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Biotech Science

Experiences with Laser Eye Surgery? 1104

Posted by Cliff
from the is-it-worth-the-risk-to-your-retinas dept.
GodLessOne asks: "I am about to get my hands on a reasonable lump of cash and I am working on my list of ways to make it an ex-lump of cash. All of the normal geek things appear on the list, but one item that I keep considering is corrective laser eye surgery. Would anyone care to share their real world experiences? I worry that the people selling it are the only ones saying how wonderful it is, and what percentage of people show a marked improvement afterward. Are there any stories out there relating how bad it can be if it goes wrong?"
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Experiences with Laser Eye Surgery?

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  • by SIGALRM (784769) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:00PM (#9785364) Journal
    Would anyone care to share their real world experiences?
    <squint>
    I would, but I'm a hunt-and-peck typist, and my keyboard is pretty much just a blur.
    </squint>
    • by Xyrus (755017) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:59PM (#9785886) Journal
      Some of the best money I've ever spent. Right now I have 20/15 in one eye and 20/25 in the other (slight residual astigmatism).

      May vision was bad before. And I mean BAD. I was almost legally blind. Anything beyond about 6 inches in front of my face was a complete blur. And you can't imagine the feeling you have when you crush your coke bottle glasses and toss them in the trash. :)

      My onyly negative was that for some reason, Some of the anesthetic drops missed my cornea in my left eye. So when that blade cut, it was kinda painful. But I can't complain with the results.

      Keep in mind though, it is not a miracle cure all. When you have bad vision (like me) you may still have to wear glasses (most likely ata reduced perscription.

      But like I said, it was well worth the money to be freed from having to put on glasses just to get out of bed.

      ~X~
      • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:04PM (#9786270)
        I think you've hit-upon a key point. If your eyesight is so bad that you're effectively blind without glasses (incapacitated), I would think that it's a fair chance to take. As other posters have said, the main reported side-effect can be poor night-vision (halos on bright objects) - and I found the same issue when I wore contacts.

        I can "see" fine without glasses to get around and such, but I can't read comfortably without them.

        The tradeoff is that I work in the film and television industry - eyes are pretty important (read: vital) for my job, and the risk is outweighed by the potential problems if something "went wrong".

        I'm reasonably comfortable with the technology now - I know that a local company doing the laser correction does a "no touch" technique where they use the laser exclusively without the microkeratome so no foreign objects touch the optical surface of your eye - apparently it provides a smoother finished surface with less chance of issues at night.

        But it's not an urgent "fix" for me. Add to that at least a couple times where glasses have saved my eyes from being injured (once by flying debris, and once by an accidental spray of cleaning solvent) and I'm not all that unhappy wearing glasses...

        N.
        • ... why would you even consider it unless you wanted "hawk-vision" as some of the advanced techniques can now shoot reliably for 20/10.

          I had it done and I'm perfectly happy. I was 20/20, 20/15, Though I think my 20/15 eye has drifted back a little bit. I don't need glasses anymore and thats the point.

          You walk in with glasses, you walk out seeing 20/20. All the places "insure" the surgery so they'll do corrections for free if you drift into vision that would require correction.

          I do have some of the ha
        • by wcb4 (75520) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:16PM (#9786336)
          The real issue with the halos at night is when the laser that is doing the correction does not correct the entire area of the cornea that the pupil covers when dialated. When you go out at ngiht, the pupil dialates to include an uncorrected area, and that causes the halo. To minimize (not completely avoid) make sure that they use one of the newer lasers, where the laser beam itself moves around to cover a larger portion of the eye. I remember when I had mine done, it was just after the "flying spot" lasers were introduced. I had a little haloing for the first few weeks as my eyes healed, but I see fewer halos now than I ever did with glasses or contact.

          This being said, it was the best investment that I ever made and I would gladly do it again. When I had mine corrected, I purchased what amounts to a life time warranty. If my eyes get too bad again, I can go back in for another "flap-n-zap" and it won't cost me a cent. Cost a bit upfront (I think I paid about $2k/eye, but Its good being able to see without glasses and knowing that I can have them fix it again in 10 years if needed.

          I have recommended this to everyone I know who wears glasses, especially those who, like me, wre nealry in the realm of legal blindness. I have 20/20 and 20/25 vision right now, and I would pay another $4k if need be (but thankfully I won't have to)
        • by deglr6328 (150198) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:27PM (#9786387)
          This is IMPORTANT, mod parent up! The parent is referring to a laser called intralase [intralase.com] which completely eliminates the process of using a microkeratome to cut the flap, the part of the procedure that is by far the most prone to induce complications. The laser cuts the flap for the procedure by using thousands of ultrafast femtosecond pulses of light focused just below the surface of the cornea in a radial pattern. Depth and thickness of the flap can be controlled with exquisite precision [intralase.com] and since nothing physically touches the intracorneal tissue, risk of infection is grealty reduced. While you're at it, since you're probable a technical guy, what with posting to slashdot and all, why not check out [allaboutvision.com] the laser itself? Manufacturers are all different with respect to the spot size of the laser pulses, the method which they use to track tiny eye movments and compensate for them, and the range of astig. and correction they are intended to treat. Also, see if they do customized ablations [stronghealth.com] to reduce higher order abberations as well. If you're going to check out the doctor before you have the prcedure done WHY NOT CHECK OUT THE TECHNOLOGY TOO?!
          • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @01:00AM (#9787193)
            After some further research, it appears the place that's doing it locally is doing a laser PRK as opposed to LASIK.

            The laser PRK actually uses the laser to remove the cells above the cornea rather than cutting a flap.

            The old-style PRK method of this that got a really bad name is when they used to abrade (read: sand off) the top surface of the eye using a q-tip of some sort. Apparently this was highly uncomfortable and was prone to problems healing (ick).

            The laser version basically does the same thing, but it just vaporizes the top layer of cells then uses the laser to reshape the cornea underneath and is much less traumatic to the eye as nothing is physically touching the optical surface of the eye.

            That said, the technology you mentioned is also very intriguing. Using a laser to cut a flap, then reshape makes good sense as well. Apparently each method has it's tradeoffs:

            -The flap-cut method heals faster and causes less discomfort, however there's the issue of the flap itself and the size of flap they can cut to work on the cornea underneath. Apparently "flap problems" are the biggest cause of after-surgery complications

            -The laser PRK method is a bit more uncomfortable afterwards as the membrane on the eye needs to regrow (a few days). But there's no flap, and they can work on a larger area to reduce night-effects. This method is apparently not approved in the US (although the reference for that was a few years ago) so you might need to go to another country to do it (ie: Canada).

            The only reason I know about it is that I went for one of their free evaluations a few years ago because I was curious what they could do. I opted not to do anything at the time, but I felt comfortable with the staff and it seemed like an easy-enough procedure.

            There were a few people in the lobby that were getting after-procedure checkups, but they didn't speak english, so I couldn't ask them about it :P. Apparently this company also gives you "free touchups for life" after the surgery incase your prescription drifts as you age.

