Lasik Surgery

lasik Hello! My name is Scott Fisher and this is my experience with Lasik Eye Surgery !

For 38 years I have lived with either glasses or contact lenses. I had always kept up with the latest medical procedures in hope that one day something could be done to improve my nearsightedness. That something was lasik eye surgery.

In researching Lasik on the web, I found the diaries of others who have undergone the procedure very helpful. I have decided to post my own experience in the hopes it might help others make their own decision if lasik is right for them.

My Prescription before lasik:

Left Eye: -5.25 diopters -1 x 174 astigmatism Right Eye: -5.00 diopters -0.75 x 175 astigmatism

I live outside of Boston and narrowed my search down to two, highly experienced, and published eye surgeons in Boston, Dr. Dimitri Azar, of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) and Dr. Roger Steinert, of Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston (OCB) . I made an appointment for an evaluation with each.

    My Eye Exams

My first evaluation was with OCB on Wednesday, November 21, 2001. I was very impressed with the facilities and was examined by an optometrist, Dr. Paul Cangiano. The exam was painless and quite thorough. Dr. C. told me that I wouldn’t have been a candidate a few years ago because of my relatively large pupils (7.5) but that their lasers ( Visix S3 and Ladarvision 4000) could treat a wider zone. He also said that my cornea was relatively steep and that he wanted to confer with Dr. Steinert before giving me an answer as to whether I would be a good candidate for lasik(the office called several days later and informed me I was). There is one thing that is not mentioned on a lot of websites about the lasik eye exams. They all mention that you will be light sensitive after they give you dilating drops, but they don’t mention you will lose your close up vision for a few hours also. My advice is to bring your sunglasses and borrow a pair of reading glasses from someone if you must see up close before the eye drops wear off!

My second evaluation was on Friday, November, 23, 2001 at MEEI. My first impression was that I liked OCB better. MEEI is a world renowned hospital . . . and it looks and feels like a hospital when you are inside ! OCB on the other hand, feels like you are in a nice dentist’s office. I don’t remember the two optometrist’s names that first evaluated me, but I do know that my pupil size was not evaluated, or at least a pupilometer was not used. I next met with Dr. Azar. What a nice man ! I immediately liked him, and he examined my eyes and told me that I would be a good candidate! He did mention that the optometrist did not write down my pupil size ( I didn’t tell him that I thought she didn’t measure it) and that it could be a problem in some cases. He told me that if I decided to schedule the surgery, that he would measure them on that day. If you are wondering why he didn’t measure them then and there, my pupils had already been given the eye dilating drops and that would have given a false reading. I asked him about the lasers MEEI had and he told me the Visix S2 and Summit. My heart sank. While the most important aspect of choosing someone to perform your lasik is the experience of the surgeon, having the latest technology, especially if you have large pupils, is a plus! Dr. Azar then informed me that he was expecting a Visix S3 soon and a Ladarvision 4000 any day now. I told him that if I decided to have the surgery I would wait for the equipment upgrades and he told me that was fine. I thanked him and I left.

    My Surgeon Choice

Firstly, I want to say that I feel that either Dr. Steinert or Dr. Azar would be a great choice for your Lasik eye surgery. Both are well known and experts in their field of Ophthalmology, Corneal Research, and Laser Vision Correction. In fact they have even published a textbook together ! But I had to choose ! I chose Dr. Steinert at OCB, as if you hadn’t figured that out already!

My reasons:

1. I liked the dentist office feel of OCB rather than the hospital feel of MEEI

2. It bothered me that my pupil size was not measured at the time of my exam at MEEI. The evaluation at MEEI cost 100.00 (OCB’s is free) and I felt that for that price, I should have known at the time of my exam what my pupil size was, whether I scheduled the surgery or not.

3. I wanted the surgery soon and OCB had the latest equipment now. I thought that there also might be a slight learning curve for Dr. Azar when he received the upgraded equipment. I didn’t want to be one of the first to try out his new toy !

