blinded by the light.
November 1, 2012 10:58 PM   Subscribe

have you had lasik? what's your experience been?

i've worn contacts since i was 13 years old. all of a sudden this year, my eyes hate them. earlier this year, my doctor had to put a moratorium on my wearing contacts for more than a few hours a week because my eyes have become incredibly dry, to the point where the dryness causes my cornea to ripple a bit if i have my contacts in for too long and affect my vision even more so she can't update my prescription. i've become prone to eye infections if i wear them for more than that. my doctor has also found a very minor scar on my cornea and has recommended that i go see a cornea specialist, with the likelihood that he will put me on steroids to begin with to work out the dryness issue.

if the steroids do not solve my problem, it seems likely to me that i will not be able to wear contacts regularly again. i don't mind wearing my glasses every once in awhile but i hate having to wear them every day. hate. it. my friend has strongly suggested that i think about getting lasik—which i'm sure i will look into. BUT. i am a designer. the very idea of voluntarily doing anything unnecessary to my eyes freaks the crap out me. please tell me i am being ridiculous. please tell me why i am being ridiculous. or if i am not, please tell me that. have you had lasik? what's your experience been?
posted by violetk to Health & Fitness (53 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who had it done by one of the top doctors in LA and the results of her surgery did not last and she's back to wearing glasses now. The results are not guaranteed, so that is one risk.
posted by dottiechang at 11:10 PM on November 1, 2012

Oddly, I had it done at one of the top doctors in LA, too. Seven years ago. One of the best decisions I've made in my life.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:18 PM on November 1, 2012

Rather than asking the internet, you need to find a reputable place in your region that specializes in corrective eye surgery. Your profile doesn't say where you are located. If you are in the Bay Area, a place like this would be highly recommended.

These places typically offer a free consultation in which they assess the condition of your eyes and determine if you are even a good candidate for surgery. If you are a good candidate then they will describe which type of procedure is optimal for you. Lasik is one type of surgery; PRK is another. Based on your specific condition one may offer better results than the other.

They will also go over financing options with you. You can typically get a no interest credit card if you pay down the cost of the surgery within X number of months.

The point is to go to an expert and be professionally assessed. You can ask hundred different people what their experience was like but none of that may apply to you. Get your info from a physician and then make an informed decision.
posted by quadog at 11:20 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

My father had lasik, almost ten years ago now. He now has what he and my mother like to term "eagle eyes" - he plays golf and can spot his ball an insanely long way off. But, he still needs glasses for reading, and he uses them when he's on the computer. Chances are you will have to use some kind of corrective lens for your digital work some of the time. My dad absolutely loves lasik and tries to goad me into doing it all the time because he knows the thought of it freaks me out. I'm actually fairly ambivalent at this point. For him, it was one of the best decisions he ever made, despite still needing glasses for reading, and he's a lawyer, so he reads basically constantly.
posted by Mizu at 11:20 PM on November 1, 2012

Response by poster: quadog, thanks for your information but the major point of my asking here is because i don't know anyone personally who has had it done and i am looking for personal experiences—not professional recommendations—because—as you pointed out—i can get all the clinical information from research and from going to a consultation, which, of course, i will do when i decide to do it.
posted by violetk at 11:27 PM on November 1, 2012

My husband and I both did it six years ago. Best money we've ever spent; zero regrets. Of course there are risks but for us it's been all positive and honestly kind of life changing (over the long term).
posted by jay dee bee at 11:30 PM on November 1, 2012

My roommate had PRK on Monday. He's had to go back each morning since then to get checked on. He says his vision is improving day by day, but it's still "weird" - he described having "spider webs" around points of light. He was given 8 days off work to heal.
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:47 PM on November 1, 2012

I know a few people who have had it done, and they uniformly are very happy with it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:48 PM on November 1, 2012

It seems like all my coworkers have had it done and they are constantly telling me I should too because I have dry eyes and my contacts irritate me. Dry(er) eyes seems to be the main side effect so maybe that's something to consider. My old eye doctor offered some dry eye remedies to me, that I ultimately decided not to do but maybe seeing a dry eye specialist before getting surgery would be a good idea.
posted by fshgrl at 11:54 PM on November 1, 2012

I had it done. I have now had 20/10 vision for like 5 years now. It's like buying a super power.

