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Laser Vision Surgery for Developers? 741

Posted by Cliff
from the state-of-the-art-in-medicine dept.
cyclops asks: "I have been contemplating about going for LASIK surgery for a couple of years. I want to get rid of my dependency on glasses or lenses because I really find them cumbersome. The main thing that is stopping me now is that like you, programming is my livelihood and thus I spent a major part of my day staring into the monitor. I have readthat there is always a certain percentage of patients not regaining 20/20 vision but it's OK for them since most of them don't need that sharp vision during work. I am about to consult with a LASIK surgeon but I would love to hear anecdotal evidence about your experiences, to hear if it works out for you eventually. (I have stable myopia of -5.50 and astimagtism of -1.00 for 3 years already)." Ask Slashdot has handled this issue in the past in two previous articles: this one from 1999, and a related article from 2000. With at least 2 years since the last time this question was posed, how has medical technology improved in this aspect? For those unwilling or unable to take advantage of Laser Surgery, have other viable alternatives arisen in the past two years?
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Laser Vision Surgery for Developers?

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  • ... a couple of the developers I work with have had corrective eye surgery and have wonderful things to say about it. One fellow even had the new LADIK procedure and was back at work programming the next day. Yes, there's always risks, but driving to work in a metropolitan area is probably less healthy in the long run.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      A friend of mine had it, and now he's blind. Damn shame, really, but he knew the risks when he underwent the surgery.
    • by GeekDork (194851) on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:05PM (#4363426)

      I'd be careful about wildly comparing everythings "danger factors" with driving at rush hour. Especially eye surgery. It is morbid, but chances are high that in a car accident you either won't really have to handle the results or get over it rather quickly. In eye surgery however, you're quite unlikely to die if the surgeon hits the "disintegrate" button, but you'll probably be blind as a mole for the rest of your life. Now, I would think that most of us are at an age where it would be very difficult at least to adopt to a completely changed lifestyle, especially if your defect was rather minor beforehand (nothing really requiring glass bricks).

      I don't want to say that eye surgery is a bad thing. It has its merit in repairing defects that are otherwise incorrectible. But if it's (ab)used as purely cosmetic surgery, then I think the dangers outweigh the use.

      Also note that my sight is rather good (-1.0 on both eyes, with a nasty embryonal core in the left which makes me see double on this eye), and so I might be unqualified to say this. But what I know is that every kind of surgery has very real dangers and that it should be regarded as a last resort.

    • Talk to your eye surgeon about intra-ocular lens (IOL) implants too. These are same clear plastic replacements for the lens that millions of the elderly have had for cataracts. They're now being used for vision correction too. A "multi-focal" lens implant allows a broad range of focusing. Its a 10 minute surgery, done under local anesthetic drops. A tiny incision is made along the border of the lens and a pencil-like phacoemulsifier (ultrasonic) probe liquifies the old lens. A new lens, rolled up like a taco, is inserted and allowed to unfold. Stitches are rarely needed. There's a lot more history behind this technology than the lasik approach. It's true that it's more invasive, but it doesn't purposefully involve scarring the lens.
  • Inner conflict (Score:2, Interesting)


    I know this may seem difficult to believe, but bad vision is usually due to chronic tension in the muscles of the eyes. There are methods available to reduce your chronic muscle tension. There is a book about this; I will see if I can find the title.
    • Re:Inner conflict (Score:2, Interesting)

      by yamla (136560)
      I believe the book you are referring to is Dianetics [indigo.ca] by L. Ron Hubbard. Note, though, that it is a primary recruiting tool for the cult of Scientology.
    • Behavioral Optometry (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tmark (230091) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:49PM (#4363303)
      There is a school of thought that says that vision can be improved by stretching the eye muscles. This is advocated by behavioral optometrists. The idea is that when you spend time focused at a certain distance, as so many of us do, our eye muscles tighten chronically. When this happens, the cornea and lens distort and vision problems arise. The problem is not helped in the long run by corrective lenses.

      I believe some other behavioral optometrists have some other theories about "learning to see", etc.

      I know this all sounds crazy, but my vision got worse every time I go in for a few months of really intensive coding. A few months ago, I was certain my prescription had gotten worse - I can usually tell because on top of not seeing distances clearly, I have headaches and feel sick a lot.

      On a lark I bought a book (really, an ~80 page pamphlet) on eye exercises, and also a bigger one on behavioral optometry. I did the eye exercises they prescribed, and within a week or so I was seeing noticeably better.

      Now, I believe behavioral optometrists would prescribe a regimen of steadily weaker corrective lenses, to exercise your eyes. I haven't gone that far yet, but I do have to say I was stunned by the marked improvement in my vision a few weeks of exercises got me. I've dealt with steadily worsening vision for the last 20 years, so I KNOW I am not imagining it.
      • by kbonin (58917) on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:06PM (#4363433) Homepage
        I'd second this. I stare at a monitor 10-15 hours a day. My eyesight finally degenerated to the point where I got tested, and my vision sucked. Astigmatism in both eyes, I forget the scores, but I got perscribed reasonably thick glasses. Everybody else in my family wears them, I figured it was unavoidable...

        I hated them. I did more research, and found out about eye exercises. I adopted new habits, most notably staring out window at horizon for a few seconds every 10 mins.

        About a year later I tossed the glasses in a drawer. That was >10 years ago, and I currently test at 20:20 again. The astigmatism is still there, but its managable, brain processing seems to remove wierd smear/blur if I use both eyes, which I tend to do most of the time anyway...
  • Sonar (Score:2, Funny)

    by Grip3n (470031)
    Ever considered life as a bat? Well then you should consider forsaking your lousy eyes and getting Sonar [subportal.com]!
  • Night vision (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnTheFisherman (225485) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:34PM (#4363184)
    Lasik can harm your night vision, among other things. For such a distance-specific task as programming, you're probably much better off with glasses (and much safer).

    I don't know much about this site, but I'd just heard about it: http://www.lasiktruth.com/ [lasiktruth.com]. Look around, I've heard a lot of bad stuff second hand about it.
    • Re:Night vision (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ryochiji (453715)
      I've heard a lot of good things about lasik, but one thing that concerns me personally is the fact that, AFAIK there aren't any studies on the long term effects (probably because it hasn't been around long enough).
      • Funny, my friends X girlfriend was actually doing university work on the mid term effects of the surgery. Basically they were doing it to some animal then taking eye cells to look for pre cancerous mutations. That was the hypothosys anyway, they broke up before the stuff got really started.
      • Re:Night vision (Score:3, Informative)

        by Xerithane (13482)
        I went in to consult with my regular eye doctor (well, was) who was also a Lasik surgeon. He had great things to say about it if your career/hobbies don't strain your eyes.

        I have a pretty rare eye condition that pretty much eliminates me as a candidate for Lasik, but some people still have similar symptoms and have had less than desirable results. If you have sensitive eyes to light for whatever reason, make sure to really talk it over with your eye doctor and get more than one opinion. My problem doesn't permit my eyes to contract normally, and apparently this produces some pretty serious havok amongst Lasik patients. If you get your eyes dialated, or sensitive to light, I've heard don't do it from a few sources. Halos around lights are a common tale, but I've also heard of glare that reflects around your eyes and things along those lines.

