Six months ago, I went under the knife. Or laser, to be more exact. 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 post, and tomorrow's, were written at the time of the surgery and edited today.
Why in the hell would someone voluntarily submit to having their corneas removed, lasers shot in their eyes, then having their corneas slapped back on? That doesn't even begin to address the weeks of recovery.
For me, I have slightly misaligned eyes. One bugs out, more so when I'm looking through thick lenses. And my lenses were thick. Last year, I tried contact lenses. Though we couldn't find lenses that fit my extremely-farsighted eyes, the experiment was worthwhile for one reason: my eyes barely float when using contacts.
In short, vanity. But hey, if Justice Sonia Sotomayor can get her teeth done in the name of confidence, I don't feel too sinful for having lasers shot in my eyes.
Bladeless or PRK?
This was a tough one. For some, their only option is Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK). Those with thin corneas fall into this group. I was a candidate for either procedure, but chose PRK due to its biggest advantage: it keeps your cornea in one piece.
New-school bladeless LASIK cuts a ring through the cornea around your iris, pulls that piece off, and lasers your eyeball. The doc then slaps the "flap" back on. Recovery time is a few hours for some, up to a day for others.
PRK is miserable in comparison. They take the entire cornea off, apply the lasers, then slap the cornea back on. Because there is no flap, the cells of the cornea have to regrow so that the cornea can reattach to your eyeball. Recovery time varies, but you are basically guaranteed three days of pain and burning sensations, weeks of eye drops, and fluctuating vision for a few months.
So why choose PRK? If you play contact sports, especially martial arts or boxing, PRK is your only option. The "flap" of bladeless LASIK can dislodge, though it is rare, with severe repeated contract.
Then again, for lawyer who need to be back to work immediately, PRK is probably not an option.
Tomorrow morning is my surgery. I'm a bit nervous, as those with farsightedness as extreme as mine, treated with the Allegretto laser, have about a 65 percent success rate at 20/20 and a 98 percent success rate at 20/40 (the driving standard). My doctor gives farsighted folks one year of free touch-ups, while nearsighted folks get a lifetime guarantee.
If I'm part of that 35 or so percent, I'm looking at another operation and recovery to get to 20/20 or better.
Tomorrow, blindly, I'll be recapping the pre-op procedure, the surgery, and the first day of (what I expect to be) hell.
Did you have laser eye surgery? How did you handle your return to work? Share your experiences with us on Facebook.