Be warned: I did have to watch that Vin Diesel movie where he's a commando nanny or something one and a half times in the waiting room. Might not be worth it.
posted by cmoj at 12:08 AM on November 2, 2012 [15 favorites]

I did it about 10 years ago and it is awesome! (I had ordinary lasik in one eye and I think what is called PRK in the other, due to astigmatism. My eyesight was very poor going in: about -10 and -12. Point being just that my surgery was slightly more complicated than normal.)

I did it for ordinary vanity/hassle reasons, but was surprised how pleased I was afterwards. It was amazing to wake up the next day and be able to see without groping for glasses or putting in contacts. Fantastic to shower without nearsightedness. Fabulous to decide to go to sleep and just .. close my eyes. I was even surprised, when winter came, to realize that for decades I'd been irritated by my glasses fogging up when I entered a warm room -- no more! I also found myself doing things I'd unconsciously avoided because my short-sightedness had made them a bit of a pain -- like swimming, running and other sports: basically anything involving getting wet (risk of losing contacts), sweating (glasses slipped) or risk of getting hit with a ball (breakage). I had not realized how much I protected my glasses, until I didn't have them any more. Eye makeup got more fun! Travel turned out to be easier too, because I didn't need to worry about forgetting a lens case or saline solution or whatever.

So yeah, I have been thrilled. My sole regret is that I didn't do it earlier.

Some other random bits:
* For me healing was easy -- I was at work the next day.
* Do not breathe through your nose during the surgery: you will smell searing, and it is unnerving.
* I do now see mild halos around light sources when driving at night, but nothing odd in daylight, and I don't really care.
* Be aware that most lasik providers will under-correct shortsightedness to stave off your requirement for reading glasses as you age.
* I hear you re your eyes being your livelihood, but remember that you can always wear mild prescription eyeglasses for your work if you need to. It's highly highly unlikely that your eyesight would end up worse.
* I did a lot of research before my surgery and all the studies recommended paying whatever you need to for a place with great customer service and good guarantees: those providers have better outcomes, and are worth the extra money.

Good luck!
posted by Susan PG at 12:18 AM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's like buying a superpower.

Oh, man, THIS!! I had it done about five years ago and I would do it all over again. No pain, quick healing, totally changed my life. Best thing I've ever done for myself.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 2:22 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beware, they don't tell you everything.

Take the list of side-effects the lasik "may" cause. Read it replacing "may" with "will". Are you still OK with it?

I had lasik about five years ago, after wearing -5 glasses for almost 40 years. Done by one of the foremost eye dudes in Cape Town.

Yes, I can see extremely well. Far away eagle eyes, no worries.

But this is an abrasive process, and it's not uniform. Imagine sanding a marble with sandpaper. Effectively, my eyeballs have scratches on them, so in low light, when my pupils dilate, everything goes fuzzy. I struggle to read the price labels in the supermarket.

And that fuzziness can't be fixed with glasses.

So I carry a torch. Only way to see detail.

Having said that, I see better than many of my buddies of my age. It's just that I saw really really well with the glasses, so if I could go back in time I probably wouldn't do it again.
posted by wrm at 2:25 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had it done a few years ago and it has been amazing. I love not having to wear glasses/contacts anymore. No lasting side effects here.
posted by Apoch at 2:43 AM on November 2, 2012

I have a friend who had it done by one of the top doctors in LA and the results of her surgery did not last and she's back to wearing glasses now. The results are not guaranteed, so that is one risk.