            N.
    • My experience (Score:5, Informative)

      by Vraylle (610820) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:13PM (#9785983) Homepage
      I had 420/20 vision in both eyes, well beyond legally blind. Through my vision plan at work, I went to TLC for $1800 per eye. In my research I had determined that (generally) cheap != good. The $1800 per eye covered all optometrist visits, the initial surgery, most medications (largely eyedrops), and any needed followup treatments. I had both eyes done at the same time, and they offered me a valium...which relaxed me quite nicely. The surgery went well, but almost everything that could go wrong after that did. The tissue grew back almost completely (which was a new one to them), reverting me to about 380/20 vision. After several weeks I had a second surgery. Two days later I developed the "Sands of the Sahara", which causes serious fogging of the cornea and can cause real problems if not treated quickly...and I woke up with it on a Sunday morning. Now for the good part. I called TLC right after I woke up that morning, and they set me up with a optometrist half an hour later. Some eyedrops were all it took. I had pretty bad glare for three to four months. Bottom line: I'd do it again in a heartbeat. For all the problems, it's hard to overstate the pleasure and practicality of not needed glasses or contacts. TLC stayed on top of the problems...they took care of me. The pleasure of being able to see...always...and not becoming an invalid if my glasses break is priceless. Check up on the people doing the work, and go for it.
      • Re:My experience (Score:3, Interesting)

        by duggy_92127 (165859)

        TLC stayed on top of the problems...they took care of me.

        I second this entirely. I had mine done in 1999, which was fairly early for this sort of thing, and it was the best money I ever spent. TLC people knew what they were doing, and it was professional and well-done all the way through.

        I had none of the problems the parent had, either, and I was more than -10 in both eyes. Had them both done at once, and drove to my follow-up appointment the next day myself. My advice is go to a good doctor, go to a

      • by flacco (324089) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:56PM (#9786230)
        The pleasure of being able to see...always...and not becoming an invalid if my glasses break is priceless.


        plus, if there's a nuclear war that kills everyone but you, and you want to spend the rest of your days reading all the books you never had a chance to read, you don't have to worry that an ironic accident will put the kibosh on your plans.

      • Re:My experience (Score:4, Insightful)

        by marc_moore (799688) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @12:15AM (#9786977)
        Four people in my family, including myself, have had the surgery with no major complications. Everyone is seeing 20/30 or better starting from being pretty bad off. That's the good news. The bad is that I have a bad case of dry eyes. It's a tragedy if I leave the house without my eyedrops - by the end of the day it feels like I haven't slept in a week. My relatives don't have that problem. There's also a tendency toward night vision problems, starring, halos and the like. Mostly your brain adjusts to the artifacts but it's not a good thing. In my lay-option, if you're into sports or something where glasses get in the way and your vision doesn't require a major correction - go for it. If you're doing it to pick up chicks or your doctor's going to burn deep into the cornea, I'd think again.
    • One man's experience (Score:5, Informative)

      by SultanCemil (722533) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:50PM (#9786194)
      I decided to have lasik in Jan' 02.

      In retrospect, I would never, ever recommend it to anyone. I started off at -5.5 (which is pretty bad). I had no astigmatism, and no other problems. I had been wearing contacts for years without any problems and didn't really mind them that much, but just thought that it'd be nice not to need them.

      The surgery went well. I walked out of the office, went to sleep, and woke up 3 hours later. I looked outside and could see perfectly - and I do mean PERFECTLY. I was ecstatic. For the first time in my life, I could see without those lenses. This was as good as my vision would get.

      For 3 months after this, I had massive fluctuations in my vision. Some days I'd wake up seeing fine, other days I'd have weird problems including double vision, halos, astigmatism, etc (and that's not even including the night vision problems). After those 3 months, my vision finally settled down to being under corrected at -1 with astigmatism (which changed every time they measured it). At this point, I basically figured that I had no choice but to go ahead and have the touch-up (since it was much harder to correct my vision with lenses now).

      After 6 months, I had a touch-up. Following this operation, I had the same weird after effects for months, until my vision finally stabilized - into 20/20 vision. During the day. In good sunlight. When I'm not tired. All of a sudden I have dry eye problems which cause me huge problems at night, or when I'm tired. Problems I never had before. I have weird problems with blue lights. At night, I can focus on most things, but am unable to focus on blue LEDs or lights. Apparently this is a normal side effect of the surgery.

      I would recommend that you visit http://www.lasikdisaster.com/ [lasikdisaster.com] If you want some more information. The major problem that they don't tell you is this: 20/20 vision is NOT the same as perfect vision. You can have double vision, ghosting, night vision problems but still have 20/20 vision. As long as you can read that little line on the eye chart, you have 20/20 and are considered a success story of the surgery. You could have a double image and not be able to drive, or function properly and STILL BE A SUCCESS.

      In addition to this, you can end up with eyes that are miscorrected (so you still have blurry vision) that are UNCORRECTABLE. If you have multi-axial astigmatism, or other weird issues you may NEVER be correctable to 20/20 with glasses, contacts or ANYTHING ELSE. Think about that. No matter how bad your eyes are now, at least they're correctable.

      In short, I would never, ever, ever have the surgery knowing what I know now. I would also never ever recommend it to anyone. The risks are not worth the rewards. Notice they say that 95% or 98% or whatever reach 20/20 - but they never say how many have these weird complications - and outside studies estimate them as high as 25%. Doesn't sound so good now, does it?

      • by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:11PM (#9786675)
        The major problem that they don't tell you is this: 20/20 vision is NOT the same as perfect vision.

        That reminds me of when I was in high school and had 20/15 vision. I had a part time job that involved working with some pretty scary chemicals, and one day when I left work I realized that my vision was "foggy." It looked just like when I used to keep my eyes open in the swimming pool as a kid, and things looked all blurry afterward. Well, I went to a doctor and told him what was wrong, but I was able to read the 20/15 line on the chart. Of course, he said that everything was OK. I had a hell of a time convincing him that everything was NOT OK! It went away after a day though, with no help from him. Sorry for your troubles.
      • by Dr. Zowie (109983) <slashdot@nospAm.deforest.org> on Saturday July 24, 2004 @02:07AM (#9787465)
        Blue lights being out of focus (especially at night) is normal. It is due to dispersion in your eye, and it is a normal phenomenon. The materials that make up your cornea and lens have a higher index of refraction for blue light than for red and green, so you are more nearsighted in blue light than in anything else. The difference is of order 1-2 diopter between red and deep blue/violet. So if your vision is perfect for distant green lights, you can expect to focus slightly closer for red lights (but probably won't notice) and you can expect not to be able to focus for blue lights. The effect is stronger at night, because your pupil is open and the depth-of-field of your focus is much less.

        You probably didn't notice that effect when your correction was -5.5, but now that it's 0, it's obvious.
  • A few thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:00PM (#9785370)
    First, how bad can it be? Well, potentially, you could go blind.

    Second, do you really need it? If you don't really need it, then waiting may be your best option. Medical technology changes so fast that a new, better procedure could be out within a few years. Sometimes, having one of these surgeries disqualifies you from a future surgery.

    It basically comes down to how much you're risking. If I had only minor vision problems, I wouldn't have it done. If my vision is already pretty bad, I might be willing to risk more for an improvement.

