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Ask HN: experiences with Lasik eye surgery (programmers especially)?
91 points by conorgil145 on Dec 5, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 82 comments
A friend of mine had Lasik eye surgery performed in June (5 months ago) and has a perfect experience so far. No complications and the doctor has been fantastic throughout the entire process.

I have been wanting to get Lasik eye surgery for a long time and, seeing my friend's successful experience, decided to get the surgery (also, I graduated from college in May and can actually afford the procedure now that I have a job). I did some research, visited the same eye doctor as my friend, and scheduled the surgery for January after it was determined that I was a prime candidate. I felt extremely comfortable with the doctor and he is a leader in his field in the Baltimore, MD area.

I made sure to tell the doctor that I am a programmer and stare at a computer screen for far too long everyday. They said it was not an issue and that I was still a prime candidate.

What are your experiences with or opinions of Lasik eye surgery?

I worked on the redesign of a Lasik machine in 2005. As part of this work, I spent a few weeks just watching lasik operations in various locations around the US. I saw several events that made me very wary of the procedure-- specifically, a technician accidentally setting a microkeratome to the wrong size and thereby detaching the corneal flap. I also talked with several patients who were back for 3rd and 4th sessions to fix problems that had occurred previously. It appeared to me that while generally the machines work well, there were occasionally drastically bad outcomes, often due to human error.

Overall, my impression was that the surgery is more risky than one is led to believe. I can't give you any good statistics on how risky it is, but I would not consider doing it myself until I saw credible statistics that suggested that the error rate was very low. From what I've read, approximately 1 in 20 lasik patients are not satisfied with the outcome of their surgeries, and this is from one of the big lasik doctors[1], who I presume would have a strong interest in describing the risks as minimal. But as far as I know, there haven't been any large-scale studies of lasik outcomes.

You might also ask the doctor what machine will be used to do the surgery. When I was watching surgeries, the doctors generally thought that the Visx machines were the best, but they were excited about the arrival of "wavefront" machines that can correct for variations in the geometry of your eyes. I bet that's mainstream by now.

[1]: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/103194.php

The defense department has done research on the success of Lasik and PRK. They now pay for it and allow you to fly most planes after surgery. I had it done 4 years ago and my vision has been perfect since then.

Is PRK better?

The difference between PRK and Lasik is in the way they reshape your cornea.

In Lasik they create a flap by cutting the cornea and then they use a laser to reshape it, then they reposition the flap back in place.This way the flap acts as a bandage on the wound and reconnects with the cornea. The Flap is never actually healed and may be dislodged even years after the surgery - Although will need significant force like a direct poke in the eye, severe car accident etc.

In PRK a flap isn't created, the laser reshapes the cornea directly (After removing a small epithelial layer) and then a special bandage contact lens is applied to the wound. This is generally considered safer (Nothing to be dislodged), But the healing process is much slower and the time it takes until your eyes are at their best capacity is much longer. As i previously wrote, I was back at work the next day and my sight was almost perfect after 3 days. My cousin had PRK, the total healing time was around 2-3 weeks, and in the first week she could barely open her eyes.

PRK is also considered a little less accurate, but i am not sure why... For a nice comparison see: http://www.lasereyefacts.com/prk-vs-lasik.html

I also chose PRK because I was uncomfortable with the flap, and was willing to risk the painful (and slower) healing process.

While I am not your scenario with the 3 days, I would say that one week is a proper expectation, with some deviation one way or the other.

The pain (in case no one has mentioned it) is very much like leaving a contact in for too long: it feels like your eyeball has been packed in salt. I mean that in both the extreme dehydration sense, and it occasionally actually feels like salt in your eyes.

I had a few instances where it felt like needles in my eyes, and that was my only need to use the prescribed pain medicine. It lasted until I fell asleep from the pain pills.

I do hope this doesn't come across as a horror story: I absolutely, with no hesitation at all, would do it again and would use the same doctor. I am _extremely_ happy, and sing the praises, but wanted to ensure it is an informed decision for those who might be weighing the pros and cons.

Sorry, but I have no expertise to comment on that.

"Better" is always a tricky word.

