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Two years after LASIK eye surgery (bemmu.com)
53 points by bemmu on July 24, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments



I've been wearing glasses since I was 15 (found out I needed them when I failed the eye exam for my driving learner's permit) and long thought about LASIK. A few years ago I switched to contacts and since then the desire for surgery is gone. Contacts are comfortable, I can stop any time they become a problem, and only take up a minute of my day to put in and take out. And as my eyes change, my prescription can change, so they're a bit more future proof.

Now, I don't mean to criticize people who choose LASIK at all. It's a deeply personal choice, and what's right for me may not be what's right for you. I just wanted to share this because I had previously overestimated the hassle of contacts and I'm glad I gave them a try.


I researched LASIK heavily before deciding not to proceed. A few things that fed into my decision:

(1) 1% have serious complications, and another couple percent say they would've abstained if they could go back in time. Basically, ~3% of people were unhappy with LASIK. That means that you'll see a lot of echo-chamber about how it's amazing (the 97%), but 3% is not negligible.

(2) By the time you're 45 y/o, you're going to get presbyopia -- ie. you will require bifocals because your eyes lose the ability to accommodate. You'll need some form of correction in the future.

(3) Most of the lifestyle improvements were relatively minor compared to donning & doffing soft lenses once in the morning and once at night.

(4) You cannot wear soft contact lenses anymore after LASIK. If you need contact lenses in the future, they'll have to be rigid (eg. gas-permeable). Those suck. It also means you may not be able to take advantage of advances in soft contact lens technology, such as the glucose-sensing lens and the "autofocus" lens. [1]

[1] Disclaimer: I work on these devices. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/business/international/nov...


For your first point: the relative risk factors vary significantly with age.

For a young person deciding between LASIK and contacts the chance of a significant problem due to the surgery is actually lower than the chance of one due to contacts (accidents putting them in and taking them out, contamination causing eye damage or infection, ...) over the next few decades.

For me at 37 that balance is probably the other way (caveat: I've not researched this, I'm just assuming), and there aren't many years before I'd need some form of extra correction even if I did have LASIK now. This plus your other points are pretty much why I'm still on the fence about my own eyes despite finding glasses and contacts inconvenient in different ways at different times (and likely to stick with contacts).


When you say that the risk with LASIK is lower than for contacts for younger people, does that take into account different habits? My guess (and this is totally a guess, barely informed) would be that the statement is true for the general population, but that it is not true if you actually do everything properly and consistently.

There are a frightening number of people out there who don't wash their hands before they insert or remove their lenses, or sleep with them in, or never get new ones. I'd wager that problems are greatly concentrated among those people, and that if you actually take them out every night, wash your hands thoroughly before you manipulate them, and throw them away at the appointed date, the chances of problems go way down.

For a common example of this at work, if you look up the statistics for the effectiveness of condoms, they look like they barely work at all. Then if you look up the statistics for people who actually use them properly (which includes such subtle things as actually using one every time instead of occasionally just doing without) they get a lot better.


IIRC the study I'm quoting (from memory, I can't find a link to it right now to verify unfortunately) they were considering everybody so yes, for people doing things right all the time the risk would be lower and those not (possibly lower than the LASIK risk).

It was only looking at people using daily lenses (the variety that I use) so things might be worse for monthly or "permanent" lenses depending on what you clean them with.

Some of the risk considered was manufacturing defects and so forth, so not all the risk considered was human error on the part of the user.


I imagine controlling for human error is hard, because people will lie to you.

I also imagine that patient error is a factor in LASIK risk too, because there's post-surgery care you need to follow, and if you don't do it right you probably increase your risk.

So in both cases, you should look at the risk with an eye (heh) towards your ability to do things properly, and try to be honest with yourself about your willpower in that respect.


The autofocus lens looks really interesting. One of the things I'm worried about is what I'll have to do once I get older and my lens starts to lose flexibility. Is there any more you can share about them, like how they work or how likely it is that they'll be available as a real product in a decade or two?


Much to my chagrin, I'm not allowed to talk in detail about anything (technology or timelines). But I think it's compelling... :)


That's OK, I figured that would probably be the case. I hope you make something great!


As someone who had contacts and got LASIK later on, I would still highly recommend considering it. For me, the deciding factors included 1) hassle of putting on contacts, 2) ability to lose them when swimming and 3) lack of access to new contacts when traveling or outdoors.

I've since found that my contact prescriptions were, apparently, never that great, since after getting LASIK my vision feels noticeably better. The first few days it felt like switching from 1080p to 4k, it was that significant. I think it might have to do with how LASIK is done nowadays, where they make a topographical map of your eye and adjust the curvature with extreme precision. You just can't get that with contacts.