    BTW, you can always invest money rather than spending it. It's a wacky idea, but might be worth your consideration.
    • Re:A few thoughts (Score:4, Informative)

      by Penguin_Boi (411369) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:24PM (#9785616) Homepage Journal
      I would never do it again. Among other things it has completely decimated my night vision. Being an amatuer astronomer (among myriad other things) I could always take relief in that my relatively rotten eyesight was not really a hindrance when peering at points of light through a telescope. Now virtually any lighting above ambient in a low-light environment creates tons of hazy starbursts which blast my acuity all to hell. The surgery hasn't helped my vision when I'm the least bit fatigued either. I can't find any satisfactory explanation for this, so it may be an effect of my overall displeasure with the result of the sugery. Be Forewarned. According to my research I am far from being in the minority with respect to most of my complaints. Best of Luck, there are those who have done it and are pleased as punch, but I'd say it's at best a crapshoot.
  • by halo1982 (679554) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:01PM (#9785379) Homepage Journal
    I found a ton of info on Google...first hand encounters. Lasik experiences. [google.com]
  • by mikael (484) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:01PM (#9785380)
    ... personally I'd just wear glasses, and spend the money on a new computer. For me, glasses help boost your intellectual look (Don't something like 70% of engineers wear glasses?).
    • by Sarcasmooo! (267601) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:18PM (#9786340)
      The 'intellectual look' is only a bonus for people with thin lenses. I have horrible vision and when I used to wear glasses the lenses were thick enough that my eyes looked beady and strange. I thought I was just an ugly dweeb till I got contacts in highschool, then suddenly all the popular girls were trying to up my social status FOR me, so they could date me without being embarassed (that experience was worse than being a geek). I still have a pair today to wear when I take my contacts out, and despite the new fangled featherweight thin technology in all the ads, I still look ugly with them on.
  • Don't do it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by faedle (114018) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:02PM (#9785391) Homepage Journal
    Yes. Do a google search on "lasik dangers" and you'll find that when it goes wrong, it can go horribly wrong, up to and including blindness.

    I, personally, wouldn't do it unless my vision was so bad I needed coke-bottle bottoms to see.
    • Re:Don't do it. (Score:5, Informative)

      by 2starr (202647) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08PM (#9785457) Homepage
      The most important thing to avoid this is to make sure you get a good doctor. Get referrals. See how much experience they have. There is definitely a difference between a good surgeon and a not-so-good one and this is one place you might not want to go for the guy with the cheapest price.
      • Re:Don't do it. (Score:5, Informative)

        by uberpeon (103837) <[kerry] [at] [yahoo.com]> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:27PM (#9785637)
        Yup, this is key. I got Lasik two years ago, both eyes at once, and while it was a bit freaky at the time (What's that smell?), lemme tell you - I love it. My only regret? I didn't do it sooner.

        I had 20/50 vision before hand, with an astigmatism that added an equal amount of distortion as the 20/50, and I'm now around 20/15 with both eyes, and 20/20 with each eye by itself.

        The key was a good doctor. At one point worked with someone that went to a place that was only $1000 for both eyes, but if you paid cash - $800!! Wow! Her technician had aparently performed around 10 surgeries. Uhhh...no thanks, these are my freakin EYES here.

        Now, she did this right after I quit that job, so I have no idea how her eyes are (This was 4 years ago), but I instead talked to my opthamologist. He recommended two doctors, Dr. Steel & Doctor Maloney. Dr Maloney was one of the inventors at UCLA, and had done 15K proceedures at the time, and and Doctor Steel had done about 10K proceedures, and was in my old hometown, and was $300 cheaper. :)

        So, I put away the max $3k in my cafeteria plan, and used that for the surgery, so that I actually got about 33% back in taxes.

        I also called around where I live now, and the local guy was bragging about his 4K surgeries, and was $1200 more.

        It was an easy choice.

        It took about an hour and a half at the doctor's office, plus some pre & post op appointments...and was awesome. The next day I went with my girlfriend & hung out on the wharf here in town & thought "WOW! THAT SEAGULL IS SOOO CLEAR!!! WOW!!! THE WATER IS SHIIIINYYY!!!!!" (Make sure you buy new sunglasses....my eyes were dialated for about 3 days...)

        It's awesome. I'm really glad I did it. And I didn't even have "horrible" vision to start. :)

        ObPlug: http://www.steelvisioncenters.com/ [steelvisioncenters.com]
    • Staar Surgical (Score:5, Informative)

      by lseltzer (311306) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:30PM (#9785668)
      Hold out for Staar Surgical [staar.com] and their intraocular lenses. Basically it's an implanted contact lens. Unlike Lasik, it's reversible. You can change your prescription. But it's not quite approved yet.
      • Re:Staar Surgical (Score:3, Informative)

        by goodhell (227411)
        That's what I'm holding out for. I actually went to have my eyes "frickin' lasered" a couple of years ago. I hate wearing glasses and the last time I tried to wear contacts it was like putting gravel in my eyes. And now I can't even hold my open when I try to put a lens in.

        When I went they did all of their tests to see if I was a good candidate for it. Well, they determined that I am too far-sighted. I was pissed. I really hate wearing glasses and would like to be able to see when I don't have my gla
    • bleh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:31PM (#9785671) Homepage Journal
      I could look up "Vasectomy dangers" and got a list of people who had something go horribly wrong.

      Here is an idea, find some scientific studies and figure the odds. NO procedure is 100% safe.
    • Re:Don't do it. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kesuki (321456)
      I, personally, wouldn't do it unless my vision was so bad I needed coke-bottle bottoms to see.

      And no reputable lasik surgeon would perform the surgery on you, as that prescription would almost certainly exceed the corneal thickness of your eyes.

      You can't wear contacts after getting lasik, and it isn't reccomended for use in conjunction with prescription eyewear.

      Lasik is only for people with an adequate corneal thickness to 'carve' the right prescription into thier eye with a laser. oh and btw... the las
  • by Thinkit4 (745166) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:02PM (#9785392)
    I had intacts (eye implants) put in and taken out. They created halos at nights which were bugging me just too much. A laser will not be reversible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:03PM (#9785404)
    She's pretty smart. I'd follow her lead.
    • Ok,here goes my karma.

      Rodney Dangerfield quote: "I love girls who wear glasses. You take 'em home,breathe real heavy,it steams up their glasses and they don't know what you're doing."

  • by bravehamster (44836) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:04PM (#9785409) Homepage Journal
    I hate to break it to ya buddy, but I was crushed when I found out, and I think you should know too. They use a laser ON your eye, to fix problems. They DON'T give you a laser eyeball to replace your puny and misshapen one. I know, I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. Shoulda taken that guy to court for false advertising.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:04PM (#9785415)
    Friend of mine once remarked after thinking about it.

    "I wasn't sure, every surgeon I met who would perform it was wearing glasses..."
    • Here's an appropriate story, but with dentists instead of eye surgeons.

      There is a small town with two dentists. The town is hundreds of miles from anywhere else that is inhabited, so anyone who visits a dentist visits one of these two. One of the dentists has a sparkling mouth full of perfectly arranged, white teeth. The other dentist has a mouth full (well, half-full) of the ugliest, yellowest, most-malformed teeth anyone has even seen. If you lived in this town, which dentist would you visit?

      The ans

  • Be careful (Score:5, Informative)

    by randyest (589159) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:05PM (#9785426) Homepage
    Avoid frauds [lasikfraud.com] and unrealistic [warnerbros.com] expectations [lasik4me.com].

