-duper strength tylenol that relaxes your entire body. Once in the chair, they tape your eyes open and pour in numbing drops. They program the machine with the specifics to re-shape your eye. You will stare at a little red X and they put a device that looked like a big cigar cutter to cut the flap of the eye. You'll go blind for a second. Then the laser starts. If your eye shifts from staring at the X, it will shut off. It took 58 seconds for my right eye and over a minute for my left. The laser pulses and moves across the eye to re-shape it.

The staff talked to me through the entire procedure, telling me what was going on. I don't think I breathed on the first eye at all, I was so nervous. The nurse had to help me get my hands off the arms of the chair. I had squeezed the ends so tightly that my fingers had locked up and I couldn't let go.

They put the little flaps back over the iris. Short break while they re-set the machine and numbed the second eye. Repeat procedure.

When I sat up, my vision was cloudy but I could read the name on the sheet covering some equipment several feet away. When I came in, I couldn't even see it beyond it being a big grey blob. I though I was going to start crying. They tape plastic disks over your eyes and you will wear little plastic goggles the next day when you return for your follow-up but after that, you won't need the goggles. The plastic disks, I recommend wearing in your sleep and in the shower for a few days just to be safe.

I got home, had lunch, took a unisom and slept for 12 hours. When I got up, I was reading everything. It was like being a kid again.

So, to anyone who is a candidate, I highly recommend LASIK. If you are concerned about the cost: in the six years I had contacts, I paid for one eye. That doesn't include glasses or the stuff to clean my contacts. And it's gone down since I had it done 3 years ago. Do your homework before going in even for an initial consultation.

Glasses are now an accessory instead of a necessity! Love that :)

miss_o_hara's Xanga Site - 8/14/2004 8:12:04 PM