        Best advice I can give: Talk to more than one doctor/surgeon about it before even considering it. Their informational videos are meant to get you to want to do it, so don't take their advice. Talk to people who have had it done that have similar prescriptions/eye conditions. Those are the people you really care about.
    • Re:Night vision (Score:2, Informative)

      by homb (82455)
      Doesn't look like this site (lasiktruth) does add much information, considering what's already available in this discussion thread. All it says, from what I can decipher, is:

      1- People notice more halos around strong light sources (mostly in high-contrast nighttime)
      2- Some people don't get perfect results (i.e. no guaranteed 20/20)
      3- The guy who wanted to bring the technology to market was trying really hard to shirk responsibility if anything failed.

      But the study this site refers to is from 1999. So I strongly suggest reading the discussion here for an update...
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:09PM (#4363458) Journal

      I'm not sure if you've already looked at the FDA's When is LASIK not for me? [fda.gov] site but you'd better have a look at their suggested restrictions. Among them: your vision has not stabilzed yet and history of autoimmune diseases.

      GMD

    • Ortho-keratology (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tack (4642) on Monday September 30, 2002 @09:30PM (#4364365) Homepage
      I looked into LASIK, but it is both expensive and risky. I took an alternate approach that not very many people seem to know about: ortho-keratology [ortho-k.net], aka ortho-k.

      Essentially, with ortho-k you wear hard contacts while you sleep. These contacts are engineered in such a way that they reshape your cornia to adjust for myopia or astigmatism. I also depend on staring at a monitor both during my job and when I get home (as a hobby). My vision has changed from a -3.5 lens to about +0.25. (The slight far-sightedness is actually a good thing.)

      One of the advantages (or perhaps disadvantages depending on your perspective) is that ortho-k is not permanent. As a result, it's less risky. If you stop wearing the contact lenses, your eyes will slowly revert (however probably never as bad as they were when you started).

      I've been using ortho-k for over a year now and I love it. I don't have to worry about dry eyes from contacts (since when I do wear the contacts I am sleeping, so I don't feel them) nor do I have to deal with the inconveniences of glasses. Plus I don't have to undergo the scary LASIK surgery. The risks and the costs are much less with ortho-k. I highly recommend it.

      Jason.

  • by papasui (567265) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:36PM (#4363193) Homepage
    I've found that I don't need any of those expensive methods to fix my eyes what I did is I took a magnifying glass, a mirror, and a Microsoft Optical Mouse and reflected the light from the mirror onto my magnifying glass and stared into it for about 45 seconds. It gets a little hard to look at after the first 20 seconds passes but the burning sensation usually stops after 35 seconds and then your almost home free! Rinse and repeat. Total cost ~$52 USD.

    (Disclaimer: Please do not try this.)

  • Don't Do It! (Score:2, Informative)

    by ahecht (567934)
    Any laser surgury will ruin your night vision, and if you ever want to get into astronomy, photography, or any low-light activity, you will regret it. It may even affect those late night coding sessions.

    There are reversable alternatives, such as Intacts [americaneye.com], but they may not work with your degree of astigmatism.

    • Wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Johnboi Waltune (462501) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:45PM (#4363262)
      I had LASIK 2 years ago and have no night vision problems. For the first couple months, there was a slight 'ghosting' effect around bright lights at night. That has completely disappeared. My night vision before the surgery was excellent and it continues to be so.
    • Re:Don't Do It! (Score:5, Informative)

      by MoxCamel (20484) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:45PM (#4363266)
      Any laser surgury will ruin your night vision...

      Hogwash. There is a chance, but night vision problems (like haloing) typically go away over time.

      I had Lasik a couple years ago. I never had nightvision problems, even temporarily. My wife had hers done a week before mine. She had haloing for about 6 months, but it eventually went away.

      It's different for everyone. General statements like that are just FUD. We /.ers don't like FUD.

      Mox

      • by Timmeh (555676)
        We /.ers don't like FUD.

        Hogwash. General statements like that are just FUD. ;P

      • Re:Don't Do It! (Score:3, Interesting)

        no it's not rubbish.. it's only the tip of the iceberg of the problems and complications you can have.

        Here's a clue from a developer who has worked on these systems (me) and not someone who sat like a gerbil under the laser letting his wallet get lighter (like most of the posters here).

        The FDA has only approved certain procedures which have had extensive trial data in the US. Unfortunately most of these approved procedures are very limited in scope, and only correct the most generic of corrections. They'll correct astigmatism, but only to a fixed amount of diopters. They also fix the diameter of the laser to a certain width, which is awful, since your eyes dilate at night, and you will get halos. Unless of course you have small eyes like the sample data they used when submitting to the FDA for approval.

        also, the more diopters you correct for, the worse the potential side-effects you may suffer. You may be one of the 5% of the people who suffer side effects. You will have little to no recourse against the "doctor" who performs the operation, because it's cosmetic surgery.

        My brother rushed to get it done over my objections because it was cheap for family members to get their eyes treated. I will not let him drive a car I am in at night, because quite plainly, I'd like to get home in one piece. He gets halos...

        If you're eager to have your eyes corrected, get good old fashioned RK, there's less side effects, a wider range of procedures that can be performed (since it's been done for over 50 years), and the results are just as accurate if not more so. I had a girlfriend that had RK performed, and a friend from high school as well, they were both quite happy with it, and didn't have any of the side effects you'll hear laser treated people have.

        Asking the doctor who stands to profit from your operation for advice is about the most foolish thing you can do. He's a salesperson, he's got a very expensive laser ($250,000 to $750,000, unless he shares it with other doctors) plus operating costs (not cheap either), a $250 royalty payment for each procedure, and on top of that staff, rent, etc. Of course he thinks it's safe. He's done hundreds (you hope).

        Since the company I work for no longer exists (bought or sold, no idea, I left a couple years ago) I feel safe revealing this much, but trust me, the horror stories I left that place with are minor compared to the ones some of my co-workers had heard/seen.. and no, I'm not revealing any (even in email)..

        The comment on the homepage about maybe things have changed in the last year or two is humorous. Most of the major research in this field was complete over a decade ago... all they do now is try and convince the FDA to let the quacks unlock more procedures in this country.. and try to back it up with clincal data..

        one of my co-workers did the ole' flap'n'zap last year.. I told him not to.. his vision comes out great after the treatment, and then progressively gets worse every week. Then he goes back to do it all over again every few months.. he keeps an eye chart next to his desk to keep track of how quickly his eyes degrade.. along with a lot of eye drops..

        oh, here's another interesting factoid to mull.. after they slice your eye and flip it open to zap it with the laser, it will NEVER HEAL. The only thing keeping that flap on your eye is surface tension essentially. Don't believe me? Ask someone who has had to have a correction after their initial treatment if they re-cut their eye before they flip it up.. If you ever get hit on the back of the head real hard, BLINK! If you think finding a contact is hard to find, imagine what happens if the flap falls off.. Of course, it's never happened, but it's never been proven that it can't happen (and it's not like it'll regrow)..

