Surgery

Vision Correction Surgery Lasik Intralasik Eye Operation



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Vision correction surgery, specifically LASIK, was a procedure I had done more than five years ago. Myopia is very common, but prior to getting LASIK my vision was particularly bad. Without contacts or glasses my hand was a blur when held at a mere arms-length away from my face. Losing a contact without having an extra or forgetting to bring my glasses along was a real fear whenever I traveled or took a road trip. After twenty-three years of contact lens use and the twice-daily ritual of cleaning, sterilizing, storing, inserting, removing, and replacing, it was time for a change.

According to the FDA: "LASIK (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. A mechanical microkeratome (a blade device) or a laser keratome (a laser device) is used to cut a flap in the cornea. A hinge is left at one end of this flap. The flap is folded back revealing the stroma, the middlesection of the cornea. Pulses from a computer-controlled laser vaporize a portion of the stroma and the flap is replaced."

If LASIK is something that you intend to do for yourself, the first step I would recommend is a visit to your eye-care practitioner to establish if you are a candidate, and what type of procedure would be the best for you. There are several different types of procedures, mine was called IntraLASIK, and research on your part is immensely important. LASIK can cost anywhere from $850 to $6000. Remember that more expensive does not automatically equal a better doctor or better care. Always check the background and reputation of your prospective doctor.

Preparation for my LASIK procedure began about a week earlier. I was told to wear glasses only and to say goodbye to my contacts forever. I hated my glasses so much that I took the entire week off work. There was also an eye-drop regimen for the remainder of the week. I also arranged for a family member to drive me on the on the Friday morning that I was scheduled to go under the laser. You will be in no condition to drive immediately following the procedure.

When I got to the office the staff greeted me, I signed all the appropriate release forms, and I was given a fanny-pack containing black shades (that were a small step away from welding goggles), eye drops, emergency numbers, and two doses of hydrocordone.

The nurse escorted me to another room where we started a series of various eye drops. One was meant to soothe the eyes, one was meant to numb the eyes, one was meant to dilate the pupils, and one - I never really knew exactly what it was for, but after about 20 minutes of this I was led to a large comfortable chair in a dark room where I was told to keep my eyes closed until they came and got me.

I think it was an hour later, I lost track of time and couldn't open my eyes to look at my watch, the nurse came and got me, and I received another series of drops. Then she took me back to the chair. At this point more than just the eye-area felt numb, my whole face did, and it was a really strange sensation.

The nurse came in again and led me to table where some type of head-apparatus that felt like a very tight catchers mask, was put on. If you were ever worried about what would happen if you blinked during LASIK, fear not, because with this thing wrapped around your head, your eyes are staying open! Now on my back on a cold table, with my head, neck, and eyes immobilized, I heard the doctor's voice, "You okay there, Frank?" "Hn Hnnn." I replied.

The first laser, which I mentally named 'Phaser on Stun,' was ready. Measurements and precise readings of my left eye were taken and the laser found its target. Zap! A u-shaped incision was made and a protective cover was immediately placed over my eye to fold the incision over and expose the stroma.

The second laser, which I mentally named 'Phaser on Kill,' found its target. You want to experience a unique juxtaposition of sight, sound and smell? LASIK has it all. A series of red laser pulses shot directly into my eye at regular intervals, and it was seriously cool watching it as it happened. A soothing synthetic female voice emitted from the high-tech optical setup and said, "ten percent complete, twenty percent complete." My ears caught the subtle sound, and my nose caught the oddly sweet scent of my inner eye being burned away. I have never smelled anything like it before, and the only time I ever caught a scent like that again was when it was my right eye's turn with 'Phaser on Kill' a few minutes later. I was mesmerized. Then as quickly as it started, it was done, and the doctor placed a protective bandage that felt like a scratchy contact lens over my eye.

With a pat on the back from my doctor, followed by my cousin taking my arm to help me walk out, it was immediately apparent that I was essentially blind. Heavy dark shades, brain numbing eye drops, lasers, dilated pupils, and a protective bandage don't make seeing easy!

For the rest of the evening, I had to put a combination of prescription and over-the-counter eye drops in my eyes at 10-minute intervals. No TV, no reading, no computer, and I needed to sleep with the shades on to prevent involuntarily rubbing my eyes while I was asleep.

The next morning, it was back to the doctor's office where the bandage came off. That was the first time I remember accurately reading an eye chart without contacts or glasses. The drops had to continue for a few more weeks, and even now I still use them once in a while because they feel very soothing.

While my personal LASIK experience was a positive one and to this day my vision is stable at 20/20, there are no 100% guarantees. Do your homework, consider your options, and talk to friends that have had it done. If you choose to do it, and all goes as planned, believe me when I say that the first time you see the world with your own eyes it is quite an experience.

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