A couple weeks ago, I decided to go ahead with LASIK after several friends had undergone the surgery. Several friends and coworkers (including my wife) recommended Dr. Michael Furlong in Campbell, California.
The Monday of the week prior to my operation, I went in for a consultation to determine if I would be a candidate for LASIK or CustomLASIK (a more recent innovation in LASIK allowing the correction of higher order aberrations in the eye). At the consultation, they determined that I fit the requirements for CustomLASIK. The main requirement that I'm aware of for CustomLASIK (in addition to those requirements for traditional LASIK) is to not have thin corneas. The minimum corneal thickness desired is 500 microns (average thickness is 520 microns). Luckily, my corneas were in the 580 micron ball park. Everything else checked out and they agreed that they could improve my -8.5 D (left eye) and -9.5 D (right eye) myopia and astigmatism (which is bad enough that the 20/something rating isn't used anymore - it's somewhat worse than 20/4000). They also went through a PowerPoint presentation (or something similar) complete with animations showing me how the operation would proceed as well as the statistical data of patients needing enhancements (additional operations - which was a very low percentage) and other similar information. The staff was very open and answered all my questions. My visit ended with a brief introduction to Dr. Furlong who was happy to answer any questions that his staff hadn't answered yet. By that time, I had run out of questions. It was kind of nice to meet him face to face as my consultation.
|Wavefront Maps for my left eye (background) and right eye (foreground)|
On the day of the surgery, I arrived at the doctor's office at around 10:40am (and was on my way home by 11:45am). After signing my release forms, I paid for the operation and was given a small pill (supposedly, a fast acting sedative). I placed the pill under my tongue and waited with Tina in the waiting room for a few more minutes. Then I was taken into a ready room where my eye lids were sterilized and a few final instructions (which I don't remember) were given to me.
They noticed that I was still quite anxious, so they asked if I wanted another sedative. Since the first one was obviously a placebo (or I'm immune to sedatives), I agreed to a second one.
To help calm me down, the staff (and the gentleman prepped for operation before me) chatted with me. As the other gentleman was taken into the operating room, the staff continued to talk to me about chocolate and food. I'm not sure how much time passed as I talked about potatoes and protein content in vegetables.
Soon, I was taken into a dimly lit room where a man (who turned out to be Dr. Furlong) entered and applied some eye drops (anesthetic drops, I think). After a few more minutes of talking about food, I was ushered into the operating room.
Dr. Furlong asked me to sit and lie down on an operating bench. After lying down, I asked for something to hold onto. They gave me a Nerf football to squeeze.
They covered up my right eye and then started with my left eye. Dr. Furlong explained each step of the operation. First they insert something to keep the eye open (so you can't blink) called an eyelid speculum. Suction is then applied to the eye (to keep it from moving) and a device called a microkeratome cuts through the top of the cornea to form a 160 micron flap. The flap is folded up and a computer controlled laser reshapes the internal corneal tissue through a series of quick blasts. The flap is then folded back down and the eye immediately starts to heal.
What I remember, is tiny pin pricks as Dr. Furlong put the device on me that pulls open my eye lids. I remember casually commenting that I could feel that and the numbing eye drops might not be working. Dr. Furlong reminded me that they didn't numb my eye lids and to please look at the blinking red dot. I looked up (which was straight ahead since I was lying down), and saw a blinking red dot surrounded by a bluish white circle or insanely bright light. It seemed to me that the circle of light was so bright that the rest of the world turned dark as my eye adjusted to the brightness of the light.
Then Dr. Furlong said I'd feel some pressure and the lights would go out (probably not what he said, but I don't remember the exact words he used). Everything started to get dark and within a couple seconds I couldn't see anything anymore - the world had faded out to black. I swear Dr. Furlong asked me to keep looking at the red dot - but there was nothing to look at. I might have remembered incorrectly since I did have a double dose of sedatives.
At this point, I felt something rotating on my eye (the microkeratome). No pain, no irritating, I just felt the movement. Then the world started to fade back and the circle of light with the red dot was back - except now it had both a crisp and hazy quality to it.