    Understand the risks, ans assume much worse odds than you are told. If you're still up for it, go on. If you aren't sure, wait. It keeps getting better and safer, you know.

    Good luck!
  • FDA comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coupons (793098) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:06PM (#9785432) Homepage

    The FDA offers this article: Laser Eye Surgery: Is It Worth Looking Into? [fda.gov]

  • by Zibblsnrt (125875) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:06PM (#9785433)
    I've been hearing of some other options [getintacs.com] lately, which are both less destructive and pretty much reversible/adjustable. Strikes me as more palatable than having some of my eye's tissue permenantly vaporized.

    I'm still hiding behind a pair of armor plates suspended ahead of my eyes on metal frames, but when I get to the point of actually doing some vision repair/etc, I'd be leaning towards this type of procedure instead of laser surgery.

    -PS

  • by OwnedByTheMan (169684) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:06PM (#9785436) Homepage
    Had both eyes done at once (Lasik) and mine were bad but with minor astigmatism. I thik they were like 20/200+ each before.

    After a VERY simple procedure (apart from the razor cutting a flap in your cornea), the recovery process was about 2 days long and now, after 1 year, I have absolutely no ill effects (apart from temp night halos for a bit but they went away after about 6 months).

    Vision now 20/20 left eye, 20/15 right eye.
  • by Karpe (1147) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:06PM (#9785441) Homepage
    ...are not here to tell their stories.
  • by Jodka (520060) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:07PM (#9785444)
    It's not accidents during surgery that you have to worry about so much as the long-term consequences. They are removeing part of the cornea eye and this weakens the eye structurally. Nobody knows what are the consequences of reduced structural integrity twenty or more years down the road.
    • by debrain (29228) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:59PM (#9785892) Journal
      People have been doing RK (radial keratotomy) since the 1940's with razor blades (if you can imagine), the precursor to PRK (photoradial keratotomy), the laser equivalent. There are people alive today who have had eye surgery for over 60 years. I know at least one who had RK in the 1970's, and who has suffered, to my knowledge, no long term side effects. This is a poor statistical sample, however.

      It is not yet probably known what the odds are of higher risk for long term complications, but certainly people have been having laser surgeries for a long time. Lasik is a bit different too, though, and much newer. It is possible that it will lead to a variety of long term complications that would not arise with P/RK.

  • by dorko16 (797086) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `okrod.werd'> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08PM (#9785456)
    Recently my doctor told me about a new therapy as an alternative to lasik. Essentially special lenses reshape your cornea in your sleep. More information. [allaboutvision.com]
  • by kmahan (80459) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08PM (#9785459)
    You don't list if you currently wear contacts or glasses. A word of warning if you wear Hard or Gas Permeable contacts (rigid type). Since they ARE rigid they reshape your eye. After you've used them for a while your eye starts to reshape a bit. Which is great. Right up until you decide it's time to STOP wearing them. It takes a while for your eye to gradually reshape -- up to a year depending on the doctor you talk to (and since it's your eyes I'd assume you'd want to be cautious...). So if you get the surgery done before your eye has totally relaxed the surgery will be a waste.

    Another warning -- always get a second opinion (from a competent opthamologist) as to whether the thickness of your cornea is great enough to successfully do the surgery. In a story a while ago (cnn?) one of the major problems was that a doctor would attempt to do the surgery with a cornea that was too thin to work with.
  • bad experiances (Score:3, Informative)

    by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@terr a l o g i c .net> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08PM (#9785462)
    A friend had this done and has had continuing problems because of it. I'm not entirely sure the exact issues but if you send me your email I can put the two of you in touch with each other.

    One issue is that she now has serious night vision problems.

    My brother had an RK which is an older corrective technique and he felt it was well worth it. However, you may want to read the book "Left for Dead" because it was the eye surgery that left Seaborn Beck Weathers incapacitated and he really was left for dead, twice in fact. So there can be serious consequences.

    I where glasses and did consider surgery at one time. The glasses don't really bother me and since I am short sighted I have found that this is actually a blessing in disguise.

    The glasses fix the distance vision perfectly and I can see perfectly from about 24" to infinity. Under 18" I take off the glasses and can then focus to the tip of my nose. Thus I can do close up work that others can't.

    If you do elect for the surgery, then make sure you get a good doctor... there are some who try to cut a few corners (pardon the pun)
  • by Timmy D Programmer (704067) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:09PM (#9785467) Journal
    Get breast implants. Then you won't need a girlfriend ;)
  • Intacs (Score:3, Informative)

    by mnemonic_ (164550) <jamec@u[ ]h.edu ['mic' in gap]> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:09PM (#9785470) Homepage Journal
    Have you considered Intacs [getintacs.com]? They're much cheaper, lower risk and very effective, though they don't correct all types of flawed vision.
  • by MacFury (659201) <me@@@johnkramlich...com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:10PM (#9785478) Homepage
    I'm not sure if it's still in the FDA approval stage, but talk to your optometrist about a contact lens that you only wear at night.

    Basically the idea is that the contact reshapes your eye while you sleep. In the morning, you take the contacts out and have near perfect vision for close to 24 hours. That's not the beauty of them though. Apparently, if you use these contacts your eyesight does not worsen.

    I wasn't able to afford them when my optometrist told me about them. They were around $700 a pair because they were new and specific to your eyes. I have no clue what they are called but it's worth looking into...no pun intended.

    • It's called... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Synn (6288)
      Orthokeratology or Ortho-K for short.

      Basically they're reverse geometry rigid gas permeable contact lenses that reshape your eyes. Bad vision is caused by bumps and ridges in our visible part of the eye and Ortho-K is the art of flattening that part of the eye to correct vision. Your eyes are elastic and will hold their shape for 24-48 hours if you reshape them. So you wear these contacts at night and have good vision for the rest of the day. With Ortho-K the contacts are specially designed for you based
  • by Nakito (702386) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:10PM (#9785482)
    I have a friend who did this. She is a prominent laywer in one of the largest law firms in a major east coast city that is one the medical meccas of the world. By which I mean: she could afford the best that money could buy. Nevertheless, she had complications. For months afterwards, her eyes were too dry and she constantly had to put in eye drops to stay comfortable (and by constantly I mean that the dropper was always in her hand and she was applying drops in the midst of conversations and meetings and such). The doctors ended up plugging her eye ducts so the tears would not drain out so quickly, in an attempt to help keep her eyes moist enough. She still feels discomfort. Remember, these are your eyes we are talking about.
  • I'm not (Score:3, Insightful)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:18PM (#9785552)
    I've been wearing glasses almost 40 yrs. I couldn't recognise a friend from >10 feet away. A couple of years ago, I asked my optometrist about it. She said "Well...you still see a lot of eye doctors wearing glasses, right?"

    On another note, I'm of the age where bi- or tri-focals are the ticket. Different focal lengths for reading, computer, everything else. So lasik 'might' involve still wearing glasses for reading. NOT.
    If I still have to mess with glasses part time, I'll mess with them all the time. I don't have to even think about where they are. If I'm awake, they're on my head.

    However...I have talked to a few friends and coworkers who have had it done, with pretty stellar results.