Oh Yeah! About the cost! It wasn’t entering into my decision but they were about the same. When I first contacted MEEI they quoted me 1800-2500 per eye, and that the evaluation fee would be deducted if you decided to have both eyes done. OCB’s price…2400 per eye.

    My Surgery

On Thursday, December 20, 2001 I began my Quixan antibiotic drops 4 times a day as indicated by Dr. Steinert. I also picked up some swimmer’s goggles to wear while showering for two weeks after the surgery.

I awoke on the 21st a little anxious about the impending surgery that day. I took 600 mg of Motrin that morning as I had read that it’s anti-inflammatory properties might help with my recovery. My friend arrived at 10:00 to pick me up for my 11:00 AM appointment at OCB. When we arrived I filled out the required consent forms and gave Kim, the lasik coordinator, my credit card for the $4800.00 charge. I commented to my friend how I thought that was the most I had ever put on a charge card! My friend and I then went to wait in the reception room until it was my turn. There were about two people who were ahead of me and we shared our anxieties while we watched lasik surgery being performed on a monitor in the waiting room. I asked my friend if she was going to watch my surgery on the monitor and she told me “no way” ! After about 40 minutes the nurse came out to go over my post op instructions and give me a Valium and some Aleve. She also had me go into the laser room and sit under the laser to photograph my eyes.

After a little while I was called in for my surgery. I first went into a little room where I was given dilating drops, anesthetic drops, and my eyelids smeared with betadine solution. Cotton and tape were put on the side of my face to stop any drops from flowing down the side of my face and into my ears. At this point Dr. Steinert came in to say Hello, mark my eyes to correct for the astigmatism, and tell me that we would be underway very soon.

The Valium had taken effect and I felt no anxiety as I was led into the laser room and told to lie down under the laser. Surgical tape was put over my eyelashes, and anesthetic drops were administered to my left eye. The eye speculum was then inserted into my left eye. I had thought that this might be a little painful, but it did not hurt at all!

Dr. Steinert was ready to begin and told me to look at the red light. I would like to tell you about this red light. Firstly, if you are as myopic as I am, it was a small blurry dot. Secondly, it was also hard for me to focus on, because on either side of the light, about and 3 inches away, are a strip of white lights. It looks like some sort of landing strip with a red dot in the center. The dilating drops made my eyes rather photo-sensitive and these white lights were a bit too bright for my taste. I guess they help the surgeon to see what he is doing, which I suppose is important !

The suction ring was applied and I felt my vision fade from view. It did not hurt at all, just a little pressure sensation. Because I was relaxed from the Valium, as my vision faded, I felt like I had when I had undergone general anesthesia. The microkeratome was over before I knew it, and my vision returned, albeit blurry, as my flap was folded back.

As I was reminded to look at the red light, the ablation process began. There was a slight smell of burning like you might smell under a dentist’s drill, but no pain at all. Because of my wide pupils and prescription I believe that the process took almost a whole minute. After about 30 seconds the light seemed to almost fade away and was very hard to focus on. I also had this weird temptation to try to look away and really had to focus my attention. I think I could also hear the computer of the laser calling out what percentage was completed. It was very Star Trek! The flap was repositioned while my eye was shot with a multitude of saline and then the other eye was begun! Everything seemed to go exactly as it had for the left eye. Dissolving punctual plugs were put into my bottom tear drains and I was sent to another room to rest for about 20 minutes.

Right after the surgery, they put plastic shields over my eyes, but I was quite happy. Even with the shields on I could tell that I was seeing much better than I had ever seen without glasses. I was also very happy to note that it was really quite painless! Dr. Steinert checked my flap and I was released to my friend to go home!