If your eyes change, there is nothing the doctor can do. It's not that the surgery didn't "take", it's that the correction that they melted into the eyeballs is no longer the right one.

wrm- are you sure you aren't getting cataracts?
posted by gjc at 3:03 AM on November 2, 2012

My ophthalmologist (who I've been going to for about 15 years) has an almost identical prescription to mine - about -7.50 and a fair bit of astigmatism in one eye, and about -6.50 in the other . He mentioned to me once that he thought I'd be a good candidate for laser surgery. I asked him if he'd had it done. He said no. That was my answer.
posted by essexjan at 3:34 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only thing I regret about having this surgery was that I didn't do it earlier.
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 3:55 AM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

It was brilliant. I had it done this year. I decided to go to the best guy in London because, hey, they're my eyes. I got both done at once. I was surprised after I did this to find some people asking me if that was wise.

I went to the expensive, well known guy because my ophthalmologist friend said that he had the reputation and the wealth that if he thought you weren't right for surgery he'd tell you.* I have friends who went to cheaper, chain operations. They are happy too 5-20 years later. But I still think in terms of cost v benefit and risk, finding the best person you can afford is a wise move.

I had mine done on a Saturday morning. I left home on public transport and got to the clinic 20 minutes before the op, as requested. 90 minutes or so and one cab ride later, I was home. Mrs MM couldn't come with me and I managed OK but I would recommend taking someone with you.

The surgery itself is unpleasant but very quick. Unpleasant like going to the dentist unpleasant. At the point at which you decide you're not too keen on it it's over.

The first hour post surgery is blurry but OK. The next two hours were painful. Lots of fiddling about with eye drops and self-pity. I needed some help to get the eye drops in. Mild discomfort for the rest of the day, but not so bad that we had to cancel the friend who came round for dinner. I was back at work and in front of a laptop Monday morning.

For the first week post surgery there was a fair bit of eye drops. Every hour during the day IIRC correctly. I had to wear silly goggles at night to prevent any risk of me poking my eyes in my sleep. The second week was more eye drops, but less frequently. The cloudy vision went completely after the first week. My eyes were a bit bloodshot the first week.

I have two grades better than 20/20 vision now. I could officially be an astronaut or a fighter pilot. If you excuse my many and several other deficiencies. I have forgotten I ever wore glasses or contacts. While I wish I had done it earlier, the technology now is better than it was, say, 5 years ago. Particularly the area they can actually apply the laser to - the haloing light effect some people got at night or in low light was, I believe, due to only being able to treat x% of the available area. Now they treat a larger area and it reduces that risk. My night vision is fine.

*Because of his experience and specialism he handles a lot of difficult and edge cases. Mine was simple. I was -3 in both eyes.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:55 AM on November 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

Sorry: 5-20 should be 5-10 years!
posted by MuffinMan at 4:03 AM on November 2, 2012

I had it done several years ago. Excellent result. I can now see well at a distance, but have to use glasses for reading - the exact opposite of my previous condition. (But $10 "cheaters" at 1.25 are sufficient.)

They offered me the option of doing one eye to see at a distance and the other for reading. They said I would adapt to that pattern. I declined, because it sounded too damn weird.

I got around the squeamish factor by rationalizing: I had had a vasectomy done 15 years earlier, and I did OK. My eyes, too, are among my favorite organs, but in good hands they will do fine.
posted by megatherium at 4:42 AM on November 2, 2012

I'm also a designer, so I understand where your hesitation comes from. I had LASIK two years ago, also because i could no longer wear contacts. (got it done at the best place in Amsterdam, NL).
best decision i ever made, also eagle-eye vision here :-)
posted by PardonMyFrench at 4:43 AM on November 2, 2012

I had LASIK more than 10 years ago and Susan PG's experience sounds like my experience. The vision improvement is nothing short of remarkable (my sight was as bad as hers). I do experience halos at night but that is a small price to pay to not have to deal with contacts.