        I'll keep my glasses.. my CEO asked me when I worked there why I didn't have my eyes done.. I kept telling him I never had any time (which was true, they worked me like a dog).. but the reality is, my prescription has been stable for 10+ years, and I don't feel like having to worry about it chaning until I'm in my fifties..
    • I have a pretty strong prescription for nearsigtedness and astigmatism(at like a 30 degree angle, wich makes things even more fun)
      I switched to contacts last year and my normal vision is much better, however my low light went to shit. I have rather large max-dialation, so the lens's correctiveness doesnt cover my pupil in low light conditions(and having a thick lens doesnt help either).
      If this is any indication of what LASIK is like.. forget it... I still revert back to glasses when doing night photography or volunteer security patrol.

      Anyone know if the LASIK halo problem stems from the same reason of the Contact Lens halo problem(over large pupil dialation)?
      • Anyone know if the LASIK halo problem stems from the same reason of the Contact Lens halo problem(over large pupil dialation)?

        Yes, this is coming from late 1999 so maybe they have more work. I have abnormally large dialation ranges, and abnormally large contraction ranges as well. My eyes pretty much stay dialated.

        I have talked to a few doctors about it, they all said don't do it. Even in normal light, my pupils would expand past the area that Lasik can modify so I would get constant ghosts and halos. If you have a large dialation area, anytime you hit that point you will experience it as well. But, like I said, this may be different now.

        I'm waiting for a surgery that corrects my contraction problem, then I can worry about Lasik... sigh
        • This has changed and changes every few months, as they update the software to ablate to areas larger and larger outside of the previous software revs.

          So check what version of the software the laser is running and if the surgeon is keeping up with the laser manufacturer on maintenance.

    • Local TV did a piece on this, and the claim is that if you are a good candidate, and you use a reputable doctor, you shouldn't expect any problems. It seems some centers may be to ready to do it for anyone, and some people just shouldn't. They seemed to indicate it related to the specific physiology of your eyes.

      Obviously you want good advice from a competent practitioner, and getting a second opinion is probably also a good idea. I'm sure the doctor can answer any questions relating to night vision concerns as well.

      The question I would have is whether it has any impact on loss of depth perception. I've always thought if this process was reliable it would be good to get rid of the glasses, but now that I'm getting into the bifocal zone, I don't know that it would be as worthwhile. It would still be nice to only need reading glasses, but probably not if there was even a small risk of bad problems.

    • Re:Don't Do It! (Score:2, Informative)

      by revoemag (589206)
      Very not true. It's amazine how little FACT there is on /. sometimes. Lasik uses a laser to correct the shape of your cornea. However they can not reshape your whole cornia, just the front partthat you look through. This is usually about 6mm in diameter. However, in the dark your pupil opens up and can open wider then the zone that was corrected. In this case you will see a halo around a light at night. This is common, however they have gotten better at measuring the size of your pupil and correcting a larger zone. The larger the zone, the deeper they need to cut to get a correct shape. So, if you have a bad perscription and thick corneas, then the can correct you with a big optic zone and you should have good night vision. I had bad vision (-6.75) and the next day I was 20/20. I'm only sorry I did not do it earlier.
  • by Cyno01 (573917) <Cyno01@hotmail.com> on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:36PM (#4363197) Homepage
    from BABF13 - Bart to the Future
    Ralph: Mr. Flanders, your blindedid.
    Flanders: Yeah, I never shoulda had that trendy laser surgery, it was great at first, but at the 10 year mark your eyes fall out.
  • by joe_bruin (266648) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:37PM (#4363207) Homepage Journal
    i stared into the fiber coming from our t3 drop, and my vision was miraculously cured. well, except for the one dark spot that has a burned in backwards "NORTEL" logo on it.
  • Aberrations (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:39PM (#4363217)

    At present, opticians measure and correct defocus and astigmatism. The eye has many higher orders of aberration (spherical aberration, coma, trefoil etc), which are not measured and are not corrected. The problem is that, for laser surgery, the astigmatism and defocus are corrected over a small area of the pupil, smaller than the area of the dilated pupil. Outside this area, aberrations are exacerbated, and not currently measurable (although there is a lot of work in this area). Hence, if you have laser eye surgery, your corrected vision will (barring complications), be fine during the day or when in a brightly lit area, but vision may be worse than pre-correction at night. Doesn't sound too bad, unless you drive at night...

  • Don't - just don't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:40PM (#4363223)
    A friend of mine is a senior uni researcher in optometry. She's told me that the flap of cornea that they open up in order to do the surgery never heals properly and that even mild trauma is able to re-open the cut. This can result in infection, scarring and permanent damage. She wears glasses and preaches openly against this technology.
    • by sessamoid (165542) on Monday September 30, 2002 @08:47PM (#4364129)
      A friend of mine is a senior uni researcher in optometry. She's told me that the flap of cornea that they open up in order to do the surgery never heals properly and that even mild trauma is able to re-open the cut. This can result in infection, scarring and permanent damage. She wears glasses and preaches openly against this technology.
      Hmm... conflict of interest? Optometrists are largely in danger of becoming an obsolete species thanks to vision correction surgery. I detect some possible bias here. Mild trauma is NOT going to open up the cut, any more than mild trauma is likely to rebreak a formerly broken bone, any more than mild trauma is likely to open a cut that healed on your skin years ago. LASIK is fairly prevalent now, and I've NEVER heard of a single case of the corneal flap avulsing, let alone see one (and I see lots of bad car accidents every day, none of which complain of vision loss without other severe trauma to the eye, i.e. denucleations, hyphemas, etc.).

      Basically, I'd take your friend with a grain of salt. Get more than one side of the story, preferable one whose livelihood isn't endangered by the new technology.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:40PM (#4363224) Homepage Journal
    I have used a 21-inch monitor, way far back on my desk... actually behind the desk on a shelf, with huge fonts, for years. At Pixar, they called it "the world's most expensive TTY", as I usually work in one screen-sized terminal window. I have improved my eyesight substantially and went from needing glasses to needing none. With my 45th birthday rapidly approaching, I'm noticing some slight degradation in my sight due to aging, but avoiding strain helps a lot.

    Bruce

    • Amen to that, and gawd bless the font-size shortcut in Mozilla. No more 6pt. Squintyfont sites for me, thanks.
    • I have improved my eyesight substantially

      How did you improve your eyesight? Lasik? Staring through pieces of paper with little pinholes?
    • While at Teradyne, I had the pleasure of working with two great contract Sysadmins, both legally blind. They basically did the same thing: huge fonts on a monitor.
    • get computer glasses (Score:5, Informative)

      by g4dget (579145) on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:42PM (#4363685)
      If you don't want to focus nearby when looking at a monitor, just ask your optometrist about "computer glasses". They are glasses that allow you to perform close work while being focussed further away and they do help with eye strain.