I was so happy to be able to walk to the car and not need glasses! It was a truly wonderful feeling, that is, until we drove out of the parking garage! I was extremely light sensitive and even with the big goofy sun glasses I found it almost impossible to open my eyes, and then the pain began. The anesthetic drops must have worn off or something, because both eyes began to ache terribly! It felt like someone was squeezing each eyeball between their fingers and that each eye was stinging as if being bathed in Hydrogen Peroxide contact lens solution. I could not open my eye without my eye completely tearing up, not to mention being blinded from the sunshine. To top it off, my friend was not familiar to Boston, got us going twice in the wrong direction, and we were even pulled over by the police for going a wrong way! It was at this time I thought to myself that I had made an awful mistake. I had intentionally blinded myself and put myself in agony. I couldn’t wait to get home and be miserable in my own bed. As soon as I arrived home I wet my eyes with Thera Tears, Quixin and Lotemax. I laid down for about an hour and a half. I did not sleep, but rested with my eyes closed. Slowly the pain subsided and after some more Thera Tears I got up. I was happy again as the pain was gone and I could see across the room! I knew that it wasn’t perfect, but it was a wonderful feeling. For the rest of the day, I wet my eyes with Thera Tears every 30 minutes as directed and took it rather easy. The hardest part was trying to get eyedrops through the holes in the plastic shields into my eye. I thought how I couldn’t wait till my appointment the next day when the shields would be removed. About 5 PM Dr. Cangiano called to ask how I was doing. I told him fine, but the pain I had experienced was much worse than I had expected. He told me that that happens sometimes. I have to do the Quixan and Lotemax 4 times a day for 5 days. Artificial tears every 2 hours for a month. I felt very well prepared for my surgery with the exception of the amount of pain I was to feel. Everything I had read said it was like a foreign body sensation, that was not the case for me. It was definitely a squeezing sensation, accompanied by a severe burning sensation. I wish I had known to possibly expect that !

    One Day Post-Op

Awoke this morning and my eyes felt pretty good! It was amazing to actually be able to see my alarm clock ! I really was anxious to get to my appointment and get the eye shields off! We arrived at 10:30 and I was seen by one of Dr. Steinert’s team, Dr. Kirstein. He removed the shields, checked my eyes, and said that things were looking good and that I was seeing about 20/30 in each eye ! He said that my vision would probably improve even more as my eyes heal. He said to keep up with the prescription eye drops for the next four days, and use the artificial tears every two hours. I was very happy to learn that I did not have to wear the eye shields to bed as I had read other doctor’s have you do. I even drove home part of the way. I can honestly say today that it has been one of the best things I have ever done, even at this early date !

    Second Day Post-Op

I awoke early and noticed that things seemed a bit sharper ! I went to the room where I have an eye chart and found that my right eye was sharper and crisper than my left. I am still at the 20/30 line in both eyes, but the left I guess I would say is still blurry. My left eye also hurts a teeny bit, so I have been giving it a little extra lubricating. I’m very consistent at bathing my eyes in Thera tears. I was told every 2 hours, but it is more like every hour. I really want these babies to heal well ! I also am taking about 200 mg of motrin to help with any inflammation. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I feel I have given myself, with the help of Dr. Steinert and Team, the greatest gift…the gift of sight!!

    Third Day Post-Op

Right eye today could make out some letters at 20/25, left is still about 20/30. I checked my vision throughout the day and it really does fluctuate. Sometimes everything is very blurry in both eyes, even the big E! I did a lot of night driving today and did notice a fair amount of starbursts that seemed to get worse after driving for an hour. I had noticed small starbursts with contacts and glasses before the surgery, but not as bad as this. My contrast sensitivity seems to be the same as before the operation and I don’t have any problem getting around in low light.

    Fourth Day Post-Op

Christmas 2001 ! This morning my right eye could make out some letters on the 20/20 line ! Cool! Left eye is still funky and not sharp at all levels, however I could make out letters at the 20/30 mark. Don’t know if the left is just healing slower or some aberration has been introduced by the laser, hope it’s the former. Since it was Christmas, today was the first day where I truly forgot that I had lasik four days ago! When my eyes were a little dry, I thought it was just my contacts acting up and I just put some drops in and forgot about my eyes. It was a great feeling. Today is also my last day for the Lotemax and the Quixin.