Remember that LASIK alleviates the vision problems that are caused by the shape of your eyeball (eg myopia, astigmatism) but doesn't address the weakening that comes with age. You may need glasses at some point for that kind of vision problem.
posted by slmorri at 5:07 AM on November 2, 2012

Both my GF and my GF's mom got it and it has been great. By GF was blind as a bat w/o glasses, and now has better than 20/20. She had dry/irritated eyes for a few weeks but now all is back to normal. She also went to a somewhat pricier provider, but the benefit with that was that if she ever needs retreatment, it will be for free.

I think her mom had more problems with dry eyes that lasted for a few months, so YMMV.
posted by cccp47 at 5:19 AM on November 2, 2012

My acquaintance used to work for a top law firm. He told me the lasik surgeons came to an agreement to settle *every* law suit against them with the addition of a gag order, so you will never hear of anybody with a bad lasik experience.
Do I know for a fact this is true? No, but if it is, it is very hard to judge just what the risk of permanent damage is.
posted by bystander at 5:28 AM on November 2, 2012

I had considered laser surgery because of similar issues (GPS, phlyktenulosis), but once I switched to daily contacts (after steroid drops and in conjunction with cromolyn sodium drops) the issues went away. Is that possible for you?

I love my dailies.
posted by Pax at 5:34 AM on November 2, 2012

so you will never hear of anybody with a bad lasik experience.

It takes only moments of googling to turn up bad lasik experiences; some sites were linked in this previous question, for example, and this one covers the medical literature.

my eyes have become incredibly dry, to the point where the dryness causes my cornea to ripple a bit if i have my contacts in for too long

Just a couple of days ago I saw an article suggesting that many of the dry eye complaints that get made post-Lasik are actually from people with preexisting dry eye issues, who sought out corrective surgery because dry eyes meant they couldn't wear contacts anymore. (I'm looking for the article but can't find it immediately; I'll link it if I can find it later.) The central point was to try and alleviate the worst of the dry eye issues before getting surgery, rather than after.

But at the anecdotal level, everyone I know who has gotten corrective surgery (including lasik, ICLs, PRK, and one person who had radial keratotomy back in the day) is happy with it and say that whatever side effects they ended up with aren't as bad as poor vision was.
posted by Forktine at 5:40 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have had LASIK, as has my husband, and my mother. All of us have had fantastic results and we are going on 8 years plus.

Keep in mind that LASIK correction does not affect normal effects of aging--presbyopia (where you need reading glasses).

Go to the best practice you can find in your area, and be evaluated. A good evaluation should be complimentary or very low-cost. And, it should be thorough. I think our evaluations took an hour plus. The surgeon should explain what type of laser is appropriate for your condition(s) and how he/she would like to proceed. Volume is key--someone who has performed thousands of these operations is who you want to go with.

The only after-effects that have happened is my husband has been told some cells where they made the corneal flap have grown over themselves. It's not affecting his vision now, but it has the potential to make his vision hazy as he ages. It can be remedied by a vacuum extraction of the cells (surgery).

I love my results and I would do it again if I had to.
posted by FergieBelle at 5:44 AM on November 2, 2012

I'm very happy with it, although mine was an unusual case - just in one eye (-4) as my other eye is -0.5 and barely corrects with glasses anyway. Had mine done just over a year ago (Lasik MD, in Canada - mine was the custom wavefront kind of lasik). They say they will correct it for free if it slips too badly within X amount of years (I think it's 5).

Mild side effects I've had: drier eyes, mild halos at night (noticeable but don't interfere with vision), ghosting effects when watching TV in a dark room, slightly less "crisp" vision IMO (hard to objectively evaluate that). My vision is still 20/20, though - same as my glasses corrected to.

For me not having to wear glasses easily makes up for those side effects.

BUT, from what I read while I was researching, pre-existing dry eyes makes the surgery far more risky - probably because the surgery is likely to make them even more dry, potentially causing real problems. I'd do a lot of reading about that, if I were you.
posted by randomnity at 5:49 AM on November 2, 2012

This isn't the article I saw, but makes the same point:
He pointed out that people with dry eye tend to self-select themselves for LASIK because they’re unhappy with contact lenses and are seeking an alternative. He observed that intolerance to contact lenses is one of the telltale signs of some type of anterior segment disease.