Anyways, it's been 2+ years for me too and I can truly say it was one of the better life-changing decisions I've made.


LASIK patient here too, 8 years ago then at age 29, about 90% satisfied. Yes, it is life-changing, especially for one such as me who couldn't tolerate contacts. I played noticeably better in pickup sports games now that I could move freely without always subtly adjusting to balance the glasses. My one problem is persistent dryness, which is manageable with eyedrops but does require keeping that with me.

My one particular miracle moment: stepping out of the shower, onto the scale, and holy crap I can see the dial without squinting or bending! The other great convenience is lying sideways on a couch watching TV without glasses digging into your pillow.

That 4k vision is great but it's not permanent. Lasik doesn't stop your eyes from changing, so it's now as if I'm wearing a contact prescription that's 8 years out of date. It's still perfectly fine for driving and should stay so for several more years, but I do have trouble now with things like reading signs from far across a train station. It's normal to need a Lasik redo or lenses again after 10-20 years.


I have a feeling that your point #2 is key, and there's going to be a strong dividing line between people who swim a lot, and people who don't. I hardly ever go swimming so that doesn't bother me at all.

I don't know about #1 or #3 though. The hassle is literally 30 seconds in the morning and 30 seconds in the evening. It takes me more time to brush my teeth. If I travel for an extended period I just pack an extra pair or two.


You should never put water on contact lenses as water is a strong vector of bacterial infection. I'm glad you haven't lost your eyesight (probably because the contacts fell while swimming with those).


As a contrast to @mikeash's experience, I'd love to use contacts, but can't really wear them. My astigmatism is ... epic. Astigmatism with soft contacts means toric lenses, which have a few annoying "quirks". First, they never quite fully correct most astigmatism because the corrections are quantized in a way that makes it difficult to get a bang-on correction. Second, they lose acuity if the wearer's head is tilted. Both of these flaws relate to how toric lenses work: they're weighted to maintain their orientation. They're only in correct position when your head is straight up-and-down. Tilt your head a bit and they start to float off line. The worse your astigmatism, the more annoying these deviations become. As such, when I'm in for an eye exam no one recommends soft lenses for me anymore.

That leaves modern rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses. I don't mind the feel of wearing these, and the vision is excellent. They don't need weighting for correct orientation, which eliminates the aforementioned limitations of soft lenses. The visual acuity for my correction is in all ways superior to soft lenses I've tried. The central vision nearly rivals good glasses, and the sharp peripheral vision blows glasses out of the water. But even with the newest, most permeable lens materials my eyes can't really ramp up to tolerating them for a full day's wear. And there's the rub, since RGPs require a ramp up to acclimate to wearing them, they aren't really amenable to just popping them in "weekend warrior" style.

I haven't taken the LASIK plunge yet, but the above might illuminate why it's an appealing option for some people.


I developed an allergy to contacts during college. After wearing them for more than 15 minutes, my eyes would swell up. I was on a sports team and didn't want to negatively affect my performance with eye wear. So I got the lasik. I had a hell of a problem with dry eyes for years, obviously not helped by spending 10 hours a day in front of a CRT monitor. Finally I got diagnosed with Blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by tear duct blockage. I treat it with a warm compress every morning and get by all right. I often wonder if the lasik caused the Blepharitis, the contacts caused it, or I had it and the contacts irritated it.


And for anyone wearing contacts, I can't highly enough recommend trying daily ones. They are thinner, more breathable, and don't need cleaning.

After suffering for years with monthly contacts (dry eyes, discomfort), I'd only wish I'd learned this sooner.


I haven't tried dailies, but regardless I'd definitely recommend experimenting with different contacts if you're unsatisfied in any way. For the first couple of years, I did well, but they were never 100% comfortable. I still thought it was the best choice, but there was always a bit of annoyance. Then my doctor switched me to a different brand and the difference was amazing. Now the only way I can tell whether I have the things in or not is by looking in the distance to see if stuff is clear.

They're definitely not all the same, so experiment until you find something that's great.


I've been wearing glasses since I was 8, got contacts when I was 13 and have been thinking about getting LASIK since it first became popular ~10 years ago. I have gone from wanting it really badly to now not wanting it all.

In high school and college, I wore contacts all the time because it improved my confidence. As I got older, I found myself wearing glasses all the time and contacts at the gym/social events, etc. As a side note, wearing contacts stabilizes your vision - your Rx will not change as quickly because of the short focal distance. This is a nice benefit because we spend so much time looking at screens nowadays.


