LASIK: You Know That .001% You Hear About? That Was Me.

Rocking the glasses, bangs, and all things stylish. Circa 1991

Since I was 10 years old, I’ve been wearing glasses and contacts.  Not only is my vision pretty awful, but I have a severe astigmatism, making perfect vision from corrective lenses nearly impossible.  When I heard about LASIK ages ago, I knew that would be my saving grace.  But the cost? Prohibitive, to say the least.  So, I saved my pennies and decided it would be something I buy myself for my 30th birthday.  As the big birthday approached, so did a wedding proposal (yay!), and I decided to allocate those funds toward a wedding instead.  First came love, then came marriage… and then came 2 babies back to back that cost a lot of money!  Luckily, I learned that LASIK is more accurate after you’re all done having babies and breastfeeding, so it all worked out and I started getting my consultations as I wrapped up that chapter of my life.

I did my research, got my recommendations, scheduled my consultations, and finally picked a doctor I loved and booked the big day.  They explained the risks that come with any surgical procedure and the possibility of not being able to achieve perfect vision, due to my very high correction needs.  As an exclusive contact lens wearer, my biggest concern was having to wear my glasses exclusively for the week leading up to the procedure.  Silly me.

On LASIK morning, I woke up excited and just a tiny bit nervous.  When I arrived, the nurse offered me a Valium, and I accepted, figuring it would take the edge off of my jitters.  They cleaned my eyes, administered numbing drops and walked me into the operating room.  The procedure itself was relatively painless.  There was a good amount of pressure on my eye socket as they secured my eyelids and cut the flap on my cornea.  Cutting the flap took about 20 seconds per eye, and the laser itself took another 20 seconds on each side.  Then they sat me up, and I was able to read the clock across the room! It was blurry, but I could easily see the time, as well as faces and words.  It was miraculous!

We headed home, and the numbing drops wore off.  My eyes felt a little scratchy, like there was sand in them, and a little sore.  I rested in a dark room for a couple hours, napping and keeping my eyes shut, and by that afternoon I was feeling pretty good.  I was warned that I’d be very light sensitive, due to the astigmatism correction. I guess that changing the shape of your eye (as opposed to just correcting your vision) can cause the light to enter differently, so it takes a while to get used to the change.  I wore sunglasses around the house that afternoon and had some cloudiness, but I was already pleased with the results.  The next day, I woke up and was able to drive myself to my follow up appointment.  I was still experiencing some cloudiness, slight blurriness and light sensitivity, but these were all expected side effects and I tested at a blurry 20/20 vision at my follow up appointment, just 24 hours after the operation!  I took it easy over the weekend and let my eyes rest and heal.

On Monday morning, four days after the procedure, things felt different.  My vision seemed to be getting more cloudy and blurry, instead of continuing to clear up.  I called my doctor and he asked me to come in that day.  At my visit, he found that there was an unusual amount of swelling on my cornea, and he started me on a heavy duty round of steroids, both oral and eye drops.  By Wednesday, things were worse.  I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t read my phone, I was only comfortable in dark rooms.  I went back to the doctor and discovered that I was having an autoimmune response to the LASIK procedure – something he had only seen twice in his 20 years as an ophthalmologist.

First thing Thursday morning, I was back in the operating room.  My body was not responding to the steroids and my corneas were swollen and puckering from the pressure created in my eyes.  If we didn’t act quickly, the swelling would turn to scar tissue and my vision could be permanently compromised.  The doctor had to reopen the flap of my cornea and physically clean out the swelling.  He put steroids and antibiotics under the cornea flap and flushed out any sign of infection.  They closed up my eyes and we hoped for the best.  We wouldn’t know right away if we were in the clear (haha, not intended), or not.

This is not my happy face. They also give you a super cool pair of sunnies to wear home.

I went home and the pain hit.  Severe, searing pain in both eyes that made me toss and turn.  Pain meds did nothing.  I couldn’t open my eyes.  I couldn’t relax enough to rest or nap or even just lay there.  And there’s nothing I could do but just wait.  By evening, I could open my eyes enough to squint.  I was anxious and in pain and desperately just wanted to sleep it off. With the help of a friend and some recently passed California legislature, I drifted off for the night, hoping for an improvement the next day.

Early Friday morning, we headed back to the doctor.  It sounds like we caught it in time.  But the healing isn’t going to be quick or easy.  Because of the additional trauma to my cornea, it will be about a month before I can hope for a complete recovery, including clear vision.  It’s been less than a week and I’m already feeling like things are going in the right direction now.  My doctor is optimistic that I’ll experience a full recovery, with the vision I’ve dreamed of for the last 25 years.  I’m just having to work a little harder to get there.  And, hopefully, it will all be worth it in the end!

For those who have sent prayers and positive, healing thoughts, I appreciate it more than you know!  I’ll update this post in a few weeks to keep you posted on my recovery.


2 thoughts on “LASIK: You Know That .001% You Hear About? That Was Me.

  1. Jenny, I knew you were preparing for Lasix but I had no idea all the problems you encountered along the way. I will keep you in my prayers for successful full recovery. Be patient as all good things taking time are worth waiting for!


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