What It’s REALLY Like to Get LASIK on Your Peepers
LASIK is a bit contagious. Suddenly one person pops into your workplace, and they look a bit different. Did an alien abduct their eyes and replace them with fake eyes? Oh wait, no. They no longer have glasses and are not wearing makeup, because they got LASIK. They look joyful (albeit watery-eyed), seeing the world once again with the bushy-tailed eyes of child who hasn’t spent 23 years starting at screens. They inevitably have a story about what they did afterward. “I watched a world-champion puzzle-building match, live!” “I sat in the front row at Justin Bieber and got glitter all over my face and it was fine.”
“Wow,” you think. “I could do anything after I get LASIK.”
This is how I caught the LASIK bug. I was getting sick of waking up to a blurry world, fudging with contacts before even petting my dog, then getting eyeliner stuck under my contacts. Plus, what if the apocalypse came and all the -3.5 prescription contacts in the world disappeared? I would have to survive this new hellscape in, gasp, glasses! Unacceptable.
With this in mind, I did the ‘SIK. Here’s what it’s like, in case you’re curious.
With a newspaper coupon in my hand, I went to Joffe MediCenter off 394 for a free consultation. The building was a lot cooler than I expected a LASIK joint to be, which they said was because it used to be an architecture firm. They proceeded to put me through a series of tests, all of which I passed with flying colors. “You were born with thick corneas, and you’ll die with thick corneas,” the doctor told me. That was a sentence I never expected to hear, let alone be flattered by. But he said this with envy, so I made sure to get a big ego about it.
They dilated my eyes, took pictures of them with Twilight Zone-looking machines, and told me I was cleared for the procedure. A finance lady told me the newspaper coupon didn’t apply to anyone with a prescription above -1 or so, but I did get a solid interest rate and a couple hundred bucks knocked off. I scheduled my appointment for the next Friday. Better to get it over and done than fret too much about it.
Since my mom was kind enough to drive me, I took her out for lunch beforehand. She told the waiter I couldn’t have a drink because I was “having surgery.” “It’s just LASIK,” I corrected. I made sure to ask my doctor if LASIK actually qualified as surgery, and he said it technically is. My mom was right! I should have accepted more shock and pity from that waiter.
I wasn’t nervous when I showed up. I’ve gotten a root canal, and there was no way this could be more uncomfortable than that. Plus everything I had heard indicated that LASIK was not scary or painful at all.
My doctor offered me a Valium to help me take the requisite 4-hour nap after the procedure. I didn’t really feel the Valium at all, other than getting tired, so I’m guessing it was a low dose.
I always compliment eye doctors on their ability to make me feel like I’m passing a series of tests brilliantly the whole time I’m there. Whereas the dentist says things like, “Ah, calcification on C9, looks like the gums are inflamed. Are we not flossing regularly?” the eye doctor script is more like, “Great, even better, wow! Perfect! What thick corneas you’ll die with, you lucky son of a gun,” etc. etc. My LASIK doctor did not disappoint. This was her basic monologue during the procedure:
[Putting a suction-y thingy over my eye that turns everything black]: AMAZING! Putting in some drops! You’re doing great!
[Overseeing the insane laser technology that cuts open your corneas]: Cutting the flap now. WOW! What a beautiful, gorgeous flap!
[Turning on a series of lights that will laser my eyes into perfection]: Look into the lights, YES! Perfect. You are doing amazing!
[Bringing back the fun phaser that messes with your cornea]: Closing the flap now … PERRRRRRFEEEECT! Putting in some drops … gorgeous, you’re done!
Basically I would describe LASIK as watching an Animal Collective music video inside your eye while a kind doctor issues you a series of ecstatic compliments.
The procedure was done in about 3 minutes, and I was urged to sit up and hug the doctor. I could see across the room, miraculously, although things were a bit watery. I was hit with adrenaline. I’d done it. I was a champion, she’d said so. That was nothing! I rule at conquering pain and fear! And now I also ruled at seeing.
We took our before and after picture, she gave me some sunglasses and I strutted out to my mom. “That was nothing! All done!”
After the Procedure
This might be when the Valium kicked in. On the ride home, my adrenaline faded into sleepy, eye-watering crabbiness. I gave my mom directions to my house and urged her not to come in and watch me. I was not in a socializing mood. I was in a “lying on my bed skipping forward in time via a drugged nap” mood.
My dog greeted me with her usual panic of enthusiasm, but noticed I looked like more of a crying wreck than I had after watching, The Fault in Our Stars. By some miracle, she left me alone.
I managed to sleep for about 1.5 hours, and then listened to a podcast with my eyes closed, tears continuing to stream, for another 1.5. Could I come out now? Carefully, I put in my first series of eyedrops, which I was now to do every 15 minutes for the first 48 hours. I felt 90% better — the stinging, burning and tearing up seemed finished. I turned on a movie across the room, and watched it all, with subtitles. My vision was near-perfect far away, although my phone still looked like a blurry, glowing orb.
The next day, a friend told me I looked different. Did LASIK change my eyes somehow? Nope, he was just seeing me without eyeliner for the first time ever. This conversation happened a few more times in the next few days. Not being able to wear makeup sucks, I’ll admit it.
Recovery Over the Next Week
They say recovering from LASIK can take up to six months. Until then, your vision will only get better and better. The next morning, I was able to drive, and it just so happened to be a beautiful day that I could see. It was a pretty fantastic feeling.
The first week still involved some annoying recovery precautions (it is a surgery, after all), including not swimming, not wearing makeup and doing an elaborate daily series of eyedrops. But after the first week, I could basically go back to normal.
Should You Do It?
It’s now been three weeks, and I can see almost perfectly close-up and far away. I can also now do fun things like rub my eyes really hard, which I didn’t even do before LASIK because it would have ruined my contacts. The price of LASIK will continue to hurt my wallet for the next year, but I think it was well worth it.
I would classify LASIK as one of those procedures that sucks for about four hours and then makes your life dramatically better. Plus, you get to nap through the sucky part. The procedure itself is no less pleasant than getting a cavity filled, and your eye doctor is probably going to compliment you more than your dentist would. In other words, do it!