March 29, 2014

Let's Talk... Laser Eye Surgery


While this is primarily a beauty and makeup blog, I wanted to start a new series of posts entitled "Let's Talk," where I, well, talk about an issue or experience I've had. For my first in the series, I'm going to discuss my experience with laser eye surgery. We spend so much time and money trying to make our eyes look bigger and more beautiful with makeup, it's also important to ensure they can, you know, see.

History

In order to fully understand my case, you're going to need a little backstory. I had a fairly mild prescription (-2.25) and since I was 13 had worn contacts on a near daily basis. By the time I was 19 my eyes had decided they didn't like contacts anymore. Despite being very hygienic, taking excellent care of the contacts themselves and limiting wear time, my eyes were red and sensitive and almost immediately after putting contacts in I would get severe headaches. I remember it constantly felt like my contacts were inside out (anyone who regularly wears contacts knows how frustrating this is). I would douse my eyes with eye drops and lay in bed with the curtains drawn just to get relief. I wore monthly lenses until these problems developed and then tried dailies, which didn't help. According to my eye doctor my eyes just stopped being able to tolerate contact lenses. Finally I had had enough and decided to investigate laser eye surgery, or "getting my eyes done." 

My mom had LASIK 15 years ago (and one eye retouched about five years ago) and when I saw how well it went for her it had always been in the back of my mind as a one day that might be nice kind of thing, but I hadn't thought it would become a necessity (ok, not really a necessity, I could've worn glasses). I did some research and went to the centre that I deemed to be the best (TLC LASIK). 

Surgery

I was pretty dead set on getting 'regular' LASIK, where a laser cuts a small flap which is folded back while the laser does its job and then the flap is closed over. However, because my pupils are so large, I had to have a variation, called PRK (photo refractive keratectomy) LASIK. The actual laser correction is the same but instead of cutting a flap, a solution is placed on the eye that dissolves the top layer of cells. I was admittedly upset because I wanted 'the best' for my eyes, but after being explained that the two procedures are equally effective and safe, I went ahead and booked it. You cannot wear contacts for two weeks prior to the surgery so that your eyes are at their healthiest. As someone who hates wearing glasses this part was definitely a struggle (but a necessity)!

On the day of the surgery I arrived in the morning with my mom and was escorted to the back with three other patients who were also having it done. We were given 1-2mg of Ativan to calm our nerves and applied numbing drops to our eyes while the nurse handed out our after-surgery kits. The kits contained a myriad different eyedrops (antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, lubricating) that I would apply in succession over the coming weeks. When it was time to go in I was pretty scared, primarily of the clamp they were going to use to keep my eyes open. I laid down on the operating table and the doctors went to work. It didn't hurt, but it was nerve wracking. The whole procedure for both eyes took maybe five minutes. Immediately after I felt like I was going to be sick, so I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor sipping a juice box for about five or ten minutes. I just felt overwhelmed. After that I was sent home and immediately went to sleep. I was given some additional Ativan and pain medication as well as all the different eyedrops.

Recovery

I stayed mostly in bed for a few days afterward and I remember an ache-y sort of pain that lasted awhile, even though I was healing well. A day or two after I remember being able to see much better but found my eyes tired easily so I spent most of my time listening to the TV with my eyes closed or sleeping. I also remember feeling nauseous and having headaches, but my eyes have always had a huge influence on the rest of my health. By day three I was seeing drastic improvement in my vision and this continued over the course of that week. PRK does generally have a longer healing and recovery time than traditional LASIK, but my recovery wasn't that bad. My eyes were sensitive for awhile and because it's been about four years since I had the surgery I can't remember how long that lasted. Eventually though my eyes completely healed and I now have between 20/15 and 20/10 vision which is incredible. My eyes are still a bit sun-sensitive and this causes me headaches, but I had this before the surgery and they certainly are nowhere near as bad as they were with contacts. I also still apply gel eyedrops twice a day (morning and night), otherwise they dry out and give me headaches, but this is most likely due to the fact that I've been applying them for four years and my eyes are accustomed to receiving that lubrication. The feeling of waking up in the morning and not having to reach for glasses or contacts is indescribable and it's now something that I can't imagine going back to. It's not inexpensive (eye surgery involving lasers and your vision is not the place to try and save pennies), but if you're considering it I can tell you that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

As a little disclaimer I am certainly not recommending everyone just go out and get laser eye surgery, there are huge risks. I'm simply sharing my experience for those who are considering it themselves. Always discuss options with your eye doctor, do your research and choose the best option for your individual case and needs.
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