I think that it is likely a matter of what aspects are important to you (aside from those patients who are forced into using, or excluded from using, one technology or the other).

I received a comprehensive description from my doctor, and chose PRK because I was not comfortable with "the flap," and I was comfortable that there would be some pain and longer healing time. That was my tradeoff, and I am thrilled with how it turned out.

From what I understand talking to an ophthalmologist it's either PRK or Lasik. One of these is always a better fit for a specific patient.

I'm reposting my comment from here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1883313

I had Lasik surgery 6-7 years ago, and I had a bad experience with it. I went to a highly recommended surgeon in my area. I had the procedure done using a machine that didn't have eye tracking, so I had to look straight ahead and not move my eyes during the procedure. I must have done something wrong because my eyesight had some...issues.

All the visual anomalies they'll warn you about in your consultation (halos and starbursts), I had in spades. They were so bad I had trouble functioning in dark settings. So walking around at night was difficult, watching movies was awful, and so forth.

My vision DID kick ass though otherwise.

My surgeon had me coming in regular to monitor my progress, and when things weren't getting better scheduled a touch-up (all included in the initial cost). After the touch-up, all the problems were resolved, and 6-7 years later my vision is still pretty damn good. I don't need glasses, but my vision took a tiny dip a year after the surgery and maintained the quality ever since.

So with all that said, would I recommend Lasik? Absolutely. First, the technology has come a long way since then. Two, my brother had the surgery the same time I did from the same surgeon, and his turned out fine the first time. Third, having perfect vision is something I'm still thankful for all this time later.

tl;dr - I had Lasik surgery twice. First time gave me problems seeing at night, a subsequent touch-up fixed the problems. I still recommend the surgery, but when they say problems can happen, BELIEVE IT.

I had Lasik (wavefront, both eyes) in Thailand in December 2005. I couldn't use a computer for a few hours (I set the fonts on my terminal to full-screen single-character beforehand). Next day, slightly blurry, day after, fine except for dry eyes and haloing at night. My original vision was maybe -2.25 and -3.5 with slight astigmatism; now it is perfect.

Over the next year or so, dry eyes went away (I was living in Iraq, so the dry eyes symptom may not have been as bad elsewhere).

Sometime between 2008 and now, halos at night are largely gone as well.

I actually like the way glasses look, but the practical issues with needing Rx goggles, face masks, etc. were annoying, and being able to wake up in the morning (or middle of the night) with perfect vision was a big factor for me.

Just throwing it out there that even though Lasik is relatively commonplace, there are still surgical risks associated with it.

Back in 2000, my dad had Lasik surgery. There was a complication (I don't recall what, exactly, offhand), and he ended up having to have a total of five surgeries by the time it was all "fixed." Oh, and he still ended up with contacts.

I wear glasses myself, and eventually hope I'll have enough confidence in a procedure to risk it. I'm not telling you not to do it, just be aware that this is a real surgery and involves risk just like any other.

I had mine in 2005 and have spent long hours in front of computers since.

Since the surgery, I have always had a slight starburst/glare effect around lights at night

In early 2009 I started to notice very slight deterioration in one eye. Now, two years from noticing and 5+ years after the surgery, my right eye is noticeably worse when reading text at a distance, and especially driving at night. Depth perception and the starburst/glare effect is worse. It's even worse if I've been staring at a computer screen. (I have astigmatism in that eye, so that's probably a factor.)

Was it worth it? The jury is still out. I have a lifetime guarantee of "enhancements", so we'll see how those work if/when I get one. I just had an appointment -- they said it wasn't bad enough to justify, and I got a prescription for glasses :-/

I had the procedure done almost 10 years ago and it has been a pretty positive experience for me. The biggest negative impact has been dry eyes similar to what lockem mentioned. I can't go without eye drops (just generic Visine) in the morning. Also - my night vision has suffered. Be sure to check whether or not you would suffer from these "halos". In low light, bright points of light appear to have a fuzzy halo around them. I really hate driving at night now due to that.

