Image Source: Unsplash / Luca Iaconelli
Sick of the daily struggle of not being able to see? Dry contacts, tired eyes, smudged lenses — that's just the beginning. Believe me, I hear you. After a few years of contemplating the big change and a stabilized prescription (hallelujah), I set the date to get Lasik eye surgery. Here's what it's really like.
Before the Surgery
You'll need to have a few appointments before the surgery, so plan on taking time off work or your daily responsibilities. These appointments include:
- Preliminary consult to see if you're a Lasik candidate. Little fact: this has to do with the thickness of your cornea.
- Full workup and dilation about a week before your surgery. This takes an hour or two.
- Pre-op appointment to remeasure your eyes. You'll need to stop all contact use two weeks before surgery. The tests will show any relieved warping from contact use.
During the Surgery
As far as surgeries go, Lasik is quick and minimally invasive. This is how my day went.
- 1:30 p.m.: I walked into the eye center and immediately paid for the surgery. As far as payment, it is roughly $2,500 per eye. Bonus: many eye surgeons take HSA money or Care Credit, so do your research on insurance availability.
- 1:45 p.m.: I was taken to the pre-op room. Here my eyes were cleaned with a medical grade antiseptic and I was given a Xanax (yes, you'll need this) to relax during surgery. I put a hair cap on and it was time to get this party started.
- 2:00 p.m.: I got into the operation room (mine was a bit chilly) and was seated in a reclined chair. My doctor started with my right eye first. They will put a whole slew of numbing drops in your eyes and then a suction is put on to keep the eye in place.
During the surgery you have to try and relax the eye while continuously staring at a red blinking target. Honestly, it is a little freaky and nerve-wracking (hence the Xanax). You can hear and smell the laser at work, but it is super quick. At one point your vision will completely black out.
Second eye, same deal. Each takes about two minutes. Once they are both done, your doctor will take a look at your eyes under a microscope to ensure there isn't any debris. At 3:00 p.m., we were done. That was it. I literally shook hands and walked out like I got a pap smear. It was wild. You'll need someone to be present during the surgery and to drive you home.
After the Surgery
Nap time. It's imperative that you go home and close your eyes for the rest of the night. You can open your eyes to do what you need to do, but close them as much as possible. You'll also have to wear these ridiculous goggles. They kind of remind me of what overenthusiastic indoor racquetball players wear.
In terms of medication, I was prescribed four painkillers but only used two. Your eyes will sting and involuntary tear for a few hours after surgery and then stop. Hopefully, you'll be knocked out for this part. You'll have two eye drops (antibiotic and steroid) to use consistently over the next week. Make sure you shake them so they don't burn your eye! Yes, I missed this step for the first two days.
Day 1 Post-Op
You'll have a quick post-op appointment in the morning to make sure everything's OK. Yes, you can see. It's crazy. You'll be tired and have some dryness and foreign body sensation, but you can see. Some people are light sensitive; I was fine.
What I Wish I Knew Before the Surgery
Your eyes will get pretty red for a couple of weeks. Eyes are super sensitive (obviously) and the suction they place on the eye can cause some bruising. Bruising in the eyes looks like blood, so I had a bit of a demon eyes situation. I couldn't wear eye makeup for a week. This makes sense, but when I read it on the paper, my first thought was panic. I don't consider myself particularly vain, but these blond-tipped lashes aren't exactly drool-worthy.
You have to sleep in goggles for a week. This is kind of difficult unless you're a pro at sleeping on your back. Your vision will go in and out a bit during the first week. Don't freak out — this is normal. Make sure you are using plenty of preservative-free natural tears. Most importantly, no rubbing your eyes for three months.
Image Source: Emma Howie
None of these things would have stopped me from getting the surgery, but I may have been more cognizant of when I got it. I would recommend doing it before a weekend when you can sleep your life away and not have any social engagements or important meetings for a full week. At almost one week on the dot, I felt like a million bucks.
It's official; my life is changed. To get started on your own personal journey, reach out to your optometrist to see who they recommend — you won't regret it.