After 10 years of contacts and almost 2 years of glasses, I can now see perfectly without either one through lasik!
When I first brought up corrective eye surgery with my optometrist 2 years ago, he told me it wouldn’t be an option because my cornea was damaged due to long-term contact usage. This news devastated me because I am a very vain and shallow little girl. I cried on the skytrain home because I dreaded the thought of having to wear my glasses in public every day.
In the end, that’s what I did in hopes that I would heal enough to proceed with the surgery later on. Those 2 years are over and this month I finally went through with my lasik surgery! For anyone who is considering corrective eye surgery, I wanted to share my experience with you.
I was referred to Pacific Eye Center by my optometrist so I booked a free consultation (FYI all places give a free consultation before you have to commit to anything). The consultations generally include a prescription eye exam and then a meeting with some kind of “consultant” that would go over the different procedures and the pricing and financing options.
This was the first time I learned that there are two different types of procedures: PRK and lasik. A quick way to differentiate between the two:
- PRK: the thin outer layer of the cornea is removed and discarded before a laser goes bzz bzz bzz and fixes your eye
- Lasik: a flap is cut on the cornea and then lifted open where a laser goes bzz bzz bzz and fixes your eye
So there we go – that’s the difference. In the end, a laser will still be used, the only difference is really the first step of the surgery. A quick list of pros & cons after I found out the difference is as follows:
To decide, I got a second consultation at London Eye Center, which performs both procedures because Pacific Eye Center only performs PRK. At this consultation, I was told that I have thick corneas and based on my lifestyle, lasik would be a better fit for me even though I was a good candidate for either procedure.
Now that I had decided to go with lasik, I went for a third consultation at Lasik MD. My final decision matrix for deciding between the two were as follows:
|London Eye||Lasik MD|
Basically, both choices were very similar. When I visited for the consultations, both places were friendly and answered all my questions. I got the notion that my eyes were a low-risk case (low -4 prescription, thick corneas) and so I went with whatever was cheaper: Lasik MD.
I was able to book a surgery date 2-3 weeks ahead. My surgery was on Friday July 13 (lucky day?). I took a care day and on the day of, my boyfriend drove me to the clinic where we stayed for roughly 4 hours. The 4 hours included a day-of eye exam to check your condition, a meeting with the consultant to choose your procedure, pay and go over treatment routine, the surgery itself, a 30-45 minute resting period, and one final eye check-up before you are allowed to leave with your designated driver.
When I completed my day-of eye exam, I was told the new laser (called the custom wavefront, which would be used on a wider diameter of your pupil, accounting for halo effects and other fancy eye stuff) wasn’t working for flap creation. In other words, they would have to use the traditional keratome (a blade) to cut the flap and then the custom wavefront laser to go bzz bzz bzz. The cost of that procedure was $2,930, cheaper than using the laser to cut the flap and go bzz bzz bzz.
I didn’t want to reschedule my surgery, so I signed off on that and ended up spending less than I had planned (I was going to go with the best of the best because it’s my precious eyes). When I entered the surgery room, Dr. Ghislain-André Boudreault gave me a quick run-through of what would happen and within 5 minutes I was lying on the surgical table, holding 2 stress balls and listening to Ariana Grande play on the radio in the background.
This is what happened next:
- They drop numbing drops into my eye and give me a hairnet and a shoenet before entering the surgery room.
- They tape one eye closed and the other eye open – they don’t perform surgery on both eyes at the same time.
- I stare into a green light like I am told.
- My vision is blurry because I don’t have my glasses on, but they press something down on your eyeball. Imagine you are making cookies and you push a cookie cutter into dough, that is what is happening to my eyeball. There is pressure when they press it down and it kind of hurts. I squeeze my stress balls tightly.
- Everything is black. The green light is gone. I worry that I am closing my eyes but then I remember that my eyes are definitely not closed because they are taped open.
- I freak out silently because I cannot see, even though they told me this would happen.
- The darkness fades away after a few seconds. I see the green light again but it is a bigger green blur than before. I realize they have cut the flap and that is why the light looks different.
- The machine moves down towards my face and makes machine noises bzz bzz bzz. I smell something burning but there is no pain.
- The machine moves back up, the doctor is holding something that looks like a white toothpick. It moves from one side to the other in my vision and the green light is now back to a small lens flare. I realize he just put my flap back on (omg ew).
- It looks like he is painting my eyeball. I am sure he’s just smoothing out the flap.
- He moves my face to the left and a single tear rolls down my cheek.
- He takes off the tapes and repeats the procedure for the other eye.
- After both eyes are done, I sit up and I can see. It feels like I am a person who can see without glasses but tears are blurring my vision slightly.
- The doctor checks my eyes, says everything went well and I am escorted into a dark room to rest.
- 30 minutes later I am taken to another eye exam room. The lady says everything looks good. She goes over the medication drop schedule with me and my boyfriend. She tells him my eyeballs will be red and they used ink for something so my eyeballs may also be blue or purple and he shouldn’t be alarmed when he helps me put drops in (he nods but is very alarmed).
- I go home and take a nap with sunglasses on. I use my drops every 2 hours as instructed. I eat dinner and go back to bed.
- It is now Saturday morning. I can see and my eyes do not feel dry.
- We drive back to the clinic for my 1 day check-up. Again, they say everything looks fine. I am told I can watch an hour TV or go on my phone, I can go to the beach and be outdoors with sunglasses on, and I can drive for 30 minutes. I am told I can return to work/school/normal day on Sunday and to reduce my drops to 4x a day.
- I eat a bomb brunch and drink a pitcher of pina colada at a pier. I go home and watch Westworld and scroll through Instagram. I go to a house party and play mario kart and lose.
- It is now Sunday morning. I go for a 2 hour trail with sunglasses on to see a waterfall.
- It is now Sunday night. I am sitting in my bed about to fall asleep until I realize I have zero night vision. My eyes never adjust to the darkness. I freak out and then fall asleep.
- It is now Monday morning. I drive 45 mins to go to work. My eyeballs have red splotches on them. My vision is not perfect – I cannot see the license plate in front of me if it is far away and I cannot read small text on signs. My eyes feel dry sometimes from working on the computer, but I am able to work and function just fine.
And here we are! I believe my vision should reach 20/20 by the end of this week and if my night vision doesn’t work by then, I will bring it up at my 1 week check-up.
All in all, lasik has been very worth it for me. There was minimal to no pain, it only took a weekend to recover and the breakdown of my final cost is very reasonable:
- Cost: $2,930 (already -$150 for insurance discount, includes tax)
- Additional subsidies: $150 from work benefits + $560 health spending benefits
- Final cost: $2,220 for both eyes + a tax return of up to 20% on medical procedures (possible ~$500 tax deduction)
Now I can finally wake up and see how truly ugly I am in the mornings. Definitely looking forward to all of what’s to come!
P.S. This is obviously just my experience. Your eyeballs are different from mine so a different procedure (or perhaps even no procedure) could be a better decision. Please talk to a real doctor if you’re interested.