Other than that, it was a good choice for me. The coolest thing was that the doctor purposely over-corrected my vision, so for the first several months I could see clearly at a ridiculous range. In a few months everything normalized and I still have better than 20/20 vision at this point.

One last thing - invest in a nice pair of shades before the procedure if you decide to go through with it.

    The coolest thing was that the doctor purposely over-
    corrected my vision, so for the first several months I 
    could see clearly at a ridiculous range.
This is a bit more marketing than straight up truth.

Optical systems don't work like that. You can't "over-correct", since obviously, that would be the ideal point of focus. You're still limited by the ultimate physical resolution of your retina, and it sounds like, for a while, you were operating at that limit. Vision much better than 20/20 isn't terribly uncommon, and it sounds like you're one of those people.

That is, if there wasn't any cognitive biases at work. Perceived visual acuity is like some kind of platonic ideal of something that would be very vulnerable to confirmation bias. Were you experimentally tested to be something like 20/10, then tested later to be 20/15?

I've had Lasik eye surgery about 2.5 years ago.

I had around -2.0 vision in both eyes before the surgery and almost perfect vision right now.

The only complication I have, and will probably be an issue for you as well, is dry eyes. The long hours staring at a screen with almost no blinking combined with the lack of moisture in an air-conditioned office will definitely dry your eyes (For me it happened even before Lasik).

The only thing you should consider is that Lasik is permanent, which means your cornea will always be weaker than before the surgery (The flap never fully heals - http://lasikcomplications.com/flapdislocation.htm).

This can be an issue even years after the surgery, and you should look into alternatives (Like PRK) if you do alot of dangerous physical activity (Full contact martial arts etc.) or any activity that you can get hit really hard in the facial region.

The procedure was rather painless, in-and-out in less than 30 minutes. My eye did tingle a little bit, felt sometimes like little pin pricks, but they were really short lasting. Went back to work the next day.

Make sure you go by the doctors orders to the letter (E.g don't scratch your eyes or the region even if it REALLY ITCHES).

And it obviously changed my life for the better, No need for glasses, my self-esteem went up and i am more confident. And i am not the only one, my experience has affected a couple of close friends and family and gave them the courage to do the surgery themselves, and they have also said it has changed their life.

The doctor did explain that I would most likely have dry eyes as well. Currently, my eyes do not get dry, but I did notice that I do rub my eyes quite frequently. I have been making a conscious effort to break that habit before the surgery and will definitely follow the doctor's instructions to the letter.

I am glad that they surgery was such a success for you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

I had the waveform surgery 3 yrs ago and it was one of the best things I've ever done for myself. My vision was not terrible before (-1/-1.25 + astigmatism) but afterward I have 20/15 in one eye, 20/20 in the other. The biggest aspect of the correction was that prior to the surgery, I had very bad night vision - halos and glare - that made it very difficult for me to judge distance or speed of oncoming traffic. Afterward, my night vision is very good, and those problems are corrected completely!

The surgery was, I have to admit, a very frightening experience though it did not hurt. The recovery was very quick and easy, and I am happy to report that after one month I never experienced dry eyes again and have had literally no negative effects from the surgery.

I used to wear contacts until my doctor said my eyes were growing blood vessels they should not have to compensate for the contacts blocking the eye from being exposed to the air, and that those might eventually lead to serious problems. Then I talked to a family member who had Lasik (non-waveform) and they loved the result, though it caused night halos for them. So I did the research and decided on the waveform procedure and I am really glad I did. I would definitely recommend it, but spring for the waveform procedure.

Another thing to mention is that my doctor told me that Lasik does not change anything about age-related vision problems, because those are more due to the inability of the eye to change focus than a malformed cornea. He says you are just as likely to need reading glasses at age 50 after Lasik as you are without it. The only thing they can do for older patients is an alternate procedure where they change the focus of one eye to nearsighted, and the other to farsighted. Apparently your brain soon compensates for that and biases to one or the other eye so that you see both near and far things in focus.

Had LASIK about five years ago. Mixed feelings. Still somewhat glad I did it, though I wear glasses with .5 prescription in both eyes to make sure vision is perfect and to filter polarize the light, etc.