Then there was a repetitive buzzing, cracking sound and a strobing light that seemed to come from a different direction every time it went off. This seemed to take a lot longer than I expected. It was probably less than a minute, but it seemed to take a quite a while. At the same time, I could start to smell a light odor that reminded me of melting rubber. I was later told I was smelling the burning flesh. There was a device that was vacuuming up most of the smell from the air.
Through the whole operation, Dr. Furlong's voice was there telling me what to do (look at the red light). Meanwhile, I kept thinking: What happens if I accidentally stop looking at the red light? Keep looking at the light; keep looking at the light. Should I be squeezing the football this hard? Being a primarily visual person (and generally nervous when it comes to my eyes – so nervous I never even tried contact lenses because I couldn’t abide the thought of sticking my fingers in my eyes everyday), I usually just close my eyes when I want to avoid an uncomfortable situation or to calm down. Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t – I was forced to watch the blinking red light.
Then the flap was replaced and Dr. Furlong started swabbing my eye with something. I don't know what he was doing, but it just looked like he kept brushing my eyeball - like when I'm cleaning the CCD of my Nikon D100, except instead of doing it once, he kept swabbing and swabbing. He explained that the corneal flap was sealing itself (like a living bandage). Then he stopped and released the eye so I could finally close it.
The operation was repeated on my right eye, but much faster (it seemed).
In less than ten minutes from when I laid down, I sat back up and was told I could open my eyes (because I had closed them as soon as possible). I opened my eyes and could actually see! It looked like I had a soft focus lens on though. The staff noticed that I was quite pale and gave me a Kern’s Mango Nectar. I have to say, I was pretty freaked out over the whole experience, but I made it through.
After a few quick checks, Dr. Furlong had his assistants tape these plastic shields on my eyes (to keep me from accidentally rubbing them) and released me. I don't actually remember much else - I think after the adrenaline wore off, the double dose of sedatives finally kicked in.
The next morning, when I woke up, I opened my eyes and was amazed. The world wasn't perfectly crisp, but I could focus on basically everything I wanted to. The image I could see would be sharp and slightly hazy at the same time. (As if I had a sharp, high-resolution image superimposed with a blurry one.) I was most amazed by the ability to look around without moving my head. (When wearing glasses, the only part of the world that was in focus was the area covered by the lenses. That meant looking up, down, left, or right meant the world was out of focus.) Now, with my post-surgery eyes, I could see - it was amazing. Plus everything within four feet of me looked much bigger than ever. With glasses, everything seemed to have been shrunk, but now, everything was bigger than life.
|Simulation of haziness in high contrast areas|
Good to hear things went ok for you!!
In the current issue of Make magazine Tim O'Reilly writes a little bit about his recent LASIK experience. He said the doctor told him that if he didn't look at the light the laser would detect that and would automatically shut off.
During surgery the little red light was a problem. One of my eyes is "lazy" and wanders a bit. I thought I was focused on the light, but the eye was actually moving. 5 years ago the laser did not shut off for this, but the doctor sternly warned me to re-focus, which I could not do. He had to stop and let me get re-oriented a couple times.
Eye one was easy. Eye two was horrible, but it all worked out. Somehow right after surgery, when the flap was floating, my eye lid had a spasm that tore it loose. It felt like tobasco in my eye for several hours until the doctor saw it, freaked out, carefully replaced the flap. He was not happy with it and said there was a micro-wrinkle. I was just happy to get the tobasco pain out of my eye.
After healing, the vision was fine - superb. I had my eyes treated differently - one for near vision and one for far vision. It took all of about a week to get used to it and pay little attention to the difference.
Now, 5 years later, I have had to get fitted for reading glasses. The near vision is slipping due to aging of the lens in both eyes. I can still do without glasses entirely, but when tired I have too much fatigue reading without correction. My doctor said I should never need bifocals or distance glasses the rest of my life! That is awesome.
All in all, this is a wonderful new technology that can correct a disability for life. It is well worth the cost, even the very high cost I paid to be an early adopter.