    Fifth Day Post-Op

My eyes seem to be at their best when I wake in the morning. Perhaps this is due to the refresh eye gel that I have been putting in every night before bed. My left eye still lags behind the right, although it might be a smidge better today. My vision does fluctuate tremendously, sometimes it is down right lousy. My night vision is definitely not as sharp as I would like. I went to a Bruins game tonight and it was wonderful to read the names on the players’ shirts! I find my vision is remarkably clear for a few seconds after I put in some eye drops. I bought an assortment of drops to try, and so far I am most happiest with Thera-Tears and Refresh. The Genteal seems to make everything blurry for a while. I was using the preservative free Thera-Tears for the first four days, but have now switched to the single bottle as it is more convenient. Tomorrow is my one week Check Up!!!

    Sixth Day Post-Op

Today was the day for my one week check up ! Here is how I tested out !

Left Eye: +0.75 diopters -0.50 x 56 astigmatism Right Eye: -0.50 diopters 0 astigmatism

Well now I know why the left eye is blurry. I am slightly over corected and still have astigmatism in the left eye. Of course it is way to early to know what my final results will be.

    One Week Post-OP

It is hard to believe that a week ago today I had the surgery! Several times a day I enjoy my sight without ever thinking about it! My left eye is still not as sharp as my right, but I think there were a lot less fluctuations today. I bought some Refresh Celluvisc and boy is that thick! I think I will only use it before bed and maybe once before I get up. So far I have spent about $60.00 on eyedrops alone to have on hand, not to mention the $80.00 I had to spend on the Lotemax for only 5 days, of which there is a lot left over. I think the Lasik literature should mention that the total cost of Lasik does not include eye drops. I probably won’t write more until I notice something major in my healing process.

    Two Week Post-Op

My eyes are a lot more stable and do not fluctuate as much throughout the day with no blurriness. Starbursts around lights are better and just a tad worse than I had with glasses and contacts. My left eye is still worse than my right, but probably better than it was last week. According to my eye chart I am reading about 20/30 in both eyes, 20/25 in the right, 20/40 in the left. Today was the first day I showered without wearing my swim goggles. It is wonderful to be able to see while I am showering. I am using eye drops about every two hours, but it is getting tough to remember to do so

    Three Week Post-Op

My eyes fluctuate even less than the week before. The right seams to be settling in around 20/30 to 20/25. The left about 20/40, with still a little blur which is probably the astigmatism. I really forget about my eyes most of the time and have to remember to put in eye drops. I will go 5 hours without thinking that I should put some in ! I still want to remove my contacts at night as I did for so many years. Old habits die hard! At this point I would say that I am already extremely happy with my results and believe that this was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It is too early to talk of enhancement, but I might consider it to remove the astigmatism, if it does not go away. I can live with it by all means, but it really stands out against the sharpness of the right eye. I probably shouldn’t mess with my great results, as I definitely could live like this !!

    Five Week Post-Op

I really forget to put in my eye drops because everything seems to be going so well ! I went for my 1 Month check-up today and asked about some glasses for night driving and/or the movies. I told him that I am an avid movie go-er and I want to have the best vision I could get when I am watching. Dr. Cangiano didn’t think that I needed them, but wrote a prescription for me. The Prescription said Left Eye: Plano -0.50 x 58 Right Eye: -.25 Spherical I didn’t look at the prescription until I left, but when I did I thought it was weird. My left eye was normal except for the astigmatism ? I decided to have my glasses made with my optometrist that I have had for years and see what he came up with. His name is Dr. Arthur M. Stuchins and he’s a wonderful man! He made me my glasses with the following prescription. Left Eye: +1.00 Diopter -075 x 75 astigmatism Right Eye: Plano. I realize that my eyes are still fluctuating, especially due to dryness ,so this probably accounts for the differences in measurement. I do think my optometrist’s measurements are more in line with what is going on, as the glasses really seem to help my left eye. I probably am over corrected in the left since I was at the last session with OCB. I really see quite well without glasses, but having been corrected for years to 20/20+ I miss the sharpness and will use glasses to perfect things when I need too. Of course I am still healing and my left eye may settle down. I still am ecstatic with my results !!!

