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My Wife's Experience with Wavefront Lasik Eye Surgery

My wife Lynne recently Lasik Eye Surgery and was very happy with the results. Here's the story in her own words.

Today was the day of my Lasik surgery procedure. Before I begin to discuss today's events let me share what led me to decide on Lasik. I started wearing glasses at age 15 and quickly switched to contacts because I didn't care for glasses. My eyesight would get a little worse each year. By the time of surgery, it was at -3.75 and -4 for each of my eyes. I was very nearsighted although I know that my poor eyesight falls in the more moderate range than severe. Still, I couldn't see or read anything in front of me unless I was on top of it.

I had wanted to get Lasik done but the cost was the main reason why I didn't pursue it. The procedure itself seemed quite daunting. The thought of someone working on my eyes was nerve-wracking but I chose to think of the outcome and not focus on the procedure. I asked around and found every single person who had the procedure done was thrilled and raved about it. Most said the procedure wasn't bad at all and the end results were fantastic.

I didn't do too much research on doctors; I used the one whom my insurance gave a discount for. In the office, however, I was very impressed with Dr. Dornic at the Laser Eye Center in Cary. I read all of his patient reviews while waiting for my consultation and everyone had wonderful things to say about the doctor so I felt very good about that.

The initial consultation was free. They took some pictures of my eyes and measured the strength of my glasses. The doctor looked in my eyes and told me that I was a candidate for regular Lasik and Custom, or Wavefront, Lasik. Regular Lasik was cheaper - at $1249 per eye with the insurance discount. It boasted an 85% chance of 20/20 vision. It used your accounts of lenses to determine how to shape your eye. Basically it is done the same way they determine what prescription lens to use. The custom approach is more expensive at $1649 per eye. It uses a machine to determine how to laser your eyes. It gives a much more accurate picture of your eye and therefore the adjustments made are more precise leading to better vision. They boast a 98% chance of 20/20 vision or better with a high probability of improved night vision as well.

Since I was already paying for the procedure, I decided that I might as well pay for the best and chose the Wavefront approach. The office scheduled a pre-op appointment for me and told me to stop wearing contacts for a week before the appointment. It was terrible having to wear glasses for a week when you are not used to it. The pre-op appointment was no different than a regular eye doctor examination. It took about an hour and they had to dilate my eyes.

The next morning I arrived for my procedure. I signed some consent forms and made a down payment for services. Next I was given 5 mg of Valium and some antibiotic eye drops. After 15 minutes I felt nothing from the Valium so they gave me an additional 5-mg. To be honest, it still didn't have that much affect. I was a little more relaxed but I didn't feel drugged in any way. They did a total of 3 sets of the antibiotic drops and I headed into the laser room.

They showed me what the sound of the laser would be like and told me what was going to happen. They gave me a stuffed monkey to hold onto during the procedure - it was kind of funny at first but in the end I was glad to have the monkey! They taped one of my eyes with a black shield so I couldn't see out of that eye. Next they taped my upper and lower eyelashes on the eye they are going to work on. They gave me numbing drops in my eye and finally put the eye speculum in to hold my eye open. I was really worried about that part but it wasn't bothersome at all. They put more drops in to wash out my eye and then put this suction cup on my eye. I felt pressure and it was weird but it really wasn't bad. When they do that, however you totally lose your vision until you can kind of make out this blinking orange light that you are supposed to look at.

The next step is to cut into your eye to make a flap. This was where I was glad to have the monkey. I guess my eye wasn't as numb as it should have been and it hurt (and I was squeezing George the Monkey) - not like labor pains or anything but it wasn't fun either. Luckily it was only for a few seconds. The next part is weird, the doctor lifts up the flap and suddenly everything is really blurry and strange looking. The laser then starts and I could actually smell my eye being burned away. The laser doesn't hurt at all. It only takes about a minute tops and then they put the flap back down and you can see again. At this time the doctor sponges your flap to smooth it out and lets it air dry for 2 minutes. One eye is done!

For the next eye the procedure was the same but I was nervous because of the pain I felt during the slicing of my first eye. After the numbing drops, the doctor was touching my eye and I could feel it - I began thinking - okay if I can feel him now (which I couldn't with the last eye) what is it going to be like when he slices the eye. So, I spoke up and they put more drops in. That turned out to be great, as I didn't feel the pain with the slicing this time. The second eye was much easier since I had been through it and knew what to expect plus I didn't have the pain that I had with the first eye.

Despite the few seconds of pain - I would do it all again in a heartbeat - it isn't even supposed to hurt - they just didn't get my eye numb enough. So, if you are considering the procedure - don't let my experience convince you not to do it - it wasn't that big of a deal. I had more pain closing a door on my finger than during the procedure and that pain lasted a lot longer!

After the procedure, they moved me to an exam room and put some more drops to lubricate my corneas and told me to keep my eyes closed. The doctor checked my flap and then did another laser patient. After that patient, he checked my flap again and gave me more drops. By now my eyes were burning so they gave me more numbing drops. They taped plastic shields to my eyes and gave me sunglasses to wear over them and sent me home.

