Being that this blog seems to be only ever used for big life events, I figure this is probably worth it. After years and years of thinking about it, talking about it, going for consultations, and saying over and over how I couldn’t afford it, I finally got laser eye surgery on Dec 22, 2014. As of now (just over 4 weeks later), my eyesight feels like it’s at about 95% of “perfect” (or at least what I had with my contacts before), though I haven’t had any formal testing against a chart.
My boss’s wife got some sort of a referral deal where she got $500 off at the London Eye Care Center in New Westminster, and by dropping her name, I got the same deal. At this point in my life I figured that that’s about as good a deal as I’ll get, and am still wishing I’d done it 10 or 15 years ago. Ah well, hindsight is always 20/20 I guess (pun intended).
Honestly it was pretty boring. Of course I anticipated things for the weeks leading up, but I never thought to watch any videos of what was going to happen. Honestly, I was going to have it, so seeing what was going to happen wasn’t going to change what would happen, so I figured I’d find out when I found out. Luckily it was really, really dull.
Basically I got sat down in a chair, and got some eye drops. Then after a few minutes I got moved to another reclining chair, where I got more drops. They did put the anti-blink thing on, but you don’t see it or feel it, so there’s zero sense of some crazy mechanical medieval thing keeping you from blinking. Then more drops. Then a few more.
After a bunch of different drops the laser moved over top of me (and by “laser” I mean something that from my view looked like a large flashlight with a blinking light in it). A patch was put over the other eye and I was told to star at the blinking light, which I did for the required amount of time (50 seconds my fairly high (-6.50 / -7-ish) prescription). When the time elapsed there was more drops and some saline on the eye that got done, then the machine moved over and the procedure repeated for the other eye (48 seconds this time).
There was an immediate difference, but it was a lot like wearing contacts that were about half as powerful as they were needed. Also as soon as the numbing drops wore off in the car I realized what they meant when they said you’d be light sensitive. Know when you get the eye exam when they dilate your pupils, and even if it’s a dull cloudy day it feels like someone pointing an incredibly powerful flashlight into your eyeballs, and it hurts? It was like that but worse. I spend the drive home (not me driving obviously) with eyes closed, sunglasses on, and my hoody pulled low over my eyes. And it still sucked.
The Sucky Part
The really sucky part of it all is the first 3-4 days suck. And I mean really suck. I spent most of those days in the bedroom with the window blacked out, sunglasses on, with an ice pack on my face (thanks for the best early Christmas present ever Sarah!) and my eyes closed, with an audiobook from my iPhone in my ears. There’s also a regiment of drops (not bad) and a drive back to the clinic the day after the procedure, the third day after, and the 5th day after.
After the third or fourth day the pain sucked less (though they do give you numbing drops to deal with that, and a perscription for T3s and sleeping pills). Vision also was about 70%, enough to squint at my phone to communicate with people (you’re not supposed to look at screens too much in the first week) or figure out kinda what’s going on on TV (mostly I just listened without watching because the screen did hurt to look at.
The improvement to 70% was great, I wasn’t in pain, was able to drive (though I wouldn’t have wanted to have to find a certain street or drive where I wasn’t familiar) and things went better. From the end of the first week to the third week things stayed about the same, which sucked. I’m fairly patient, and even though I talked to my buddy Mike who got the same thing done last summer who said this was all totally normal, I started thinking about what if they got it wrong, what if I have to go through the whole thing again to get a touch up, etc. All that stuff.
When things still weren’t getting better in week three (or thereabouts) and I was still very light sensitive (oncoming headlights while driving to and from work made me tear up and want to stop the car and just sit there with my eyes closed) and eyes hurt and I was using the numbing drops still. They had said to use fake tears (“eye lube”) to keep my eyes moisturized. They helped for the short term, and made my eyes suddenly go to what felt like perfect 20/20 vision, but soon after they went back to being sensitive and painful. I figured I’d ask the clinic and went in to see if they could tell me if this was normal or something was wrong.
The doctor looked at my eyes and asked me if I was using lots of the eye lube, as they had told me to. I tell him yes. He says ah, you’ve got “surface toxicity” to the preservatives in the drops and I need to get the (fancy, expensive) preservative free eye lube drops and everything should get better.
I did, and it did. A day or two later the pain had disappeared and the need for drops all the time dropped to nil. I’m not sure if it’s related or just coincidental timing (Mike did say that it would be about four weeks before vision was where I wanted it), but in that time I also moved from what I’d consider 70-80% perfect vision to about 90%.
I remember the day that I thought “Oh wow, this is really working”. I was driving to work and could clearly read my digital odometer. I thought at the time that I must have just put in eye drops (like I said the eye drops gave me perfect vision for a bit, probably smoothing out the outside of my eyeball or adding the last microscopic bit of lens correction that was needed)
Maybe my eyes were tearing up and it’d go away when I blinked.
I kept on randomly staring at my car dashboard while driving to see if it went back to the slightly fuzzy mess it was before, but it didn’t. Since then things kept on getting better. Now I can see my computer screens of all sizes and at all distances just fine, can read, watch TV, and while I don’t think I’m at 100%, but it’s getting closer and closer. I’ve got another checkup in three weeks, when I assume most of the minor fluctuations in vision quality will have settled down, and they’ll have an idea of if the procedure was a great success (at this point I’d say yes, pretty damn good).
Now life is normal. Other than one drop per eye twice a day, nothing’s changed. Focusing seems a bit slower than before, but the same thing happened when I went back to contacts, just have to get used to the eyes working slightly differently again.
I still reach for my glasses in the morning and still think I forgot to take out my contacts when I go to sleep and can see. In the shower I can see clearly which is also odd (either not having glasses on or having to deal with contacts flipping around as they tend to do in the shower), but I’m slowly getting used to it all.
No complaints :)