Actually there is no evidence that contacts affect myopia progression. I had bifocals for many years as a teen under the same impression, but this has also been disproven. It is likely that any slow-down that you had in myopia progression was caused by your eye-ball size stabilizing.

Sources: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1771373/, My Optometrist


>> As I got older, I found myself wearing glasses all the time and contacts at the gym/social events, etc.

It always took me a few days to adjust going back to wearing glasses. I couldn't even drive when I would first put glasses on again.


> I have gone from wanting it really badly to now not wanting it all.

What made you change your mind?


Realizing that the benefits outweigh the costs (health and financial). In my case, the benefits would be avoiding the annoyances of glasses/contacts (cleaning them, reshaping the frames when they get bent, moisture, buying new ones) but given that the surgery might not result perfect vision or even cause new problems (halos, night vision, having to redo the surgery after ~10 years) it's not worth it. Plus, I'm less vain and more frugal now.


LASIK is definitely a contender for the best value purchase I've ever made. My only regret after having it done is that I didn't get it years sooner. I think you get used to the hassles and limitations of glasses and contacts and it's not until you're freed from then that you realize what a pain they really were.

I swam a lot as a kid but avoided it once my vision got bad and being able to swim with complete freedom has made me rediscover the joy of being in the water. I'd call that out too as a bigger than expected benefit. It's also a big improvement over glasses or contacts for my favorite sport, snowboarding.

I can see slight haloing at night if I look for it but I find my night vision for driving much improved relative to glasses or contacts and my memory is of experiencing haloing and other worse artifacts at night with both so for me this hasn't been a negative. Driving is probably the most demanding night vision task I do and it's improved.

I was fortunate not to suffer any complications beyond dry eyes for the first six months or so, something I also suffered from with daily contacts. During that time I'd carry the little disposable moisturizing drops in my wallet but I don't need them any more.

There are obviously risks of complications but when I looked into it at the time it seemed that they were less over a ten year time frame than the possible complications of contact lenses, worth considering when weighing up the risks.


The thing that always bothered me about LASIK is that the flap never fully heals. I considered doing PRK (an alternative procedure that omits the cutting of the flap), but the healing time can take months. I was screened by an eye surgeon who insisted LASIK is a superior procedure. Has anyone scientifically compared the risk of LASIK vs. PRK?


I've had PRK, and while the healing time is longer (you have to wait for your eye's epithelium to grow back), the overall risk is less. There is no flap, just a reshaped cornea.

You wear a contact lens for a week to prevent infection. And during the time that you're healing (my case was about 5 days), you get to listen to a lot of audiobooks.

edit: my surgery was 5 years ago and I've had no issues. Still see perfectly today, although with my night vision, I sometimes question if I'm seeing poorly, but I question my wife and she eases my worry by telling me she also cannot see the dark-object-very-far-away-at-night.


I had ICL* surgery instead of LASIK, because the cornea was too thin. It has worked very well so far: I do get halos, but haven't had any other complications. The implants can also be removed or replaced.

* Implantable Contact Lens, from Wikipedia: The procedure is performed under local anesthesia with the patient awake throughout the operation. The flexibility of the ICL enables the lens to be rolled for insertion into the soft silicone tip of the micro incision injector through a very small incision (2.2mm) thus avoiding the need for stitches, and this procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes in the hands of an experienced ophthalmologist. Following the procedure, most people have immediate use of their eyes. The full recovery period is typically 1–2 days with minimal discomfort and most patients are able to go to work the next day. After surgery, the common advice is to avoid driving home and to visit the attending ophthalmologists regularly for several months so as to monitor the implants. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implantable_collamer_lens )


Not scientific but I only had PRK as a choice. And the healing time is a lot more than the LASIK procedure. Although my doctor told me that it "could take a few more days".

Took me a week until I could look at a computer screen with a ridiculously large zoom level and only for a couple of hours total per day. At about 3 weeks, I could look at a computer screen at a lower resolution but no more than 4-5 hours total.

As for risk; from my reading the greatest risk in both are post-op infections which are a concern with any procedure(even sampling blood). The others weren't really something to worry about. With LASIK, there's also a risk of flap detachment. But that could happen even with a healthy flap if the force is big enough.


I got PRK. No long term issues (other than occasional minor dry eye, and maybe a tiny bit of light sensitivity), but yes, the 3 week period after you get it can be very rough. You usually have to take at least one week of work off.


Thanks for mentioning this.

