LASIK & PRK: My Journey to 20/20

Glasses and contacts have been something I have always had to deal with. I hated wearing glasses and although I liked contacts better, it was still not ideal. I knew I wanted corrective surgery, but had to wait until my eyes were ready. Finally, in 2014, I was ready to have LASIK!

According to LASIK.com, LASIK is the most common eye surgery. The first step in my LASIK journey began with my optometrist. Your eye doctor has to recommend you for eye surgery. From there, you will need to find the best place to get your surgery. Your optometrist will recommend a specific doctor.

I chose TLC for a few reasons. First, TLC has a lifetime warranty. Second, TLC has locations all across the country. Both of those things were important to me, but it is important to find a doctor you are comfortable with. At the end of your first consultation, they should be able to tell you if you are a candidate for surgery and which surgery you are a candidate for. They will also talk with you about the process and payment. The national average prices of LASIK is $2,000/eye, says LASIK.com. TLC offers payment plans to help make that more manageable. 

If you are a candidate for LASIK (or PRK, which I will talk about later), you will have to go to a few appointments before the surgery; at TLC, all of these appointments were included in what I paid. In addition to the surgeries, contacts can’t be worn for two weeks before the surgery so that your eyes can go back to their normal shape. There are a few drops you will need to get before the day of surgery. Some of them are pricey, but my insurance helped and TLC gave me coupons to help with the price.

The day of surgery was the first day that my nerves kicked in. Before they took me back, they reviewed all the drops I needed to put in and their frequency. My nerves increased when I called me back. When I went into the room, there were two machines. I laid down on the operating table. They do one eye at a time, so they started by covering one eye. Next, they put in numbing drops (they put a few of these in before the surgery started as well).

During the LASIK procedure I had done (custom wave front), the machine used a laser to create a flap on the cornea. They moved me to the other machine which reshapes the cornea. Finally, the flap is put back in place. The same thing is repeated with the next eye. The surgery didn’t hurt, which was good. The only discomfort I had was the pressure of them putting something on my eye to keep it open. And that wasn’t even that bad.

For me, the aftermath of the surgery was easy. I slept most of the first day and every time I woke up, my vision was better. My eyes were pretty dry after, but lubricating drops really helped. WebMD suggests using eye drops to keep your eyes moist. They also say your vision may be blurry and hazy for the first day. I was driving and back at work just a few days after surgery. It was great!

Although my vision came pretty quickly, I didn’t achieve 20/20. My doctors assured me that this was not abnormal and that I could get a correction. So a few months later, I got PRK.

For PRK, most of my prep for the surgery was the same. My experience during surgery was also very similar, but the surgery itself is different.

“Instead, the outer layer of the cornea is removed to expose an area for a laser to reshape.” (LASIK.com). The biggest difference between these two surgeries are the flap that is created during surgery and what happens after the surgery. A bandage contact is put on the eye at the end of surgery for a few days. This helps to protect they eye during the initial healing. For me, the pain after surgery was pretty bad. I had to sleep a lot the first few days because of the severity of the pain. I also had to take a good bit of pain pills to help out. My vision also took longer to get better. But after a month, I was very close to 20/20. PRK takes a bit longer to heal and vision takes longer to get to 20/20.

Both of my doctors did say that even with 20/20 now, I will need to use reading glasses when I hit my mid 40s.

I didn’t enjoy having get two surgeries, I am happy to finally have 20/20 vision and to be done with contacts and glasses.

Have you have vision correction surgery? What was your experience?

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