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.
(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. 
 Disclaimer: I work on these devices. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/16/business/international/nov...
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
After suffering for years with monthly contacts (dry eyes, discomfort), I'd only wish I'd learned this sooner.
They're definitely not all the same, so experiment until you find something that's great.
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.
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.
What made you change your mind?
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.
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.
* 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 )
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'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:
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.
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.
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.
One involves using a YAG laser to burn the floaters:
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):
But this is dangerous enough that it's almost never performed simply for 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.
Thanks for the confidence builder; much appreciated!
- 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.
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 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 still think it's a tremendous value, even if it doesn't last forever. I may go back for an adjustment some day...
I would later learn about "impressionism", 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.
 I would learn later there is a word for it in Japanese, komorebi:
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 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.
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'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 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 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.
 I'm still on the fence about LASEK. Recovery is reportedly horrible, but at least there's no deep corneal cutting.
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.
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 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.
I'm slightly worried about them, especially if it means i will develop more as i get older...
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.
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.
BTW, have you ever noticed that many ophthalmologists wear glasses? I wonder why...
I recommend it to everyone, it's one of the best decisions I've made.
Is there a similar procedure to LASIK where they can put you completely under? Or can they do that with LASIK too?
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 LASIK and the procedure is not bad at all and over very quickly).
I do think my vision is deteriorating a bit now. Although not enough to need glasses yet.
It is easily the best money I have ever spent. I highly recommend it if you're a candidate.