I've only ever had cursory looks at LASIK because my nearsightedness is not quite serious enough to need glasses all the time, but I looked up what you mentioned and found this:

http://www.lasikcomplications.com/flapdislocation.htm

Watching the YouTube video in the link quite literally made me shudder in my chair.

If I ever do get eye surgery I'll probably go for PRK despite the longer healing time.


Your surgeon is lazy. He wants you as a patient for 2 days for his fee, not for two weeks. All my research indicates that PRK is substantially better.


I did a lot of research when I got it last year. PRK is a better procedure, but only marginally so, and I decided it wasn't worth the pain and longer healing time.

If you do a lot of extreme sports, martial arts, race car driving or those sorts of things, PRK may be worth the extra pain and inconvenience though.


Off topic; does anyone know if there are any services that get rid of floaters? I've got a nasty one right in the middle of my best eye and it is very annoying. Has been there for two years and I haven't got used to it yet.


I had a retina detachment earlier this year. My retina had torn and scarred on the bottom of my eye and decided to detach while I was out of the country. Recovery has been ok and I have 20/30 vision on that eye .... But that is with staring at the letters for long enough until my brain has averaged the letter out (the letters actually narrow and widen). I now have a permanent pinch in the middle of my sight due to the retina not lying down perfectly flat. I will have to deal with this as my doctor says this will not heal. It is not fun. If I wear corrective lenses my eye tries to merge two images that aren't the same size.

Anyway I'll stop ranting. One of the signs that you might be having tears (precursor to detachment) is an increase of floaties in the eye. Also nearsightedness (yes for to the eye shadow you have a higher chance of detachment), and light flashes. If you are noticing more floaties you might want to get out checked out.


Sorry to hear this. Thanks for the warning - I'll get my eyes tested next week!


I have the same problem, talked to the doctor and there is no way to fix it permanently. What you can try is move floaters by doing a "teenager" eye roll, very rapidly several time in a row. In my case this helps to shift them away from the view.


I'll try that. Thanks for the tip.


There are a couple approaches.

One involves using a YAG laser to burn the floaters:

http://www.eyefloaters.com/index.php?option=com_content&task...

Sadly, it's done rarely enough that it could be snake oil or in-progress research.

A full vitrectomy is possible (replace the vitreous humour fluid in the eye):

http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/vitreoretinal-proce...

But this is dangerous enough that it's almost never performed simply for floaters.


I'll pass on both of them. Thanks for the info!


Not to my knowledge. Last time I did research on that, there were experimental treatments (also involving lasers) to try to dissolve them. Which had dangers and some side effects, among them more floaters!

Give it time, it will likely become less annoying. I've had one for 5 years now. In the last couple of years, I've noticed more of them appearing, but this particular bothersome one fading. It is likely breaking down and my eye doctor told me it could happen.


That sounds like it's dangerous so I'd avoid that :-)

Thanks for the confidence builder; much appreciated!


Would you happen to be frequently dehydrated? I find that floaters are a sign that I personally haven't been drinking enough water...


I drink (water) like a fish. Have tried that one for over a year unfortunately :(


As far as I know the only fix is vitrectomy.


I did mine 9 years ago. Best decision of my life. Long term effects:

- I suffered from the night halo effect for two years afterwards, but it went away. Even then, I was happy having done the surgery.

- I am more light-sensitive now than I was. I'm uncomfortable without sunglasses in a bright summer day, something that didn't happen before. From what I can tell I'm still in the normal light sensitivity band.

- My eyes are drier now than before surgery. Again, not something that affects day to day life. I notice it mostly when the eye gets irritated somehow (after swimming in salty water or chlorinated water, after being in smoky environments or being exposed to dust).

Doctors routinely downplay both the halo effect and the reduced tear production. The halo effect is more common in high correction surgeries (my correction was 3 dioptries myopic correction and 4(left) and 6(right) asthigmatic correction, which is rather high).

If you have already reduced tear production, I'd advise against the surgery. From people I know who did LASIK, that's the only relevant downside people talk about. Having permanently dry eyes and permanent need for drops is worse than wearing glasses.

It isn't painful, but I was uncomfortable for a couple weeks. For the first couple of days it seemed I had a grain of sand in the eye (and I had to resist the urge to scratch it out). On the plus side, recovery is very quick. I was out and about on the day after, and working in front of a computer screen three days after.


9 years is a relative short term comparing to a normal human lifespan of 70-80 years.


Absolutely life changing. I have so many bad memories from growing up with the burden of glasses. One of the worst is when my school took us to the beach for a couple of days and I lost my glasses in the sea. For the rest of the trip (3 days) I wasn't able to be active, just sat at the beach, and worst of all I was a burden on my friends. They had to walk me everywhere.

