My Lasik Surgery, Part II – the Surgery & Recovery

If you’re interested in how I became interested in getting Lasik surgery and how we decided to go for it, read Part I.

The day before
The day before

The doctors told me to discontinue use of contacts for a week. I stopped wearing makeup at that time so there wouldn’t be any makeup residue around my eyes that they would have to scrub off. I also filled my prescriptions for antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eyedrops and stocked up on artificial tears.

Ryan drove me to the office the day of the surgery. They double checked a lot of the measurements that they had taken at my consultation, then took me into the room where the surgery would take place.

This is my understanding of how Lasik works: They cut a flap on the surface of your cornea, pull it back, the laser reshapes your cornea and then they put the flap back. They worked one eye at a time. First they put in numbing eye drops, then did something to hold my eyes open – it felt like they slipped some paper behind my eyelids and taped them back. I could see instruments and droppers coming towards my eye. At this point one of the technicians noticed I was white-knuckling my jacket so she gave me a stress ball to squeeze. Then the surgeon put something onto my eye and told me I was about to feel pressure and that my vision would go dark for a moment. I think this was when he cut the flap. When the pressure was released I could see again, and then he folded back the flap and my vision got really watery. The laser came on and the surgeon told me to look at the light. After a minute or two of that, the surgeon laid the flap back down and brushed something over the surface of my eye. That eye was done and it was on to the next!

I didn’t really feel nervous until I was in the room lying down and they got started. I was offered a Valium, but I declined. I don’t get very nervous about medical procedures, and I prefer to manage any anxiety I might feel myself. To calm my nerves during the surgery, I concentrated on my breathing and what the surgeon was doing, squeezed a stress ball and said about 4,000 Hail Marys in my head.

Real talk: The procedure wasn’t painful, but it was uncomfortable. Cutting the flap was the worst part. That, and the anticipation of the whole experience again on the second eye. However, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat to be able to see clearly with no glasses or contacts. In terms of discomfort, I’d say it was about even with getting a cavity filled at the dentist. Not exactly my idea of a good time, but certainly not unbearable.

It was kind of fascinating being able to see the procedure being done. I couldn’t see well of course, but I could see instruments and droppers coming towards my eye. A few weeks after the surgery I actually tried to watch a video on YouTube of a Lasik surgery being performed, but I got so grossed out after 15 seconds that I had to turn it off. It is NOT for the faint of heart!

Immediately after the surgery, I saw an improvement. My vision was still blurry, but not NEARLY as blurry as it had been when I came in! They put me in a room to rest for 15 minutes, then checked my eyes, taped plastic shields over them and sent me home.

The next day I had my first follow up appointment and they checked my vision. Still a little blurry, but better than the night before! They told me that as I healed my vision would continue to improve. During the first week after the surgery I had to be pretty careful – eyedrops four times a day, no rubbing or touching my eyes, eye shields at night, no makeup, and hardest of all – no touching the animals! My eyes were super dry and my vision was still not up to where it was with contacts, particularly in dim light. Reading was difficult, which was frustrating because I read every day.

It took about three weeks after surgery for my vision to be as it was when I was wearing contacts. My eyes are still dry sometimes, but it’s not too bad. I’m also still experiencing a lot of glare at night and halos around lights at night, but I’m told that will go away with time.

single-serving eyedrops
single-serving eyedrops

The surgery cost $3,100. Insurance didn’t cover this at all – it was all out of pocket. I had to get two different prescription eyedrops, which were $10 each after insurance. Then I had to buy preservative free artificial tears. They come in individual little vials instead of in a bottle and they are NOT cheap. They’re about $12-$15 for a box of 30, and I went through three or four of them before I found a box of 100 on Amazon for $30. It felt like a lot of money but I absolutely think it was worth it, especially since the Lasik Vision Institute offers a lifetime guarantee. So if my vision ever changes and I’m still a good candidate for the surgery, they’ll fix it.

It’s incredible to finally be able to see without anything on my eyes after being nearsighted for most of my life. Sometimes I forget that I had Lasik done. The other night I was reading in bed and actually reached up to my face to take of my glasses! I’m so relieved that we won’t have to carry everything I used to need just to be able to see, and that I can jump out of bed and be able to see clearly. When we’re out in the middle of the ocean, I think that’s what’s going to be the most valuable to me!

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