    3 Months Post-OP

Wow ! My 3 month checkup already! I really forget that I ever had the surgery! I do notice that in really dry situations my vision has trouble focusing, but for the most part I now take my vision for granted. Here are this visit’s measurements; Left Eye: +0.75 -0.50 x 60 Right Eye: -0.25 Spherical. My next visit is in 6 months and if my overcorrction in the left eye doesn’t regress we may talk of enhancement. I may not do it however, because overall, I am extremely happy with my result.

    One Year Post-OP

Yes, I know, I skipped 6 months! I forgot all about it! My numbers : Left Eye: +1.25 -0.75 x 80 Right Eye: -0.25 Spherical. together I have 20/20! I don’t notice the over-correction in the left eye, and I have no bouts of trouble focusing anymore. I also do not lubricate at all !. I completely forget that I ever had the surgery, and my vision just isn’t an issue anymore. It was the best thing I ever did for myself and worth every penny!

    Almost Two Years Post-OP

I can’t believe it is almost two years! I never think about it at all, and feel like I have been this way all along. I would like to report that I have no vision problems whatsoever! I need to make an appointment with my regular eye doctor for a check up, but this is probably gonna be my last entry!

    Lasik Links

Ask Lasik Doctors This site has wonderful information and is manned by many prominent doctors.

Ophthalmic Consultants of Boston This is where I had my surgery done.

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary This is where I got my second opinion and I would recommend them also. Another helpful information site.

Surgical Eyes The place to go if you are looking for horror stories! This site has a very negative bias, but you should get all the information you can !

Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance More helpful information.

Click here to write me!

11 thoughts on “Lasik Surgery”

  1. I too had excruciating pain after the surgery. It felt like I was getting stabbed by 1,000 little pins all at the same time. I’m not sure if it’s related to the fact that I was over -8.00 in both eyes. Anyway, I’m on day 4 after the surgery, and minus the blurriness and foreign object sensation that is particularly annoying in the right eye, all is well. Thanks for the blog!

  2. It was the best thing that I ever did! My distance vision is unchanged at about 20/20, however now that I am middle-aged smaller print is becoming a bit of a challenge…especially in low light.

  3. DisneyBear,

    Thanks for letting us know! I too am “middle aged” or approaching it at 37, and LASIK worked great for me until recently when I found out about my astigmatism in both eyes. Other than up close reading and working on a computer, vision is great too.

    Thanks again for letting us know and we might be in touch about other specifics on your eyes.


  4. This was a great read and is definetly a site I would recommend anyone considering getting laser eye correction treatment should take a read of. It's brilliant to hear it was such a sucess and appears to have changed your life in such a positive way!

  5. Wow! Your testimonial is a must-read for everybody who plans to have lasik or just did!

    I did my right eye last Thursday, and my left eye yesterday.

    After the 1-day after visit, each eye has about a 20/30 vision (apox -0.5 each). My doctor says i should wait 3 months for the healing then have a clear idea about the results.

    To be honest, I had the same exact feeling you did when you posted you were 20/20 before (with glasses) and miss the sharpness now (wow, thats my same feeling!) I miss seeing people expressions on the street, and some traffic signs (here in brazil they are not so well written anyway!)

    But great to see your post. Afterall, how much time it took from day zero for you to notice a 20/20 vision? Are you feeling the sharpness now?

    Thanks a lot!

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