T Nation

Laser Eye Surgery


I've worn contact lenses for almost 20 years. So, not too long ago, on a day when they were particularly irritating, I decided to get rid of them. Just imagine a piece of dry gummy plastic sliding up into your tearing blinking eyeball and you'll get the idea. It wasn't the first time, but this time it was the straw that broke the camels back. Say hello to laser surgery.

The procedure I opted for was Wavefront PRK. The wavefront concept is simply some measurement which checks the path of light as it goes through your eye combined with a contour map of the surface. Armed with this, they fire up the laser and do some sculpting. Use the force Luke!

Anyway, this involves having your eyelids held open, having the surface layer of epithelial cells on your eye removed, then having to look at a little light while a laser carves away at your cornea. Your eye is frozen while this is going on, so it isn't really that bad, but it is quite annoying for several days while your eye is healing.

The alternative precedure, which I was not interested in, involves slicing a flap on your eye, lifting it, then performing laser surgery. Although healing may be a bit quicker and less irritating, I didn't like the thought that there is a slight but permanent chance of blindness if for some reason you suffer physical injury and that flap is torn off. Anyhow, given how I like to express my point of view, there is still the chance I'll get punched in the face one of these days, so, no chance of going this route.

The post-op process is interesting. You end up in the waiting room with other miserable victims, all wearing "happy glasses". These are the dorky looking shades which completely cover your eyes. You aren't allowed to shower for several days and you are given drugs to help you get through the pain. Those who've had bad contact lens days probably won't find these three days all that bad.

You wouldn't believe how intense normal things are after this. Just try looking at a computer screen! It's so bright, your eyes water, you can't see clearly, it's just plain painful. You have to get a whole boatload of drops into your eyes, but it's tough prying them open to do it. It seems the eyes have developed a sense of distrust for some reason, go figure.

On the third day you get your bandage lenses out. These are contacts worn on the eyes to cover them while the epithelial layer grows back. They give you a quick vision test, and tell you that you can now resume normal activities, which thankfully includes showers.

Everyone is different, so healing speeds and visual improvements move along at different speeds. I'm still worrying about my eyes. Though I can now see much better with uncorrected vision than I could before, I'm certainly nowhere near able to see as well as I could before when I wore lenses. So, I put in my drops, look for changes, and hope I keep seeing improvements. Not so fun.


Interesting Vroom. I very much hope you have a significant vision improvement over time. Now go take a damn shower!


My eyes are bad. I mean I wear what some people would call coke bottles. Well, I do wear special thin lenses. I can't put contacts due to bad reflex with my eyelids. I tend to blink too much. I thought about laser but read that I need to hold my eye open for at least 60 sec. Shit, don't want to fuck up the procedure by blinking. I guess I'm fucked.


you shouldn?t be able to fuck it up by blinking, your eyelids are fixated during the procedure.



Don't worry. I had mine done last year, and went through the same thing. It takes about 3 weeks to get your vision fully back with no hazing or blurriness. Nobody told me that, and I was flipping out until things started improving. It is frustrating, but have patience. It was the best decision I made. Definitely worth it.


Interesting. Ive never actually heard from a person who has had this procedure. Im thinking about having it done myself in a few years. Let us know who it goes.


My wife used to have 20/200 vision in each eye. She had the "Lasic" version done and loves it. She has no night halos and once the dry eye sensation was gone she loves it.

She was suprised at how clear and brite everything was post surgery as well.


Absolutely! One of the best things I've ever done for myself. Best part -- my insurance had a window (due to a lawsuit) where you could get it for $99! That's right, 99 dollars! Loved it!


Doesn't sound like much fun vroom. I wish you the best in terms of recovery. And kudos for having the guts to give that a go!



I had PRK done in January '04 and have had great results. Given the option, I would've gotten Lasik.. but PRK was free. Ended up with 20/15 in one eye and 20/20 in the other.

I still have yet to experience anything else quite like having my eye shaved down with something that looks like an Oral-B toothbrush. Scary shit.

Good luck on the recovery.




You'll notice a greater improvement after 8-10 weeks. I had the custom cornea no-blade Wavefront procedure last summer to correct my 20/400 nearsightedness. A year later, my sight is 20/20 dead-on in both eyes. Apparently, the eyes are one of the slowest organs to heal in the human body.

Hang in there....the long-term results will make you a believer.



Keep us updated on your recovery.


I had the eye surgery done about 2 years ago where they cut a flap, however, with the new technology it was all done with laser and no knives. There is much less chance of error.

It was the best money I ever spent. I went from barely being able to see a foot in front of my face to having 20/10 vision. Don't worry, it takes a few weeks for your eyes to heal to be able to see better.

And to the blinking comment, they put this plastic eye shaped thing with a hole in it over your eye and tape it in place so that your eye doesn't move. They also put a drug in your eye to keep you from looking around. There is no way that you can mess it up!


Congrats Vroom! Did anyone who has had this procedure done have astigmatism?


Ractep, I had astigmatism. They reshape the surface anyway, so except for extreme cases I don't think it is an issue.

Thanks for the words of encouragement guys. I am seeing some slow improvements, so I guess I'll just have to hang in there and be patient.

As it is now, I still look for my glasses upon waking...


cool. Thanks for the info.


Me and my wife got ours done together by Mcgruder (same guy who did Horace Grant and some of the magic players) out here in Orlando, FL...he is known as the best (around here). Its been 4 months, and I have 20/15 vision. It cost about $3200 (including both eyes), but its the best damn investment Ive ever made. I wore contacts for almost 15 years and hated them (dont do glasses at all).

My only advice, is dont bargain shop when it comes to your eyes..pay the extra amount to get it done right, by a well known doctor. Oh and yes it takes time for your eyes to get to 100%...some take longer than others..mine took about 5-6 weeks or so, but now-Perfect!


Thanks Vroom, I thought if you had astigmatism you were out of luck.


This is interesting. My wife went the "flap" procedure and she saw clearly the next day. Other than having dry eyes for a few weeks, healing time seemed nonexistent. The healing time may be something to consider for those looking at eye surgery options.

I agree with the warning not to go bargain shopping for eye surgery. I think I read somewhere that the lasers these bargain places use are retrofitted industrial lasers. If the place nicknames their laser "Old Sparky," I'd say choose another eye surgeon.


I actually had LASIK done in 2001(I think). Things were great, for about a year. Then I noticed my eyes were getting blurry, thought it was my allergies. Nope.

My eyes continued to quickly get worse and not long after I had to start wearing glasses again. These days my vision is just as bad as it was pre-surgery, but in some ways my eyes are worse off.

Ever since the surgery my eyes have been much more sensative. I can't wear contacts now because they just irritate my eyes so damn much. My night vision isn't great and my eyes are always looking bloodshot.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be a poindexter forever.