LASIK procedure questions (some Seattle area specific)
August 5, 2014 12:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking to get Lasik surgery. I have a few questions.

I have a -1 in both eyes, a very light prescription. I'm 32 and don't have night vision problems now. I really don't like glasses or contacts and would love to forget about them.

For reasons I've never fully understood, my insurance doesn't cover it, so it will be out of pocket.

There are a ton of providers, but I'd like something more than a Yelp review to help narrow down the best one. Seattlites who've had it done would be especially helpful.

General questions:

1) Ballpark cost for both eyes these days? Last time I looked it was about $750 an eye.
2) Is there a particular technology that is better?
3) Is it really only an 8 hour recovery time now?

extra credit: My wife has a VERY heavy perscription (-7/-8). She was told that because she had poor night vision she should avoid Lasik. Is that still true?
posted by lattiboy to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can get a free consultation anywhere that does the surgery. I would recommend going to a few places and asking these questions there. I think the answers depend a bit on the individual case (for example, the physical shape of your eyes).

1-I spent over $3k on mine, but it varies by procedure
3-depends; I went to sleep and was able to function the next day, although it took a few days before I felt fully back to normal

extra credit - Lights at night have a bit of a halo for me post-LASIK, which makes night driving a bit tricky.

PS One of the places where I got a consultation put some drops in my eyes as part of a test -- and then tried to get me to make a decision while my eyes were still blurry and I couldn't see the person in front of me clearly. I did not get my surgery done there.
posted by leopard at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2014

1. I spent $1500/eye in 2003.
2. Wavefront-Guided Lasik is "better"ish.
3. I had very strict instructions not to rub my eyes for a month, and not to shower without goggles for at least a week afterwards. Don't drive for atleast 24 hours.

It was one of the scariest things I've ever done (yes, they cut your eyeball open with a razor blade while you watch from the inside), but I'm really glad I did it.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:13 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I assume you did the most important thing first, but I'll mention it for anyone else who may see this question: consult with an ophthalmologist first. Before going to any surgeon or center, go to an independent ophthalmologist (i.e. not associated with any particular LASIK service provider). You will gain a ton of information about what might be indicated for you specifically, what the success stats and side effects are, and what your options are, and what the ophthalmologist thinks about the advisability of having surgery at this point. Armed with that info, only then is your next step to look for someone who would do the procedure. It's worth spending a few bucks for a consultation like that, before plunging in.
posted by VikingSword at 1:48 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

1) I paid over $3k as well. I live in the bay area (which is expensive) and went somewhere recommended, rather than looking for a good deal
2) Dunno
3) No, 8 hours recovery is not really right.

You're supposed to go home and sleep for basically the rest of the day after the surgery. The gave me goggles so I wouldn't accidentally rub my eyes while asleep. After I woke up my vision was excellent. I did the surgery on a Friday.

For the next 3 or 4 days I was to be very careful not to rub my eye, wear goggles while sleeping, and had to use antibiotic eyedrops. This is while the surface of the eye is healing around the flap. During this time my eyes felt a little gritty. I think I was advised not to spend too long looking at computers or reading. But by Monday I was able to return to work (where I look at computers and read).

After a week or so, the edge of the flap was basically sealed up, and is pretty strong. I was able to do all the things I normally do. However, the inside of my eye was still healing, which affects tear production. I had to use artificial tears eyedrops for about 4 or 5 months after the surgery. It wasn't a big deal, but during that time I wouldn't say I was fully recovered.

After that my eyes felt fine, but I was still noticing some optical artifacts at night. Mild starbursts and halos, and while they weren't very severe, they were a little distracting and annoying. It took about 9 months after the surgery before my brain figured out how to filter those out. I never notice them any more.

After 4-6 months I stopped needing extra tears; that is really when i would say I was 100% recovered.

My vision was -6 before the surgery, and it's very good now (1 year later). I had waited until my prescription hadn't changed for a couple years before doing the surgery. My roommate got LASIK while her eyes were less stable, and a few years later, her vision is mediocre again, and she needs glasses sometimes again.