I'm so glad I got it done -- I did PRK -- but in recent years my vision started deteriorating a little bit. It's not too bad though -- I passed the DMV test. I hope it doesn't get worse than that. However, my understanding is that I can do it again if I had too. Anyone here had to do it multiple times?


I had my eyes zapped about six years ago, and it's been nothing but positive for me. Like the author said, the procedure itself was painless (and very fast, a few minutes per eye).

I had the surgery done early in the morning, and afterward slept through most of the day to let my eyes heal. I woke up the next day and was able to read car license plates across the street, where two days prior my vision was bad enough that I couldn't make out facial features over an arm's length away without my glasses.

I'll second the author: it was one of the best decisions I ever made.


I had LASIK 15 years ago. I was saddened when I learned my vision has started to decline from my eagle eyed 20/10 post surgery. It's currently around 20/40 right now, so I wear my glasses driving at night, bowling, and movie watching. Part of the decline could be due to diabetes, but my ophthalmologist said it's quite normal to experience regression as the LASIK population contributes more empirical data.

I still think it's a tremendous value, even if it doesn't last forever. I may go back for an adjustment some day...


I remember getting glasses for the first time when I was 13. While I found the better definition of far away objects nice (useful is a better word), I actually found that I liked how the world looked (in an aesthetics way) without glasses vs. with it...like I always liked how the trees[0] looked in the afternoon sun but glasses sort of ruined it.

I would later learn about "impressionism"[1], and fall in love with those art works. Apparently there are/were people out there who enjoyed seeing the "impression" of something over its definition like I did. Today, my instagram has a number of blurry photos.

EDIT: I should mention that my eyesight is not extremely terrible, and at that age, my eyesight wasn't good enough to function, although I need glasses now to drive, etc.

[0] I would learn later there is a word for it in Japanese, komorebi: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/181055/english-eq...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impressionism


I had LASIK done 3 years ago, the cost was $6,000. It cost more than usual because I had 'laser cut flaps' and the 'wavefront' option. My contact prescription was around -9.00 in each eye.

Very simple procedure, I wish I had done it ten years ago. It was worth every penny. I had halos at night for a few weeks afterwards, and my eyes are a little bit dry to this day, but it's slowly gotten better. I used to have to keep a bottle of eye drops at my desk but haven't even bought a bottle in a few months.

I was happy with just using inexpensive daily wear contacts. But at some point my eyes changed, one got a little worse than the other, and I had noticeable astigmatism. This required me to get toric lenses and they were much, much more expensive. Like $99 for 6 pair vs $29.99 for 50 pair.

Having worn thick glasses since the age of 7 it was a dream to finally not have to wear them or deal with contacts any more. The only real complaint I have is my vision is still pretty bad in low-light situations, and I can't focus on anything that isn't at least 8" away. I used to be able to take my glasses off and look at a part or something very close and see it quite well.


I got LASIK four years ago. No haloing, and in general I'm really happy about it. I did have vicious dry eyes for about six months, which was much worse than it sounds, but it went away. Overall, I'm thrilled with the procedure, and as I previously had terrible vision, it was legitimately life-changing.


I had LASIK in 2010 and never experienced any halo'ing either. Same with the dry eyes though. Got better. I'm in the UK and had it done with Ultralase at a cost of about $6,500. That was the most expensive surgery option though (why risk being cheap when your health is on the line, even if the chance of a bad result is marginal?)

I advise anyone considering it to go to more than one surgery for a consultation. I first went to one in London which didn't inspire confidence, treated me like I'd come in to buy a car, felt pressured and marketed toward. Ultralase treated me like a medical patient. So shop around wherever you are in the world.


How poor was your vision before?


My prescription was approximately -8 in both eyes. I was a pretty fringe-y candidate for the surgery and had to do the most expensive one (laser flap, wavefront) to get it done.


I got mine a couple of years ago too. It wasn't painless at all. In fact, the first week sucked. And I developed light sensitivity although it went away after 5 or so days.

I also suffered from dry eyes. Something that the doctor says rarely happens but seems to happen more often than is being recorded(from personal research, seems to happen when person suffers from high astigmatism). But it does decrease within a few months and now I occasionally have to use the eye drops to keep them hydrated so no big deal.

Regarding the blurry night vision, it happens sometimes to me. I noticed that i notice it more when my eyes are more tired and less hydrated than usual.

Overall, I am also happy with the experience. The greatest thing about it is enjoying the underwater views as mentioned.


