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My LASIK Experience

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Omg! This was my LAST DAY with glasses on January 3rd. Definitely kicked off 2018 with a bang! I can’t believe it has been 2 months since my surgery!

If you follow me on Instagram (and watch my Stories), you’ll know that I made the decision back in October to get LASIK. I scheduled it for the first week in January because of FSA reasons (saved me over $800!).

I’ve gotten a ton of questions so I’m going to walk you through my experience and hopefully this will encourage some of you who have been have on the fence about LASIK to just hop it and DO IT.

It is life-changing and seriously mind-blowing.

If you’re squeamish, I do share photos of the procedure (my doctor has a window open in the operating room so your spouse/friend can watch from the waiting area) so if you don’t want to see them, you might want to cover your screens and just read the text :)

I’m also proactively updating this as the weeks/months goes on because you have appointments at different times (1 day, 1 week, 3 months, 6 months) so I’ll keep updating for awhile.

Why LASIK now?

I’ve always wanted to get LASIK. For years. I never thought I’d actually qualify for it because of my rheumatoid arthritis. In almost 100% of LASIK publications online, they say you cannot qualify for LASIK if you have an auto-immune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. I think it’s a blanket statement because of auto-immune diseases can make healing a little more complex.

For the past couple years, when I went to my eye doctor for my annual exam, he had been bringing up how he’s starting to see blood vessels coming up to the surface of my eye. He said it’s because of my prolonged contact use and my eye is trying to get oxygen so those blood vessels appear at the surface to try and get more oxygen.

I also have had a stable prescription for over five years (and knew that was a pre-requisite for LASIK) but again, never thought I could ever get it done because of my RA.

In May, my eye doctor asked me if I had ever considered LASIK. I told him, “of course! But I don’t think it’s possible because of my auto-immune.” and he said, “well, you never know. Technology has changed a lot and it can’t hurt to get a consultation to see whether or not you qualify. It’s free and you’ve got nothing to lose.”

He was right. I had nothing to lose.

How did you choose your LASIK center?

Long story short, I went for two separate consultations. The first place I went, everything checked out and I was qualified — even with my auto-immune. I scheduled a second consultation elsewhere because I wanted to make doubley sure that the first place wasn’t just telling me I was qualified to get my money. The second consultation qualified me too!

I ended up going with the first place because I actually met the surgeon. The doctor was the surgeon. She was the one who did my eye checks, measurements, was in the room with me from beginning to end. I was able to ask her (the one OPERATING ON YOU) whatever questions and she really put me at ease.

The second place I went was a big box LASIK place. It was a sea of technicians. You never get to meet the surgeon — until surgery day. Like he/she doesn’t even see your eye UNTIL surgery day. It was one of those places that just churn people in and out and they have ‘set’ surgery days where the surgeon is only in on those days. It wasn’t personal at all and I just didn’t have a good feeling.

These are your eyes. I didn’t want any hesitations.

Prepping for the procedure

So prep is easy. If you wear contacts, they just ask you to not wear contacts for a week (because contacts can change the shape of your cornea) and you just can’t wear makeup on the day of. You can eat whatever you want and take whatever medication you need to take (besides valium or xanax).

They call in your prescription eye drops a week beforehand to your local pharmacy and you just go pick those up and while you’re there, you pick up some preservative-free artificial tears. They’ll also prescribe you valium if you request it. I did lol

What happens during the procedure??

I think this is what most people are curious about — as I was!

The most nerve-wracking thing for me was not knowing what to expect so hopefully this will help ease your nerves although even though I had talked to many friends about LASIK, there is still nothing like experiencing it yourself.

So when you get to the office on procedure day, they do re-checks on your eyes. Just to make sure nothing has changed and if something has changed then it’s totally fine. It’s exactly what they need to know so they can program the laser correctly.

After they did the checks, I went out into the waiting area and five minutes later, they opened a door and one of the technicians in scrubs called me in. The doctor/surgeon was all dressed in scrubs, too, and the room they take you in is where they put your hair in a hair cover and your shoes in booties. In that room they also give you your valium and clean the outside of your eyes with iodine/sanitizing solution.

I should note the valium thing — all doctor offices are different in how they do this. Some places I heard they let you take it in front of them and let you sit in a room for an hour and let it take effect. With my place, she doesn’t like people super loopy because then you can’t focus and listen to direction so I took it literally right before surgery (which didn’t help me at all and there were no effects haha).