My only complaint is the halos that I see when driving at night from street lamps, oncoming cars, traffic lights, etc. My eyes are just ultra-sensitive to high contrast situations now, like watching a brightly lit TV screen in a dark room. It's something I've gotten used to though, and overall, it's a hell of a lot better than having to wear glasses (which have their own visual aberrations).
How much did it cost?
Can you post a follow up article about the haziness associated with the healing process?
PRK versus LASIK
Because it does not involve a permanent flap in the deeper corneal layers, (as in LASIK), the cornea's structural integrity is less altered, but there is more pain and visual recovery is slower. PRK does not run the risk of dislocated corneal flaps which may infrequently occur with trauma even years after LASIK.
I opted for PRK after two different Laser Surgery centers determined that my corneas were slightly too thin. The actual procedure was relatively uneventful. I was given a valium pill just moments before I went to the operating table. The valium was less about anxiety during the procedure and more about making sure I was nice and sleepy by the time I got home. The procedure involved the aforementioned alcohol treatment to remove the epithelium. During this step, a disc was pressed onto my eye for about 10 or 15 seconds so I couldn't see anything. Once the epithelium was removed, I was told to focus on the red light, which was blurry throughout the whole process. For whatever reason, I found it pretty easy to focus on the blurry light. The doctor's assistant counted down through the procedure so I knew how much time was left.
Once the laser was done, the doctor washed out my eye with a cold saline wash and then inserted a very thin contact lens that stayed in my eyes for the next four days. She repeated everything on my left eye and I was done in less than 10 minutes.
I started feeling discomfort in the car on the way home. I have to say, the pain was pretty bad that night (Thursday) and through the next day (Friday). The doctor had prescribed oxycodone and I was glad I had it. Every time I took a pill, I ended up sleeping for a couple of hours. I was told that sleep is good for recovery in PRK. I was also given four different types of drops to use: a steroid (7 day use), an antibiotic (7 day use), a pain reliever (4 day use), and natural tears (use as needed from here on).
I went in for my follow up the next morning (Friday) and my vision was about 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. They were surprised to see my vision this good since I had no epithelium. They said that my vision would proceed to get worse over the next couple of days while the epithelium grew back over my pupil.
By the morning of the third day (Saturday) the pain was subsiding, but the blurriness they talked about appeared. I gave up on watching TV that day and pretty much listened to books on tape all day. Sunday, the third day, was more of the same, with clarity getting better in one eye. By the morning of the fourth day (Monday) I could see fairly well in both eyes and I opted to go back to work. Don't get me wrong, things were still blurry, but I could still read the computer screen.
I went back to have the contact lenses removed on that fourth day (Monday). They checked my vision before removing the lenses and my vision had degraded (as compared to day 1) to about 20/30 in one eye and 20/40 in the other. Again, this was just the blurriness caused by the healing epithelium. Once they removed the contacts, I could feel the grittiness of the epithelium. No pain, just kinda like there was some small dust particles under my lids.
So here I am at day 6 and according to the eye chart on the wall, I'm at about 20/25 and 20/30 in my left and right eyes, respectively. They are getting better by the day. I'm told they should both settle in close to 20/20 over the next couple of weeks.
Obviously, PRK is a much more painful, more lengthy recovery than LASIK. If I had to do it over, I'd probably opt to do one eye at a time, just so I wouldn't have to deal with the blurry vision for so long. Other than that, t's still worth it to me in the long run.
If there's a suction holding your eye still, why do you still have to look at the red light?
Too bad they can't sedate your sense of smell. Burning flesh would freak me out. I'll have to remember to only breathe through my mouth if I ever get LASIK. =)
Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. Now I have some more info to take to take to the eye doctor and know what to expect. Does anyone know of Lasik correction for farsightedness? Would the procedure have to be repeated as the patient ages? Keeping track of several pairs of glasses is annoying. Congratulations on your vision freedom!