    These are my eyeballs, though. My only eyeballs.
  • did it 4 years ago (Score:5, Informative)

    by gclef (96311) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:20PM (#9785572)
    A few thoughts:
    1) This isn't like buying toothpaste (to borrow a quote). This is surgery. It is worth it to pay the extra money for someone good, rather than skimp and regret it later.
    2) If your correction is still changing year-to-year, don't do it. It's only really worth it if your vision has stabilized for a few years.
    3) Be prepared for side effects. Personally, my eyes are much drier than they were before, and small, point light sources have little halos around them...especially visible at night.
    4) They may say that you can function normally the next day...don't even bother trying. Personally, the day after I could look out my window and watch the building across the way shift into and out of focus as my eyes dealt with their new shape. It was like tripping, only without the mood to go along with it. Kinda freaky, actually, now that I think about it.

    With all that said, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I was about -6 or -6.5 diopter, and about a -3 or 4 astigmatism. That's well beyond the range measureable by the 20/20 scale. I don't need glasses now, for anything. I spent a good deal more than the average person, but it was absolutely worth it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Everyone's circumstances are different, and the reputable practitioners warn that there can be no absolute guarantee - you are just playing the odds as with any surgery, and generally they are good, but...

      That being said, I'm glad I did it overall. My diopters were more like about 7-8, with moderate astigmatism IIRC. Coke bottle glasses for sure.

      After I hit 40 and the need for bifocals developed, I found looking at computer screens all day (mandated by my sys/web admin jobs), got to be really uncomforta
  • One word: Fantastic (Score:3, Informative)

    by ledbetter (179623) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:20PM (#9785573) Homepage
    A year and a half ago, I was (like many other computer type people) a slave to my glasses and contacts. I had myopia (near-signtedness) as well as astigmatism. To put it bluntly I couldn't see $*@#@ without corrective lenses. So I decided to take the plunge and investigate Laser surgery. I settled on Lasik MDs [lasikmd.ca] in Canada (where I live). I checked out a few other places, but they didn't really offer anything justifying their much higher cost.

    They put me though hours of tests to determine if I would be an optimal candidate for the treatment. I know at least 2 people who have tried and been turned down by them because of various reasons. They're actually not willing to even try it on you if they think there might be any complications.

    I had the surgery, which cost me just over $2000CDN. It took about 7 minutes. When I sat up on the table, it was pretty incredible, things were a little hazy, but I could see clearly! It only got better from there. I took a few days off work (and wore dumb old-guy-in-a-caddy type sunglasses), and rested. I ended up with 20/15 (better than normal) vision. I'm perfectly comfortable looking at a 19" monitor at 1600x1200 from a distance of 4-5 feet. Night vision is great too. I've recomended it to a few people already. It is perhaps the most life changing experience I've ever had. Seriously, go for it!

    I suggest coming up to Canada to have it done. It's very cost-effective with the exchange rate, and the technology is top-notch.
  • by Artifakt (700173) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:21PM (#9785585)
    There have been several mountaineering injuries and quite possibly actual deaths related to people who have recently had lasix type surgery, then spent more of that 'excess' money on getting a pro to drag them up a big pile of rock (like Everest, or Denali) for the bragging rights. Laser surgery produces eyes that can warp greatly under quick changes in pressure, and leave a person with at least temporary 20/500 vision.
    Before you decide that you are safe from this as you are not taking up mountain climbing, you might want to consider whether you plan on taking any high altitude airplane flights, as for example on a business trip to Denver CO.
  • by dindi (78034) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:22PM (#9785592) Homepage
    one thing to keep in mind :I heard it from a friend:

    supposedly it weakens some parts of your eye (dunno exaclty which) and if your head receives big hits (eg you do motocross, martial arts or just get beaten up frequently) there is a chance that your eye just pops out and pours out ...

    a friend who is a kempo teacher told me that, it worths a research...

    i think it also depends how bad your eye is .. he is almost blind without glasses/lens but he won't go with the operation since he gets kicked in the head 100 times a week ...

  • by mrmoa (588841) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:26PM (#9785626)
    My perscription lenses were -3.75 in one eye and -4.50 in the other. I had LASIK 2 years ago, and tested at 20/20 last week. For me not having to worry about glasses or hassle with contacts, even extend wear contacts, were well worth the price and minor discomfort of LASIK.

    Yes, there can be complications, but that's true of any surgery. My advice: under no circumstances should you buy LASIK on price. (Would you shop around for the cheapest heart surgeon?) Skip anybody who advertises AT ALL and find yourself a good opthamologist. He or she is going to cost more than the "$299 per eye" guys, but you will get personal care and will generally not be subject to the "LASIK mill" approach. Ask your friends, family and your regular doctor, (if you have one) for referrals.

    You could also go to one of the independent laser centers (eg, TLC) and ask which private opthamologists use them, then go interview a couple of those doctors.

    Most of the complications with LASIK happen when the surgeon cuts the flap badly then proceeds with the laser anyway. The flap doesn't fit back on the cornea correctly and the halos etc. happen. If the surgeon merely replaces a badly cut flap, then waits a few weeks to try that eye again the results are usually excellent.
  • DON'T DO IT! (Score:5, Informative)

    by wisebabo (638845) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:26PM (#9785631) Journal
    Hi there-

    I got Lasik eye surgery in both my eyes from one of the most respected (and expensive) surgeons on the west coast. I did my homework, at the time 4 years ago, he had already done 10,000+ procedures. He has impeccable credentials (Harvard M.D.) and I believe he was one of the people who actually developed the technology. He is the founder of a very fancy institute and did numerous tests both before and after the procedure.

    Anyway the reason why I mention this is because although things went perfectly, there was one bad consequence. I HAVE BLURRY VISION IN LOW LIGHT! I understand this is because, when you have as bad eyesight as I did, when the pupil expands in low light it goes beyond the area where the laser ablation took place. The consequence of having light going into your eye from the central focused region and the outer unfocused region is blurriness typically as halos or rings.

    During the day/bright light my vision is absolutely perfect, I have better than 20/20 whereas before I had something like 600/20. Unfortunately my work takes me into lots of dark rooms looking at relatively dimly lit images and judging them for image quality/artifacts. So it was BAD!

    As a consequence I am keeping up with technological developments waiting for a fix. Now they are using something called wavefront technology, I guess they are able to ablate away your cornea in fractions of a wavelength of visible light (the laser is UV to prevent heating which would kill underlying cells). Unfortunately I think this does not help me because I need the laser to be able to get a larger region of my cornea so that my expanded pupils don't reach the boundary of the ablated area.

    I am not sure if my problems were due to my extremely nearsighted vision or other factors. In any case, I am posting this warning that even the best doctor may leave you with BAD results. (I have my complaints that this part of the industry seems to be poorly regulated, while I was given disclosures on the procedures, I do not think the odds of poor results were clearly explained to me. So if this doctor thinks I'm defaming him, I'll be happy to take him to court.).

    Good luck.
    • by WillDraven (760005) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:19PM (#9786350) Homepage
      I have better than 20/20 whereas before I had something like 600/20
      I certainly hope you meant 20/600, because otherwise you've shed yourself of your superhuman abilaty to read at 600 feet as a normal human can at 20 that you inherited from your parents on Krypton.
    • Wavefront technology (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Viadd (173388)
      Now they are using something called wavefront technology, I guess they are able to ablate away your cornea in fractions of a wavelength of visible light (the laser is UV to prevent heating which would kill underlying cells).