As for your wife: Night time has two challenges for your eyes: First, your iris is open all the way, so you use more of your lens. A pinhole is always in focus, but a lens needs to be shaped correctly to focus light. Also, night often involves very high contrast scenes. Streetlights against a black sky, for instance. This will really showcase any flaws in your optics - slight halos you wouldn't notice normally become quite visible, because they're against a black background. I didn't have particularly bad halos or starbursts, but I did have some, and it took me about 9 months to stop noticing them. I had been experiencing some optical flaws with my glasses, but I was used to those so I wasn't very aware of them. LASIK has improved a fair amount as technology gets better, so it might be the case that your wife's eyes could be fixed now.

I would look around for a more conservative clinic, one that does turns away patients who are not good candidates, and get a consultation there. If they don't advise surgery, just stick with glasses or contacts.
posted by aubilenon at 2:18 PM on August 5, 2014

I got mine done about a month ago. Wavefront-guided, bladeless. It was the easiest, quickest medical procedure I've ever had, including the unrelated TB test I had a few weeks earlier. I felt completely fine that evening, to say nothing of the next day. I still have some floaters, but they're not bad. I use the drops about 2-3 times/day.

The goggles and steroid/antibiotic drops were annoying for the first week.

After an insurance discount, I paid 1850/eye. Maxed out flex so 2500 of that was pre-tax, and the rest financed interest-free over two years. Included the consultation and all follow-up care.

I bought the single-use artificial tears in 3 boxes of 100 at Costco. One at my desk and two in my nightstand. Highly recommended.
posted by supercres at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2014

I drove Mrs Fleebnork across the border to Coal Harbour Eye Center in Vancouver.

It was much cheaper than having it done locally, and they partnered with Seattle based doctors for followup checkups.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:04 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

My experience was basically the same as supercres's. I only did one eye and paid $1750 (I'm in the Bay Area). They gave me a Valium so the procedure was a total breeze. Next morning I was completely back to normal other than having to use the eyedrops for a few weeks. I'd put it off for a long time because eek surgery but I wish I'd done it years before.
posted by zeri at 3:22 PM on August 5, 2014

Find out who does the local sports team (NFL, Hockey, whatever) and use them. They are usually the best ones around, but they aren't the cheapest. You really want the low bidder on you eyes? That being said you are a low correction so yours should be easy and fast.

I was a -6/-7 with some astigmatism and 5 years on have had a very good result. I do have thicker than normal corneas with very good tear production so I was an ideal candidate. The trauma you go through IS heavier the more correction you need and the recovery is longer. I took about 3 days to get over the pain and fogginess in my vision and about 1 year to stop having glare issues (polarized sunglasses were a necessity). I was able to safely drive myself to the doctor for my next day checkup however-on local streets, i wouldn't have been able to safely drive on the interstate.

My wife was a -1 in both eyes and she was fine the next day with no noticeable side effects within a month.
posted by bartonlong at 3:42 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

1) Ballpark cost for both eyes these days? I paid about $2900 3 years ago (with a discount for insurance and a referral discount)
2) Is there a particular technology that is better? I went with the newest technology available at the time. I would research the lasers used by the top doctors in your area.
3) Is it really only an 8 hour recovery time now? For me, yes. I took a cab home, took my prescribed sleeping pill, went to sleep, and woke up with perfect vision. I drove myself to my follow-up appointment where my vision was 20/20 and I caught a flight that afternoon for a music festival. The only recovery issue I had was cosmetic: a blood vessel burst in one eye and there was a red mark for a few days.

I had poor vision: -5.25 in one eye and -1.75 in the other.

I haven't had any issues with night vision or any other problems. Lasik was one of the best things that I ever did!
posted by MariJo at 6:27 PM on August 5, 2014

Just an opinion. Such a light prescription doesn't really scream lasik. I am about half that prescription post's not a perfect science and they may not get you significantly closer to no correction for more than a few years.

I had a -10 perscription prelasik. I had worse than average night vision before and it got a touch worse post lasik. I only had about a step of astigmatism and no halos post lasik. I actually saw some before due to the heavy correction.

Anyway definitely get new consultations for you and your wife. The doctors will tell you your risks and options.
posted by Kalmya at 6:27 PM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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