Pre-Op: Stop wearing your contacts (if you wear them instead of glasses) and pull out those old glasses and learn to love them! Because that's all you will be allowed to wear for about two weeks prior to your Consultation visit. This is because wearing contacts mis-shapes the surface of your eye and can give false readings at your consultation, thus messing up the course of treatment and possibly causing some big issues. So suck it up, and don't cheat and wear your contacts. I don't care if it's your birthday and your glasses don't match your cute party dress, or that you want to be able to work out without fogging up your glasses, it's not worth it. Oh, and also, no baby making! You can not be pregnant or nursing 6 months prior to surgery. Pregnancy hormone levels can affect your eye sight, and your prescription has to stay level for 1-2 years prior to surgery.
LASIK Consultation: This will determine if you are a candidate for the surgery and what type of surgery you should have. This will take about 1.5-2 hours and they dilate your eyes to run tons of tests. This gives them all of the readings of your eye, like the shape and size of your eye, how much corneal tissue mass you have, etc. You also go through the regular eye chart test to find out your true current prescription.
Surgery: Once you get cleared at the consultation, you are good to go for surgery! My consult and surgery date were only 3 days apart. Your doctor might give you a Xanax to calm your nerves, but my body had weird reactions to pain killers when I had my wisdom teeth removed in high school so I don't care for pills like that and opted not to take mine. I like to think I'm pretty good at keeping cool under pressure, though. They put in some eye drops to dilate your eyes again and do some other things [I don't remember exactly], then you do one last eye chart test and the doctor checks your dilation. They also plug up your tear ducts with a teeny tiny little self-dissolving plug. Then it's off to surgery! The actual surgery takes less than 10 minutes, and you are awake the whole time. They do one eye at a time, and you have numbing drops in so you don't feel it. [Warning: you might want to stop reading here if you get queasy about medical stuff] The first laser makes the "flap" and the second laser reshapes your cornea. I had sort of built up so many thoughts about the surgery in my head that I was really surprised at how easy and quick it all was. I was most worried about them cutting the flap, and I didn't even realize they were already doing it until it was done. Because the numbing drops really only work on the surface of your eye, it was a weird sensation when they opened the flap because I could kind of feel it, not pain, but you can feel it. At this point you can't see anything out of that eye because they use a stabilizing device that pushes your eye down on your optical nerve and you black out of that eye. It's just temporary and as soon as the flap is cut and they remove the pressure you can see. Again, it all happens pretty quickly. What they don't tell you is that due to that pressure you will have somewhat creepy bruises around your iris for about a week, but they eventually fade away. Honestly the worst part for me was the eye drops that they put in at the end to help the flaps heal, because they burn! and there is nothing you can do about it. Your normal reaction is to close your eye when it burns, but they have your eyes held open so you just have to let it go. One the drop sets they let you close your eyes and you put on your "shields" which make you look like a big bug.
Post -Op: Still no baby making! Ladies, as your eyes will not be fully healed for 6 months, you cannot get pregnant until at least 6 months after surgery.
Day 1: You are supposed to keep your eyes closed as much as possible for the following 8-12 hours. They give you an ambien to fall asleep. My check-in time for surgery was 9am so I was thinking that I would want to go home and just lay on the sofa listening to tv for a bit because I wouldn't be able to fall asleep right away. Wrong. They give you a numbing drop before leaving the office, but that wears off within about 20-30 minutes. For me, it wore off when we were about 2 minutes from home and then the burning starts. My eyes were watering uncontrollably and they burned like crazy. I took the ambien before we even got home and went straight to bed. The ambien knocked me out for about 7 hours and when I woke up the stinging was gone.
Day 2: You will have a check-up the following morning to make sure that the flaps are healing properly. That is the biggest post-op issue, other than following your eye drop regimen, because if the flaps move they will need to be surgically corrected. This is the appointment when you will be cleared for driving, so make sure that you have someone to take you to & from the surgery and drive you to this appointment. You have to use over-the-counter re-wetting drops every 30 minutes while awake and a steroid drop once an hour while awake. Those increments decrease over the next couple of weeks, until you are just using re-wetting drops as needed [for me, maybe 2 times a day]. You also use a gel eye drop at night to keep your eyes lubricated. Dry eye is caused because during the surgery they have to sever whatever it is that helps to produce tears/lubrication and it has to heal itself. You will also start your pill-poppin:
FISH OIL: You will be told to consume around 3500mg per day. Fish oil pills have filler in them, so you will actually need to read the nutrition label to see how many milligrams of Omega3 are in it. For instance, a 1200mg fish oil pill often will only have around 750mg of Omega 3. That means you will actually need to take 5 pills per day. There are different sizes and manufacturers, so you have to find the one that works for you. I like Nature Made and I have learned that the key to taking fish oil pills is taking them at night, right before you go to bed. Why? Because they make you burp. And when you burp, you get that nice fish oil taste in your mouth. Yuck. So take them at night and they will digest by morning. Now, I have seen burpless options since so they may be a little bit better, but I have not tried them myself since I still have plenty in my bottle.
DAILY MULTIVITAMIN: This is just to make sure that your body is staying healthy and properly nourished during your healing process. Again, I went with the Nature Made Multi pill. I will say however, that in hindsight I would have probably opted for a flavored gummie option because this pill does not taste good at all.
1 Month Post-Op: Your vision will be really good! The tear duct plugs will have dissolved [during week 1 or 2]. I was seeing 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 [better than average] in the other. By this appointment most of your inner-eye swelling will be gone, although depending upon your pre-op prescription and how much tissue they had to laser off, there may still be some. My right eye had an astigmatism so they had to do a lot of correcting, and I was told there was still a good bit of swelling in that eye. You are cleared to finally work out, but ease into it and do not do anything intense. By now, you have started using Restasis, a prescription eye drop, morning and night. This is suppose to help your eyes produce lubrication, because during the surgery they have to sever whatever it is that helps your eyes to produce tears/lubrication and it has to heal itself. This will slowly get better over time.
2 Months Post-Op: Your vision will probably take a step backwards. I was seeing 20/20 out of one eye and 20/25 [worse than average] out of the other. Do not get frustrated! This is all a part of the healing process and your eyes adjusting. You can go back to your full work-out plan now.
3 Months Post-Op: Your vision should finally be full-circle and you should be seeing 20/20 or better in both eyes. After this, you should just need yearly eye exam check-ups.
Of course, this will vary depending upon your doctor. I cannot say enough good things about my doctors, Dr. Jaben [performed my surgery] and Dr. Rauch [consultation and post-op review] at TLC Charlotte. I highly recommend them if you are in the area and considering the procedure.
If you have any other questions about pricing, insurance, surgery, etc. just ask me!