People with dry eye also may develop punctuate epithelial erosions and other corneal surface abnormalities. Dr Wilson cautioned that these irregularities could alter wavefront analysis of the eye, leading to errors in treatment and high rates of enhancement after surgery. Another problem for people with dry eye before surgery is an increased risk of LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LINE).
posted by Forktine at 5:52 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did this - They offered me the option of doing one eye to see at a distance and the other for reading. They said I would adapt to that pattern. I declined, because it sounded too damn weird.

It was great. I went from -8 and -5 to nearly perfect vision. No problems with shifting back and forth. A miracle in my life. This was about 10 years ago. My vision has faded a little since, and I wear a very slight correction for driving a night. Still, I couldn't recommend it more.

My one insight is that the quality of the machine matters more than quality of the doctor. Do some research into what's the latest, greatest and/or most reliable, best reviewed technology and look for an office that has it. Second factor is the skill of the person who measures the shape of your cornea and determines the shape of the correction. That could be the doctor; could be a nurse. Unless there are problems, the doctor just checks you out and pushes the button.

I find this - Take the list of side-effects the lasik "may" cause. Read it replacing "may" with "will" - to be an odd statement. Not doubting that wrm and others have had problems, but clearly that doesn't happen to everyone.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 5:56 AM on November 2, 2012

I find this - Take the list of side-effects the lasik "may" cause. Read it replacing "may" with "will" - to be an odd statement. Not doubting that wrm and others have had problems, but clearly that doesn't happen to everyone.

I read that not so much as "those side effects are guaranteed to happen to you," but rather more like "if the possible side effects were to actually happen to you, would you still want the surgery?" Which, if you think about it, isn't a bad approach to elective surgery.
posted by Forktine at 6:05 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

My husband and I both got PRK a year ago and six months ago, respectively. It's the best thing I've ever spent money on. We both had horrible eyes (-8.5 to -10 prescriptions) and now he's at 20/10 and I'm at 20/15. I was terrified of the process (thus he went first) and the concept of Doing Something to my eyes, but it was over quickly and I recovered fast.

I do still have halos at night, which will continue improving (unlike LASIK) over the next six months. My husband's are pretty much down to a manageable level. I'm still retraining my eyes to focus "properly".

The processes are continuously evolving - there is a lot less incidence of hazing and such now than even five years ago. But, you have to weigh the possibility yourself.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:09 AM on November 2, 2012

I had LASIK 10 years ago. No side effects. I love it. The people in my life now don't believe I used to wear glasses.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:21 AM on November 2, 2012

Yea, sort of what Forktine said.

They list the side effects to cover themselves. They make it sound like those side effects are a remote possibility. But in my experience most of the side effects are very likely to happen, to a greater or lesser degree.

Not an attempt at hijack, but am I the only person here with significantly reduced low light sight? Sounds like it...

(And I never had dry eye problems before, now I do. I suspect glasses help keep your eyes moist by keeping the wind out? Contacts would of course be different.)
posted by wrm at 6:23 AM on November 2, 2012

I was told I was a good candidate for Lasik, but once I got there they determined they could not do it. After some deliberation, I opted for PRK. It is definitely more painful and a longer recovery time. Because my eyes were so bad, there was some trade-off in my reading vision which resulted needing glasses sometimes (I was 42 at the time).

I do have some halo around lights at night, but I had that with my contacts so to me it was not a big deal. Dry eyes were definitely an issue for several months. It did get better but if you already have an issue with that, it may be worse. I used drops several times a day, especially at work because I am on a computer all day.

