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Monday, June 22, 2015

Adventures in LASIK



So very recently I underwent lasik eye surgery. What an ordeal! I'm such a baby with medical procedures but am happy to report that despite my turning into a three year old everything was a success. I know the Internet is full of lasik horror stories so I thought I'd share a successful outcome.

So to start, here's a history of my poor vision. When I was about 7 years old and in the first grade they did vision and hearing tests for all students at school and I got sent home with a letter. That letter explained to my parents that I needed to go to the eye doctor. My first pair of glasses were light purple and I picked them out specifically to match my bike. Makes perfect sense when you're 7. 

After that it was all downhill from there. Every year my prescription got progressively worse. It was so bad even that I was actually limited in my choices of contact lenses - no blue eyes for me and none of those fancy contacts that you can sleep in. 

I thought my vision was just a fact of life. My burden to bear and having had poor vision for so long - the morning hunt for my glasses and having to wear my contacts to successfully blow dry my hair was nothing but second nature. 

So it was surprising to me the day my husband mentioned lasik. Turns out the night before he'd been online playing World of Tanks with his cousin and the topic came up. His cousin had had lasik about three years ago and just happened to mention his experience. 

So my husband kept mentioning it, kept giving me little details of the experience and finally made me call the eye center his cousin had gone too. 

That was the Saddleback Eye Center in Laguna Hills, California. Unlike most places where you can get lasik done they specialize only in lasik. They do nothing else. I appreciated that especially. Talk about perfecting your craft. 

So I got an appointment. And now fast forward to the day of the exam (we're skipping the drive from the night before which involved dinner at Claim Jumpers in Santa Clarita and getting to see fireworks from Disneyland as we passed through Anaheim). 

The waiting area had a TV showing customer testimonials, the staff was super friendly and once the paper work was filled out it went by very quickly. 

First was the 14 point eye exam to find out if I even qualified for LASIK. They say to expect that to take 2.5 hours but seriously it was only a little over an hour. 

My vision was at 20/500 with an astigmatism in each eye. For some context the giant "E" on all eye charts is 20/400. And I was told that not only was I good candidate for LASIK due to the health of my eyes but that they could correct me to 20/20. I made the choice to go through with it. 

Fortunately, I was given the option of having the surgery the same day. No waiting and no long drive back. Also, since I was from out of town they actually put us up at a hotel that night too. More on that later. 

So after filling out yet more paper work my husband and I were sent back to the waiting room and we were actually served lunch. That was a pleasant surprise. Soon after I was taken back and prepped for surgery. I was given a Valium which on a weird side note did absolutely nothing. This was the third Valium I'd ever taken in my life and the third time I waited for it to do something and it didn't. Me 3 Valium 0. 

I was also given a hair net and a series of numbing eye drops. I was also allowed to rest comfortably in a very sterile looking hospital type room on a guerney. That part took forever. Just the waiting for the eye drops to kick in. 

After what seemed like forever I was taken in for surgery. For those of you who don't know how lasik works there are two parts to the procedure. The first part is actually making a round incision in your cornea so that it can be pulled back and the second part reshapes your eyes. Creepy right. 

This though is where Saddleback Eye Center differs. Most places use a blade to cut the corneal flap but because LASIK is all they do at Saddleback they've invested in an actual laser that cuts that flap instead. Completely bladeless. 

The surgery itself was super quick but I'll lay out the steps so you all know how it goes. First step was a speculum being placed in my eye to hold my eyelids open. It seriously looked liked a paper clip that had been bent out of shape. I found it alarming. Once that was in place a metal instrument of sorts was touched to several parts of my cornea while a nurse read off a series of numbers. 

After that, what appeared to be a clear plastic cup was placed in my eye. This caused a great deal of pressure in my eye and I went completely blind. That was weird. Knowing you're eye is open but you cannot see. At this point, I was placed under the first laser for one minute per eye. Nurses kindly told me how many seconds were left. I found that calming. 

Once the corneal flaps were cut, I was moved to the second laser. By the way, that was the worst part. It was comparatively smooth sailing for the rest. I had been told that at this point too my vision would be foggy and no lie it most certainly was. 

So the speculum was placed back in my eye to hold it open. After that Dr. Manger used what seriously looked like a dental tool to lift the flap out of the way. I was then placed under the laser and told to stare at the green light. Fortunately there's minimal worry of actually screwing up your surgery by inadvertently moving your eye. There's another laser that tracks the movement. 

So after a light show that totally looked like poor special effects in an '80s sci-fi movie I was pulled out from under the laser and the doctor swabbed my eye with what looked like q-tips and a spatula. That was the corneal flap being placed and it was all done. 

I was then taken to an exam room where I was reunited with my husband and given a pile of eye drops and some very specific instructions for that night. And we were then sent to a Marriott. 


I spent the rest of the day with my eyes shut in this very comfortable bed. My husband also found a delivery site so we ordered take out from a local Italian restaurant called Peppinos. I had the chicken cacciatore. 

The next day we went back to the eye center. My corneal flaps were still in place and my vision is now at 20/20 though I could read most of the 20/15 line. Here's my creepy post op eye:




Currently I'm still in the last few days of the medicated eye drops. I no longer have to wear protective goggles to bed or during the day. I have some halos on the right side but those are getting better too. And that red mark in the picture above is almost gone now. 

All in all I'm absolutely thrilled with the outcome. It's weird not needing glasses at all after all that time. 
And it keeps getting better each day. I would definitely recommend LASIK at a place like Saddleback for anyone considering it. 

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