      Beyond that, if you are nearsighted and don't suffer from stress-related vision problems, there is no way to "improve" your eyesight through eye exercises; eyes just aren't built that way. Most likely, the "improvements" you are seeing are the onset of presbyopia. Moving monitors further and further away is a common way of dealing with it. Most people get reading glasses when they reach the limits of their desk--it's more convenient. And, no, there is nothing to be done about presbyopia--everybody gets it sooner or later. Some people are just more willing to tolerate inconveniences for vanity--that's the only reason you don't see everybody over 50 running around with reading glasses.

  • Dangerous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SandSpider (60727) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:40PM (#4363228) Homepage Journal
    Cal Simone [mainevent.com], who is very famous in the Applescript world, had laser vision surgery done recently. Unfortunately, now he can't look at a computer screen for any period of time without getting a headache. He can't do any coding, and is very limited by how much computer work he can do at any given time.


    I don't know what the odds are that such a thing would happen for a given laser eye surgery. Personally, I think that if there is any chance at all that a cosmetic surgery will prevent me from doing serious computer work, then the cosmetic surgery is not worth it.


    =Brian

    • by GlenRaphael (8539) on Monday September 30, 2002 @08:04PM (#4363842) Homepage
      Personally, I think that if there is any chance at all that a cosmetic surgery will prevent me from doing serious computer work, then the cosmetic surgery is not worth it.

      If you wear contact lenses, there is a small chance you may permanently screw up your eyesight due to a scratched and/or infected cornea. The risks of serious negative outcome associated with LASIK are smaller than the normal risks associated with contact lenses, so people who wear contacts now are probably on net helping their odds of keeping decent eyesight if they get LASIK.

      Me? I got LASIK a few years ago. Best $4400 I ever spent. The main caveat I might add is that for a computer geek sometime it sucks to have "normal" vision. Back when I was nearsighted it was possible for me to read ultra-fine print. I could print program listings 8 or 16 pages to one side of a laser-printed page and still read it. I could squint a bit and easily make out individual pixels on my Newton or CRT monitor - often useful when doing graphic work.

      Now, my vision is just normal. Meaning I no longer need glasses to read stuff 20 feet away, but the flip side is I can't take them off to read stuff 2 inches away. Sometimes I miss that ability.

  • Be smart! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoxCamel (20484) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:41PM (#4363229)
    I did LASIK, and am a developer. It was great, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    However!!

    Don't take my word for it. It was the right decision for me, it may not be for you. Do your research, and above all do not let price be your primary factor. It's the only eyes you have, be smart about it.

    Mox

    • Re:Be smart! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alcmena (312085)
      I second that. I had it done at $1,800 an eye. There were some places that were $400 per eye for me. If all things go well, I'll be the two places are about the same quality. But, if something goes wrong, I'd rather have the more expensive guy worrying about me than the discount one.
  • Worked great for me (Score:4, Informative)

    by Cadran (612688) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:41PM (#4363230)
    Had it done this last June and it worked extremely well for me, vision stabilized at 20/20 within a couple of weeks. Would however strongly, STRONGLY recommend paying top dollar for a quality Lasik doctor as opposed to going somewhere cheaper--no reason to mess around when it comes to your eyes. The operation's been mixed for my coworkers; three had great success, one only achieved 20/50.
  • You should patiently seek out a surgeon you can trust. Be especially careful about going to those "chop-shop" surgeons. I listened to a surgeon at UCLA explain the risks, and he seemed to be honest. He would even refuse to operate on people (including a friend of mine) if he thought that the surgery would result in non-optimal results, like the "halo" effect at night, which I think happens if your pupil (or whatever it's called) is the wrong size. You should expect to pay a one-time fee with free followups until everything is just right. Try to avoid a surgeon who doesn't give a damn about you. Really important, in my opinion. Anyway, I've found that vigilantly using pretty fonts in Linux and switching to a nice laptop display has incredibly reduced the strain on my eyes caused by the CRT monitors (I'm -9 nearsighted in both eyes). Though this may not be a solution for everyone :)
  • Just do one eye at a time, so that way if you experience major problems, you aren't unable to provide for yourself and your family.
  • by kindofblue (308225) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:41PM (#4363235)
    I just went to my eye doctor last week and asked about Lasik. HE wouldn't even recommend because he thought there was not enough case work on long term effects of Lasik. He was concerned about possible long-term corneal degeneration risks, since Lasik cuts away part of your cornea.

    OTOH, I had previously thought that the biggest problem would be that some patients experience "halo" effects, especially at night. He said that was mainly due to other techniques based on RK, but not so much with Lasik.

    BTW, as an optometrist, he was offered Lasiks for free, for himself, but didn't take it for these reasons.

    • Being an optometrist, it's not likely he'll recommend something that would make him lose business.

      However, the comments he made seem to make sense. But I'd try finding a similar opinion from an unbiased professional.

      I myself wear lenses, and have thought of having laser surgery, but surgery is surgery. There's always a chance that it goes wrong. Unless you REALLY find it cumbersome (I know I don't: wearing disposable lenses is not more complicated than brushing my teeth every day), I wouldn't take the chance.

      A friend of mine had the surgery and everything is fine for him (after 4 years)

      Net worth: 0.02$

  • by hatless (8275) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:43PM (#4363243)
    Me, I wear glasses, ones with a pretty thick lens on the left at that. The frames get a little in the way of my peripheral vision. But I don't want Lasik. Why? Because of the failure rate--even if it's somehow down to only 1%, and I'm not sure it is.

    Forget worrying about not achieving the 20/20 vision you want and that many people get from it. Worry instead about the real risk of corneal damage that will leave your vision worse than it was before, with permanent starbursts and haloes like you're looking through scratched, scuffed glasses all the time.

    Will this happen to you? Probably not. In fact, if you have the sort of vision that Lasik corrects, you have a well over 95% chance of getting the great vision without glasses that you want. It's just that if you draw the short straw, you could find your ability to read a screen pretty thoroughly ruined, with or without glasses.

    Weigh the benefits against the risks, and if you decide to do it, note that most surgeons have you sign a boilerplate contract that bars you from suing them if your vision is ruined. Who's the real winner?
  • I did it (Score:5, Informative)

    by mclem (34313) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:43PM (#4363248)
    Had the procedure done -- both eyes on the same day! -- and it was fantastic. My night vision was never very good, so I don't mourn the loss, and in fact, my depth perception has improved since getting rid of my glasses. After a year, I'm 20/20 in one eye, 20/15 in the other -- a vast improvement over my pre-surgery vision. (And my good eye now was my good eye then, too.)

    I notice my eyes getting a little tired near the end of the day, which is normal for folks with naturally good vision. And I know that I'll need reading glasses eventually. Big deal. I can see my wife in the morning, swim with my kids, fall asleep while reading, wear decent sunglasses, etc... All trivial things when you've got normal vision, but oh-so-worth it when you've needed glasses for 20+ years just to find your frelling shoes.

    Oh yeah, it's worth it. Find a decent surgeon -- research! ask questions!
    • by SIGFPE (97527) on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:01PM (#4363400) Homepage
      I hope she turned out to be as good looking as you hoped. A low pass filter does wonders for a woman's beauty and having it removed like that can be a shock!
    • Re:I did it (Score:3, Informative)

      by jht (5006)
      Similar experience for me - I had my eyes zapped at the beginning of 1999, and I have no regrets at all. I can work in front of a screen all day comfortably, and I've noticed no significant change to my night vision. According to my wife, I have better night vision now than she does, and she has natural 20/20 vision.