Once you’re scrubbed up, numbed, and cleaned they walk you back to the surgery room and you go into this chair that is exactly like a chair that you sit in at the dentist office. You lay down and they position you over a machine.

They did my right eye first. They put more numbing drops in my right eye then she tells you to look up and you’ll see a red and green light that you’ll be staring at. They also give you stress balls to squeeze and I squeezed those so hard and often hahaha

They then put these eye things on your upper and lower lids to basically keep down your eye lashes. Then they put this plastic thing on your eye that holds your eye open. It’s a little uncomfortable but your eyes are numb so you barely feel it. Then they do a couple drops of something (haha I don’t remember — I was far too anxious) and then they say we’re going to begin.

I did an all-laser LASIK which means the flap would be cut with a laser. This was honestly the most uncomfortable and scary part. They put this machine on your eye and it literally felt like someone was trying to push my eye out of the back of my head, LOL — it was A LOT of pressure but NEVER any pain. They count down from 10 and then at the end of 10 seconds, the machine is pulled away.

What’s funny is, during this flap cutting process, you’re supposed to be staring at the red and green light. Well, what I didn’t realize was that during it, your vision will go black and you won’t be able to see that light so I had no idea where to look. So I freaked and was like “I CAN’T SEE THE RED LIGHT ANYMORE!!” and she said “it’s fine, it’s fine!” LOL

Okay so once they’re done cutting your flap, she uses something to mark your eye to make sure the place the flap back on perfectly. Then they flip open the flap and another machine is placed over you and you continue to stare at the red and green light as hard as you can. You can hear the laser machine charging and it’s kind of freaky because it’s kind of like an airplane getting ready for take-off. Then they say they’re going to start and you’re still staring at the red and green light but you also here this popping sound (the laser) and then I started smelling something that smelled like burning hair. If that bothers you, I’d go in there with this knowledge and just breathe with your mouth.

As they are lasering your eye, they count down so you have an idea of how much longer to stare at the red and green light. Both eyes took 20 seconds each. It depends how strong your prescription is so it’ll vary for everyone.

They then put the flap back on and use a tiny squeegee type thing to push out the air bubbles then they put in some eye drops in your eye and remove the eyelid holder thing and they move on to the next one!

What happens after the procedure??

They send you home with protective goggles to sleep in for the next two weeks (so you don’t accidentally rub or do something to your eyes), your eye drops, and instructions for everything.

You’re instructed to take a 2-4 hour nap to help your eyes heal. This is definitely something you don’t want to skip because you want to keep your eyes closed. As soon as we were driving home, my eyes started to burn. Not like a painful burn but it felt like I squeezed sunscreen in both my eyes and my eyes would not stop tearing.

It lasted for about an hour when I was laying in bed with my eyes closed but then I fell asleep and three hours later I woke up to clearer vision. Holy crap — it was mind blowing. It was a little bit hazy still but I could see A LOT better than previously without contacts or glasses.

You’re instructed to wear sunglasses inside and outside of the house for the next 24 hours due to light sensitivity and you have to use prescription eye drops three times a day and every hour you are awake, you must use the artificial tears even if you feel like you don’t need them.

The rest of the night I was able to use my phone and watch tv. I did limit it because I didn’t want to push it. I had zero pain or discomfort the whole night after I woke up from my nap.

The day after LASIK

I woke up to crystal clear vision. Like I had slept in my contacts or had glasses on. I woke up at 4:30am and could see across the room at the digital clock and clearly read the time. I didn’t have to stumble into the bathroom and when I came downstairs, everything was clear.

Some people experience dry eyes when they wake up but I didn’t experience that and I actually haven’t experienced any dry eyes or felt as if there was something in my eye. They said that you would feel it for 24-48 hours. It’s really strange I have felt nothing of what others talked about and what they say you should expect. But hey — I’m glad! I do have burst blood vessels in my left eye so it just looks like a pool of blood on the whites of my eye but they eventually go away so it’s totally cosmetic and doesn’t affect your healing.

You can drive the day after LASIK but I didn’t try. I don’t know what I’ll experience when I drive but I heard night vision might be different for a while (it’ll eventually get better) and you might see halos around traffic lights and headlights.