      I believe that before wavefront technology, they just looked at your prescription (focal length error in diopters, astigmatism) and take off the corresponding amount of lens across the entire aperture of your eye based on those few numbers.

      With wavefront technology, they look at many
  • ok for me (Score:5, Funny)

    by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:27PM (#9785638)
    I itd kd83 ldfjkl 3dfsdklj sdfsdfsdlk j ok. jaghas dkah dks *7jwks happy dksaje fksajhd. httr luck!
  • How much cash? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Feztaa (633745) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:30PM (#9785661) Homepage
    My lifelong dream is to just have enough cash in the bank to quit my job and live on the interest. If I was about to come into a fat swack of cash, the last thing I'd be wondering about is how to spend it ;)
  • by Jered (32096) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:32PM (#9785689) Homepage
    It definitely works. I went from having a -10 diopter prescription (which, if you're not familiar with such numbers, is really nearsighted, to the point I couldn't read a clock 2 feet away) to having perfect 20/20 vision.

    But, it's not without risks. For example, my night vision is somewhat degraded because uncorrected light on the edges of the cornea (when I had the surgery done the current technology only corrected out to about 8mm) creates 'starbursts'. I'm still happy with the procedure, but it's not always perfect. There are chances (low, but statistics don't mean anything when you're only talking about one set of eyes) that much worse things can happen.

    Any good doctor will clearly present your options and risks. Ask around for a referral from friends as to who to see... and don't just take the lowest cost vendor!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:32PM (#9785690)
    The 1500 is a guess, they said. The chart stops at 20/1000.

    Initially, I couldn't read close up. I was like an old person w/o bifocals at the store - holding items at arms length to be able to read the label. That passed gradually over a period of weeks.

    Initially my night vision really sucked. Lots of "blooming" around roadsigns reflecting the light and whatnot. Improves somewhat over time.

    I had what I called "ghosting" - anyone who's had LASIK that I've talked to (with significant correction) knows what I'm talking about. Hard to explain. Some of it may be residual near-sightedness I was told, even though I could manage 20/15 on the eye chart. That's what you sometimes hear called "LASIK 20/20" - you can do the eye chart test, but things aren't necessarily crisp. At one point, predominantly with high contrast images (black and white bumper stickers, the moon, etc) I would get something like a 25% intensity image about half-shifted down and to the right (or left, I forget). This got better with time.

    Some of the residual artifacts I am not sure if they resolved themselves, or whether my brain adapted. Keep in mind your brain adapts to the fact that you have two huge blind spots in the center of each eye, due to the optic bundle entering the rear of the eye.... yet under normal circumstances you don't notice it. I wonder too if the brain subtly corrects for some of the residual artifacts. Hmm..

    I wholeheartedly concur with those that say to go to a high profile, higher cost place. I went with a firm that had done the likes of Tiger Woods, yada yada. I went from 20/1500 (guessed, off scale) with astigmatism to 20/15. Someone I knew went from something like 20/800 to 20/40, best case. They spent a few hundred, I spent a few thousand. There's also the integrity factor... the place I went, for the single price, if you need a slight corrective surgery after healing is about done and the results are known, they would do that for the included price. Of course they're gambling you won't need it, but it's there. Also unlimited check-ins if you think something is not quite right. Some of the low lead-in prices make everything else ala-carte - you could end up paying thousands anyway.. and does the place offer a nationwide network of places you can get checked under the initial base contract for no additional cost?

    Anyway, back to the integrity thing. They measure how thick your corneas are, and where I went, they remeasured right before surgery. (should be standard, but I've only done it once, so that's my only data point) The double check showed a little thinner than before. They were going to be taking out the maximum cornea allowed. Which meant I could not have a followup procedure in that eye. They sat me up in the chair before the procedure started, told me that my chances for 20/20 were diminished because their estimate of how much cornea they needed to remove was exactly how much I had. No followup work could be performed. They were willing to tear up my check right then and send me on my way, because they couldn't offer the service they promoted.

    I still went ahead with it, and overall have been pleased with the results.

    To those who say you could go blind... yes you could. I could have also paralyzed the side of my face when I had my wisdom teeth cut out. If I ever undergo general anesthesia, I could die.

    It's like saying getting into a car means you could get killed. Yet an awful lot of us do it every day. Check out the odds and place your bets.

    One thing I did was ask how many eyes the place had done. Then, what was their rate of problems. They didn't know off hand, but got me the answer. 2 or 3 minor problems out of 50,000+ eyes left me thinking my odds were pretty good. I placed my bets, and consider myself a winner.

    Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

    w
  • by BenSpinSpace (683543) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:32PM (#9785691)
    Incredible coincidence... I got laser eye surgery today. All I can say is, it's amazing. The best investment I've ever made. (I'm actually not supposed to be on the computer right now, but... oh well.) I can already read things at distances that my parents and brother cannot, and my vision hasn't even cleared up yet, the way that it is supposed to. I got Wavefront LASIK. Traditional LASIK had many problems with it: for example, it tended to injure night vision, and its accuracy wasn't incredible. However, Wavefront LASIK actually pinpoints what your individual eyes look like, and works on your eye so well that it has great accuracy, doesn't hurt night vision much, and has fewer problems associated with it. I can already tell you that I highly recommend LASIK Wavefront, even if it leaves you broke. It's that worth it.
    • You say you had the surgery today and "I can already read things at distances that my parents and brother cannot, and my vision hasn't even cleared up yet, the way that it is supposed to." That's not exactly a helpful testimonial.

      a.) your vision hasn't cleared up yet - well I sure hope it does.

      b.) keep in mind that many people who encounter serious vision problems after laser surgery, report improved vision at first, followed days, weeks or months later by extreme, possibly uncorrectable, vision problems.
    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @02:42AM (#9787578) Journal
      (I'm actually not supposed to be on the computer right now, but... oh well.)

      Seriously, not to make you feel bad or anything, but what would possess you to ignore post-op orders on your *eyes*?
  • by B5_geek (638928) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:48PM (#9785809)
    I had mine done about 10 years ago, (First lasik Doc in Canada, blah, blah)

    Before with glasses I was almost legaly blind. The Big E on the eye chart was blurry.

    With glasses I had very sharp and precise vision, (I didn't need the galsses for very close work like soldering).

    Now, after the surgury my eyesight was A LOT better, (I didn't need glasses to drive anymore (20/40 is my current vision)) BUT everything is slightly blurry.

    It's like I am stuck reading news-print all the time. I can't stare at a computer moniter for very long, and now I wear glasses 100% of the time. I payed $4400 CDN when I got mine done. My self-esteem went through the roof for the first 6 months after getting it done.

    Now I want to see that docter die.
  • by LuxFX (220822) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:58PM (#9785879) Homepage Journal
    This isn't my story, but my sister-in-law who, granted, is not exactly what I would call stoical.

    Her vision was something along the lines of 20/800, and everybody chipped in (over $5,000) to get her corrective eye surgery for college graduation. She completely freaked out during the surgery. They have to cut a flap into your eye, while you're awake, and with little-to-no anesthesia. She had a complete panic attack at this point, although continued through the end.

