I had my laser eye surgery done in early 2004, so it’s been around 19 years. Surgery techniques change, and the type of laser eye surgery I had done is probably an outdated technique by now.
My eyesight hasn’t changed at all since I fully recovered from the surgery. Most people tend to start getting farsighted as they age, but it probably won’t happen to me until I get much older. I probably won’t get cataracts until I’m ancient, if I get them at all.
What Exactly Is Laser Eye Surgery?
I had LASIK as my laser eye surgery, and I don’t want to go into too much detail about it, since there’s a pretty good page about it at Wikipedia.
A suction ring holds each eye open, one at a time, while the surgery takes place. The eye doctor cuts a flap over the cornea and folds it back toward the forehead. A laser removes (doesn’t burn) a microscopic layer of tissue from the cornea, and then the doctor reattaches the flap.
Laser Eye Surgery Fears
Fears with laser eye surgery are justifiable. Any sudden movement while the laser is operating can cause irreversible eye damage. It’s incredibly important to know the history of the doctor who’s going to do the surgery before you commit. You can fix some things in life when an error occurs. Eye surgery isn’t usually one of them.
Not everyone is a good candidate for laser eye surgery. I was over 40 years of age when I had mine, and the doctor cautioned me about the drawbacks beforehand. The doctor explained everything thoroughly while my eyes were being initially examined, and before I decided to go through with it.
The main issue with LASIK is that you need a cornea thick enough to reshape the tissue. My corneas were plenty thick enough, possibly due to wearing contact lenses for 20 years, which also helped to keep my eyes from getting worse. When you wear eyeglasses, the prescription almost always gets stronger as you age. My contact lens prescription never got any stronger.
One of the drawbacks of laser eye surgery is the loss of near vision (for reading and such). I could never read comfortably before the surgery, so it wasn’t an issue. Fortunately for me, I can now read at a comfortable distance from a book page or computer screen without wearing anything. Unfortunately, I require reading glasses to read the tiny print on some products I use.
I was lying on an operating table under a huge laser device of some kind. Don’t ask me to describe it because I don’t remember. The first thing the doctor did was to swab both of my eyes with a numbing solution, so I wouldn’t feel anything.
He put a suction ring on one of my eyes, and I don’t remember which eye was first. Because of the pressure, that eye couldn’t see anything for a second or two. Once in place, the eye was completely immobile and as long as I didn’t shake or anything, all was well. I didn’t shake. Trust me, I did everything I could to relax and remain motionless.
The next step was cutting the flap on the eye and folding it back. My vision went from bad to non-existent immediately. All I could see was a blur above me. The eye doctor told me it would take no longer than 30 seconds (I don’t remember the specific time he quoted) for the laser to finish its job. He told me to stare at the light on the laser, and then it activated.
He spent the next few seconds reattaching the flap and swabbing it with some solution. There were no stitches or any of that nonsense involved. When he finished working on that eye, he moved to start working on the other eye.
The entire procedure, for both eyes, couldn’t have lasted more than 10 minutes, and that included preparation. He had me read an eye chart immediately after the surgery, and it was crystal clear.
I had to wear some dark glasses because of light sensitivity after the surgery, and I ended up wearing them for about a week. I wore goggles while I slept to keep my fingers away from my eyes. Until the healing phase was complete, I had to use a lot of “artificial tears”.
Because of my age, it took longer than they expected for my eyes to completely heal and adjust. I had more than the four allotted follow-up visits, but they didn’t charge me anything extra.
My Vision Today
I attribute the high humidity of the Philippines, when I’m here, to being able to see at 20/20 vision at times. Not so much in the United States. My vision fluctuates, and I can tell, between 20/20 and 20/40. It all depends on how long I’ve stared at a computer screen, how much reading I’ve done and how much sleep I’ve had.
It’s very different from my life before laser eye surgery, when I had 20/400 vision (or worse) in both eyes and I needed either thick eyeglasses (with “coke bottle” lenses) or strong prescription contact lenses. The surgery cost me $1,800 at the time, and it was worth every penny. The cost depends on how bad your eyes are to begin with, and mine were terrible.
I renewed my driver’s license in 2020 in Wahiawa, Hawaii. The woman behind the counter had me read the 5th line on the vision machine. It took me a few seconds to focus with each eye, but I managed to read every character. I know I had to have 20/40 or better to read them. My peripheral vision was fine, more than 140 degrees.
If you involuntarily shudder at times, like my younger son and his son (my grandson), you are not a good candidate. I recommend you find other means of eye correction. Even if you don’t have issues with being motionless for at least a minute at a time, there’s nothing I can say to make your decision any easier.
Image by Paul Diaconu from Pixabay