Despite the fact that the device that keeps your eye open and the suction device (the micro saw that cuts the flap) were slightly painful, I enjoyed the procedure very much. When it was finished the doctor just closed the flap (I don't remember him using any swab like you describe) and BAM (sorry Emeril) I could see clearly! Immediately! I personally enjoyed the procedure since I looked at everything as a soreal movie happening around me and tried to distinguish what was happening such as when the laser fired and the burning smell starts ;)
I personally recommend this treatment to anyone who can go through it, I found it really helpful and enjoyed it a great deal. Even now 8 years after removing my glasses (for good) I still get to bed late at night and start looking for my glasses on my nose. I'm not sure if I see exactly the same as before, but it doesn't matter since its good enough and I can ride my motorcycle.
Some have told me after 40, it's perhaps too late for it. We'll see. Your post helped, though.
I have your website link on my SBC homepage and of course i peek in everyday. You certainly painted a very exact albeit nerve racking picture of Lasik! I appreciated the play by play style because i dont know too many people who've had the procedure done.
I will be looking into that for myself as part of my own personal
Heres to seeing clearly, all that life has to offer!
My eye doctor just told me to try an over the counter drop called Systane as it is the best eye moisturizer available. He said it will literally improve vision especially when the eyes are tired, after work, driving home.
Ever skeptical, but impressed by his enthusiasm (he did not even sell the stuff) I bought a dual-bottle box for about $9 on my way home from work a few days ago.
I dropped in one drop in each eye and found the stuff was a bit "goopy" in my eye. That lasted for a couple minutes then my vision cleared and (how do I do bold here?) WOW! It really worked! My vision was truly sharper. I could literally see individual twigs on trees several blocks away. Of course, the vision potential was already in my eyes, but this stuff brought it out to its best.
My next stop was ebay where I found 12 bottles for $20.
I once had the opportunity to interview the inventor of LASIK, and he told me that the idea for the technique came to him over thanksgiving turkey. He had been wondering about a laser's cutting properties on different types of materials, and while he was at dinner it strck him that the laser might be used to cut flesh. So he wrapped a drumstick in a napkin and took it into the lab the next day. After that, he experimented on beef eyes -- er, cow eyes.
I also had Custom Lasik (aka Wavefront) performed by Dr. Furlong in Campbell, CA on Jan. 6, 2006, and am extremely pleased with the results. Let me say right at the start that I have absolutely no connection to Dr. Furlong except that of an incredibly happy patient.
I am 52 years old and have been nearsighted (20/400) for most of my life, wearing contacts since age 16.
After age 45 I needed reading glasses, also. I opted for a procedure called monovision, which has worked perfectly for me, where one eye is corrected to be used for reading and the other for distance. My brain does the sorting out, and I see perfectly, near, far and in between (meaning my computer screen), without realizing I am using one eye or the other.
I have friends who used Dr. Furlong years ago who were thrilled with him, and after talking to him, checking into his experience, education and reputation, as well as looking at other doctors, I am very glad I went with him. His very skilled, experienced, calming, confidence-inspiring "bedside" manner, soothing voice and step-by-step explanation of what was happening and what I would be experiencing put me at ease as we went through the surgery.
The procedure itself was very brief and relatively painless. I followed his instructions exactly, going home and keeping my eyes shut for the rest of the day, using drops as instructed, and then was able to drive myself (!!!) back to his office the very next morning for my checkup. Today, exactly 51 days after my surgery, I have experienced no discomfort or complications and I am still thrilled with my results. I have perfect night vision, no halos at all, no sensitivity to headlights or bright sunlight. I think the risk of those problems is greatly lessened with the new Custom Lasik or Wavefront technology.
I hoped I would be one of the patients who ended up happy with the lasik results, but never dreamed that I would be one of those who came out with better than 20/20 vision - mine is now 20/15!!! I ride horses and bicycle, and have no problems with wind, rain, dust or dryness.
I'd advise anyone interested in lasik to find the most experienced surgeon he can. Dr. Furlong's website at furlongvision dot com has a lot of technical information on the procedure for anyone interested in researching it.
I would say I was sorry I didn't do this sooner, except that I think my great results are to be credited to my surgeon's years of experience and the relatively new Wavefront technology, which has only been FDA-approved in the US for a couple years, I think, though used in other countries for much longer.