    After healing, her eyes were something like 20/25 in one and 20/35 in the other. Terrific improvement, and she stopped wearing glasses. After a few months though, she was back to 20/60 in one eye, and 20/80 in the other. She doesn't wear glasses all the time, but is required to for driving. This kind of relapse is fairly common I believe, but not this severe.

    Like every other deal I've heard of, she can go back any time she wants to get corrected the rest of the way, "with no extra charge." (yeah, right) She's not planning on doing so, mostly because of the fear of the surgery, but also because of cost. The 'deal' was for surgery with the same laser they had previously used, and they didn't use that one any more. The one they had now was 'better', but came with more expensive licensing. So in order to finish the correction, she would now have to pay something like an extra $500 per eye.

    So, your mileage may vary, but it didn't work very well for her. And whatever you do, watch out for those 'deals' with fine print.
  • by asv108 (141455) <alex@phatauTWAINdio.org minus author> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:04PM (#9785930) Homepage Journal
    I had LASIK about a year ago. I actually had three journal entries about it :

    The intial night vision problem took a few months, but it disappeared and now my night vision is better than what it was with glasses. The main thing I would recommend is researching the doctors in detail. Don't get it done in a parking lot and don't go for one of these "deals". Your vision is not something that should be trusted to the lowest bidder!

  • My experiences (Score:4, Informative)

    by Juggle (9908) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:36PM (#9786115) Homepage
    I was in a similar situation. I came into a sizeable lump of cash in 1997 and spent the better part of a year reading up on the then new "Lasik" procedure. In February of 1998 I spoke with a number of professionals including my current doctors and local specialists in laser procedures and in March of 1998 decided to go for it.

    I would do it again in an instant - but I would still do the same amount of study that I did before. IMHO far too many people don't do the required research before this kind of thing and that's where a lot of the problems can come from.

    The surgeon I chose was at the Cleveland Clinic and had taken part in the clinical trials for Lasik before it was an approved procedure. At the time he had more experience than any other surgeon I could find without major travel and he was very upfront about the possible downsides and my own potential for success with the surgury. He did not try to sell me on anything just gave me as much of his time as I wanted and honest, sometimes even frighteningly so, answers.

    Not all of the professionals I spoke with were the same. Some were very much in the "sell" mode and made me feel rushed as though they wanted me to decide right then and there. The doctor I eventually went with actually refused to let me make a decision on the spot and insisted that I take my time and think it over first. He also warned me ahead of time that due to the size of my pupils I may not be the best candidate and could still require glasses afterward.

    I'll also add that I'm very squeemish about my eyes. I've worn glasses since 3rd grade and in high school flirted briefly with contacts. But I had major problems getting contacts in and out and when they were in found them to be a constant irritant I could not ignore...and that was with soft lenses. When my stigmatism got worse and I had to switch to hard lenses I gave them up within 6 months, wearing them was less plesant than dumping handfuls of beach sand into my eyes.

    When I came in for the pre-op for my surgury the day before the doctor gave me a prescription for a mild sedative due to my anxiety over having them zap my eyes while I was awake. Also durring the entire pre-op the staff was equally curteous, friendly and upfront as the doctor himself. Nothing felt rushed but I was never kept waiting either, any questions were answered very patiently and I was not allowed to leave until they were sure that all of my questions were answered.

    The day of the surgury I took the sedative and was driven to the hospital. You can't drive yourself home since afterall they'll be zapping your eyes so this is necessary even if you don't take the sedative. I know some people who did drive themselves against doctors orders and frankly I can't imagine how they did it - but my eyes are always extremely sensitive to light and were even more so immediately after the surgury.

    The surgury itself took less than 15 minutes. The operating room was small and clean, the laser machine was quite large and the doctor was already seated at the controls waiting for me. Again he took time to make sure I didn't have any final questions and that I was sure I wanted to go though with the procedure. There were also 3 or 4 assistants and nurses standing by to assist.

    There is some mild discomfort durring the procedure but frankly it was less uncomfortable than the hard contacts I wore. It was somewhat unnerving to be awake but the doctor was very reassuring thought the entire procedure and explained what he was doing as it happened.

    The most uncomfortable part is where they make the cut to fold back the flap - and that is mainly because the pressure of the device they uses causes your eye to black out so all you see is black with some colored specks which is a little frightening - but the doctor again was reassuring and explained what would happen which made it very easy to take.

    The laser zapping took only seconds and there is a slight smell like burning hair when it happens. Aftertha
  • by andersen (10283) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:13PM (#9786315) Homepage
    I recently had my vision corrected. And I did my homework first. The place where I had my eyes done uses a couple of the latest developments.

    First, do not let them use a knife on your eyes. Traditional lasik uses a knife to cut a flap. This type of cut causes much more damage to the eye by cutting several layers. The place I went uses a femtosecond laser to cut a flap that is computer programmed to match your eye. This pretty much 100% avoids problems with the eye flap ripping off and such. It also helps the nerves in your eye heal faster, so your eye can inform your brain of dryness so your brain can turn on the tear ducts, reducing problems with dry eyes.

    Secondly, in traditional lasik they would take a few measurements and use the laser to zap your eyes with the setting that is correct, on average. The newer machines (the call it "wavefront") use adaptive optics (per what is used on telescopes) to crate an an exact model of your eye and ablate a pattern that will give you optimal vision, the best your eyes are capable of.

    I am happily glasses free, with no astigmatism, no problems with low light, no problems with dry eyes, and I am seeing 20/15 in both eyes.

    So go for it, but be sure the doctor has experience, and is using the latest and greatest equipment!

  • by Smurf (7981) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:42PM (#9786491)
    First, document yourself very well before taking any decision. A good place to start is this site [fda.gov] that was linked by someone before in this discussion.

    OK, now I'll tell you my personal experience (that's what GodLessOne is looking for, isn't it?). I got LASIK performed on my eyes back in December, 2001. At that time I lived in Colombia.

    It turns out that, to the surprise of many of you, Colombian ophthalmologists are actually leaders in their field. Keratomileusis, the first refractive-correction surgery procedure was developed by Dr José Barraquer, and ALK (automated lamellar keratoplasty) by one of his students, Dr Luis Antonio Ruiz. ALK was very similar to LASIK, but the actual molding of the cornea was done mechanically. A Greek ophthalmologist was apparently the first one to use an excimer laser to do the molding, although I have read references that it was also Dr Ruiz's team who developed the automatic tracking mechanism that warranties that the laser will always burn the correct part of the cornea even if the eye moves. (The eye is not completely inmovilized. They ask you to look up, where there used to be a red light moments before, but if you do move your eyes it's OK.)

    I barely knew about Barraquer back in 2001, and nothing else. Some friend of my family strongly recommended some Dr. Luis Ruiz when they found out I was interested in LASIK. Only a year later, when I was researching LASIK on the web for a friend who also wanted to get her eyes treated, did I find out that I had been operated by one of the inventors of the damned thing. By the way, my friend also lives in the USA and got her eyes operated by Dr. Ruiz during a holiday vacation trip. I recently talked to her and she told me that she went for a control appointment a few weeks back and she's still 20/20 (she went to Colombia for an unrelated reason).