I did Relex Smile in Bangkok, Thailand 2 months ago and am very happy. Can only recommend this procedure as it's quite uninvasive (at least compared to the older approaches).

I've had all pre-exam checks & the surgery on one day and could work the next day (after a beautiful 16h valium-induced sleep).

My left eye took a bit longer to adjust but now i'm fine and only really need my eye drops when i wake up in the morning.


I’ve worn glasses since my mid-teens, and in my mid-forties now. I’m near sighted but also have an astigmatism, so I pretty much need glasses to see anything, be it close up or far away. I’ve also found contacts never really worked well for me. On account of the astigmatism they have to be oriented at just the right angle. They are usually weighted to help this, but I never found them as good as my glasses for staring at my computer screen all day. Too much squinting and dry eyes after a while.

I wear contacts occasionally when going out. (I’m fine putting them in, but digging them out again at the end of the night I find difficult, probably because I don’t wear them often enough to become adept.)

Having grown up before laser surgery was available, the thought of cutting up your eyeball was pretty scary. The 3% dissatisfaction rate another comment cited seems far too high a risk to me when talking about your eyes. And given your prescription changes over time, it seems like an impermanent solution with permanent side-effects.

But at the end of the day, I’m a risk-averse nerd. YMMV.


I've always wanted to correct my eyes and was hoping for a story with a happy ending this time but no, there's the halos!

I hate my glasses with a passion. Some form of allergy made my eye doctor tell me I should stop using contacts. But still, I won't do LASIK(1). For a few reasons.

First, there's this thought of having a software-controlled laser beam digging pits in the cornea. And pits they are, it's not like the laser pulses create a smooth surface, we are long ways away from that.

Second, there's the corneal flap, which never fully heals.

Third, related to the second point, there's the fact that the cornea is cut and some nerves are permanently damage, which could create a dry eye condition. Apparently people commit suicide over that. And my eyes are not that moist to begin with, AC already bothers them.

Reason four is the fact that, even if 100% successful and a 20/20 results is achieved, your vision can still be really poor. Halos are just one of many (common!) conditions that aren't really correctable and you'll have to live with forever.

Last, LASIK surgeries are rather new. The first LASIK patients should be now reaching old age. And the first generation LASIK equipment was pretty poor, so any problems they have are blamed on that. But what if I do a LASIK today, and have really nasty complications as I age? They are unlikely to be corrected.

Does anyone remember that procedure where surgeons would cut the patient's eye radially to try to correct nearsightedness? Some of those patients tried LASIK later, with really poor results due to a weak cornea. Not to mention the nasty complications. That procedure sounds barbaric now.

I just hope LASIK won't be seen like that too in a few years.

[1] I'm still on the fence about LASEK. Recovery is reportedly horrible, but at least there's no deep corneal cutting.


I had the LASEK (also called PRK) and the recovery isn't as bad as it sounds. The next day was painful and I had patchy vision for a few days afterwards but within a week there was no discomfort at all and my vision was fine. (It does take a month or 2 to settle down but your vision is competely fine during this period).

It does have the advantage of less risk due to no cutting and allowing natural regrowth of the removed upper layer of cornea.

The procedure itself lasts about 10 mintues for both eyes. You lie down and they put numbing drops in your eyes and wait a minute. Then the alcohol paste (for removing the top layer of the cornea) is rubbed on to your eye with what looked like an eyeliner brush. This was the only uncomfortable bit of the procedure - even then it wasn't physical as you cannot feel it, it was more just the idea of it.

A few minutes later they apply the laser; this is over in a matter of seconds for each eye. Now with the expensive procedure I opted for (called wavefront) they do a 3D mapping of your eye and program that into the laser so it's not a random shot. Also the laser tracks any eye movement at 200 times per second.

The LASEK carries less chance and severity of halos (according to studies I believe are referenced in wikipedia). I have them but they are hardly noticable.


Interested to know for everyone who has had it, how old they were when they got it done and how old they are now? I'm curious if there's an age factor involved. I'm a 40 year old male with not too bad uncorrected eyesight and a little astigmatism.


I got it done when I was 22 (The Navy paid for it) and my vision was considered severe low vision[0] and an astigmatism. I am 28 now and I have no problems (last test I was 20/15). I was told, however, that my vision would might start to taper off around 40 (I may need reading glasses), but I am sure it varies for everyone.

[0] http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-visio...


I was wondering the same thing. I'm 40 in a few months; got glasses for the first time yesterday. I'm farsighted [always have been] and have a slight astigmatism.

The Dr told me that w/ Lasik they want at least three years of eye exams to make sure your eye isn't changing. He also told me that I'll probably need reading glasses in a few years after doing the surgery.

