As a birthday present to myself, I got LASIK. My eyeglasses prescription had stabilized quite awhile back. The changes had been minor and often just to justify new glasses for insurance purposes. After talking to some friends at work who had done it, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I ended up getting it done at Sharpe Vision in Bellevue. I’ve had quite a few folks ask for details about how it went and what was involved, while other friends (and notably, DH) are particularly squigged by any discussion of something happening to an eye. I’m writing this blog post to describe the procedure in detail for those who want to know.
When I went in for the consult, they spent a ton of time trying to measure my cornea thickness. My eyes were not cooperating with the machine-based measurement, and it took several tries for that to work out. They also numbed my eyes right then and used a manual device to measure the thickness and also to check on my tear production and eye dryness. My eyes had some dryness, not uncommon for computer users. My thickness was pretty normal, though, so normal LASIK was an option for me. (versus PRK which is used for certain circumstances, or some people opt for it based on what they want) The doctor explained what the procedure would be like, showed me what range of results I could expect (target, a little worse, a little better), what the “halos” would look like, etc. I felt very informed by the time I left the consult.
The doctor had recommended I use eye drops a few times a day in the week preceding the appointment as well as several times a day following, so I stocked up on eye drops from Amazon before going in. There’s also a set of prescription eye drops that you get for preventing infection and helping your eyes heal, which Sharpe Vision offers as a combo drop. The combo drop gets used 4 times a day for a week following the exam.
On the evening before the surgery, I was getting nervous. DH reassured me by saying that in the worst case scenario, at least I’d get a puppy. I ended up taking Duffy with me to the surgery so I’d have something to hold onto during. (You can bring a small stuffed animal into the room with you.)
DH drove me over to the office. Seattle was scheduled to get a typhoon during the weekend. It had been raining for 2 days straight, and that morning, the wind had kicked up so Lake Washington was in a tizzy as we crossed. (We were really glad for the new bridge!) We went into the office and hung out in the waiting room. I got a nametag that identified me and noted that I was having LASIK in both eyes (L.O.U.). I arranged my “post-op” supplies: combo drop prescription, other drops, and sunglasses. While we were waiting, we saw one person finish up and leave. Then, they opened the blinds for the procedure room, and I was able to watch someone else going through the procedure. (DH opted to head down the hall and look at other things instead.) I also had some chamomile tea and honey to calm my nerves while I waited. Then, they took me back to the pre-exam room. They went over the post-op care I needed to do and did some quick exams. I signed a few forms for consent to care, and I opted to have the blinds closed during my procedure (mainly to spare DH).
Sharpe Vision also gives you some valium by default (you can opt out) to help relax you before the procedure, so they gave me my dose, and I sat in the exam room hugging Duffy and relaxing with my tea. Dr. Sharpe (the surgeon) came in and talked me through what to expect (which I’ll describe as it happened in this narrative, but just know that I knew what was coming at every point). He also did a quick eye exam on me (the good ol’ “this one or this one? 1 or 2?”) to make sure that the target prescription we were using was correct and accurate. After that was done, they gave me a bunch of numbing drops. The first numbing drops stung (she warned me), but then they kicked in and it didn’t sting. There were two more sets of drops that went in, also for numbing and moisture.
A few minutes later, I went into the surgery room. They had closed the blinds before I went in, so I didn’t get to see or wave to DH (the only thing I regret about deciding to close the blinds). And I laid down on the table, which was very comfy and padded.
What follows are the specific details of the surgery, so only expand if knowing those details won’t bother you.
The whole thing takes about 15 minutes, maybe a little less. I was back out in the lobby and ready to go, and DH was startled by how quickly I was done. And, aside from everything seeming overly bright, I was already seeing pretty well at that point. The light sensitivity feels to me a bit like when you get your pupils dilated and everything just feels overly bright and a little out of focus, but you can still see.
I put on my rockstar sunglasses, and we headed home, by way of the Chick-Fil-A for my reward lunch. (Nuggets!)
The worst part of recovery that day was that I wasn’t supposed to look at screens (no phone, no TV, no tablet) and I wasn’t supposed to read. That left very little to entertain me. The doctor had given me one cold compress patch and I had prepared another, and they had told me that the cold compress as soon as you get home does wonders for making things feel better.
So, I covered up my eyes with cold compresses and a sleepy mask and curled up in bed. DH hung out with me. We listened to Michelle Obama’s amazing speech (that I’d saved for this time period), and then I had saved up a bunch of podcasts to listen to, so we set up one of those while I rested. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep, and DH went upstairs. A couple of hours later, I woke up feeling bleary-eyed. My eyes also felt swollen and sore. The doctor’s office had given me drops called “comfort drops” (basically numbing drops) to put in, so I added some of those (with DH’s help, because I kept missing), and a few seconds later, the soreness went away.
I got up, put my sunglasses on, and wandered upstairs. I put my compresses in the freezer to get cool and grabbed an ice pack to wrap in a washcloth and lay on my eyes. I relaxed on the couch for a bit, and then I went back downstairs and set up my phone with a headset so I could voice call people and chat on the phone for awhile. And by around 8pm, I was actually feeling fine. The optical assistant who had prepped me had said that was normal, that around 7-8 hours after surgery, you’ll suddenly feel fine, like magic, and that’s exactly what happened. It was like my eyes just waited for a timer to go off before deciding they were fine.
We invited some friends over for board games, since that was something I could do. The next day, I went to a checkup in the morning. They tested my vision, and I was 20/20 in one eye and almost 20/20 in the other eye, and they said I was at 95% of target. I was cleared to drive, and I’ll have another follow-up in 30 days to see how things have settled and if I need any adjustments. We decided to go play Bridge in the afternoon. I wore sunglasses a lot for most of the weekend, and I’m still putting them on around the office or elsewhere if things are bright or I just want some extra protection. Dust and other things are still a particular hazard for the first week, so I’m not using any moisturizers or soaps around my eyes right now.
And, of course, I’m putting drops in all the time. That’s pretty much it. I can see most things pretty well. Things that are backlit (computer screens, phone, etc.) are a bit tougher and fuzzier, but that’s getting better already and will probably clear up entirely in a week or so. From my office window, I can see tiny houses across the sound, and I can see the antennas on top of Queen Anne clearly.
To help me remember to take breaks and use my drops at work, I installed this app on my work laptop called Eyeleo, which has a cute lion tell me to take a break and do an eye exercise or look away from my monitor for awhile. It also forces me to periodically take a long break to stretch and look at other things. That wasn’t recommended by the doc or anything…I just wanted an app to help me remember to take breaks.
I’ll update this post again at the 30 day exam with any details or news, but generally, at this point, I’m mainly wishing I’d done this sooner. I never had a pressing need to get LASIK. I don’t do sports or anything that makes glasses annoying. But there’s just a thousand tiny conveniences that you have when you’re not wearing glasses. At the same time, I feel a bit unprotected without something on my face right now (sunglasses help), and I still find myself panicking because I can’t find my glasses.