    Back to my story:

    • I got the procedure made on both eyes. I had myopia and slight astigmatism in both.
    • Weeks before the procedure, I was checked by Dr Ruiz and his collaborators (at least two other ophthalmologists and three optometrists performed different tests on me). Normally these exams can be made just a few days before the operation, but I needed to synchronize my operation with other things.
    • It is important to stop using contact lenses (specially hard ones, but also soft ones) several days before the exams and the operation. I think I used glasses for 20 days before, and I was wearing soft lenses. (Or was 20 days the recommended time for hard/gas permeable ones? I don't remember).
    • For three days before the operation and three after, I was told to use drops with an antibiotic.
    • I was absolutely terrified during the procedure. Although I am usually brave, almost perversely interested in the gory details of medical procedures performed to me, this were my eyes they were working on! For that reason I was hurting myself with the brackets they use to keep your eye open. (No, you can't blink, that's very comforting to know). That was with the first eye. The doctor scolded me softly to make me realize that I was only making things worst, and the left eye went on much more smoothly.
    • But the procedure doesn't really hurt! (In part because they put anesthetic drops in your eyes minutes before).
    • Recovery was fast. In two days, I was back to my normal life.
    • For a few months afterwards, my vision fluctuated slightly. Now it's more stable, and is diminished only when I'm tired, underslept, stressed, etc. That's normal, even if you don't have LASIK done.
    • For six months, I saw halos around light sources at night. I no longer do.
    • For a few months, my eyes were drier than normal, so I had a bottle of lubricating eye drops with me all the time. I don't need them anymore.

    So my recommendations are:

    • Read all the risks mentioned in the article linked above. Make sure you understand them. A
  • by John Sully (I hate a (665201) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:50PM (#9786549)
    Talk with your opthamologist/optomitrist first. I had it done and had a pretty bad prescription +5/+5.5 and a large amount of astigmatism. The results for me were good enough (20/40 with both eyes, some residual astigmatism). I went for several years w/o glasses, but evenutally went back to using them. I can function fine w/o glasses, but fine work (tying a #22 fly on a 5x leader) was more difficult than when I was using glasses, which gave me 20/20 vision. If you are farsighted, you can expect some regression over the first couple of weeks and your vision will not be "oh my god!" great just after surgery. You should be sure that your doctor is experienced and well qualified, especially if you are a difficult case. A difficult case is defined as very farsighted and/or lots of astigmatism. People who are nearsighted tend to have better results. You should also be sure that your doctor measures your corneal thickness -- some of the cheesier (read cheaper) ones will take practically anyone and insufficient corneal thickness is a receipe for disaster. Also, the size of your pupil in low light should be measured. If your pupil is too large when fully opened you will have problems with your vision in low light. This can be corrected with glasses for night vision and is not an uncommon side effect of the surgery. The fact that I can read, drive and generally function quite well w/o glasses is a real blessing. The thing that drove me to get glasses again was the eye strain associated with long hours at the computer. All in all it was worth it and I would do it again, especially since the techniques for the surgery have improved since I had it about four years ago.
  • by pyrrhonist (701154) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:52PM (#9786558)
    I had laser corrective surgery, and everything was working out fine until I accidentally clicked on a goatse link.

    Now I look like Neo at the end of Matrix Revolutions.

    Damn you Slashdot!

  • Intacts... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ndogg (158021) <`the.rhorn' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:55PM (#9786591) Homepage Journal
    You should look into intacts to see if you can get those instead. They're better than Lasik. My mother got intacts, and she doesn't need glasses anymore. She had problems with far- and near-sightednes.
  • Advice from an MD (Score:3, Informative)

    by md2b (314289) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:14PM (#9786689)
    This is part of what I do. And it's good. It's very good - and getting better. One of the first things I did was have one of my colleagues work on me. My recommendations:

    1) Find a clinic that can perform a "wavefront ablation." These are procedures that are customized to your own eye instead of based on a generic template. The difference lies in that they can correct third and fourth order curve errors, not just sphere and cylinder. The technology is not yet mainstream so you may have to hunt around.

    2) Ask the doctor how many procedures he's performed, what % require revision, and what percent result in impaired vision.

    3) I personally believe in IntraLASIK. It's an all-laser method of creating the eye flap. Traditional methods use a very sharp blade on a battery powered slider. While good, these devices can skip a bit and actually *create* third order error.

    4) For god's sakes, FOLLOW YOUR POST-OP INSTRUCTIONS. Use the eyedrops RELIGIOUSLY, use the eye shield at night. This stuff is micrometer surgery. It doesn't take much to ruin an otherwise optimal result.

    Best wishes!
    U of Iowa
  • by stuartkahler (569400) on Saturday July 24, 2004 @04:27AM (#9787844)
    First off, don't go for the person who is the cheapest. Find the most experienced doctor you can get. An inexperienced doctor can easily do massive, irreversible damage to your eyesight. Nothing is worth that risk.

    I went from about 20/600 in each eye to 20/25 and 20/50. That's the good part. I have a light astigmatism in my left eye, and a medium one in my right eye. Great for daily activities that don't involve reading. The astigmatism causes a double image (within each individual eye) that makes text a little bit difficult to see properly. I also have the halos around bright lights at night that are common among lasik patients. I often find myself squinting while driving at night. I had dryness and itchyness for 6 months, and needed to use eyedrops. My eyes still feel dry a bit more than they used to. I still have a pair of glasses for reading the computer screen and tabletop gaming.

    It was a highly unpleasant procedure. They keep your eye wide open with a speculum for 10-15 minutes. You get local anesthetic drops for your eye, but you can still feel the pressure of what they are doing to your eyes. The keratome (that cuts the protective layer of your eye) is attached via suction and causes you to temporarily lose vision. You get the closest possible view of them slicing the protective layer of your eye, and then peeling it back like a bedsheet, causing your vision to blur. Then you have to intently follow a red dot while a laser burns your cornea down to the desired shape. It smells like burning hair. And since your nose is about an inch away, it's very strong. Afterwards, they have to lay the protective layer back down so that it lays flat. It naturally sticks to the cornea, so if it's not laid down perfectly the first time, the doctor may have to peel it back and put it down again. Perhaps several times. Now do the other eye. If you're looking to get both eyes up to 20/25 or better, then you should expect to come back in 6 months and do it all again.

    Some bad reasons to get lasik surgery:
    Save money on glasses/contacts. You will most likely still need to own a pair of glasses for the rest of your life.
    Want perfect vision. Your vision with glasses or contacts is most likely better than lasik will be capable of.
    Don't like the way you look with glasses. Try contact lenses.

    Some good reasons to get lasik.
    Don't like the way you look with glasses, and you have problems wearing contact lenses. (me)
    You have very bad vision and can't really do anything until you get your glasses on, or contacts in. (me)
    You like to engage in activities that aren't friendly to contacts or glasses, such as swimming.


    I had mine done under my medical coverage, so it didn't cost me much more than a few bottles of eye drops and a new pair of glasses (a year later). It wouldn't have been worth it if I had to pay out of pocket. I'd say I'm 'fairly satisfied'. My vision is nowhere near as good as it was before with glasses (20/15, 20/10), except that I used to have prismatic effects with the thickness of my lenses. It's great to not have to clean fog, water and dirt off my glasses. Being able to see while swimming in the pool or ocean is especially nice. What's the point of going if you can't enjoy the view? ;)

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis

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