      The actual surgery was performed by the New England Eye Center (affiliated with Tufts), at their Boston facility. The eyes were done 2 weeks apart - my left (weaker) eye first and then my dominant eye. My right eye is corrected from close to 20/200 myopia to around 20/15 - my left eye was corrected to 20/20. I do have a insignificant amount of astigmatism in my left eye, which I was given the option to further correct if necessary but so far I haven't noticed it except on the eye tests themselves.

      All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience. One thing to check - see if your emloyer has a flex spending plan for medical expenses. If they do, you can potentially contribute to the fund pre-tax, and then use the money to pay for the surgery. Depending on your bracket, you can potentially save as much as $1000 doing it that way (I did).

      And reading glasses are pretty much a certainty by the time I'm in my mid-to-late forties (I'm 36 now). But I consider that to be no biggie, as I'd have probably needed bifocals eventually without the surgery.

      I agree on finding a good surgeon. Preferably one affiliated with a real hospital rather than a free-standing opthamalogy center. And I'd say discount sushi and discount LASIK are two things to potentially avoid.
  • by jrichau (26432) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:43PM (#4363250) Homepage
    My story is anectdotal at best, but I can't recommend the surgery strongly enough. I spend most days staring at the computer screen (I remember talking to my eye doctor suggesting that I spend 14-16 hours looking at the computer, he replied "in a week?", "No, a day..."). Both of my parents also had the surgery with success which gave me more confidence to have it.

    I had laser surgery (LASIK) last spring. It was a fantastic experience. I basically have had contacts forever (-4.5 in one eye, -4.25 in the other, slight astigmatism in one but I don't know the number value for it). I went in for a consult and they deemed me an ideal candidate after checking my vision and doing some measurement of the size of my cornea (mine is thicker than average which is good for them because they effectively reshape your eye by getting rid of some of the cornea).

    I went in for the surgery on an afternoon. I had both eyes done on that day. I basically sat in this chair and focused on a little red light. They put some numbing drops in my eyes and then lowered this eyeball sized tubish thing over my eye. It basically sucked onto and grabbed hold of my eye, then a blade comes out of that to slice a thin layer of the cornea. The surgeon then lifts up that layer and the world goes super foggy. I focused as best I could on the red light (with the sucker thing on my eye, I couldn't have moved it anyway). And they basically fired a laser at my eye for 50 seconds or so. Then they flipped the cornea layer back over my eye and the world became clear. They then did the same process for the other eye. It did not hurt in any way during the process.

    When it was done, I could immediately see better but it did hurt to look at bright light so I basically got patches over my eyes and was driven home. I took some Tylenol PM and went to sleep with these plastic things covering my eyes to protect from rubbing during the night.

    The next morning I drove back to the eye center without my glasses. At that point my eyes were about 20/40 or 20/30. I went to work that day as well so I basically missed an afternoon of work. I had to wear the eye covers at night for the next few nights. Over the next week or so as my eyes completely healed, my vision became 20/15 in both eyes. It has been that way ever since. I do notice slightly more haloing (halos around point light sources) at night but nothing that might not have been there before and I just didn't notice.

    I can't recommend it strongly enough. Not having contacts has been a pleasure and the whole surgery experience was a breeze. The worst part of it was the anxiety as they did the surgery but it only lasts about 15 minutes and was well worth it.
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:59PM (#4363383) Homepage Journal
      I basically sat in this chair and focused on a little red light. They put some numbing drops in my eyes and then lowered this eyeball sized tubish thing over my eye. It basically sucked onto and grabbed hold of my eye, then a blade comes out of that to slice a thin layer of the cornea. The surgeon then lifts up that layer and the world goes super foggy....

      My brother had it done. He does not regret it, but he did say that the experience can be phychologically very uncomfortable. If you are the least bit squeamish about people playing with your eyeballs with scary tools and having your head and eyes locked into one position for a duration, then forget it.

      They can't put you under anesthesa (sleeping gas) because you must keep your head and eyes still, and sleeping people tend to move both. Bummer.
      • Yup -- there's really only two scary parts to the process... the left eye and the right eye.

        Thank yewwwww... I'll be here all week.

        I wore contacts for a while before switching back to glasses, so I was less freaked out about having something foreign in my eye. But yeah... it helps to do a little deeeeeeeep relaxation before the process.
      • They can't put you under anesthesa (sleeping gas) because you must keep your head and eyes still, and sleeping people tend to move both. Bummer.
        Actually, one could use general anesthesia for vision correction surgery, but it isn't done for a number of good reasons.

        1. complexity - general anesthesia requires a fully equipped operating suite and lots of extra equipment.

        2. cost - cost of above mentioned equipment, plus the services of an anesthesiologist to take care of the medications, intubation, artificial ventilation, etc.

        3. risk/benefit ratio - with general anesthesia, the risks suddenly become much, much higher--too high for an outpatient elective procedure when a safer alternative exists.

        The bit about not being able to keep sleeping peoples' eyes still is not a problem. It's a simple matter of medication to completely paralyze a patient during general anesthesia.

  • by Target Drone (546651) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:44PM (#4363257)
    I would love to hear anecdotal evidence about your experiences

    If it's anecdotal evidence, conjecture, speculation, or just good old innuendo your interested in then Ask Slashdot is the place for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:45PM (#4363261)
    I'm with Brian Barsky's OPTICAL group at UC Berkeley. (http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/optical/ )
    We are currently doing research on how to better describe the damage caused by laser surgery.
    You see why laser surgery repairs correctable damage (damage that can be otherwise corrected with lenses)
    it also causes uncorrectable damage... more or less a "corner" where the laser stops hitting the eye.
    this "corner" gets more profound after the eye begins to heal from the surgery and tissue regenerates.
    It eventually causes people to have intense glare from light sources on the side of their faces (i.e. headlights when you drive at night)
    I would recommend NOT getting this surgery.
    Unfortunately not too terribly much progress has been made in consistently describing this damage (reports cite perhaps 30th order zernike polynomials for approximation of these problems...which is not helpful at all in describing the shape of the corner)
    We are hoping to better describe quantitatively the damage caused by this surgery.

    Anyhow I suggest you use a reversible method for correcting your vision (eg glasses/contacts)
    --Daniel
    Vega Strike Lead Developer
    http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net/
  • How old is the one who has undergone the first LASIK operation? I'm asking this because it isn't very certain if there won't be implications, say, after 20 years.

    I don't mind glasses but i'd love to "lose" my 5 (l) and 4 (r) degrees of myopia, however: who can give me solid advice whether this will be save in the very long run (more than a decade).

    [offtopic comments: I've thought of the LASIK operation (in fact, in Crete is most of the research done, which is near me) and my parents have given me the green light&money for the operation, but i'll be staying with my glasses.]
  • I would recommend LASIK for overall lifestyle improvement but not just to see a computer monitor better.