I do think it was worth it - my distance vision is awesome. I also wished I had done it earlier. I asked my ophthalmologist why he had not done it and his response was that he performs eye surgery and he was not willing to risk losing any of his close up vision. That made sense to me. Wearing reading glasses to work on a pc was part of my future of aging anyway.
posted by maxg94 at 6:28 AM on November 2, 2012

I had it done 9 years ago and still think it is great. Rather than repeat everything I have said in the past, my comments about my experiences are here.
posted by TedW at 7:16 AM on November 2, 2012

I had LASIK almost 6 years ago, and it's the best money I ever spent on anything, hands down.It ran me about $2400/eye. I was in my early 30s, and so when I get to my 50s I'll get reading glasses like most people. My eyes were in the -4.5 diopter range.

The surgery itself was very short, as described above. I got contacts for the first 24 hours to aid th healing-- just soft covers, not corrective, and for the next-day followup, I drove to the clinic without my glasses.

I got all the above side effects: halos, dryness. I still carry eyedrops with me, because with the several months of dryness you A) learn to be a pro with eyedrops, and drop your eyes anytime, anyplace, and B) you really learn to recognize dryness for what it is. You will probably stop rubbing your eyes permanently and switch to your ever-present eyedrops. PROTIP: keep eyedrops in a pocket or in any case next to your body to keep them warm. Cold drops suck.

I'm 20/20 in each eye, and together they're 20/10. I like to see the water swirl around my feet in the shower, and I like to see the time on my bedroom clock.

Here's a video of the LASIK procedure which is almost exactly as I had it. From one's own perspective, you have to look at bright lights and overcome your blinking instinct-- that's the uncomfortable part. You will have things placed against your (anaesthetized) eyeball, but you only feel the contact dully, and no pain. By the time you lean back into the chair, you're about 30 minutes away from new improved vision.

If you have uneasy feelings about elements of this, like the cornea cutting, or the laser pulse, well, I can only recommend you try to overcome that.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:26 AM on November 2, 2012

I had it done just about 6 years ago, when I was 35. I'm basically happy with it, though I did have some issues.

I've had ghosting around bright lights. There's a difference in the amount of contrast I can see in each eye in low light - one appears slightly darker than the other. For about two years, I had a minimal (think pinprick) "grey" spot in my vision in one eye - it didn't interfere with life, didn't actually block my vision, but it was noticeable in the upper inner quadrant of my vision any time I was looking at a mono-color surface, and it was upsetting. I had, and still have, more "floaters" than I ever did before I had the surgery.

I started off right after the surgery at 20/15 and now after 6 years I'm at around 20/40. For the past two years I've been wearing glasses most of the time for work or for reading, but they are far lighter and thinner, "barely there", than what I would have been wearing now without the surgery. I'm perfectly capable of reading, working, watching tv, driving, conducting my life, without them. But I had so many years at 20/15 that I miss the extra-uber-sharpness when I'm not wearing my glasses.

One thing you specifically should be aware of is that if you have dry eyes before the surgery, they can get monumentally worse after. I was borderline - my ophthalmologist was not actually thrilled with going through with the surgery, but left it up to me. After, I went through six months of eyedrop HELL before the dryness sort of spontaneously resolved. I had to put drops in my eyes constantly, and not the cheap visine stuff, either - expensive synthetic tears stuff, every half hour or so. I woke up with my eyes gummed shut, and opening them felt like scraping sand across my corneas. It was horrible.

My bottom line is this: Yes, I'm happy with the results of my lasik. But for six months after it I was really, really not. And the lasik did cause visual problems while it was fixing others. I would say, evaluate carefully what kind of person you are before you have this kind of surgery. If you're a perfectionist, if you'll be bothered by visual quirks that can't be fixed, I would advise strongly against having it. I had a lot of regret until the grey spot resolved itself after a couple of years, and WORLDS of regret during the painfully-dry-eyes phase. Knowing what I know now, I'm not sure I'd do it again.

