LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a surgical procedure that re-shapes the cornea, allowing light to correctly bend in the eye, which is done to improve a nearsighted person’s vision to the point where they should no longer need, or significantly reduce the need, to use glasses or corrective lenses. Not all people with poor vision are candidates for LASIK. The first appointment is a consultation where a series of tests are performed to see if you would benefit from this procedure.

As photographers, we rely on sharp vision for our profession. The thought of someone digging into our eyeballs for an elective procedure is pretty scary, but do the rewards outweigh the risks?

I have been dealing with vision problems for almost half of my life. I remember putting on glasses for the first time and crying because everything was so clear and beautiful. As a wedding photographer my preference was to wear glasses rather than contact lenses. I know other photographers who say the exact opposite, but I preferred glasses because I worried that something would go wrong with the contacts and that I will need to excuse myself to fix it and miss something important. I have had issues with contacts moving, quite uncomfortably, in my eyes when I blink. Not fun.

The people I know people who have had LASIK only tell me good things about it. I contemplated looking into it for a while, but also my glasses were fine and, honestly, I was afraid that something would go wrong. I was also scared that I wouldn’t look like myself anymore, as if my identity was somehow tied to my glasses.

For about 2 years before LASIK I was having issues getting the correct prescription. I was trying to have my doctor fix my glasses but everything wasn’t as sharp as I thought it should be. I was almost 30 so I shouldn’t have been having age related vision issues yet. After going back to my doctor several times trying to get my lenses just right, I decided I didn’t want to deal with glasses anymore, and I made a LASIK consultation appointment on the recommendation of a friend.

The doctor I saw was amazing. He had a great, friendly and patient personality. He sat across from me and answered all of my questions, looking at me rather than typing on the computer like I’m used to doctors doing. After measuring the thickness of my cornea, my eye pressure and a couple other things, I he told me I was a candidate for LASIK. I felt comfortable making the appointment for LASIK after speaking with him. My appointment was scheduled for 1.5 weeks later. They prescribed me Xanax for the day of and gave me some sample eye drops since I had dry eyes.

On the day of the surgery I woke up with my husband, we ate breakfast and did some work in the backyard before it was time to go. I took my Xanax on the way there. It just made me feel calm. I didn’t have to wait long for them to take me in the back room, thank goodness because they were playing Marley and Me on the TV and I didn’t want to watch the end (they should seriously consider playing comedies, not heart-wrenching dog movies, but hey it certainly helped my dry eyes).

They did a normal eye exam, which got me excited because I could see really well looking through the lenses. Then the doctor spoke to me and told me that when I went in, I would just have to watch a green light and move my eyes when he told me to. Other than that I could listen to music and relax. He even put on my favorite music for me (Billy Joel). Someone else put several different drops in my eyes, I suppose for numbing, and a cap on my head and before I knew it, it was my turn. When I walked in, Scenes from and Italian Restaurant was playing on the speaker. I climbed into the bed and they gave me a soft blanket. So, I was snuggled under a blanket and listening to Billy Joel, which is probably the best way to spend any afternoon. I didn’t feel much of anything, nor did I see much of anything, just the green light he told me to look at. Literally, the worst part was getting the tape taken off of my eyes. It hurt about as much as a band-aid. Before I knew it I was done. I had to wear protective goggles and sunglasses on my way out because they said I would be light sensitive. I was.

On the way home my husband stopped at Islands and we got food to go. We were hungry. I kept my eyes closed the entire way home. It was uncomfortable trying to open them so I had no desire to try anymore. My husband led me up the stairs to my room and talked me through eating my lunch all with my eyes closed (he is the best). Then I took a looooooong nap (while wearing my protective goggles)!

The next morning it was easy opening my eyes. I noticed a lot more detail than I used to around my bedroom. I heard that a lot of people can see perfectly the day after, so I was eager to see if I was once of those people. Sadly I was not. My right eyelid was swollen and my eyes were pretty watery, and my vision was not perfect. We went to my follow up appointment that morning and the doctor told me that I had 20/20 vision, based on being able to read from a chart across that room. I didn’t feel like I had 20/20 vision because the letters were not clear. My vision got a little better that afternoon, but nothing to throw a party over.