    If you can't see what you're doing when you get out of bed in the morning (5 diopters is borderline for that) then LASIK will help you. My SO was about 8 diopters and it made a big difference.

    The downsides aren't all that bad but there are tradeoffs. I have a 3-4 diopter correction and I have the option to work on a laptop without my glasses or contacts on. Also my vision corrects to 20/15-17. I would not expect such a good result from LASIK. My expectations would be more like 20/40 which would probably be significantly worse in dim light and better in bright light. If you can focus sharply in the dark now, you will probably lose that after LASIK.

    I would not expect serious adverse health consequences from LASIK but they are possible.

    I think that all in all LASIK will probably make it harder for you to stare at a CRT all day, but it may greatly improve other aspects of your life. Think about it carefully beforehand.

    You might consider corrective optics that undercorrect your eyesight, specifically for working near CRTs. Being undercorrected by .5 diopter doesn't significantly worsen your distance vision, except at night, and it makes focusing close much more comfortable. Some people cannot attain sharp focus at night anyway, so what does it matter?

    Actually, I say working near CRTs ... one of the best things you can do is work in front of an LCD monitor instead. Makes a huge difference eyestrain-wise.

    -joseph
  • by ToryGA1 (469105)
    I had the surgery about 8 months ago. I have 20/15 vision in both eyes now, and contrary to what some people have said, my night vision is fantastic. I couldn't be happier.

    Even staring at a computer all day and half the night doesn't bother me.

    About my only minor complaint, is that my eyes get a little dry, and I have to carry wetting drops with me. I understand that about a year post surgery, this goes away, and after 8 months, I need the drops less and less often.

    I would highly recommend it. Just make sure you see a reputable doctor, and talk to some of his/her previous patients. That's what I did, and they were all quite happy.

    It cost about $2800, but I would pay it again.

    Cheers!
  • I just had LASIK surgery on both eyes on Thursday. So far I have experienced no problems at all. Granted, my eyes weren't very bad to begin with. I have another friend who had his eyes done at the same clinic and he also has not experienced any problems. No sands, halos, night-vision loss, nothing. I think the key is to find a reputable surgeon and to follow all the post-surgery directions properly. It's a long healing process, so we'll have to see how mine go.
  • My boss and his wife had LASIK surgery. It worked fantastic for him; he went from shitty vision to better than 20/20; and he's also a pilot.

    His wife, however, and two other patients had their vision severely damaged due to a bad instrument. Since the surgeries are quick (just a few minutes), it wasn't noticed.

    They only do one eye at a time, just in case of something like this. So, only one eye is affected. However, she can't sit in front a computer very long and is subject to severe headaches. Even with glasses, her vision in that eye is poor.

    Is it worth the risk? Well, there is only one person that can answer that question: you. Personally, I'm willing to take it, but would rather go for intacts than LASIK because my night vision sucks ass as it is. Unlike my boss, who has good night vision even after the surgery, my night vision sucks ass without any surgery. Since I'm planning to get my pilot's license, I'd rather go for intacts.

  • My father had LASIK done a few years back, he is a coder (so am I) and has not had any issues with it.

    From what I know he has not had any issues with the surgery and his eye sight.

    I would say go for it. For the most part its a safe and harmless procudure. I personnaly dont need it, but know many people who have done it, are a VERY happy they did.

    Ryan
  • Ortho-K (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Ortho-K. They are contacts that reshape your eyes. Eventually you only have to ear them at night or only once a week/month. Can give you better then 20/20, no side effects, reversible if desired, no risks really! I have too much astigmatism for it right now. But I'm waiting!
  • A friend of mine tried to have Lasik done... Apparently they shine a bright light in your eyes to dialate you pupils.

    He had a seziure.

    I won't be trying to do that any time soon.
  • Horror stories (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:52PM (#4363323)
    http://surgicaleyes.com

    Wish I'd found that site before I had my eyes fubared.

    Short version...its been a year+..I'm spending over $50 a week on eye drops due to major dry eye issues....reading which used to be a pleasure in my life is now a nightmare....most importantly, due to the dryness and constant tiredness of my eyes, long term comp work is flat out. Also, caffine is majorly restricted due to how my eyes react to it... Nightvisions pure hell.

    So..if contemplating it....do ALOT! of research...any doubts, dont do it.

    See also : http://www.martialtalk.com/showthread.php?&threadi d=1618&highlight=lasik for more info on what I went thru.

    Good luck
  • A professor I work with, Brian Barsky [berkeley.edu], heads up the OPTICAL research project at UC Berkeley.

    Their latest work, "RAYS (Render As You See) [berkeley.edu] is a system for "vision-realistic rendering" which can simulate the vision of actual individuals. Vision-realistic rendering is particularly interesting in the context of laser refractive eye surgeries such as PRK and LASIK. Currently, almost a million Americans per year are choosing to undergo such elective surgeries. RAYS could convey to doctors the vision of a patient before and after surgery. In addition, RAYS could provide accurate and revealing visualizations of predicted acuity and simulated vision to potential candidates for such surgeries to facilitate educated decisions about the procedure. Still another application would be to show such candidates the possible visual anomalies that could arise from the surgery (such as glare at night)."

  • I was like -4.00 and -3.75. I had Lasik a few years ago. Now I see about 20/25 and 20/20. I have the halos at night.

    I have to admit, initially I was somewhat disappointed because my vision definitely wasn't as sharp as it was when it was fine-tuned with my contact lenses. But to tell you the truth, now I don't even think about it. My vision is definitely "good enough" and I'm glad I did it. Being free of any vision correction is really, really nice. The halos at night used to be somewhat annoying, but I've pretty much gotten used to them and they don't bother me.

    One big advantage is that my eyes don't get as fatigued from wearing contact lenses at the end of the day, and I find that to be an advantage in late night programming sessions.

    For me, the positives outweighed the negatives, but unfortunately there's no way to really know for yourself without doing it.

  • Thrilled with Mine (Score:4, Informative)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) <bittercode@gmail> on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:53PM (#4363337) Homepage Journal
    I'm a programmer. I had my eyes done about 4 years ago. I've had no problmes. I did get a 'starburst' on bright lights at night but it is actually milder than the same effect when I wore glasses.

    I had the procedure mainly because glasses interfered w/hunting and other outdoor sports.

    From what I understand- the greater the correction needed, the greater the risks. My vision was not too bad prior to the procedure and better than 20/20 in both eyes after it was done.

    I would do it again in a heart beat.

    .
  • i had lasik done.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jspectre (102549) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:53PM (#4363339) Journal

    18 months ago and have had better than 20/20 vision since.

    my advice is to very carefully research your doctor and the equipment he uses. you get what you pay for, cheap prices usually means cheap service. much of the equipment they use can be looked up on the web (my doctor used a system developed by B&L, i could look up the stats and success & failure rate on B&L's web site as well as the FDA).

    i'm very happy with having it done.

    oh. i had it done at lasik plus [lasikplus.com].

  • Right now, a better laser correction technology is in trials and should be available sometime in '03 or '04. Albeit at a greater cost, of course.

    The new method uses computer assisted distorted mirror and lens technology to create a real time map of the retina for the shaping beam (also new).