Sorry this has been such a lengthy comment, but it's hard to contain my enthusiasm!
The downside to this was going into recovery with a light blindfold on. The room was dark, and while there may have been other patients in there, nobody said a single word. After being spoken to constantly for a half an hour, the contrast was marked. A toddler left at preschool for the first time would likely have felt no less abandoned.
But seven years after the fact, I'm still 20/15 using both eyes; there has been no regression at all. And halos haven't been an issue, since I had them in a pretty bad way before the surgery, and LASIK seems actually to have improved them.
My eyesight is terrible now too. Halos, starburst, smeared and blurry images, unstable refraction that changes throughout the day. I wear contacts now all the time just to get by. My vision will never be the same, and I'll always be uncomfortable. There is no cure.
When people make an irrevocable bad decision they tend to rationalize it. Before I had lasik everyone I'd talked to that had the procedure said they loved it and there were no side effects. But now that I've had it and I mention my side effects I find that others admit they have terrible side effects too. You'll find people who rave about it putting on glasses so they can drive home at night, or that later admit that they need punctal plugs just to deal with the dryness.
Don't be fooled. Contacts are more comfortable, and the vision is much much better.
It's too late for me. Save yourselves. 8|
Lasik Eye Surgery Latest News
My eyes do get somewhat dry after a long day at the keyboard, but so do other peoples, and I can get by with standard eyedrops for tired eyes, and need them only very infrequently (ie, have none at moment, havent needed them in months)
This, and changing asthma medications around the same time (seretide is awesome) had a dramatic impact on my life. Playing rugby, which I had done for years, became fun again, as I could see the ball, not just follow the pack. I also had a lot more confidence with women (my glasses were hell dorky). I reccomend LASIK, and the new computer assisted LASIK (which an ex-gf of mine had) heartily.
Also, the valium I had was great! ^_^
however, i came across a few no-so-lucky cases in my research too. one is right here in the message board. few are even worse, with hazy (double and triple) vision all the time (which still happens to be 20/20 and hence, technically, they have perfect vision!), extremely severe dry eyes and what not...
i have decided to put a hold on my plans for lasik. i hope people realise the risks involved in going for this (or any other procedure, for that matter). and i hope they understand that probability for risk is not just a number... and they don't end up as a statistic ("the rare 2-3%") themselves.
It hurt more, it took longer to heal, and I still sometimes have dryness issues (two years later), but I don't regret it.
Great site, by the way!
Great site...but not for someone who has a book chapter draft due tomorrow and can't seem to get back on task...
If you have myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), you may have a good result, but if you also have presbyopia (inability to focus close due to ageing--older than 40 or so), you will either need glasses for reading or distance, depending if you correct your vision for close-up or distance.
BE VERY WARY OF LASIK SURGERY. This type of vision correction is "glamourous" but has noticeable drawbacks, most noteably is that it won't last, you will have a halo or star effect in low light (especially when driving at night where you have oncoming headlights and streetlights) AND you will usually still neeed glasses for something you do with your eyes.
I am actually the webmaster for the Lasik MD website. Our site is less personal, but has a neutral, objective presentation of all the common variations of LASIK and a lot of pricing information that is very popular.
The Lasix was to improve the left eyes distance vision. It was more painful then the RK surgery which is now outdated anyway. Dry eye was a problem for me for over a year even with the plug and Restasis drops. I have some dry eye now but its relieved by OTC drops.
Now the Lasix is fading in the left eye and I'm getting farsighted in my right eye.
IN spite of this, I DO recommend both or either surgery. I wear glasses for driving and just purchased OTC glasses for reading the very small print. Beats wearing glasses for the last 15 years. Before the eye surery, I kept my glasses beside the bed; put them on first thing and took them off last thing.
Next time, when I have my vision corrected again, I will definitely spend more time and focus on the expected long term effect. Didn't expect the Lasix to fade and cause so much trouble.
Additionally, I have an airman's license and eye surgery is a primary disqualification for license renewal (or, issuance). I'll keep my glasses.