8 Things I Learned From Getting LASIK Eye Surgery
My LASIK Story
After over five years of wanting to get LASIK eye surgery, I finally bit the bullet in January of 2016. I started wearing glasses my senior year of high school, and lucky for me, I found I didn't need to wear them unless I was reading the chalkboard or watching a movie. As the years went on, I needed them to drive, and the gap between when I wanted to wear them and when I needed to wear them started closing.
As a performer, it's not easy or desirable for me to wear glasses on the stage. In 2006, I tried contact lenses for the first time. It was a fail as I found them to be so irritating that I preferred to go without them in my everyday life, except when driving. Spring of 2010 was when I had my first LASIK consultation, but although I learned I was a good candidate, I couldn't afford thousands of dollars to pay for an elective surgery.
Thinking I needed to "toughen up," in 2012, I tried again with contacts. I realized advances have probably made contacts better (and they have), and I thought maybe my problem could be solved by just finding the right ones. Although that's true, this experience was even worse than the first. So I resigned myself to just wearing glasses when I absolutely had to. Again, I still didn't think I could afford the surgery at this time.
In 2014, I ended up getting a better paying job and things were going well. I also learned around this time that LASIK could be financed! I then set my sights (no pun intended) on getting the surgery. I tried to get it in the summer of 2015 in the midst of my hectic show schedule, but I learned a few things that convinced me it would be best to wait until my winter break.
I finally got the surgery in January of 2016 and have had absolutely no regrets. I want to share things I learned through the journey. I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind, this is just my own personal story and experience.
1. You may be able to finance it—possibly interest-free!
Depending on where you have your surgery and your personal credit situation, you may be able to finance your surgery interest free. This option made it possible for me. I (like most people) don't often have a few thousand dollars laying around to spend on something elective, but I had a budget every month I could use to make payments.
I have good credit, and I was able to pay for the surgery (which was about $4,200 total) using a healthcare credit card. If approved, you can use it for various health related purchases, such as, dental procedures, vet bills, and even plastic surgery. They will also have several payment options that are interest free for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months. It was a good choice for me, and I was able to use interest free to my full advantage. Often, many people don't know they can do this, as I didn't either until a friend of mine (who works at an optometrist's office) told me. If money has been what is stopping you, know that there are options.
2. I experienced no pain, and results were instant.
I can't speak for everyone, but I experienced no pain. They gave me Tylenol PM to help with pain and make me sleepy. During the surgery, I just felt a little pressure. I was nervous before the surgery, but I felt so calm while it was happening. I wish I could explain this part better, but it was as if my eye wasn't even a thing in that moment. It's so hard to believe your eye-lids can be held open, your eye get pressed on, sliced, be corrected with a laser, and you not really be able to feel or see any of it.
After the surgery, my eyes were watery and sensitive to light. Part of the after-care is that you go to sleep when you get home. Seeping right after lets you sleep through the most vulnerable time which is the first few hours following the surgery. I woke up six hours later with clear vision, and all that watery eye business was over.
It was amazing. I don't know if everyone's experience is exactly like this, but this was what I experienced. They say that over several months, your vision will have changes, although I didn't notice much. I also achieved 20/20 vision, but I don't know if that's always a guarantee.
3. DO NOT watch videos of the surgery before-hand.
I know it's so tempting, but don't watch videos of it before-hand. It looks so much worse than it feels. I watched a video after and was so glad I didn't watch it before. Don't let the videos scare you away from getting this miracle of a surgery done. I know myself and so many other people are so grateful for this procedure. Many have had such an easy experience, it would be a shame to give up the comfort that most people experience out of morbid curiosity for what the surgeon sees.
4.There are after-care instructions.
There were a few after-care instructions, but there was one I didn't expect at all. Because it's such an outpatient and instantly gratifying procedure, you'll hear from many people that it was just back to work the next day. Maybe for most, but I had a dilemma. I'm a stage performer who has to wear and remove makeup nightly for my job and there's no way around it. I'm also somebody who tries my best to follow rules and directions.
It was recommended that I not wear eye makeup, liquid foundations, face powders, or face lotions for about two weeks after. Also, eye rubbing was a big no no. That's impossible for someone in my line of work, so I had to wait for my winter hiatus to get it done. Know that it will probably be recommended, and it really did surprise me because no one I talked to that had the surgery ever mentioned that to me.
5. Your surgery may come with a warranty.
My surgery came with a warranty and that also surprised me. I think that is standard practice, but I'm not completely sure. It's important to know that here's some work to be done on my part to keep the warranty valid. I had to go to all of my follow-up appointments and I have to get an eye exam every year. The warranty will allow me to get the surgery re-done if my vision changes too much. Hopefully, I never have to, but it's good to know I can if that happens.
6. Don't look for a "deal."
We've all seen those billboards and commercials that claim you can get LASIK for $300-$500 per eye but I wouldn't believe or risk it. After talking to my friend of over 30 years who works at an optometrist's office, she said plan on spending $1500-$2000 per eye when it's said and done. I think it might often be a gimmick to get you in the door.
According to www.vsp.com, another reason you may find a cheap rate on LASIK is that the clinic that is advertising the surgery "may be cutting out patient screening and essential pre and post-operative care." They may also use doctors that aren't as skilled. Check the facility where you are looking to have your surgery, but also research the doctor who will be doing the surgery.
Also, these are your eyes—don't look for a deal. If you can't afford it, don't do it. If you can't pay for it in full, finance it. I knew I would spend a pretty penny doing this, and that's why I waited for the time to be right. We've all heard those terrible stories of people who wanted discounted plastic surgery and ended up with terrible results. There are risks associated with all surgery even with the best doctors. Why make it higher under questionable circumstances? Do your research and make an educated decision.
7. You may not be a good candidate for the surgery.
You'll need a consultation to see if you're a good candidate for the surgery, and often, you can get one free. Doctors want you to have a good result, and there are certain circumstances when it isn't likely you will. I just had a friend who was interested in getting the surgery just like I did. He contacted the place I went to and they asked what his vision problem was. He told them, and they told him over the phone that he could come in, but it would be a waste of his time because surgery didn't typically fix the type of vision problem he has. So, look into that free consultation and just see whether or not you would benefit from it, because it's not right for everybody.
8. Preservative-free eye drops and a nighttime eye ointment will be a must.
Honestly, this part was annoying but it's always important to be what I call a “good patient” so I did what I was told. After surgery, you may experience dryness and lubricating your eyes will be key for comfort and healing. The doctor will most likely suggest you use preservative-free eye drops several times a day. They come in little individual, plastic vials designed for one time use. They sent me home with a few (which literally lasted a day), and I had to buy more on the way home. They're a little pricey and you'll go through a box of them quickly because you need to apply them several times a day whether you feel like you need them or not.
It's important that you use the preservative-free ones that they recommend. After a while, at one of your post-op appointments, they'll let you know when you can just use a different type. In the immediate weeks and months following surgery, I would sometimes wake up feeling like I had cotton balls in my eyes. It wasn't painful, it just felt really weird. It was recommended that I use a nighttime eye gel, and it helped a lot. I still use it from time to time, but that side effect has subsided a lot. Check with the professionals as to whether or not it can be used right after surgery.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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