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    14 Things I Learned When Getting LASIK Eye Surgery

    All the scoop on LASIK cost, recovery, and if it's actually worth it.

    Hi everyone! I'm Arielle, and I recently got LASIK eye surgery.

    Arielle Calderon

    You can also read about tips for LASIK and PRK recovery.

    What is LASIK you ask?

    Danchooalex / Getty Images

    LASIK (Laser-Assisted-In-Situ Keratomileusis) is an elective eye surgery in which a surgeon uses a laser to correct your vision, giving some patients better than 20/20 vision. Which yes, that means you don't need contacts or glasses again (or at least for a while)! It's expected that your vision will change as you get older, so it might not last forever, but lots of people even then only need reading glasses down the line. Like any surgery, it has risks and potential complications which you should always ask your surgeon about.

    My vision is terrible. In contacts, I'm -4.75 in my left eye and -5.0 in my right. When I go for a vision test, I literally can't see the big E.

    Getty

    I've been wearing glasses/contacts since middle school, and while I had a lot of hesitations about the surgery, I decided to finally bite the bullet and just DO IT.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    I am also going to Hawaii in May and wanted to travel without worrying about contacts and glasses. I was recommended to do the surgery a month out since you have to avoid swimming and you want to give your eyes time to heal.

    Here's how my experience with LASIK went!

    Disclaimer: This is a personal account of my own surgery. You should always consult a surgeon/ophthalmologist before taking any suggestions.

    1. First thing I did was RESEARCH MY SURGEON! I wanted to make sure I found an expert in the field. I checked how many surgeries he's done, what kind of technology he's using, what his reviews and ratings are, etc.

    tlcvision.com

    I asked my primary eye doctor what his opinions were, as a non-biased person. He told me to ask about the femtosecond laser, as he believes that is the safest option.

    My surgeon was Dr. Mark Speaker at TLC Laser Eye Centers, who's done over 50,000 LASIK and PRK procedures, including his wife, brother, and mother-in-law.

    2. Then I went for a free consultation to see if I was a candidate. If you're not eligible, a surgeon might recommend PRK instead (or no surgery at all).

    Getty

    PRK is for those with thinner corneas. The recovery time is longer and healing is more intensive. Read more about the differences between LASIK and PRK.

    3. I called a few LASIK centers in New York to get price quotes, which ranged from $4K - $6K. My total ending up being $4,790 for both eyes with a lifetime guarantee* (and no, insurance didn't cover it).

    ABC

    *Basically, if I need an enhancement in 10 years, it will be free of charge as long as I get annual eye exams and abide by the requirements.

    4. I also set up a CareCredit account, which is a credit card (just for this purpose) that allows me to pay off everything interest-free for 12-18 months.

    CareCredit

    If I put everything on the CareCredit card, I have 18 months to pay it off interest-free. If I paid part on my regular credit card and part on CareCredit, I have 12 months to pay it off interest-free.

    If you have an HSA, look into using that money as well.

    5. Once I got my free consultation and was approved, I made my appointment. I had to stop wearing contacts 1-2 weeks before the surgery.

    Arielle Calderon

    Contacts reshape your corneas, so I was told to stop wearing them so my eyes could go back to their normal state.

    6. I was given prescription eye drops for dry eyes to take beforehand, and I could literally taste it in my throat (which tastes like gasoline, FYI).

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    Shoutout to the Instagram follower who alerted me to this because I had ZERO IDEA. I was wondering what the hell I was eating, but turns out it was just the drops. Ugh.

    7. On day of surgery, I was given Valium to calm my nerves since you are awake during the procedure. They also gave me stress balls to squeeze when I was scared during surgery.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    It wasn't painful for me, just highly uncomfortable and scary. Dr. Speaker talked me through everything, but regardless, someone doing surgery on my eyes freaked me out.

    8. Then it was time for surgery. They gave me numbing drops and held my eye open with some device. At some point, everything went black and I PANICKED. But, it's just part of the process.

    Baranozdemir / Getty Images

    They applied a ton of pressure to my eye (it kind of felt like someone was squeezing it) and everything went black with tiny colorful stars. Then it went pitch black and I freaked. After a few seconds though, lights began to come back and I stopped aggressively squeezing the stress balls.

    9. When that was done, I had to stare at a green light while a red laser light went all over my eye. They then used a brush-like device to wipe down my eye. Kind of like they were smoothing out air pockets.

    cheezburger.com

    According to the TLC website, this is the procedure:

    1. Anesthetic eye drops are applied to the eye.

    2. The LASIK surgeon creates a protective flap to access the inner corneal tissue. During this part of the procedure, your vision dims and becomes blurry for about a minute. After the flap is created you are able to see the flashing fixation light of the laser and the bright lights used for the procedure.

    3. Next, the inner layers of your cornea receive computer-controlled pulses of cool laser light. Although the laser light is invisible, the laser makes a clicking sound as it gently reshapes the inner corneal layer to improve and in many cases, eliminate your prescription. During this part of the procedure, an eye-tracking device tracks your eye movements to ensure precise correction.

    4. Following the re-shaping of the tissue, the LASIK surgeon carefully repositions and aligns the flap to its original position. Protective shields are placed over your eye to prevent accidental rubbing as the flap heals naturally and securely over the next several hours.

    10. As soon as I was done, I could see. It was a little blurry, but I could make out text and faces. I sat down in this recliner chair in the dark for 30 minutes before I could go home.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    Also, highly recommend you get someone to take you home and make sure you're set for a day of darkness and solitude. Thank you, Caryn. Bless your heart and friendship.

    11. I had to wear these shields all day, and then during sleep for the next seven nights. I was told the first 24 hours are the most important, so I went home and napped, stayed in the dark, took my drops as instructed, and didn't watch TV or play with my phone.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    I basically listened to podcasts and music all day, drifting in and out of sleep.

    12. By morning, I could see CRYSTAL CLEAR. I ALMOST CRIED TEARS OF JOY. WHAT A LUXURY TO WAKE UP AND SEE.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    When I went for my follow-up, they said I have better than 20/20 vision. I could literally see better than when I had contacts. I went on the subway and could see the countdown clock from VERY far away. It was emotional.

    13. Since then, I've been wearing sunglasses every time I'm outside, I put preservative-free artificial drops in my eyes ALL the time, and I avoid touching my eyes.

    Instagram: @ariellesays

    Your ophthalmologist will provide instructions and proper care. I was told to avoid swimming for two weeks, exercise and lifting for one week (spin for two weeks), water directly in the shower for at least one week, and eye makeup for one week.

    14. Overall, I am extremely happy and the money was totally worth it for me.

    Arielle Calderon

    I have a little red dot on my eye, but my surgeon said that was normal and it should subside within a month or two. Like all surgeries, there are always risks and possible side effects, so please ask your ophthalmologist about those! Most common side effects I've heard of are dry eyes, halos around the eyes, and trouble seeing clearly in the dark. I haven't really experienced this yet, but I am also trying REAL hard to follow directions and be careful. Everyone I know who has gotten LASIK has suggested I put in the artificial tears constantly, whether my eyes feel dry or not.

    I have also recorded my whole journey on Instagram stories. You can find the Lasik highlights on my profile page.

    Please know that my experience does not necessarily reflect the experience of others. Always consult your doctor before making any decisions and do your research.

    You can also read about tips for LASIK and PRK recovery.

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