I went back to work on Monday. I had to read from a computer screen all day. It was not easy, but I got used to it. All of my coworkers were asking me how it went, and I was disappointed to tell them all that I still couldn’t see perfectly yet.

5 days after my surgery my vision was still not where it was with glasses. Most things were clear enough, but reading was not fun. I read online that it can take longer for some people, but in the back of my mind I was afraid that it would never clear up.

6 days after my surgery I had a follow up appointment and I was able to read the bottom line of the chart with both eyes open, which I THINK was 20/10 vision. It was hard to read, but, I still read it. They prescribed Xiidra, which is supposed to help me produce my own tears. My doctor said it would take 3 weeks of use to work. I was struggling with mid/close up vision too. I knew that my super close up vision would be gone, which was fine with me. I compared it to when I wore contact lenses before, when I wore them, I couldn’t hold objects close to my face and expect to focus on them. I didn’t know that I would be struggling to read on the computer and on my phone. It was also difficult to read a menu at a restaurant, ESPECIALLY if they are using romantic lighting. I just decided to keep doing what told tell me. Xiidra, my anti-inflammatory drops, and antibiotic drops twice a day, and preservative-free artificial tears each hour that I was awake.

10 days post-surgery I visited my mom’s house for my little brother’s birthday party. It started at 6 PM. I decided not to stay after dark because I was concerned about night driving, but I ended up leaving at 7:50. It was hard to leave to early, especially because there was a German shepherd puppy at the party! On the way home it ended up getting dark. For the most part, it was fine. I mean, there were halos around all the lights, and I was having a hard time reading the signs, but I could see the lines and the car in front of me ok. I got to a part of road that was not lit well, and that was much harder. If there was a hazard that I needed to avoid in the road, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see it until it was too late.

When I got to work 11 days post-surgery the sun was out and everything seemed pretty sharp looking. The inside of the building was much darker and when I went to say hello to my friend down the hall, I noticed that he was still blurry. However, I was working on my computer for about 3 hours before I realized…I wasn’t struggling to read…I mean, the words weren’t super sharp, but they weren’t noticeably blurry anymore. It seemed like anything in low light was a struggle, but adequate/good light was getting better. However, looking at streetlights when it was dark outside, I saw double or triple sometimes.

19 days after surgery I realized I was not being consistent with all of the drops I was supposed to be taking. I was using the anti-inflammatory drops and the drops to help produce my own tears, but I wasn’t very good about doing the artificial tears consistently. My eyes didn’t feel as dry, so I didn’t have the constant reminder to do so, but I was paying for it. My vision was getting blurrier.

25 days after surgery my vision was noticeably clearer than it ever was without glasses!

Now my vision is the best it has been in over 13 years. Especially in good light, I can read signs that are pretty far away. I was surprised at how fast I got used to seeing myself in the mirror without glasses. I remember putting them away in my glasses case right before I went into the room for surgery and closing the case feeling somewhat sad about it, but I haven’t needed to open that case again since.

After a year I noticed that my night vision is much better. I don't even see the halos or double-vision anymore. I do need to use eye drops every couple of days for dry eyes though. My eyes adjust a lot better now when going from the bright outdoors to inside a dark room.

If I had to choose again, I would definitely still go through with the surgery. I love not having to reach for my glasses anymore. I no longer have to clean them each time I press them against my camera eye piece too hard and accidentally get oil from my face on them. I also love that I can bury my face in my husband’s hugs whenever I want to without worrying about breaking my glasses.

Overall, I have had a good experience. It started out really scary. I thought something had gone wrong and it didn’t work, but I just wasn’t being patient. I am very happy with my results.

I would love to hear about your experiences with LASIK, or if you are considering it. Leave a comment below!

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