Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A little bit of LASIK in my Life

It's now been two full months since I got new eyes. At the beginning of June I had Lasik surgery to correct nearsighted vision in both my eyes. If you dare to, you can read more about that whole (rather traumatizing) experience here. As I have never followed up from that original post, I thought it was time - for all those potential Lasik candidates out there - to give an update.

My recovery has just been a rough road, period. There is no question it was worse than I expected and than I was warned about, but there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel now. I hope for most people's sake that I am a minority. Continuing well past the instructed one month mark, I was very careful in general about touching or rubbing my eyes. My eyes felt sore and swollen if I touched my closed lids when I was washing my face or applying moisturizer. This sensation has slowly dissipated, but I have had to be much more careful than I ever thought I would need to be. I waited the full week before wearing any kind of makeup, and even after that was very very very careful during application and removal. I also found that any kind of eye makeup or even powder around my eyes just made them more irritated, so I have largely avoided it unless I was going some place special. 

The worst side effects of the surgery, however, have been dry eye and light sensitivity. Neither are something I ever had to deal with before, even in my contacts. There have been nights I just went to bed before I was sleepy, because the dryness made my eyes feel so strained and tired, and I was sick of trying to keep them open. I've been back two extra times to see my surgeon, in addition to all my regular appointments, for these reasons. The first visit the surgeon prescribed an allergy drop, even though she only saw mild irritation (these cost me $100+). She also told me to continue using my rewetting drops on a daily basis. At that point I was needing drops every hour or two while I was awake. It was especially bad any time I was around ceiling fans or in front of an a/c vent, spending long hours on my computer, and when I would wake up in the morning. The first few weeks of July I spent in deep depression that I had made a huge mistake and would never live a normal life again.

I ended up going back a few weeks later because I realized that not only was I experiencing severe dry eye, but my sensitivity to light was worsening and becoming a potentially dangerous situation. I made the decision to see my doctor after a driving trip on the highway where I was suddenly so blinded even with my sunglasses and tinted windows, for no apparent reason, that my eyes welled up with tears. I was diagnosed with TLS (Transient Light Sensitivity) which is apparently a very common side effect of all-laser (rather than blade) surgeries, and even more common in women. They don't know what causes it, but it usually appears 2-3 weeks after surgery and is treatable with a round of steroid drops. So I did 11 days of steroids and that's where this story takes a turn. For the better.

Since I finished the steroid drops, both my dry eye and light sensitivity has hugely improved. For the past two weeks I have started feeling optimistic about the future enjoyment of my new eyes. It has been a very positive thing for me to see some solid improvement. I'm still using wetting drops mornings/evenings as a preventive and to continue to help the healing, and occasionally when I feel a little scratchy or dry, but right now it's way better than it was before.

I'd like to take just a second to mention that I am really disappointed with my surgeon. I very much despise her "bedside manner," if you can call it that. I find her rude, relatively unhelpful, impatient, and arrogant. She doesn't open the floor for discussion, always seems annoyed when I question her about anything, and has on several occasions actually rather harshly interrupted me, basically telling me to get to the point. I never met her until 10 minutes before she performed my surgery, and the office has been mostly inflexible in allowing me to see someone else for my multiple visits, insisting I need consistency in my treatment. I would highly recommend selecting an office where you meet your surgeon ahead of time, and feel comfortable with all of the doctors who will be participating in your care. The actual surgery itself and my disappointment with the surgeon aside, the Mann Eye Institute has provided prompt and efficient care.

I think this update would only appropriately end with me reiterating that I think expectation has a lot to do with the all-around success of this elective surgery. Most surgeries, however minor, have recovery periods. Don't expect to be full steam in a matter of days. Your eyes will continue to heal for many months, and your vision might continue to improve or regress as well, as the swelling dissipates. If you already have dry eye or allergies, you will probably have increased side effects following the surgery and should take that into consideration and address it with your surgeon. What makes it scary is how simple everyone makes everything sound, and how complicated or painful the road to recovery can actually end up being. If this had been a broken arm or a torn ACL, I would certainly have expected pain and discomfort as my body was healing. Lasik was described as nothing short of easy breezy, and for me there were many obstacles.  

But, I am finally starting to feel comfortable in my own eyes again.

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