If you're a programmer or staring at a screen, I learned recently that you blink something like 1/5 as much as normal. This in turn causes eye dryness and potential irritation.

So for a while I thought that LASIK had something to do with it, in my estimation, it contributes some to it -- but being a programmer is always going to require being careful with your eyes (giving them rest, doing activities where you naturally blink more, etc.).

If they tell you that your pupils are near the limit (if they're too big, then LASIK -- because it only shaves the top portion of your lens -- won't cover things completely when your pupils dilate -- e.g., at night).

So I've been happy for the running that I can do now. But it's not perfect and I wear glasses when I work.

I'm now in my 40's and I no longer wear contacts because the long hours staring at a screen caused too much dryness.

Other than taking lots of breaks, what else can be done to reduce dryness?

I put a warm, damp washcloth over my eyes twice a day. It helps with the bags under my eyes as well.

(The reason it works is that the heat increases the viscosity of the tears).

I had the same problem when I started wearing contacts a few years ago. Drops helped but were obviously inconvenient. Eventually I got so worked up over the problem that I became extremely aware of even mild dryness and very bothered by it, and I started blinking more often. Problem solved and hasn't bothered me since.

So... perhaps this is dangerous advice... but you could try becoming hypersensitive and obsessed about dryness.

I had lasik in my late 40s and , while I had great medium and long range vision results, I could not see thing 3 feet in front of me - including a computer monitor. Now I have to carry glasses everywhere I go to read a newspaper, smart phone, labels and so on. If you're 40 or over be careful or you might trade one problem for another...

A coworker of mine had Lasik in India in February 2010. His surgery resulted in very serious light sensitivity problems when he returned to America. He was not able to work for several weeks longer than what the doctor indicated. Also once he did begin working again he wore sunglasses and dimmed his screen way down for at least a month after that. He also experienced intense headaches throughout this time period.

I do not know how he is doing now because we have not been in contact since June. I would still get Lasik but caution you to receive it from a surgeon that you do not have to travel thousands of miles to see if complications do arise.

I had Lasik approximately three years ago in the month of November, using wave/topography (expensive) technology. After waiting whatever the usual time period for enhancements after healing, I went back in for a second surgery around January/February, to my right eye because the Dr (or the machine) didn't get the numbers right. I was 20/15 in my left eye, and about 20/25 in my right eye after the surgery and this was a difference I could literally see, sorry for the pun, so it did cause me on a certain level, problems.

Had that corrected and haven't had to go back since, with both eyes at an astounding (to me) 20/15. I was a -6.0 in my left and -6.5 in my right before the surgery.

I do see halos at night from other vehicle lights, but I was prepared to accept this because my glasses prescription already gave me halos. I do not find them after the surgery to be a huge pain.

To this day, I occasionally use eye drops - but that's not even a complaint. I'll take using eye drops any day of the week versus the coke bottle glasses I had to use 24/7.

I program and stare at computer screens just as much as the next programmer, but it hasn't damaged my vision. If anything, it's as someone else said with the issues of staring at screens with minimal air flow through the office: dry.

Like others, this operation made me question why I didn't get it sooner. It truly is life changing, as it was for me. I don't consider what happened to me as a "complication" but as something less. I could've walked out of there blind forever, but I didn't. So, indeed, you have to understand the risks before going in.

I had LASIK done this January, right after allocating the LASIK bill to my company's flexible spending account the previous December. I highly recommended using the FSA since the surgery is paid with pre-tax dollars, effectively shaving 35% off the price of surgery. Right after the surgery, I noticed my vision was way better than pre-surgery, when wearing contacts, everything was crystal sharp. I went for a post surgery eye exam and the optometrist said I had 20/15 vision. Certifiable laser eyes!

Shortly after, I left my programming desk job to do some world travelling. Normally, I sit in front of the computer for 12+ hours a day, but during these 3 months of backpacking, I was walking around all day and had minimal computer interaction. It was incredible seeing New York and Europe with this new set of eyes.

After returning home and resuming the 12 hours routine of sitting in front of the computer I've noticed my eyesight has deteriorated/settled in a little and probably dropped back to 20/20 vision. I get some halos at night but this seems more of an effect of dry eyes and remedied with eye drops. Do some research on your LASIK surgeon, but I would highly recommend LASIK.