You have a follow-up the day after LASIK where they test your eyes and see how you’re healing. I was 20/15!!! I basically went from being not be able to see to better than perfect vision. I don’t think I even had 20/15 with contacts in. So crazy!!! My doctor also said that the swelling on my cornea is a lot less than most her patients and called me a “good healer.” I don’t know if this helps but I drank a ton of OJ a few days before the procedure. She also said my flap was closed, in the sense that the area where it was cut, the circle was closed but you can still move it if you’re not careful. Still no rubbing of the eyes until completely healed!

On the day after LASIK, I was still having a hard time wrapping my head around the vision clarity. I could do everything (get on my phone, watch tv, look at the clock across the room, play with Winston, go outside, etc.) as if I had contacts on but I didn’t. I caught myself throughout the day just in awe of this procedure and in awe that I could actually SEE without visual aides!!

1 week after LASIK

It’s still crazy to me to think I got eye surgery. It also hasn’t felt like a week. I’ve stopped using the prescription drops (you stop after five days) and that has been nice. Doing them three times a day was a little much :)

I can start wearing makeup now but I’m still afraid to because I don’t want to somehow shift the flap when removing eye makeup. I’m pretty sure it’s a rare chance of doing so because it’s healed now but I still get nervous!

I have driven at night and it’s different. I won’t say it’s bad or anything because it’s not. I don’t have halo effect but really bright headlights and traffic lights are starbursts to me. It’s like a 2-3 inch diameter of blur around the starburst. I don’t have those diagonal lines that people have reported though. For the most part, it does not inhibit my ability to drive at night or in the dark.

I have gotten used to the fact I have perfect vision so I don’t reach towards my eye to “take out my contacts” before bed now.

Another thing worth noting — showering! I used to not really be able to see in the shower because when I wore contacts in the shower, it dried out my eyes so much that when I went to take out my contacts, it was as if I was peeling my contacts off my eye.

1 month after LASIK

Everything is checking out perfectly! The doctor said my flap is barely there now and I’m healing perfectly. I’m still at 20/15 and I still have to use the hydrating eye drops every 1-2 hours but other than that, everything is great!

It was freaking awesome to be on an airplane and not have to have visual aides. If I fell asleep and woke up, I could SEE. It was amazing. I also didn’t have to bring anything for my contacts on our trip to Amsterdam. In fact, when I opened up my makeup pouch, I found some contacts in there and I happily tossed them in the trash!

I still see starbursts with headlights at night but it’s diminishing — as they said they would as you heal.

My next follow-up isn’t until April but I think I’m healing just fine and I’m 100% used to not having to use visual aids for perfect vision anymore. Sometimes it crosses my mind that I’m not wearing contacts but it’s totally something I have stopped thinking about majority of the time and I’m completely embracing this freedom!

Let me know if you have questions or anything below. Happy to answer or give more insight, where possible!

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Posted on March 02, 2018

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  1. Brenda
    03/02/2018 at 10:53 am

    I am so glad you are sharing this experience!! I also have RA and have been told that Lasik would never be an option for me. Now maybe there is hope for me as well!!!!! Thank you so much!!!!!

    • Julie
      03/03/2018 at 5:45 pm

      Ahhh best of luck!!!

  2. JEN
    03/02/2018 at 2:00 pm

    I had LASIK almost 6 years ago (in Egypt!) and I don’t regret it for one moment! I still have perfect vision. My recovery was a bit different though- I had cloudy vision for 2-3 days after. I thought I’d ruined my eyes doing it overseas (where I live) but on day 4 everything cleared up (and I was so relieved!!).

    • Julie
      03/03/2018 at 5:46 pm

      That would have freaked me out! So glad to hear that it cleared up and it worked out!!

    • Lauren
      03/19/2018 at 9:33 am

      Oh good! I am living in Egypt and thinking about having it done. Glad to hear it went well for you!

  3. Olivia
    03/06/2018 at 8:47 am

    Thank you so much for uploading this! I have Lasik in a few days time (eek!) and I’m excited but also nervous, great to read your experience story and how things have gone over time. Can’t wait for it to be over & done with! :D

    • Julie
      03/06/2018 at 7:01 pm

      Omg, GOOD LUCK!! It’s going to be the best decision, ever. You will LOVE it!!! Please keep me posted if you don’t mind?!

  4. Julie
    03/06/2018 at 10:36 am

    This is great! I’ve thought about LASIK off and on for years. Thank you for laying out everything step by step. I may have to put it on the wish list for next year (FSA and all that).

