I had it recently!! Less than a year ago!! (Dec. 30, 2017)
And I had the worst experience of anyone that I’ve talked to about it. Now that I’m all healed up, I do love not having to worry about wearing contacts. However, the people I talked to acted like it was this unequivocally positive experience, and I wish I had been more prepared for the many pitfalls that come with it. The pitfalls, as best I can recall, are as follows:
(1) Needing to wear glasses for a long time. I had thought I only needed to start wearing glasses ten days before the surgery, but they had me wear glasses for a solid month beforehand. The earliest they could schedule me for was a month out, but they said I needed to stop wearing contacts NOW. When I questioned them about if I really needed to start wearing glasses this early, they got pretty testy and said “If your eyeballs are not the right shape then your entire operation has to be canceled. Do you want that to happen?”
(2) The cost and how to pay for it. Even if your medical insurance covers LASIK in some form, you’d still need to find a center that accepts insurance, as many places don’t. And it costs around $5,000.
(3) The medications and how to pay for them. I needed to fill prescriptions for some eye drops to help my eyes from getting too dry after the surgery. These medications were not covered by insurance, and the doctor mentioned something about a rebate online but couldn’t give me specifics, and I had trouble finding rebates on my own.
(4) Actually finding these medications. A lot of pharmacies in the area didn’t even carry the medications I was looking for, so I had to call a few different places beforehand before I found a pharmacy that had the medications I needed.
(5) The sedative they give you. They gave me Valium, I think. And I had a bad reaction to it. Valium can cause anxiety in a small portion of the people who take it. It was my first taking Valium, and I got very anxious. It made my body sluggish and slow to react, and that terrified me because I kept imagining that there would be a fire in the building, or a bomb, or something else scary and everyone would scatter and I would be incapacitated and killed. I remember sitting in the waiting room crying and repeatedly telling my husband that if anything happened, I needed him to help me.
(6) The procedure. I had thought I’d be just relaxed and let them do whatever. Maybe I would have been if I had reacted normally to the Valium. Instead, this guy kept coming at my eye with a sharp tool, and I would wince, and he would lecture me about how I have to hold still. (They put a suction cup on your eyeball, which props your eyelid open, but it doesn’t completely freeze all your muscles so you can still wince.) I felt like telling him to see how still he holds when someone tries to stab his eyeball with a sharp object.
(7) Seeing the world wrinkle and then go gray. You’re conscious. You see yourself become temporarily blinded. It’s a bit scary.
(8) The pain afterwards. The pain is short-lived, but it’s there. I got my procedure done in the morning, and I was in some good pain for the rest of the day, even though they gave me meds to manage it. Also had nightmares from the Valium.
(9) The sensitivity to light. Short-lived, but for the first few days after surgery, light that normally wouldn’t even register as uncomfortable was blinding.
(10) The dry eyes. This one lasts for a good six weeks or so, but the first few weeks are painful. You need to have eye drops with you everywhere. I forgot to bring them to work one time, and went back home to get them because I couldn’t make it through the day without my eye drops.
(11) The gunk in your eyes. You have a lot of discharge for the first week, but you’re not supposed to rub your eyes or get them wet, so it’s a bit awkward to remove the gunk that gets crusted onto your eyelashes and makes them all spikey. I used a washcloth rinsed in warm water and wrung out very thoroughly.
(12) Not working out. You’re not supposed to sweat until your eyes are healed, so if you’re a workout junkie like I am this is almost enough to make you reconsider the entire procedure.
(13) Not wearing makeup. Eye makeup is definitely out, but since you’re not supposed to wash your face or use lotions the first week, most makeup on the face is out, since it’d be hard to remove without getting water or soap near your eyes. I started a new job wearing nothing but lipstick, since that was the only thing I felt safe applying and removing.
(14) No moisturizer. I got the procedure in the winter, and I wasn’t supposed to moisturize around my face for the first few days after surgery, so my skin got uncomfortably dry.
(15) Sleeping with goggles on. I forget how long you had to do that for, maybe the first three nights or something? Certainly wasn’t comfortable.
(16) Even though it’s minor surgery, it still does feel like surgery, in the sense that you do need more sleep than usual while your body recovers, so you don’t want to plan too much for the next few days after the surgery.