Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Lasik Surgery

I've been wanting to do this for a good amount of time now. Glasses and contacts are fine, but they can be annoying, especially when using cameras. For anyone who wears contacts, you know how much it sucks when one rips in your eye, or you just have a day where its uncomfortable the whole time.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go to an eye doctor to see if I was an eligible candidate for the surgery. I had a checkup with my doctor - the visit was great, found out I was a good candidate, and we set everything up. She explained how LASIK works. Basically, they cut a small flap on the front of your eye exposing the tissue underneath. Then they burn away a small amount of tissue, reshaping your eye to give it the right curvature so your sight is in focus. They then recover the flap, and it heals up in a couple weeks time. You're apparently able to see right away, but its just not 100% in focus.

I had to stop wearing contacts for 3 weeks up to my surgery. I decided to go a little further, and started wearing glasses exclusively about a month ago. This past Wednesday, I went in to the Mann Eye center where I would be having my actual surgery for my initial checkup. This is where they map your eye, get all the numbers down, etc etc. I didn't know anything about this place, but apparently its one of the top rated places in the country. Guess I shouldn't be too surprised, with the huge medical center here, but I was still impressed. They told me t hey are one of 5 places with this brand new laser machine - two of those 5 places are for military personnel only. It was comforting knowing I was going to get the best possible equipment working on my eye. They did all the charts and such and I headed off to get these medicated drops I would be putting in my eye for the next 36 hours. The drops by the way are not cheap. They are $90 without insurance. Fortunately, I do have insurance, so it was just under $30 for me.

On Friday, I went in for my surgery. I'll admit, I was extremely nervous. The consent form I had to sign named every thing negative that could possibly happen to your eye. The thought of walking out of the place blind was a bit unsettling. But my doctor assured me it had never happened with any of her patients, and that I should just calm down. They did a few last minute checks, and then went over all the stuff I would have to do following my surgery. I'll go more into that in a bit.

So right before surgery time, they take me to a small room, and start prepping me. First thing they gave me was a Valium and a Tylenol - both were to help my nerves calm down a little bit. After that, they started putting drops in my eyes to make them go numb. The drops were cold, but didn't sting. Just felt like normal eye drops, but I could tell they were working. My eyes started to feel heavy.

After waiting a couple minutes for that stuff to set in, the escorted me into the operating room. This room was pretty tiny. There were two laser machines, a couple of big TVs that show closeups of the eye, and chairs for the doctors. They laid me down on the first machine, which is the one that would do the actual cutting of the eye. At this point, I was quite nervous. They squirted more numbing drops in my eye, which I couldn't feel at this point, and swung me under the laser.

Now to do the cutting, they have to get your eye all flat, which is where the pressure comes in. They have this little reverse cone thing they set on your eye. It prevents your eye from opening, but has a small hole to allow the laser to do the cutting. I couldn't feel it obviously when they put it on. They then attach it to the laser to prevent it from moving, and then the laser slowly pushes down on your eye. I could feel the pressure, but it wasn't painful, just an odd sensation. The pressure does make you lose sight in that eye for a little bit. As soon as I lost eye sight, I heard the machine turn on, and the doctor's assistant count down from 15. Soon as she said zero, the machine went off, the pressure ended, and my eyesight started to immediately come back, though a bit fuzzy. The first eye was done. I thought to myself, "wow that wasn't bad at all." The second eye was just the same. Quick and done. They then set me up, but I couldn't see very well. They escorted me over to the second machine, laid me down, and started getting me ready again.

For the second machine, they covered one of my eyes up, and then taped the other one open. I could see the doc use a small tool to pull back the now cut layer of my eye. Got to say, that was a weird sensation, seeing something pull up on my eye, but I couldn't feel it, so it wasn't a huge deal. He then positioned me under the laser, and told me to focus on the green dot. I did, I heard the machine turn on, and an odd smell started coming up - basically it was the flesh of my eye burning off, but it wasn't bad. The procedure was even faster than the cutting part - literally took 8 seconds. After the machine turned off, the doctor inspected the eye, then used a small brush like thing to recover the tissue with the cut flap. First eye done. Second one was just as easy.

After the second eye was done, they told me that was it, and I was good to go. I sat up, and could see, like in focus see, but everything was really cloudy... kind of like looking underwater in a way or through the fog. I was told that's normal, and the doctor walked me to an exam room to take a closer look at the work. She said everything looked perfect. They then put a plastic protector over my eyes, handed me some sunglasses, and told me to go get lots of sleep.

I went home and went right to bed. I slept for about 8 hours - wearing this spiffy plastic eye covering mask I have to wear for the first week (it prevents you from rubbing your eyes while you sleep). When I woke up, it was amazing. I could see almost perfectly - most of the cloudiness was gone, and I was looking around just happy at some of the things I could see now without glasses or contacts. I got up and started doing the first set of drops. Basically you have three things you have to take every hour for the first day - they are re-wetting drops (artificial tears to keep your eyes moist), antibiotic drops (to prevent infection), and steroid drops (to help speed up the healing). I stayed up for about 4 hours, doing the drops like I was supposed to, and then went back to sleep for another 8 hours. When I woke up the next morning, it was remarkable. No cloudiness, I could see very very well. Since we were almost past the 24 hour mark, I was told I could start doing the antibiotic and steroid drops 4 times a day (which I am doing now until Wednesday) and the artificial tears every 2 hours.

I went in for my checkup at noon on Saturday. Doc looked at my eyes, said she was amazed how fast they are healing (faster than most of her patients) and had me do a reading chart. I nailed the 20/15 line - Its never been so sharp, and I could read about half of the 20/10 line. She told me as the next few weeks progress, my vision will continue to get better, and she expects me to be 20/10 or better 6 weeks from now. That's not bad for something that was so quick and painless.


S, Galloway said...

so glad the surgery went so smoothly. Of course I'm jealous. I would so love to lose the coke bottles I'm forced to wear.

Ghost said...

I'm pretty sure I would screw up and blink... or freak out and be blind for all eternity!