    • Julie
      03/06/2018 at 6:59 pm

      Yes, definitely!! It’s SOOO worth it!

  5. Jen
    03/12/2018 at 3:31 pm

    One of my eye doctors over the years told me that I wasn’t a good candidate because of my age (and if he was just out to get my money he would have done it). I had no reason not to trust him, but now I’m reconsidering because I am SO tired of contacts (going on 25 years). Did your doc discuss anything along those lines with you? That was almost 10 years ago for me now so I’m obviously even older now. Thanks!

    • Julie
      03/13/2018 at 8:27 am

      That’s so strange! I have never heard that. I would get a second opinion because, while I know this is a different kind of surgery, cataract surgery is done the same way and they don’t tell older folks to not do it…so yeah, definitely get a 2nd opinion if you can!

  6. Emily
    03/29/2018 at 2:51 pm

    Would you recommend where you went, and if so, share where it was? We live near DC (NoVa), and want Lasik but are so nervous about trusting our eyes to someone!! Thanks for sharing your experience!!!

    • Julie
      03/29/2018 at 3:00 pm

      100000% would recommend!! I went to Liberty Laser Eye Center. Dr. Tanchel is amazing!

  7. Emily
    04/02/2018 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks so much for the recommendation!

  8. akash
    05/16/2018 at 6:04 am

    Thank you for sharing the details about lasik laser surgery.

  9. Joyce
    06/17/2018 at 11:32 pm

    Just got LASIK done a few days ago and wanted to let you know how comforting it was to read about your experience beforehand. Thanks for the recovery updates as well–they’re so reassuring!

    • Julie
      06/18/2018 at 6:16 pm

      I hope you’re having a great recovery! Isn’t LASIK amazing? It’s so life-changing!

  10. Shanti
    07/24/2018 at 8:36 am

    Congrats for your 20/15 vision. Your post lasik experience was mostly similar to mine. No dry eyes, no halos at night, small starbursts but they didnt bother me. And yes I felt like there were contacts in my eyes for several days. The difference is my power was stronger than yours (OS -6.00 CYL 1.75 OD -6.50 CYL 1.25) and i was told by the RO that i will not gain 20/20 on my right eye even it had 750 microns thickness :( He didnt give any explanation about that.
    The day after the surgery I was told that I could see 20/20 with both eyes but could not when I patch one eye.
    It has been 2 weeks since my surgery and i feel my eyes more comfortable day by day and im still hoping to get 20/15 as im healing LOL. Best gift ever!!

    • Julie
      07/26/2018 at 8:00 am

      It really is the best gift and it’s life-changing! I love not having to wear glasses or contacts anymore and can wake up and just see!

  11. Taylor
    07/26/2018 at 3:54 pm

    Do you have an update on starbursts now that’s it’s been 6 months?

    I’m having lasik in a few days and I’m trying to prepare myself for all the side effects and would love to know how your night vision is now!

    Thank you!

    • Julie
      07/27/2018 at 10:36 am

      Hi! Sorry, I should update this post :) I don’t have starbursts anymore! And I never had night vision issues so I can’t comment on that but I can still see just like I used to see at night so I guess nothing has changed in that sense? It’s seriously life-changing to have gotten LASIK and I don’t regret it one bit. I love being able to SEE whenever I wake up and just not having to carry around anything on trips for contacts/glasses, etc. Good luck with your surgery!! You’ll love the results.

  12. Amanda
    08/11/2018 at 6:05 pm

    Hey I have RA as well and am getting LASIK in a few days. They gave me an option of using a Wavelight machine and Customvue… do you know which you did? I believe both use wave light, but the machine they call Wavelight — its a little older, they put the prescription into the machine and the machine goes off that. The Custom Vue machine will adjust to your vision in real time based on how your eye reacts to light it sends to your retina (a little newer technology, but they told me the results would be the same).. The CustomVue has a lifetime warranty for revisions, the Wavelight only has a 2 year warranty for revisions.. and is cheaper. They recommended this one to me because they said it was unlikely I would be able to get revisions in the future because of the RA… What are your thoughts?

    • Julie
      08/13/2018 at 8:39 am

      I don’t know which I did. I have a lifetime warranty with my place though for revisions and whatnot so I’m assuming it might be CustomVue based on what you said about it.

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