On the other hand, if you're a patient non-perfectionist with no tendency toward hypochondria, it might be great for you.
posted by kythuen at 7:45 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Anecdotally, my friend's ex-fiancé had the procedure a few years ago and my understanding of it was that something went wrong and his eyes are constantly drying out, to the point where he has to put eyedrops in his eyes about every 20 minutes.
posted by lea724 at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2012

Oddly enough, I just saw my optometrist two days ago.

I had lasik performed about 7 years ago. I had been wearing glasses since I was about 12, and was tired of it.

My vision post-lasik was never quite as good as my vision had been with glasses. Good enough, certainly, but I was conscious of the difference. Recently, I had become aware that my vision seemed to have deteriorated, which is why I went back to the optometrist. I was right: it had. So now I have a choice: I can have the lasik touched up, which will give me better distance vision, but will necessitate reading glasses (I'm 46); or I can get glasses for driving and situations where I really need to improve my distance vision. I'm not thrilled with either option.

The eye doctor pointed out that eventually, I'll need reading glasses no matter what, so one option he suggested was to wear glasses for distance vision for now, wait until I'm stuck with reading glasses anyhow, and then get re-lasiked.
posted by adamrice at 7:57 AM on November 2, 2012

After wearing contacts for 32 years, I had Lasik done - best decision ever! It was (and remains) miraculous to me to wake up and look out the window and *see* everything, in minute detail. The only (minor) downside was, because I had worn 'tacts for so long(hard, then gas perm), I had to wear glasses for a couple months prior to the surgery to let my eyes 'relax' (for lack of a better word).
I had it done by the best person here in Richmond, Va, and have been blessed with 20/15 vision for the past 8 years.
posted by PlantGoddess at 8:29 AM on November 2, 2012

am I the only person here with significantly reduced low light sight?

Now that you mention it, I did too. It's not enough to impair me, and I don't notice now, but that does happen.
posted by cmoj at 8:50 AM on November 2, 2012

I had LASIK 10 years ago. I fall into the "best superpower-buying decision of my life" camp. No side effects. As far as I know, I don't know anyone who has had it who has had a problem with it.

FWIW, my vision was previously 20/80 or somewhere in that range. Now it's 20/10.

Edit: My eyes were sensitive for a few months right after the procedure. I couldn't rub them without causing pain, so, I didn't rub them. That completely went away.
posted by iguanapolitico at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2012

I had lasik 3 years ago. The surgery was terrifying, my eyes hurt on touch for weeks and it took maybe six months for them to heal completely. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

During my screenings, the clinic I went to was concerned about my dry eyes, but I was able to alleviate them somewhat by taking fish oil pills daily. They also had some kind of tear duct plug to moisten eyes before the surgery for patients with very dry eyes.

Sometimes in the winter post-surgery my eyes get uncomfortably dry but I live in a dry climate. YMMV
posted by girih knot at 11:21 AM on November 2, 2012

How is everyone's night vision after LASIK or PRK? Especially driving at night?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2012

I had it done a couple years ago because contact lenses were becoming uncomfortable, too many eye infections, and I hated driving while only wearing glasses.

I have really dry eyes now. I did have some dryness problems before but now it's a little worse.

When waking up in the morning I have to open my eyes carefully and put drops in immediately. My dog barking late at night scaring me awake resulted in a good scratch!

My night vision is fine, but I do have some halos. I prefer not to drive at night but I can do it safely.

I still prefer this to my previous situation though.
posted by secretdawn at 11:25 AM on November 2, 2012

If you're a perfectionist, if you'll be bothered by visual quirks that can't be fixed, I would advise strongly against having it.

On the other hand, if you're a patient non-perfectionist with no tendency toward hypochondria, it might be great for you.

I think this, from kythuen, is really insightful.

Pretty much everyone I know who's gotten lasik has loved the results, but I do know one couple who were both dissatisfied afterwards. Nothing dramatic happened to them -- what I would characterize as normal and expected side effects were just much, much more annoying for them than they were for, say, me.