I decided to revisit in three years.


I had LASIK 7 years ago, for free actually (luckily my company's health insurance covered it if your sight was as bad as mine). I do see as well as I saw with glasses, so not having to bother with them has been amazing. But I never saw that well with glasses, and I see the same now. By this I mean I still use more zoom on my screen than anyone I know, for example. Otherwise it isn't comfortable. I've gone to the doctor and there isn't any problem with my eye, nor glasses would help, so maybe it's a problem somewhere. Anyone else have this problem? It isn't a huge one, but it would be great to see as well as most people do (wearing glasses or not).


How bad was your eyesight, then? I'm curious, I heard LASIK effects are weaker when you have smaller defect (~2 diopters)


IIRC I had 5 diopters in one eye, 6 in the other (not sure if that's how you measure eyesight in the US, I'm from Spain). I was farsighted (I've heard shortsightness is healed better with LASIK?) and had some astigmatism as well.


So I am 23 and have a large astigmatism and a -9 prescription in both eyes. I used to wear contacts but gave it up because they were more hassle than they were worth for me. I was constantly dealing with dry eyes, and shifting vision. Now I use glasses but I have trouble driving at night. I have thought about LASIK and even though the risk is low, I feel that I would rather deal with the problems I have now instead of new ones. Are there any other procedures other than LASIK that are recommended? Would I even be a candidate for LASIK with such bad eyes?


PRK is has a higher success rate, albeit with a longer recovery time (IIRC, about a month). There's also ICL, where, to put it simply, a ontact lens is implanted behind your cornea, though it's not really worth it if your prescription is -9, which is pretty midrange...everyone on my mom's side of the family is blind as a bat; my grandpa has a prescription of -15 in both eyes, same as my uncle. I'm sitting at -13 now and I'm 26 so I will probably never beat their high score.


I've been wearing glasses since I was seven and I've never felt they're particularly annoying or cumbersome. (I swim and ride a motorcycle, so potentially I might be.) Therefore, I don't really need to think at all whether a surgery might be a good choice. This means that, I'm kind of blessed with being perfectly happy with what I have, for once. Now that I read the article and the comments below, that feeling is priceless.


The biggest benefit I've found from getting LASIK is the astigmatism correction. Specifically, it basically instantly made me more physically coordinated.


Got it done September 2013 and overall very happy.

I had poor eyesight (-4.5) and astigmatism in one eye.

Cost £3000 for the top end surgery (3D mapping etc.) also due to my thin cornea I had to have the PRK rather than LASIK. This took longer to recover and was very uncomfortable for a few days after.

I now have 20/20 vision though I do have a slight halo effect at night and very dry eyes most mornings but this will hopefully clear up like many others have.

Edit - I had the PRK procedure.


Where did you do yours?


Optical Express in Belfast


I went to a clinic to get a quote, as soon as they analyzed my eyes and we get to paper work, the lady wanted to sell me stuff. You're playing with my life with money, I never returned. For those who want to do this, either RUN or look for insurance policy in case you can't see anymore. I'll live with glasses for now.


Slightly unrelated, but has anyone developed floaters (moving or static) in their eyes (late 20s)? I find them quite irritating, especially on solid light-colored backgrounds, not to mention the white background on most apps.

I'm slightly worried about them, especially if it means i will develop more as i get older...


Black-ish floaters? There's a discussion on those in this thread.

Floaters usually move. If they are static, they may be something else.

It's common and normal to develop floaters. What is NOT normal is to develop a bunch of them very suddenly. That could mean many things, such as possible retinal detachment. Which is a very common Google search result, but uncommon otherwise.

If you are worried, get your eyes checked. I did, as part of my checkups. My doctor told me that she had one, she couldn't see mine, but that she sometimes had to move her eyes to make sure it was a floater in the patient's eye and not hers :)

Just include add this conversation at your next eye doctor visit but don't worry about it. Floaters can appear and disappear with time and can become more frequent as you age.


Indeed, i see the other posts now. Must have taken off while i was writing my reply! :/

I have been to the doctor, he wasn't able to see mine either. I think i might pay another visit.

By static, i mean their position relative in the eye, they do follow my tracking. Otherwise, they roam around mostly free, and blinking a couple of times pushes them outwards and out of my way.


If you are noticing more floaties it could be a sign of a retina tear, which would lead to a detachment (not fun see my other comment). Might want to go get an eye checkup.


My Dad had LASIK done few years ago and he said that while his daytime vision improved to being perfect, his nighttime vision while driving actually worsened - he said that the halos around bright lights were so distracting that he would rather not drive at night if he absolutely doesn't have to.