    The benefits? Try 10/20 vision. And unlike LASIK, this new method promises less irritation and actually improves your night vision instead of nearly erasing it.

    For my money, near super-human vision is worth the wait... and the estimated 5k per eye price tag.

  • Orthokeratology (Score:2, Informative)

    by wboatman (126052)
    I had been wearing soft contacts for about 18 years, and had noticed that within a week of getting new lenses, my vision had started to drop off.

    About 8 months ago one of the local eye doctors started offering orthokeratology [allaboutvision.com]. I wanted to do this instead of lasik because I don't trust anything that has to do with cutting my eyes, the "oops, you know there is always a chance of something bad happening" factor bothers me. With orthokeratology, if you stop wearing the lenses, your eyes go back to how they were. This lets me have good vision with a minor inconvinience (less than wearing soft contacts) and give me the option of getting lasik when it is $50 an eye and there is no chance of anything bad happening.

    My eyes started out at -6.5 / -5.5, which is at the far end for successful treatment. Important lesson, don't go from eyesight this bad to 20/20 in one step, use two different sets of lenses.

    After about 6 weeks I had 20/20 20/25 without the lenses 20/15 with. Now I wear the lenses all day and night one day, leave them out the next. If I only wear them at night, after the second night I have 20/40.

    I have no trouble working on computers all day, and I don't have to worry about losing a lens while rafting or diving. Getting dirt in my eye while biking though is a very interesting experience, one of the drawbacks of hard contact lenses.

  • I had mine done about a year and a half ago. I was 20/600 in both eyes. I'm now 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 in the other.

    I have noticed some decrease in night vision but my night vision was worse with contacts, and without them I couldn't see anything anyway. I also can't read a page of fine print half an inch from my eye, no loss there, and the doctor says I may need bifocals a few years earlier than I otherwise would have. I can still read fine print at six inches, and the joy of not needing glasses or contacts to function cannot be described to someone who can see "normally".

    That said, if you can function without glasses, and only need them for driving, say 20/40 or so, I wouldn't do it. For me it was worth doing even if I didn't get 20/20 out of it since even 20/50 would have been a vast improvement.
  • by gclef (96311) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:56PM (#4363364)
    I had it done about 2 1/2 years ago. No regrets at all. For the record, I had about -6.5 with about -3 astigmatism.

    However, if you take one quote away from this post, it should be this: This isn't like buying toothpaste. This is surgery. You will get what you pay for.

    In other words, do your homework before even talking to doctors. Be aware that this is surgery, even if it is outpatient surgery. I ended up paying much more than the "average" rate because the doctor I chose had done over 10,000 procedures (successfully), and was an instructor of the procedure. If you can afford it, the extra money for someone really experienced in the procedure is worth it.

  • by guttentag (313541) on Monday September 30, 2002 @06:57PM (#4363369) Journal
    For those unwilling or unable to take advantage of Laser Surgery, have other viable alternatives arisen in the past two years?
    There have been some amazing advances in the Braille terminal industry.
  • They work. They might be a bit cumbersome and crude, but if you have worn glasses and/or contacts all your life, you're probably used to it already.

    The other fact is that I (nor anyone else) knows what long-term effects these kind of treatments have.

    I only have one pair of eyes. Glasses and contacts alleviate my sight problems adequately without doing something intrusive or irreversible. I'll stick with my glasses and contacts, thank you.

  • I've been wearing CIBA Vision Focus Night and Day [nightanddaycontacts.com] contacts for 2 years now. You can wear them for upto 30 days constantly. I've even been swimming in the sea and swimming pools with them; without goggles - hard to type goggles and not make it google ;-).

    I believe they only just got approval in the US in the last 6 months or so. I live in California and asked my optomotrist about LASIK after having worn the CIBA lenses for about a year (I got my lenses from the UK and at that time had to order the next set my mailorder from the UK as well since they weren't approved in the US). This was the first time he had heard of the CIBA lenses and said that my eyes looked like they had never worn lenses and the risk of LASIK was considerably higher than wearing these lenses for the rest of my life.

    Remeber LASIK is major surgery and as always there is a risk of it going wrong.

    I'm not sure if the CIBA lenses can help with the astigmatism you mentioned but it is worth asking.
  • your vision is practically perfect. My left eye is -8.50, and my right is -8.00. Plus I've got a stigatism in both eyes. I don't care if it takes me away from coding for a week or two, as soon as my vision stops getting worse I'm going in for LASIK. (it's gotten worse every checkup for 12 years now)
  • by Gandalf21 (202078) <hinesNO@SPAMcs.fsu.edu> on Monday September 30, 2002 @07:08PM (#4363450)
    Does anyone else find it ironic that the guy posing this question has the nick cyclops? If I were him, I would be very careful not to damage my lone good eye .)
  • As several other posters have commented, there are some real risks to LASIK. They may be rare, and you can dramatically lower your risks by paying a few more bucks to go to the guy who handles the people messed up by cheaper places. Also, you can improve your odds by wearing glasses for a couple weeks longer than required during the pre-op period - let your eyes get back to their natural shape.

    However, I made my decision based on the risks associated with not having the surgery. My vision was bad enough that glasses weren't really an option because of the weight. The pre-op period was a nightmare. Without glasses, I was legally blind and outside of known environments functionally blind.

    When I looked at the big picture - the increased risk of injury or even death because of blindness without glasses, the fact that I was largely incapacitated if I was unable to wear contacts for some reason, etc., I went ahead with the surgery.

    Overall, I'm fairly happy with the results. I'm starting to have some problems reading very fine print (e.g., doing 2-up code listings), but I'm sure that's related to the fact I'm over 40, not because of the surgery. (In fact, I still have unusually good close vision for my age.) I seem to have more floaters than before, but that may just be my imagination since exams show nothing unusual.

    And as others have pointed out, my night vision has gone to hell. But it took me months to figure this out, since it's so hard to find darkness in an urban environment. When I'm driving, the lights from my car's headlights or even a full moon (e.g., during a recent night-time drive across Wyoming and Utah) is enough to keep my vision in the corrected region.
  • I had RK (Radial Kerotomy) surgery a dozen years ago and have come to regret it, for reasons that also apply to LASIK. 1) The procedure leaves scars on the eye that refract light (simular to to the edges of hard contacts, but much worse). This light scattering is what causes "night blindness"; any bright lights in front of you effectively blind you. 2) As people age, they get more farsighted. Correct to 20/20 now, and 10 years from now you'll need glasses to read or see a CRT. As opposed to my father, who no longer wears glasses to drive. 3) RK was very much a crap-shoot; they couldn't precisely predict if they would over-correct or under correct. LASIK is more precise, but 20/20 is still not guaranteed.


    On the plus side, surgery done properly DOES do a better job of correcting astigmatism than corrective lenses. If you are only astigmatic in one eye, consider having only that one eye done. RK 10 years after took my good eye and made it extremely farsighted and astigmatic, while it took my bad eye and fixed most of the astigmatism and made it only slightly farsighted. (Before RK both eyes were severly nearsighted.) If I had it to do over again, I'd only have one eye done.