I would describe that couple as yes, slightly fussy and maybe hypochondriac-leaning. I've noticed they seem to have a higher-than-normal expectation that service providers are trying to rip them off, and their level of general dissatisfaction with service providers tends to be higher-than-normal too -- like, 'that dentist just wanted to pay off his kid's tuition' / 'that massage therapist ruined my shoulder' / 'the bartender is just angling for a better tip' kind of thing.

That reminds me of a study I once read somewhere, that said that the biggest predictor of satisfaction with elective surgery is a realistic expectation of results.
posted by Susan PG at 11:30 AM on November 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

My ex got Lasix (or PRK, I'm not sure) because he wanted to be able to swim/snorkel, do sporty activities, etc. without worry (he was a glasses-wearer). He was a jeweler (as a hobby) and due to the surgery he lost his sharp, up-close vision. This was important enough to him to mildly regret having it done. He still makes jewelry but he needs some serious corrective lenses for it, and it's a pain in the butt.
posted by chowflap at 11:42 AM on November 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had PRK done about 5 years ago. My only complaint is night driving as it has reduced my night vision slightly. It takes longer for my eyes to adjust to a dark environment so the constant bright headlights and then darkness adjustment is hard to deal with. Also the 'halo' effect around lights and car headlights. The only other issue is when there is a full moon, an I look at it, there is a slight double vision effect. Other than that I still have better than 20/20 and I would do it again in an instant.
posted by chugg at 1:57 PM on November 2, 2012

I had it done about 5 years ago in the US. My prescription had stabilized for a few years, so I figured it was a good time to do it. (I didn't want to do it if my eyes were going to get worse by a few diopters). Among other reasons, I have trouble tolerating some of the high index plastics they use now, and so I wanted to avoid needed bi/tri/quad focal glasses as I started needing reading glasses.

I had my evaluation "you must be this tall to get LASIK" exam in October, which let me know I was eligible in time for signing up for the max on my flexible spending plan at work during open enrollment, which saved me money on the procedure.

The procedure was pretty straightforward. The guy doing it was narrating what was going on in the most incredibly laid back and mellow and relaxing way. Basically, you lay down, they hold your eyelid open, and you stare at a red light. When the cornea is cut and the flap moved back, the light gets fuzzy, but you keep staring at it. The computer does all the work, and I believe it can tell if your gaze wanders too far and won't, like, lasik the side of your eyeball by mistake.

After the surgery, I sat around and chilled for a little while, and then they sent me home with the person driving me. They sent me off with a pair of sunglasses with good coverage. The first day or two, I was told not to do anything that would cause eye strain - this included reading, watching tv, etc. I had clear covers to wear over my eyes when I slept to make sure I didn't irritate my eyes while I was sleeping. They didn't interfere with my CPAP mask.

When they do the surgery, they actually over-correct a bit because the vision gets a tiny bit worse as things heal. So at first, it was SUPERCLEAR vision. Then it settled to about 20/20. Over the past 5 years, my eyes have gotten a little bit worse, but it's still less than a quarter diopter off. I went in expecting that I might eventually have to wear glasses while driving at night, for instance, but so far I haven't.

Obviously, it doesn't correct any of the close vision problems that come with getting older, and I've started stashing low-power reading glasses around the house, but my distance vision is still solid. I'd do it again, definitely. I think I waited til just the right time to do it, too.
posted by rmd1023 at 2:29 PM on November 2, 2012

Love my lasik. Did it at Duke about 10 years ago. I have weird lasik dreams though, that it is wearing off and that I need glasses. But it's never true. I wake up with perfect vision and all is good.
posted by kirst27 at 5:50 PM on November 2, 2012

I know 3 people who have had it done in my circle of friends/family. One couldn't be happier. One had his vision over corrected by the doctor and gets headaches from it (they offered to re-do it, but said it could harm the eye to do it again). The third has really bad haloing with lights.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:58 AM on November 6, 2012

Also - because people have asked on me mail: brilliant guy in London is David Gartry at Moorfields.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:51 AM on November 9, 2012

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