Six months ago, I voluntarily let someone shoot me in the eyeballs with lasers. Because laser vision correction is something that many lawyers may consider, I figured it was worth sharing my experiences in a three-part series: the decision, the surgery and recovery, and coping with limited vision when returning to work. Today's topic is surgery and recovery. Tomorrow, we'll talk about the worst part: returning to work.
What do you need to do before going under the laser? Besides taking a few days off of work, not much, actually. The night before my operation, there was only one piece of prep: wipe my eyelids with antibacterial wipes. The morning of the surgery consisted of waiting, paperwork, an anti-anxiety pill, and more waiting.
Metal, Lasers, Eyeballs
When the operation begins, you lay back on the table, eye drops are applied, then a plastic device is used to hold your eyelids open. You then have a metal ring attached to your eyeball (like a cookie cutter), and then, once your cornea is removed, they scrub the cells off of your epithelium. After that, you look up at the laser, it makes a funny noise, and then fifteen seconds later, you are overwhelmed by the smell of your burning eyes. It's pretty gross, and the smell follows you home. Rinse and repeat for the other eye.
The worst part, by the way, is the rinse. They use ice-cold water, It's like getting water boarded. (Okay, not really, but it certainly isn't pleasant.)
You probably shouldn't watch this beforehand.
Twasn't a bad first day. Plenty of preservative-free lubricating drops, numbing eye drops, and codeine made the post-operation time surprisingly easy. For the first three days, you have a contact lens on each eye to keep dirt and bacteria out.
The first night, I awoke in miserable pain. Eyes dry. Corneas burning. Whole head throbbing. It was an hour of eye drops, codeine, and irritation before I could go back to sleep.
The first day or two, you won't be able to see at well, and your eyes will be light-sensitive. Keep an audio book or movies that you're familiar with handy -- you'll be doing a lot of listening. Needless to say, you shouldn't be planning on getting any substantive legal work done, or having intelligent conversations with clients, for the first few days.
After a few days off, I could read well enough to work, for a few hours at a time, if I bumped my fonts up to the biggest sizes. It was about a month before I was near-normal, and a few months before my eyes weren't killing me after an eight-hour shift in front of a computer. At six months, my vision is near-perfect in both eyes, and the side-effects (dry eyes, haloing) are nearly gone.
Like I noted yesterday when discussing the differences between types of laser eye surgery, if you need to return to work full-time immediately, PRK is not an option. Speaking of returning to work, tomorrow we'll talk about exactly that.
Did you have laser eye surgery? Am I exaggerating about the water boarding? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.