I had LASIK done some 10 years ago and I experience the same halos. It's quite annoying and disturbing. Not only that, the positive effects of the operation are not permanent. 3 years ago my vision worsen and I had my eyes checked discovering my myopia was back with 0.5 dioptres. The worst part was that the doctor said it was usual for people operated with LASIK to experience the same 7/8 years after the operation. My advice is don't do it, the short term improvements are not worth the long term issues.

BTW, have you ever noticed that many ophthalmologists wear glasses? I wonder why...


Had it 11 years ago and I've had no issues at all. Sometimes I think my vision is deteriorating but then vision tests confirm that it's just paranoia.

I recommend it to everyone, it's one of the best decisions I've made.


Did you have "dry eyes" symptoms after your surgery? For some persons (like me), they can't have this treatment because it can damage lacrimal glands. My eyes are naturally to dry to try this securely.


Maybe sometimes. I was unsure whether to mention it, because I'm not totally sure it's because of the eye surgery, as I only feel it on days after using sleep medication, so I figured it was more likely to be a side effect from that (or perhaps an interaction).


When I made the appointment in the LASIK center, I did it through QualSight LASIK instead of directly with the center. That center offered discounted rates if booked through QualSight.


I went ahead and read his post about the actual process of getting the surgery and I think that's scared me off of it forever. It's not an invasive procedure, but just the thought of being strapped down and having my eyes mechanically restrained so a miniature band saw can slice pieces of them off is absolutely terrifying. I'm sure the doctors are all qualified for the most part and it's well within reasonable safety parameters, but even with sedation I would be incredibly anxious.

Is there a similar procedure to LASIK where they can put you completely under? Or can they do that with LASIK too?


My LASIK was all laser, so the flap was cut with a laser instead of the microkeratome. My doctor gives you a Valium before the surgery.

Total time in the surgery chair was 6 minutes. First laser cuts, doctor opens the flap, second laser does the correction, doctor closes it up. Repeat for the other eye. Freakiest part is when they open the flap up and your vision goes completely hazy.

I was a long time contact wearer, so I was squeamish about having my eyes touched. I think it would be a lot more uncomfortable for someone who only wears glasses.

Best $4k I've ever spent. I had halos for a couple of days but no discomfort. For a couple of years, the reflective letters on highway signs seemed WAY TOO BRIGHT, but that's gone away now too.


I had it done about 6 years ago. While I wasn't completely under, I was given Valium beforehand and therefore didn't really give a shit about what they were doing. Also, because of the freezing, I didn't feel a thing. I just floated there, looking where they told me to look, and about 10 minutes later I was back out on the waiting room with my parents.


You can evaluate the risk and consider your anxiety separately. If you think the risk is worth it, then you can take care of the anxiety with medication. After enough diazepam, you won't be anxious anymore. You won't care. Not only does this help you feel better, but I'm sure a less anxious person is better for the surgery as well.


I don't think so. Perhaps you'd better stick with contact lenses.

(I had LASIK and the procedure is not bad at all and over very quickly).


11 years ago. Good results. Halo-ing is present, although not a big problem.

I do think my vision is deteriorating a bit now. Although not enough to need glasses yet.


It may be worth mentioning that the Halo-ing is also present with contact lenses, at least for large lens strengths.


Didn't know that! Had -8.5 but never wore contacts. Friend of mine had a severe allergic reaction to contacts, and was advised to never wear them again, and I was scared off of them.


LASIK cost me about $3500 in Texas at the best place I could find.

It is easily the best money I have ever spent. I highly recommend it if you're a candidate.


LASIK (all laser), no pain, no halo. One of the best decisions I've made.


I feel that the author may end up regretting spoke too soon. The long term effect on human eyes after LASIK has not been studies enough as the technology has only been around for a few decades, much shorter than a normal human lifespan.


I had one 7 years ago, never looked back.


Was that because it worked, or because you couldn't? :)


He never looked back, he didn't even try :P


Efficacy of LASIK in the longer term (20 years up) is very much unknown, though.


Note that LASIK is not recommended if you have any kind of inflammation in your body.


I wish there was a common procedure to remove these damn floaters from my eyeballs. Ever since I was a kid, they've been there, floating around and making me see things that aren't there. I think there's one place in the USA that removes them but I'd have to travel to another state to do it and since it's not very common I'm not sure I want to risk my eyes on that one.


ah, the power of propaganda over homo sapiens...when we they learn that medicine is a business?


Exactly, people think it's about ethics, it's not, it's a pure dollar making machine.




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