Ancillary question: are there any benefits to Lasik eye surgery other than not needing to wear glasses anymore?

I wanted Lasik years ago but decided to wait a decade or so until it was a foolproof process. But now my glasses have become a part of my personal "brand" and I don't want to give them up unless eye surgery perhaps goes "better than glasses"?

The ophthalmologist that I went to said that some people experience better than 20/20 vision after the surgery.

The information that I received from the doctor mentions a clinical trial in which "70% of patients could see better than 20/20" after the surgery. However, the pamphlet does not provide information on how to locate that clinical study.

I could not find any hard and fast statistic, but this article mentions in passing that some patients can see better than 20/20 after surgery: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/22772.php

I would say that if glasses have become part of your "brand" and you actually enjoy wearing them, then definitely do not get the procedure. Some of my main motivations for getting the procedure (keep in mind I have not undergone the procedure yet) are: wearing glasses is annoying, glasses get dirty/scratched/bent/etc, contacts are a pain to put in when I wake up, contacts dry out my eyes sometimes, playing sports with glasses is difficult (I snowboard quite a bit; glasses and goggles don't go too well together) so I have to wear contacts.

You aren't going to get clearer than glasses for your main focal point--both glasses and the surgery are going to get the image properly focused onto your retina--there's no improving past that.

The main question is, how bad is your vision currently?

I would say that for me, lasik is unquestionably better than glasses. But I had horrible eyesight and even with the smallest frames my lenses were almost a 1/4 inch thick at the edges. At that much correction they really skewed things at the edges of the vision and my peripheral vision was practically non-existent because I just couldn't see anything when not looking through the lenses. I was pretty much a non-functioning human without my glasses on. I hated them and wished to get rid of them at all cost.

Thanks for the replies, guys! Seems I might not benefit much (yet) then. I wear my (quite thin and light) glasses from seconds after waking to getting into bed and have no issues with them so it sounds like my advantages are few, especially as I don't play sports or swim.

I know even with just contacts the increased field of vision was a huge advantage when driving, playing tennis, and some other common activities for me over glasses, but this may have been partially because of my very strong prescription. I'd say this, coupled with the ability to instantly have vision whenever you wake up and so forth are the only real advantages..

Has anyone done Orthokeratology? It seems cheaper than lasik and still fairly effective in what it does. Any thoughts on this?


A friend likes his Ortho-K lenses very much. He got used to them pretty quickly. The worst experience he's had was losing a lens on a red-eye flight -- he spent a few days with deteriorating vision before returning home to get a replacement lens.

Interesting. Do you know how long it takes before your vision returns to pre treatment levels?

My mom did it for about 10 years and had generally good results. I tried it and found the lenses too uncomfortable to wear. Soft contacts don't bother me; just rigid ones.

Give it a shot! The worst possible outcome would be no change.

I take it that you would need to go to a specialist? I know nothing about eye doctors but are there special ortho-k providers that only do that type of treatment or would it fall under a normal optometrist? I guess the top dog of the eye care totem pole would be an ophthalmologist.

Do you know roughly the cost?

Personally, I'd always go to a specialist for anything that involves messing with my eyes. I don't know specifically if there are ortho-k specialists, though.

And, no clue on the cost. I tried this out about 14 years ago.

I hated Ortho-K - they couldn't get the lenses to fit correctly so they hurt my eyes and some days I would wake up with imperfect vision (at a basically random power).

Do you think it was the fault of antiquated machinery, the doctor, or your eyes that caused the discomfort? How long ago did you do it? I have been doing some research on it after posting my query and it seems like they have improved the process behind it. ymmv though.

It was over a period of four or five months, ending about six months ago.

I think it was the shape of my eyes at fault - i would have a fortnightly scan, they would remould the lenses (which was done at some central factory, not by my doctor) and they still wouldn't sit correctly.