Joe drove me home and I went to bed. I would have thought after all that and 2 Valium I would be tired but I wasn't. The burning in my eyes kept getting worse and worse and I will admit it was very uncomfortable. I was also tearing a lot and that was uncomfortable too. Any light made the tearing worse. So I ended up taking an Ambien, 2 Tylenol, 2 Motrin, and putting 2 bandannas over my eyes to keep all the light out. I finally got knocked out and slept for about 5 hours. When I woke up I felt a ton better. The burning was gone and the tearing was less. I could take off the bandannas and glasses and walk around. My eyesight immediately after surgery was still quite blurry - although less blurry than when I was without contacts or glasses. As the day has gone on, it is without a doubt improving. I took another nap this evening and again woke feeling even better. I can obviously see to type this, can read the guide on the TV, and can see things fairly clearly even with these shields on my eyes. I am anxious to wake up tomorrow and take them off. The pain is gone, I feel very mild scratchiness and they feel somewhat dry but overall I am doing really well.

Tomorrow I start using drops three times a day and have my post op visit with the doctor to check my vision. If you are considering Lasik surgery, I would have to say - do it! I think I am going to be really happy with the results.

One Day Post-Op: I woke up and took the shields off. My eyesight was very good. It did vary some during the day - sometimes it was very clear, other times a little blurry. They didn't really hurt at all but they did feel tired and it helped to rest my eyes throughout the day. I went to see the doctor and he said my flap was healing fine and my vision was 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other eye - with both eyes I was seeing 20/20. The doctor said that my eyesight will continue to get better as my eyes heal. The 'side effects' I have are: 1) the variation in my eyesight throughout the day 2) I can't read really close up right now, I have to hold the paper back a little bit 3) I do see the halos around lights at night and 4) Occasionally, my eyes will burn a little or feel dry. Still all of the above is minimal and I am told that they will go away. I am thrilled with the results. I see the doctor again at 6 days post-op.

One Week Post-Op: My eyes are healing good. I have less fluctuation in my eyesight. I am still seeing 20/20 with slight nearsightedness of -.5 in each eye. I asked about the fact that seeing things close up is still difficult and here was what the doctor said - since I wasn't using the muscles in my eyes before for reading (the nearsightedness compensated for that)the eye muscles didn't develop. So now that I don't have the nearsightedness anymore, I will need to develop the muscles in my eyes. As that happens my ability to see close up will improve. He said 1-6 months. He also said the same time frame for the halos at night to go away. So the few "problems" I am having are common and will go away. He did say that after 40, people are not usually able to develop the muscles due to aging but I shouldn't have a problem at 36.

One Month Post-Op: It has been one month since my surgery. My eyes are great! I saw the doctor today and I have 20/20 in both eyes. He checked my 'nearsightedness' that was at -.5 last time and it was at 0 today - perfect eyesight! I can now read close up without any problems except for ultra tiny print. The halos are going away. I don't do drops except 3 times a day and my eyes don't really feel that dry. The surgery was a total success. I am enjoying the freedom of not having to worry about contacts or glasses. It is amazing!

Thank you for writing down your experience, glad it went so well for you. Sometimes I think to do the same, but I'm really scared about anybody or anything near my eyes (I wear glasses, couldn't stand contacts, nor putting anything in my eyes).

I think I'll wait some more years until they improve the technique (having to put drops one month after the operation would be inacceptable to me) and to overcome my terror of the op going bad.

Posted by Sebastiano Pilla on 2005-04-06

no drops and no hallos at night. i am a SW proffessional and eyes is everything for me. my eyes are rather dry even without opertion. i drive at night regularly when return back home from the office

Posted by arkady on 2005-04-06

Very well written, clear and from a user view. Thanks for posting it, and thanks to your wife for writing it.

I do hope others waiting will read it.

regards DaveP
www.rnib.org.uk

Posted by Dave Pawson on 2005-04-17

I've read too many horror stories about laser surgery going bad for me to risk my eyesight (when wearing disposable contacts or glasses is, at the very worst, only a slight hassle).

However, if I was ever going to do this kind of laser surgery I think I'd have them do just one eye at a time... so that if they screw up at least I'll still be able to see out my other eye.

Still, I'm happy it went well for you, and I know most people have no problems.  But I think I'll give the procedure another 20 years to mature before I do it.  By then their safety margins should be a lot better.

Posted by troom on 2005-05-20

Dr. Walter  Cukrowski at the Michigan Eyecare Institute performed Lasik surgery on my eyes.  I now have double vision in each eye.

He had performed 20,000 Lasik operations. I think those were done in third world countries where people cannot complain.

Posted by Clifford Cawthon on 2005-09-04

Lynne, that was an absolutely excellent diary, (my own laser eye surgery diary is here: http://www.blogstudio.com/woodgnome/laserdiary.html

I'm glad to hear that it's been a success, (as mine has). There are far too many "scare mongers" out there giving laser eye surgery a "bad name". I think the benefits far outweigh any potential issues there might be.

Good luck - and good seeing! :)

Paul

Posted by Paul on 2005-09-19

2005-04-05