February 6, 2009

Modern Eyeball Science is Amazing

Yesterday, I got Lasik. Today, I woke up able to see slightly better than I could with my contacts and my eyes are supposed to get better over the next several months.

I have slight halos around lighted objects in the dark, which is, apparently, most people's big complaint about Lasik. But, I used to have those with my contacts as well, so for me, 17 hours post-surgery, I'm already better than what I used to have.

I was severely nearsighted with a slight astigmatism and very small pupils, which meant I was a candidate for "classic Lasik." I went to a local doctor who everyone at my law firm used. Every single person had excellent results, from the folks who got PRK to the folks who had fear issues with the laser.

Some folks indicated that Dr. Hyver's bedside manner was lacking, but I found it to be just fine. In my pre-op appointment, he took the time to answer all of my questions, including the ones about fighter pilots, space travel, and martial arts. During the procedure, he was extremely clinical and monotone, walking through the procedure and reciting his lines describing all of the sensations to me. I found this very comforting -- my surgery was obviously going exactly according to his plan.

The whole appointment took about an hour and a half and the actual time in the surgery room was maybe 10 minutes (I had an easy set of eyeballs, some people need up to 20 minutes for Premium Wavefront Lasik).

If you decide to get classic Lasik, here's what you can expect:

1. Arrive. Take your name tag, get your prescription confirmed, 1st by a machine, then by an optometrist, then again by a machine.

2. Put on booties for the surgery room.

3. Wait 'til they call you in.

4. Go in, put your hair up in a bonnet (bonnet!), accept the gauze on your ears to catch eye drops.

5. Lay down. They put a billion numbing drops in your eyes.

6. They tape something over the eye they aren't operating on (felt like a little cardboard cup) and slide you over to the doctor.

7. They tape your eyelids back.

8. They put the holder in your eye and ask you to stare at the blinking light.

9. They press down on your eye with the suction holder until it all goes black.

10. You hear a noise that sounds like a little drill or blade. It's the microkeratome the surgeon quickly uses to create the flap in your cornea.

11. They remove the suction holder and ask you to stare back at the light.

12. The surgeon pulls the flap up and ask you to keep looking at the blinking light (which is now very big and fuzzy).

13. The surgeon instructs you to keep looking at the blinking light while the laser is working and turns it on. It makes a loud clicking noise. It is actually very difficult to force your eye to look into the laser and you have to keep checking in to find out that you eye has wandered away (it's almost as if you have a physical response NOT to look into the laser that's burning your eyeball [laugh]). The laser only works when your eye is in position, so the more you can force your eye to focus on the blinking light, the faster the procedure will be over.

14. When the laser was done, I noticed that it smelled like burning hair or burnt bones (from my lab days). During the procedure, I was too concentrated on looking at the laser to notice the smell.

15. The doctor replaces the flap, wiggles it around a little bit ("the light will be wavy") and uses various instruments to absorb liquid and paint it back down into place.

16. They move the cover to the eye that's been finished and they do some additional numbing drops on the eye that's about to go under, and they repeat steps 7 - 15.

My right eye took about 40 seconds under the laser. I left my left eye open under the cover, which you weren't supposed to do, but I forgot until they asked me when I was done. My left eye took about 90 seconds because my left eye was wandering too much and my head was shaking a little bit -- turns out, their instructions to keep your other eye closed were not for me. The doctor stopped the laser after the first few seconds to see why there was so much motion, when I explained that I'd done the last one with my covered eye open, the doctor said, "Oh, fine. Do whatever you did on that one, it was great."

After the procedure, immediately, my vision was better than it was without my glasses. Sure, still blurry, but the edges of things were smaller than they used to be. They instruct you to go home and try to keep your eyes closed for 4 hours. Once I got in the car, my eyes did not want to be opened and I had E escort me down the driveway and to the couch. I kept 'em closed for the first hour, no problem, but, as predicted, they were slightly itchy and dry. I put the sterile eye drops in at the hour mark like I was supposed to do, but after that I found that I needed the wetting drops much more often than the once every hour they'd suggested. I made E go to the store and get me more drops. I probably used 8 single-serving eye drops in the 4 hours after surgery (they sent me home with 4).

I tried to listen to a movie, which worked for about the first hour of the movie. Then I got bored. At about the 2-hour mark, my body didn't care if my eyes were closed or not, and when they were open, I could see pretty well, which was amazing, so it was hard to keep my eyes closed.

Thanks to some folks taking my phone calls, I was able to stay on the couch and keep my eyes closed for most of the remaining time (except when I was putting eye drops in).

At the 4-hour post-surgery mark, my vision was almost as good as it used to be in my contacts at the end of the day (a little blurry, some halos, some dryness).

I went to bed early and woke today, good as new.

Yay modern science!

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