Be sure to get the best doctor in your area to do it. Don't skim on the cost. It's your eyes. I did mine 6 years back in UCSF. I researched the lead doctor. He's a professor and the Medical Director for the UCSF Department of Ophthalmology. He was one of the early investigators of laser eye surgery in the beginning. He's the guy who teaches and trains other doctors to do eye surgeries. Lasik is one of them. He did all the operations himself and had done couple thousands Lasik cases. Not one failure. Mine turned out great.

I had Lasik on both eyes in 2005. Before that I had ~6 diopter short-sightedness in both eyes, with slight astigmatism. The difference is magical and 5 years later it still amazes me. At a check-up one year later I had 20/20 vision, and haven't noticed any degradation since then. I never particularly noticed the halo effect at night. I did have very dry eyes for a year or so, but nothing that artificial tears couldn't fix.

That's not to say the procedure is without risks; but it worked out very well for me.

The reason for the dry eyes, I was told, is that the cut in the cornea kills some nerves, reducing sensitivity, so you don't _know_ your eyes are dry (and hence don't blink enough) until they are _really_ dry. The nerves eventually grow back.

I stare at computer screens for 12+ hours a day, and I do get dry and irritated eyes -- but I think that has more to do with the staring at computer screens, and not blinking enough, than the Lasik.

I had my operation done in Colombia, a country with strong expertise in Lasik (the microkeratome, the instrument used to cut a flap in the cornea, was developed in Colombia). At my one-year-post-op checkup (in New Zealand) the doctor recognized the name of my Colombian surgeon from journal articles. At the time the operation cost US$1000 (for both eyes), less than 20% of what it would have cost back home, and probably better quality.

In a variation on the original topic, I am also thinking about getting the procedure done (I currently wear glasses, and love how they look) but in addition to programming I am a passionate amateur photographer.

Specifically, I specialize in rangefinder and TLR medium format cameras. I find that focusing is incredibly difficult on a parallax viewfinder (bright line) system. If it's even slightly dim, forget about it; I can't make out what's in focus. Plus my glasses get in the way, get smudged and sometimes get scratched.

My concern is that presumably Lasik is optimized for near-sighted (distance impaired) vision. Nobody can give me a straight answer on whether (assuming the procedure goes well) focusing will be any easier, or possibly even harder. I know that the surgery won't give me super-vision, but there's a very practical physical limitation to how close I can get my eye to the viewfinder before my glasses are pressed between my moist eye and the eyecup on my camera.

What I'm trying to figure out is whether when I'm focusing, my eye is focusing on something an inch from my eye (or less) or if it's focusing on infinity (in the optical sense). I suspect that it's infinity, which means that distance vision support would be kick-ass.

Any optics experts want to chime in?

I have a question: is there an age limit for Lasik? Can someone who is, say, 80, get Lasik? Also: can one get Lasik if they have some glaucoma ?

I had blade-free Wavefront LASIK about 3 months ago. I had very bad vision (-7.5, -8.0) and it is now perfect. The procedure was quick and painless. The doctor said that I had large pupils and that this would make halos likely - he was right, but they are getting better rapidly and I very rarely notice them now.

It was expensive but worth every cent.

Remember your eyes degrade with age regardless of surgery and at some point you will need glasses again. The nearer you are to your mid 40s the less time you will have free of specs.

The procedure is a cosmetic one and the potential downside is devastating. I have never found that risk worth undertaking, but then my eyesight is moderate myopia.

I would do it; but my eye doctor says basically I'm stuck with either my current near-sightedness, or I could get Lasik and trade it for far-sightedness. Oh well. I don't mind wearing glasses, and being near-sighted means that I don't have to wear them when in front of the computer, which is about 18 hours a day.

I am a programmer, I was near sighted, and I had the surgery done in 2003 or so. Beforehand I couldn't see the big E on the eye chart (I can't remember my old prescription but I think it was around + or -7, whatever nearsighted is). My eyesight had been that way since I was in third grade. After sitting up from the operating table I could see the patterns on the wallpaper which was an incredible sensation.

