I needed glasses since the 6th grade.
I had ortho-K for 17 years after that.
It was not until 2 years ago that I decided I didn’t want to wear contacts any longer.
Flash forward 2 years, a wasted flex savings account and countless hours of trying to chicken out… I finally made the plunge and got taken to the eye center… for those that are considering, I’ve put some of my experiences and thoughts down below with Berkeley Eye Center;
The first step is a consult and this is super easy, takes less than 30 mins and the Dr pretty much does a preliminary screening to see if there are any outliers or high risks to flag as everyone’s eyes are different. They evaluate mainly for the degree of near or far sighted-ness, additional conditions (like astigmatism, dry eyes…) and then the thickness of the cornea. If all falls in the green zone, then you are open to taking the pre-op exam.
The pre-op exam is more extensive. they will perform all the exams again plus get topography shape of your eye, size of pupils, more measurements and acceptance to pressure. You will be dilated during this exam so plan accordingly. The Dr will see you after the measurement and basically confirm if you are a candidate for LASIK. If so, you will talk to a LASIK consultant to walk you through the procedure, complications, risks as well as answer any additional questions. They will also discuss payment and such. After this, you are cleared for surgery the following Friday. Antibiotics, steroids and artificial tears are prescribed during this time as well.
Ok, time to key in nerves and anxiety. I was so nervous… the whole morning. I got an early appointment, scheduled to arrive at 7am. I followed instructions and took all my medication the day before and made sure my eyes were fresh. The surgeon had about 19 surgeries to perform that day alone… wow and I was 4th in line. You finally get to meet the surgeon and ask any last minute questions. I had a question that was bothering me for days, so I asked him…
How do you confirm that your patient data fed to the LASIK machines are indeed unique to that specific patient and will not be switched with someone else?
You know I worry sooo much! I don’t want something small like that to be erroneous. He assured me that the machine measures my eyes 120 times per minute during the procedure and will not operate unless it is a match. So, that was very comforting to know… that my eyes are matching my surgery data.
After that, I got set up and prepped for surgery. They do one last check and then get you ready… take you to a holding room and put on the hair net and booties… don’t know why on the booties… they say due to the soles? Anyhow, then you get your Valium and more eye drops and wait. The Valium really didn’t do much for me… or so I felt like it didn’t. 30ish minutes later, this time it was 9:15AM when I checked, I was up.
Still SO nervous and scared, I made sure to tell everyone in the surgery room that I was nervous just so you know, they know. I lie down between two big machines, one is the flap maker (Intralase) and the other is the correction laser (excimer). The surgeon along with the surgery team check everything once more and set up the machines. The surgeon wears a magnifying/light headpiece contraption and tells me to focus on his light. I look and that’s when they clamp my eyes… or yet, put that suction clamp on my eyeball. This is the part where they so say that your eyes go dark for about 40 seconds… it felt more like seeing stars when you knock our eyes… not that it felt like I was getting knocked in the eyes, only the ‘seeing stars’ part. The pressure of the suction was very hard, definitely uncomfortable. Good thing a nurse saw my panic and held my hands the whole time, this was definitely much needed. Then they clamp your eyelids open and tap them down… pivot you to the flap maker and get on with it. I felt nothing the whole time. When it was done, the surgeon uses a micro tweezer to move the flap over and then takes a micro paint roller brush to clean your eyes, all with lots of fluid drops of something going in your eyes. Then they pivot you to the other machine and this one took about 20 seconds when you stare at the light as the lasers correct your vision. It looked like I was being abducted by the lights, haha. The surgeon then moves the flap back over the cornea and flattens it down with another micro tool… REPEAT because you have two eyes. Tape removal from my eyelids was painful, you think they would have gotten a more gentle tape… all done.
You get taken to the exam room and a Dr comes in to make sure everything was set correctly. Nurses go over post-op instructions and tapes your bug eye shields in place, dark shades on and then send you home for a long nap.
You a babysitter. In fact, you need someone to take you in the morning, stay with you during the surgery and then take you home to make sure you rest. I didn’t really open my eyes long to check if I see clear at 20/20 because my eyes did itch and burn. I could not stop tearing. The first hour I was super sensitive to light and just couldn’t open my eyes or stop them from tearing. Went home and tried to take a nap. It is advised that you do… a long 4-6 hour nap will take care of most of the immediate discomfort and after surgery symptoms. I probably slept for an hour or two… that’s all I could do. When I woke up, I did notice that my sight was pretty clear, I could see the time on the clock and things in a distance. It was awesome… except for the busted blood vessel the suction ring caused during surgery… it looked like I had a bloody spot on my eyes (didn’t feel any pain though). For the rest of the day, I lounged on the couch and tried not to use my eyes much while sticking to a rigorous medication schedule.
With each day, my eyes felt better and better. The first few days I had a lot of dry eyes and felt like I was wearing a thin contact lens. When people ask me how bad my dry eyes are, I told them that it didn’t feel that much different than having contact lenses on for a long period of time. I hated dry contact lenses. I also noticed halos around lights at darker settings. After the 5 days of medication requirement, I noticed that my dry eyes are reduced drastically, must have been the meds that also contributed to dry eyes. Halos still existed at night. I got computer glasses (amber color lenses) to reduce eye strain in front of the computer and I tried to limit my computer time… which was hard since I use the computer ALOT.
Now a week out, I am enjoying life with my new eyes! Dryness is very low, it doesn’t even bother me… I do use my artificial tears as recommended. Halos are still there at night and I was told it might take up 3-6 months to clear up. The only other thing I notice is that I do get eye strain, my eyes feel tired when I use them too much in front of the computer or watching TV. I was told that my eyes are readjusting to a new focal point after LASIK, as with contacts and even more glasses, your focal correction point moves farther away from your eyes and now you are bringing them back into your eyes. With these, I just take a break and put in some drops.
I will be seeing the Dr for evaluation, a month out, then three months out, then half a year and a year. Overall, the experience was extremely nerve wrecking, but very much worth it! It’s amazing to not have to worry about taking out or putting in your contacts after a long day or finding your glasses in the dark. I am a happy camper!