    One more thing: go to ALL your scheduled follow-up doctor visits!

  • My wife had Lasik done about a year ago. Yes, the night vision went away a little bit but came back some. But even though her optometrist supposedly tested her out to be nearly normal, she still feels that she does see as well as she used to corrected even with her current glasses. She wears glasses all the time now, albeit a lot weaker, and they're not like her old cokebottles. And she can read the alarm clock from across the bed.

    As far as working on the computer, she wears her glasses, and she feels okay with it.

    What it boils down to is: your mileage may vary. Bear in mind that you might not feel that you can get as good as your corrected vision back even with glasses, and that would be my concern if I was considering it. And if you're pushing 40, you're not going to be without glasses for long before presbyopia kicks in anyway.

  • by Polo (30659) on Monday September 30, 2002 @09:31PM (#4364376) Homepage
    Ok, I had the surgery, and I am in the unique position to do an A/B comparison of a corrected eye and an uncorrected eye. I had one eye done at a time, and after much frustration, decided not to get the second eye done.

    I would NOT recommend it.

    I was signed up for a the LASIK procedure, but at the last minute, they told me my corneal depth wasn't enough for LASIK. I was offered another newer surgery called LASEK which was supposed to be much better: no cutting of the cornea but the same laser accuracy. They put alcohol on your eye and loosen and fold back the epithelial layer covering the cornea. Then they etch your cornea with the laser and fold it back. It supposedly has a shorter healing time, less trauma from the cutting and doesn't have the "fallen circus tent effect". This happens when the LASIK corneal flap re-covers the cornea and gets little micro-striations from settling down on a flatter surface.

    So, I had the left eye done, and continued to wear a soft contact lens in the right eye.

    They say I have 20/20 vision in my left eye. My right eye with the contact lens does about 20/15.

    My left eye is probably 20/20 in bright bright daylight. However, the darker it gets, the worse my vision becomes.

    I believe what has happened is that the brighter the light is, the smaller your pupil closes down. With the pupil closed, only a small portion of your cornea is used to bring light into the eye and irregularities in the surface don't make much difference.

    However, when the pupil opens up, you need a much more precise curve in your cornea to properly focus the light on your retina. I think that not only is the curve of my cornea imprecise, when my pupil opens some light comes through the portion of my eye not corrected by the laser. (And I had the "large pupil program")

    At night, my left eye shows a confusing view of lights. Headlights from cars have a certain percentage focused at a point, but a large portion comes out in a halo (seems to be more to one side for me). Signs are quite difficult to read until I'm right up on them. If I didn't have my right eye to help, I would not trust myself to drive at night.

    Movie theaters are another bother. You go in a theater and as soon as things get dim, the screen washes out for one eye.

    My right eye is corrected by a soft Toric contact lens. It does significantly better in almost every case. Although it is nice to get up in the morning with SOME vision from the left eye, I have to put in my contact lens to get really crisp clear vision.

    I can't sit at the computer screen in a dark room easily. It helps to have a bright light near the computer screen. This closes down the pupil and I get crisper vision in the left eye.

    If I could do it again, I would definitely stick to my contacts.

    My doctor seemed bothered that I was upset. He kept on trying to get me to compare the eye with the surgery to the same eye without any vision correction. Yeah, maybe things are better for the 5 minutes I need to put my lenses in in the morning, but really, is that meaningful?

    I believe your vision will get worse than corrected vision, especially at night. Oh yeah, I can't wear glasses anymore because they change the size of the image that I see and though the brain can adjust for minor offsets in vision, it can't deal with two differently sized images.
  • Anecdotally speaking (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jahf (21968) on Monday September 30, 2002 @09:55PM (#4364483) Journal
    I had LASIK done in April of 2001 (almost 18 months ago).

    I was fairly nearsighted and also mildly astigmatic, both eyes were almost equal.

    Anyway ... I was never able to wear contacts because these blue eyes are just too sensitive. My first day after surgery I had to keep fairly sedated because my eyes itched/hurt, so of course my instinct was to try and open or rub them.

    After the first day I could open my eyes and see. After the 3rd day I didn't have any measurable irritation. By the 7th day my vision was better than 20/20 except for the normal halo patterns.

    However, after about 3-4 months my vision got a little worse. I'm not quite 20/20 in either eye. My right eye is better (but I'm left-eye dominant, so it's frustrating). My left eye is able to pass the Colorado driver's exam, but just barely.

    My biggest problem is "ghosting" as I call it. I think it's just the healed version of the halos that I had bad at first. It is only a problem in very bright light or in high-contrast images (like driving at night ... I tend to see 1 strong yellow line and 2 converging "ghosted" yellow lines when looking at the road).

    The ghosting is enough to give me a mild eye-strain headache every once in a great while, but usually it just makes me squint a bit. I have no problems working on a computer monitor for 10+ hours a day and I don't have any problems reading in bed (I had gotten so nearsighted that I had to wear my glasses to read at night).

    My eyes have been stable since about 6 months after the surgery. My cost was $1500/eye, but it was at a well known clinic and they give as many free tune-ups as required for 3 years after the procedure. I would have gotten a tune-up by now, but I've moved.

    I'm waiting for our vacation back to the place where it was done (Dr. Arrowsmith in Nashville, TN) this winter to get my tune-up. That will give me 14 months left on the policy to heal and see how things go. I doubt I will go for more than 1 tune-up though, as I am worried about causing scarring.

    The best part is, I went in to get a tuneup in June and the doctor actually told me to wait because they were getting in a new machine (Wave laser) that was much more accurate. Apparently my nearsightedness is gone and the ghosting (which is exacerbated by my having had astigmatism) is a result of a barely uneven surface from the old laser. The new laser handles this much better. I like a doctor who will tell you that instead of just trying to clear their schedule.

    Overall I'm very happy I did it. I never liked my glasses and am very happy that I can read at night. Plus, now I can buy ski goggles and motorcycle helmets that are comfortable :) ...

    Recommendations:

    1) I had both eyes done at the same time. DON'T DO THAT. While I turned out ok, if my eyes had healed any less "ok" than they are I would be upset that I did them both. I would recommend doing 1, waiting 2-3 months, then doing the other if you're satisfied.

    2) If you get a free tune-up, especially if it's valid for a couple of years like most reputable clinics are wont to do, wait at least 6 months, maybe 12, before having a tune-up. Not only will your eyes continue to heal the first few months, but more refined technology is continuously being rolled out.
  • by aengblom (123492) on Monday September 30, 2002 @10:27PM (#4364608) Homepage
    ...since I am posting late.. but
    (haha, pun originally not intended, but it is now)....

    Find someone who will turn you away!

    One of the big things about this surgery is that, most (all?) Dr's will tell you the average risk. But they will not tell you your specific risk. For people with certain eye characteristics, the rate for having complications is much higher than others. I'd have serious reservations (if I couldn't see 20/20 already :P) if I couldn't get someone to tell me if I was above or below.

    In fact, I'd be willing to pay a fair some of money to a doctor to evaluate me who KNEW he wouldn't be getting me as a patient. Second opinion is one thing. Objective opinion is another.

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