When my vision stabilized (a week or 2) one eye was testing at 20/15 and another at 20/25 or so. I got a touch up (the doctors are super paranoid and call it an adjustment) in that eye which brought it to 20/15 as well. It stayed that way for many years but in the past year my eyes have gotten a bit worse. I now wear glasses when driving at night but I still don't for normal life.

I would 100% do it again. Not being able to see sucks.

I'm absolutely terrified of anything that comes close to my eyes, be that lasers, contacts, ophtalmologists...

I'm wearing glasses from 1987 and I will start thinking about eye surgery only when I'll stop programming. I'm not satisfied about a minimal risk, I want zero.

Nothing in life has zero risk.

I had Lasik surgery at the Aris Vision Institute in Juarez Mexico. I live in Las Cruces New Mexico and found that these guys offered really good prices on Lasik. I have been nothing but ecstatic over my decision to have Lasik at Aris Vision. The Doctors were awesome and the staff was excellent. I have sent a few friends there as well since and they had a great experience too. I highly recommend you take a look at their site. This is the promotional link I used when I went and sent my friends as well. http://www.arisvision.com/informacion/promociones.html

Any recommendations for Doctors around Bay Area?

I had mine done here http://www.elliseye.com/ in 2001 or 2002. At first my vision was 20/15 in one eye and 20/10 in the other and I felt like the bionic man. This over correction lasted about a year before it started to degrade and I am now worse than 20/20 I imagine. I can still pass a driver's test, spend hours everyday in front of a monitor, see well at night etc. My only complaint is the slight starburst effect around bright glowing objects at night but I consider that a small price to pay. To this day I consider it the best money I have ever spent.

Dr. Mark Mandel http://www.optimaeye.com/ He's done more than 40,000 eyeballs, including mine and my optometrist's wife's.

Research the Vision Correction Center in UCSF.

They charge ~$130 for a consultation, unlike private lasik centers. Can you elaborate on your comment? There aren't actually that many reviews of them online.

I had LASIK in the summer of 2002. (Wow, hard to believe it's been more than 8 years!)

No problems to report. I do experience the so-called "halos" while driving at night, but it's not a problem and hasn't impacted my night driving.

Furthermore, a few of us got LASIK that same summer:

    - My mother, who was 51 at the time
    - My wife
    - My best friend
All three of us have had no problems.

We all used the same doctor, Dr. Rajesh Rajpal in Washington DC. He led the LASIK clinical trials resulting in FDA approval in 1995. I believe (but can't confirm online) that he's done over 25,000 operations in his lifetime.

I've read a few claims like that.

Perhaps I'm being overly pedantic, but assuming he started when the procedure became FDA approved in 1995, doesn't that imply that he does 4.5 operations a day, 365 days a year?

That doesn't seem too unreasonable. The actual procedure itself, where the doctor was actually involved with me as a patient, took about 15 minutes.

Yes. When I had mine done, it took 10 minutes at most, and there were 15-20 other patients scheduled for the same day.

I suspect it's more like 10 operations a day, 3 days a week, 48 weeks per year since 1992 (when the clinical trials started).

My brother had it an recommended it to me, but he also had better vision than I do.

I still haven't had it, though. I have something like -9 in both eyes and have worn glasses since elementary school and last I talked to an optometrist about it, they said that I'd still need glasses afterward.

Granted, they also said that I had nice thick corneas and that I was, otherwise, a good candidate for it, I just have a hard time seeing the value in it if I'll still need glasses anyhow. I don't really have any problems compensating during whatever small amounts of time I spend in the morning without my glasses.

No personal experience, except considering the surgery myself. My feeling is that they will eventually perfect this surgery and the long term results are unknown. I'd rather wait until they are much more precise.

Someone I know had this and now needs to wear reading glasses all the time just to use the computer, whereas before he did not. Of course, he's in his forties.

Your eyes are one of the most valuable things you have.


I had PRK, its like LASIC, but it takes less tissue off (in case you have to go back for more sessions), it does take longer to heal.

No problems at all, I forget about it now since I take it for granted, but it was magical.

My cousin sister did opt for Lasik and she went in for a second round of corrective surgery. After that, her vision is pretty good. AFAIK, in India, quite a lot of super specialty hospitals provide Lasik (with a good track record of success rate) and charge around 30-40K INR (approx US$1000).

