My Lasik Surgery Nightmare
My Dream -- No Glasses
Vanity got me. I do not like glasses, I do not look good in glasses, I would have done just about anything not to wear glasses. So I did -- I opted to have laser eye surgery to correct my vision. Contacts were no longer an option for me. I had dry eye and I just could not wear contacts anymore. So what option did I have left? I chose to consult a prominent laser surgery specialist to have the miracle surgery with my optometrist giving the nod and writing my referral for a preoperative screening. That turned out to be a prescription for disaster.
I have farsightedness. I didn't really require eyeglasses until age 40. When that happened, I chose to wear bifocal contact lenses which worked out for about ten years, but at age 50 dry eye became my enemy. I could no longer see with contact lenses because of my dry eye condition. My optometrist worked with me to try to overcome my problems. He suggested eye drops to moisturize my eyes, trying every brand on the market with no relief. Then he prescribed Restasis which didn't help either. Next I had plugs inserted into my tear ducts. The plugs gave some relief, but my dry eye was really quite severe and the plugs did not give me enough relief to wear contact lenses. After two years of failure with dry eye therapies I relented and started to wear glasses full time because I couldn't see without them. I was very unhappy and was intrigued by success stories of laser eye surgery. I had a discussion about laser eye correction with my optometrist. He said that my vision would not be as easily corrected as with nearsightedness and that I would probably have to wear glasses just for reading. I was sold. Something was better than nothing. I would feel much better being able to wear glasses just for close work. I was on my way to the laser surgery specialist.
I made an appointment and within a week I was at my screening appointment. A young male physician's assistant asked me questions about my vision history and we also discussed my dry eye condition. I expressed my concern about the advisability of laser surgery with my dry eye condition. He told me not to worry because the testing would determine whether the dry eye would present a problem. I was then put through a battery of tests on my eyes which seemed to be quite thorough. The outcome of course was a recommendation to have the surgery with the caveat that I would have to wear glasses for reading. I was a bit uneasy, but because I was so determined not to wear glasses, I ignored my own concerns and made my surgery appointment.
My husband drove me to my surgery appointment. I was very apprehensive. I had a bad feeling about the whole thing, but I ignored my nagging fears and undressed and put on my surgery gown. I was given my pre-op drops and I was second in line for the procedure. A man was first on the surgery schedule. He was taken into the surgery room and the next thing I knew he was back out again. It was just minutes. It turned out that the surgery table was not working and they were trying to fix it. At that point I was inclined to get dressed and leave. But again my vanity won and I stayed. Eventually the table was fixed and the man had his procedure and it was my turn. The surgery itself was bearable but uncomfortable. I have a high tolerance for discomfort and can relax in the most awkward of situations. There were three doctors doing my surgery, the head physician and two assistants who were actually doing the cutting of the corneal flap. He gave the orders and they did the process. My right eye was done and they were working on my left and the boss doctor said "cut that again you didn't cut it far enough". One of the the two assistants said "no, we did cut it, it's fine". Doctor boss said "I said cut it again it's not enough". They obeyed and cut it again. That freaked me out, but I don't believe it was the cause of my post surgical problems.
I called the surgeon's office to report my distress and was given an immediate appointment. My husband drove me to the doctor's office. It was one of the worst rides of my life. I couldn't open my eyes for the 45 minute drive. I was frightened beyond belief and all sorts of thoughts were running through my mind. I couldn't see, I couldn't open my eyes. I cried empathizing with people who were blind. I imagined that this was what it would be like to be blind and was afraid that blindness was my fate. When we arrived at the office, I was taken into an examination room immediately. After the examination I was told that my eyes were infected and I was given an antibiotic. I was also told that I had cells trapped under my corneal flap and that I would have to return to find out whether they would have to cut the flap again to remove the cells. Fortunately, when I returned they decided not to re-cut my cornea. But, the cells would remain trapped and time would tell whether they would grow and expand, but they didn't think that would be the case. As it turned out the cells did not grow larger and I had minimal scarring which only has a slight effect on my right eye today. But, it is still there. The lingering problem I dealt with for years was the continual severe dry eye and the feeling of having grit in my eyes. This persisted and my vision was never improved.
Post Surgery Nightmare
I was sent home with precise instructions about applying drops at regular intervals. I was relieved that the surgery was over and we headed home. When I woke up the following day I was amazed because I could actually see a little better than I did before (it turns out that the swelling actually improved my vision just after the surgery). I used the drops as instructed, but I was noticing a lot of discomfort as time progressed. My eyes were exceptionally dry. They were so incredibly dry and after a day or two I really couldn't see well at all. I couldn't watch tv or read. It felt like I had grit or sand in my eyes and my eyes were very blurry. I hoped that this was just a post-operative reaction, but it wasn't. Several days after the surgery I woke up to an overcast day, and I couldn't open my eyes or look at any light in the bedroom. We had a large window in our room and the dim light from widow practically blinded me. I literally couldn't open my eyes.
Today -- Nine Years Later
Today I still have dry eye. It was very severe until about two years ago. When I say severe I mean the feeling of the grit and sand and the blurry vision. It is now moderately severe. I have very little tear production. I am followed every 6 months for my condition which my new optometrist tells me is definitely a result of the eye surgery. Some visits when a thread test is done I actually have zero tear production. I have learned to live with it and I use Restasis religiously twice a day. My doctor says she feels that the Restasis is finally helping a little bit. I am thankful that I don't have the blurriness and the gritty feeling. We do not have air conditioning and we bought a home with radiator heat. Both of these things help to prevent additional drying of my eyes due to environmental factors. And, oh, yes, I wear glasses everyday In fact my vision is far worse today than it was prior to laser surgery. I have been prescribed stronger lenses every year since my surgery. And the vanity thing, well let's just say I'm over it.
Do Your Homework
If you are considering laser eye surgery do your homework. Research the risks of laser eye surgery and consider whether you are a good candidate. I would not recommend the surgery to anyone who experiences dry eye. Some laser surgery risks are spelled out at http://www.docshop.com/education/vision/refractive/lasik/risks. In the UK these surgeries are not routinely recommended because the long term effects are unknown. Laser surgery is a big money maker in the United States. I believe I was advised to have the surgery for monetary reasons with little regard for my well being.
Question - Share Your Lasik Experience
- Have you had a bad experience with laser eye surgery?
Listing of the answers to the question: Have you had a bad experience with laser eye surgery?I had a bad outcome and wonder if others have had similar experiences.