How to get over post-lasik anxiety
August 27, 2014 1:06 PM   Subscribe

I have post-lasik regret which is resulting in anxiety. How can I best frame my thoughts and emotions about my results so I can calm down?

I had lasik one week ago. I just returned from my post-op appointment. I'm healing beautifully. My distance vision is now 20/15 in both eyes and my reading is 20/20. However, my near vision is .25 worse than what it was before. While i can read just fine, I can no longer see fine detail when I hold objects close to my eyes. All that is gone and it's freaking me out.

Prior to lasik I was myopic. I wore contacts, and could see close up pretty well, but that went away with the surgery. I'm pre-presbyopic at age 41. I don't need reading glasses yet.

I'm trying to see the "bright side." Yay, no contacts! Crazy sharp distance vision! How else can I frame this so I can see the benefits and not focus on what I lost?
posted by vivzan to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, how often do you 'hold objects close to your eyes' anyway? A few times a day, max? Seems that you've improved your vision for 99% of the time and impaired it 1% of the time, which sounds like a trade-off I'd make.

(And even if you don't need reading glasses, can't you use them anyway for additional clarity? So it's not so much an impairment as a minor hassle. Also, reading glasses look kind of dashing.)
posted by dontjumplarry at 1:15 PM on August 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'm pre-presbyopic at age 28. You're winning.

If nothing else, at least you have that.
posted by phunniemee at 1:18 PM on August 27, 2014

The extreme close vision that you lost was basically a side effect of your nearsightedness. People born with 20/20 "perfect vision" can't see that close. Now that you also have perfect vision, you see just as they can.
posted by zsazsa at 1:19 PM on August 27, 2014 [17 favorites]

I'm farsighted and it's kind of creepy how well that works for me compared with the mess that the rest of my vision is. If my eyesight was normal, I wouldn't have that one, weird super-power.

As we get older, that fine detail diminishes, that's just the breaks. It was going to happen anyway.

Don't obsess over the transient. Enjoy your new, contact free life. If you feel like it, pick up a cheapo pair of reading glasses at the dollar store, or better yet, do what my grandfather did, go to the hostess at a restaurant and ask, "I think I left my reading glasses behind the last time I was in here, do you have a lost and found?" Then check out what they have and see if you can find a pair you like there. Works for umbrellas too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:24 PM on August 27, 2014 [10 favorites]

As we age, the lens gets less flexible, and the ability to focus at different distances diminishes.

Procedures like LASIK allow at least some of us to choose which distance our eyes focus well at as we get older; but there is no treatment, so far, that would allow us to retain the flexibility in our lens we had when we were younger which allowed us to focus both at distance and close up.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:37 PM on August 27, 2014

If it's only been one week, give it time. I had similar regrets post-surgery but eight months later I am now so used to the new vision type that I don't even think about it.

Also, you could try to take time out of your day specifically to enjoy your new contacts-free life. Go swimming. Go golfing. Focus on far-away things and appreciate the amount of detail you can now see.
posted by rebooter at 1:48 PM on August 27, 2014 [5 favorites]

I had this same issue, and while it was difficult for me in the early days after surgery, I eventually sort of accepted that it was the trade-off I had for no longer needing to wear contacts and being able to see clearly further away. Just like I accepted that I had to use eye-drops and give my eyes more rest post-surgery whereas I didn't have major problems with dry eyes or my eyes getting tired before. BUT --

It's now been about a year and a half since my surgery and as I've healed I've started having better and better vision in terms of seeing things close-up, and my eyes had less and less trouble with dryness and tiredness. I started noticing a significant difference in terms of how much my eyes had healed after maybe six months post-surgery, but it's only been since around the one-year mark that my close-work vision has gotten to the point of being virtually as good as it was before surgery, and that my eyes have started only being as tired or dry as they would have been in similar circumstances before surgery. So also consider that your eyes are still at the very beginning of their healing process and if they're not better than 20/20 yet for close-work (!) or still get tired easily or feeling dry, that that isn't necessarily a "forever" thing or a reason to regret the surgery altogether (at least not yet!). Try to be patient, because the body can take a long time to heal and it won't do it on your timetable -- but baring any new injuries, etc, it *will* heal itself eventually.

And in general, just try and think of the things you've gained from the surgery already (no more contacts! being able to see far away!) instead of the things you have (maybe temporarily) lost.
posted by rue72 at 1:53 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had the same experience; I hadn't expected to be unable to focus on a lover's eyes when kissing ever again. But I have to say it was worth the tradeoff. Life without contacts is awesome, and it becomes the new normal very quickly.
posted by metasarah at 1:54 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I feel better already! Thank you for this perspective (and my apologies to you, phunniemee, for having to deal with that so young).

Ruthless Bunny: "Don't obsess over the transient." Applies to so much in life. Thank you.