Best of luck! :)

My numbers being R-11L-13 and my left cornea (which according to my ophthalmologist) being very weak, I was advised not to go for Lasik. Am still waiting for a better option than glasses; no contact lenses available for those numbers. (BTW, am a programmer aged 27)

Not mine. But, a nice detailed writeup here: http://valerieaurora.org/lasik.html (Valerie Aurora is a kernel programmer)

How safe is Lasik compared to contacts? I tried soft contacts half a year ago for 3 weeks, and my eyes got very irritated and red. They are still redder and more easily irritated today (for example I used to have no problems with cutting onions or cycling in wind or swimming, but now I do, for example if I swim without goggles I will have red eyes for two days). Could this lead to extra complications with Lasik? (probably)

Did anyone else have this problem and solve it with a different type of contacts?

From my doctor, Lasik actually is better for your eyes than wearing contacts. The chance of getting your eyes hurt due to infection from dirty contacts is higher than Lasik operation goes wrong. Contacts also restrict oxygen to your eyes which can cause health problem.

Is that an independent opinion or does he do the Lasik operations or get money if he sends people to a Lasik operation?

I wore glasses/contacts my whole life, and I had lasik about 1.5 years ago. Super easy procedure, great financing options, and a lifetime guarantee in case my eyes change. I can easily say it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Eyes strain while programming has gone down for me for sure. You don't notice all the time, but when you're doing stuff like snowboarding, jetskiing, or anything that would bother the shit out of your contacts, you will be SUPER grateful

Had lasik 6-7 years ago. Went wonderfully well, easy recovery, my only regret was not doing it sooner. I was 20/20 after the surgery, not quite as good now.

Here's how I found the doctor: I asked a bunch of other doctors who'd done theirs. Most of them had gone to the same guy. I booked him, paid a bit more than I might have paid to someone else, but I went it in with confidence.

Overall highly recommended.

Can anyone comment as to what the next big technological advance is that might be worth waiting for? Ten years ago the answer seemed to be wavefront. But I gather that procedure is still not without some risks. Anything in the pipe that would make holding out another ten worthwhile? I don't really mind glasses and contacts, but am pretty blind (-8).

Programmer, 26, had it done less than a year ago. Great experience, had no issues and no touch-up needed. I had night time halos but they would go away after a few minutes of my eyes adjusting. I saw halos for a few months but as my eyes healed they eventually went away. During the day I never had any issues. Glad I did it.

Has anyone had just one eye done?

(While both my eyes could use some correction, I currently work fine without contacts or glasses, relying mostly on the stronger eye. So as a last-stop bit of natural insurance against things going too wrong, I'd prefer to leave one eye untouched.)

Another insightful thread on this topic over on Quora:


I had lasik done 7 years ago in Israel. No problems here. One of the best things I have ever done. Been staring at screens those whole 7 years.

As someone else wrote, don't be cheap w/ your eyes

I paid $3500 USD and my dr. was a Johns Hopkins Medical graduate

I'm not a programmer but I do spend a good amount of time staring at computer screens. I did my lasik around 1 year ago and there wasn't any issue for me.

Choose a good surgeon wisely and all the best! It'll be worth it!

I find it interesting that almost no one wishes they'd done it sooner.

I intend to wait until they can successfully deal with the night time "halo" problem, or at the least minimise it. I enjoy my night vision too much!

Anyone who scuba dives want to chip in? When I checked last (about 10 yrs ago), it wasn't recommended for scuba divers.

I had lasik done. $2500. Perfect vision, no issues 4 years later. Best money I've ever spent.

I had PRK instead of lasik. Good results.

Got the wavefront (expensive but less after-effects) PRK (no flap) version because I play in a recreational softball league and didn't want to risk getting sand or dust under the lens.

It was painful for a couple days, then my eyes were watery for a couple days, then everything was good. A month later I had 20/20 vision.

Well worth it, I would recommend the PRK version specifically though. IMO, avoiding the (still rare) issues that can come along with getting the flap is worthwhile. PRK is also slightly cheaper.

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