Thanks all. This thread is fantastic. I'm going to go all Oprah on this thread tonight: Best answers for everyone!
posted by vivzan at 2:07 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

I had Lasik done in January, and it was the same for me. I used to be able to focus on something literally an inch from my eyes, and see it extremely clearly. That was part of being nearsighted, and unfortunately it's gone now. Still, the incredible vision I have more than makes up for it.
posted by Slinga at 2:48 PM on August 27, 2014

I don't know about you, but I would rather wear glasses a fraction of the time than wear glasses (or contacts) the rest of the time. Trade you!
posted by theraflu at 2:57 PM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

My wife and I both had lasik around the same time, both of us being in our 40s at the time, and both of us being very nearsighted.

Afterwards, her distance vision was as good as yours, but within a year, she needed reading glasses.

My distance vision didn't correct all the way (and it has backslid from there), but my near vision, while slightly worse than it had been, remained excellent.

That was about 7 years ago; my near vision is getting gradually worse and I can see myself needing reading glasses in the next year or two.

So if our experience is anything to go by, this is a "pick your poison" situation.
posted by adamrice at 3:05 PM on August 27, 2014

It's not just lasik that has the effect either. I had cataract surgery last year (at 35) and while my overall vision improved greatly, closeup focus is absolutely crap. Which my cataract dr. said was normal. So hey, it could have happened some other way.
posted by aclevername at 3:06 PM on August 27, 2014

As people have already said, this is totally normal; myopic people can focus closer than people with good vision. Pre-LASIK I always took off my glasses whenever I needed to focus on stuff really close. Did you do the same? Anyway, this is not a "complication"; you surgery was successful, and this is the results. The "bright side" is your distance vision is better.

Most peoples eventually need reading glasses, which means you should expect your minimum focusing distance to get further away as you continue to age. It's not something to worry about - it will happen, and then you can wear glasses or use larger fonts or whatever.

I know a guy who, when he was having LASIK done, opted to have them correct one eye less than the other. This is because he was old enough that he'd otherwise need reading glasses immediately or soon after the surgery. Now one eye is good at close objects, the other eye at distant ones. I'm not at that stage yet, so when I had eye surgery, the mentioned that possibility to me, but didn't recommend it. Though I am not sure I'd want that anyways! I think I'd prefer sharp binocular vision with or without reading glasses vs having one eye or the other be "bad" for certain distances! I don't think he deeply regrets that decision or anything, but he's not super-enthused about it either.

Incidentally as we age our corneas' transparency decline, which degrades our ability to see in low-light situations. So one other benefit is that they ablated away a small amount of your cornea, reducing this impact of this effect*!

* by a totally negligible amount
posted by aubilenon at 3:19 PM on August 27, 2014

Cheap pair of reading glasses: $20

Contact lens solution for life: $Bazillion

If nothing else, your retirement account thanks you.
posted by kythuen at 3:28 PM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had LASIK and the doctor left one eye weaker so I can see close up with that eye as aubilenon said. I can still see everything very close up but it sort of gives everything far away a bit of a fuzzy halo. (I'm seeing everything clearly with the right eye and slightly blurry with the right one.) I usually don't notice it at all, but when I do notice, it's annoying. So that fix has drawbacks.
posted by artychoke at 3:56 PM on August 27, 2014

EXACT same thing happened to me. After about two months post-op, it got a little bit better. About a year and a half later, my vision has settled in to about 20/30 combined. It's *just* enough that I keep daily use contacts around to crisp things up if I'm going to be driving long distances, but making up for that deficit means my close-up vision suffers a bit. My doc said I could totally do a re-treatment when I'm ready. I feel like I will do that when I'm NOT wearing the daily use lenses and I reach for readers regularly. Otherwise, re-treatment would throw me into readers NOW.

I was equally anxious, as I feared my eyes would get worse and worse every month. I also had pretty bad halo-ing/starbursts at night. All of this has cleared up and is fine.
posted by ersatzkat at 8:04 PM on August 27, 2014

Traveling and lose your reading glasses: no big deal.

Traveling and lose the contacts/glasses that let you see further than 30 feet away: major problem.
posted by yohko at 8:52 PM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]

Traveling and lose the contacts/glasses that let you see further than 30 feet away: major problem.

Try needing them to see further than 6" away from my face. God bless the people that invented lasik.

After my surgery I was actually disappointed in the quality of my vision, I thought I'd be able to see much farther and much more clearly overall. The doctors said my vision is fantastic though. Just goes to show my old glasses lenses were better than I thought. It took some effort for the first while to focus near vs. focus far, but with practice my eyes have gotten used to it, the muscles have gotten stronger.

it will all get better as the weeks go by, I promise.
posted by lizbunny at 5:06 PM on August 28, 2014

« Older Looking for a new alarm clock that isn't The Worst   |   Speaking? Tight throat? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.