On September 21, 2015, I finally had LASIK. I came to the conclusion that I had to get it done after I tried literally every single contact available for astigmatism and not one worked for me. They all made my eyes extremely red, irritated, itchy, and dry. Even if I took them out after half an hour (a few hours at most was the longest I could tolerate the irritation) my eyes would stay red. And not just for the rest of the day either — for days later. I actually thought I had pink eye at first because of how red they were.
I also found out that contacts aren't supposed to feel like you constantly have an eyelash in your eye. That was news to me! They had always felt like that.
I think I really decided to stop wearing them when I was driving one day and they shifted in my eye, and everything would go really blurry. At that point I was like, Alright, this definitely isn't safe for me or anyone else.
Why not wear glasses, you say? Well, eventually I had to. But to be honest, I hated them on me. As soon as I had to put my glasses on, I just didn't feel like myself; never mind how annoying it was to try and lie down and watch TV, or getting rain droplets on the lenses, or when they would fog up, or fall down my nose, or just the fact that I had to shell out more money to have prescription sunglasses and the hassle between switching between those constantly. Oh yeah, and having to wear double glasses at a 3D movie.
Basically there's a million reasons why I hated wearing glasses. And when it came to my work, glasses just didn't work well either. I couldn't really pull off the eye makeup looks and wear the lashes I wanted to while wearing glasses. If I had an audition, I didn't want my glasses to affect the casting process. It just wasn't working for me.
So finally, I seriously looked into getting LASIK.
I had wanted LASIK ever since I knew it was an option. I started wearing glasses just to see the blackboard in grade 9, and eventually, in grade 11 I got contacts. They always irritated me, but as the years progressed, they seemed to irritate me more and more. So at the age of 25, I booked my consultation at the Bochner Eye Institute.
The consult was informative and went smoothly. First, they made me look into a device while they mapped my eye; then they tested the pressure by probing it with another device. Before they probed it, though, they numbed my eyes with the same drops they would eventually use in the procedure.
I have to say, it's a really weird feeling having numbed eyeballs. They just feel really... fat and odd. Like you can't feel anything, but you're hyper-aware that they're there sitting in your head. It's like when your arm goes to sleep if you lie on it, but it's your eyeballs.
Anyway, after they mapped out everything, we looked at the maps of my eyes and they explained how thick my corneas are. Apparently they're super-thick, so that means if I had to get LASIK again, I'd have a lot of room to work with, multiple times if need be. She showed me why my vision wasn't the best, how my corneas distorted the shape of the image being received and sent to my brain and how the image wasn't hitting the back of my eye as it should be, which is why it was blurry. I also found out that my pupils are really large, and that because of the new lasers they have that, I was a candidate for LASIK. Had I tried to get LASIK a few years ago, I wouldn't have been able to get it!
I booked my appointment with Dr. Raymond M. Stein, MD, FRCSC. He studied at the Mayo Clinic, he's the Chief of Ophthalmology at Scarborough General Hospital, a cornea consultant at Mount Sinai Hospital, a professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Toronto, and he was the past president of the Canadian Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery. The guy does cornea transplants too. I was like, DAMN. If I ever messed up anything with my eyes my best shot was probably having this guy fix it.
There was a three-month wait to get an appointment for surgery with him, and I was told to not wear my contacts for at least a week before surgery. I actually went a month without wearing them. I was also told to use eye drops because when I last wore my contacts, they were creating dry patches on my cornea, and wearing contacts can make your cornea stray from its true shape a little, which is what you don't want. You need to have the truest shape for the best results.
The day of the surgery, I was terrified. I was on the verge of a full-blown panic attack in the waiting room. And when I finally went in for testing to map my eye again and make sure I was ready to go, I let the woman who was running the tests know I was kind of freaking out.
Her response was, "Oh, well, I can get you a Valium if you want."
My response: YES. PLEASE.
I felt like I was going to throw up, and then I started thinking, What IF I throw up while they're operating?! What if I mess everything up cause I puked during the procedure!?
I met Dr. Stein while he ran the final tests and talked to me about the upcoming procedure. While he was talking, the Valium hit me. A wave of calm came over me and all I was thinking was, LET'S DO THIS.
The procedure itself is insanely fast. They took me to a room, and I paid for the procedure, which came to nearly $5,000 all in. That included the procedure, the eye drops they give you the day of the procedure, and the follow-up appointments with my eye doctor. I also have a guarantee for life, so that means if anything goes wrong, they'll fix it, or if my eyesight eventually worsens, they'll fix it. FREE. So that's pretty cool.
After I paid, I was taken to the operating room and laid down. They put the numbing drops in my eyes and told me to look up at the blinking light above, and to stay as still as possible. They talked through the entire procedure, so I knew exactly what they were doing when they were doing it, and they reassured me that I was doing really well throughout the whole process.
The first thing they did was slice the flap, which doesn't hurt at all. They do it with an Intralase IFS laser that's guided by the computer using ultra-precise pulses of infrared laser light that's entirely custom to your eye. Since they map your eye, the laser is extremely precise. I was worried about screwing it up if I moved my eye at all, and I was told not to worry, that the laser actually tracks the movement of your eye while it's working.
The weirdest part of the whole thing was just the pressure I felt from them putting the suction cup around my cornea. It doesn't hurt, but I could feel pressure, and the blinking light that I was looking at blurred like a kaleidoscope and then everything went black — which totally would have made me lose my shit had it not been for the Valium and their reassurances.
After that process was done, which honestly probably took only a minute or two, they asked me to get up and follow them to the adjacent room. This was the weirdest thing because after they take the suction cup off, your vision comes back, only it's blurry. It looks exactly like a fogged up window.
So after I got into the next room and lay down again, they told me to look at the blinking light again. They taped my eyes open Clockwork Orange style, only I couldn't really feel anything and the Valium made me chilled out enough that I just really focused on the light and not moving at all. They put more eye drops in, and then, after a few minutes, he zapped my eyes with the Allegretto Wave Eye-Q laser and put the flap back in place.
Watching the flap being put back in place was super-weird, too. You can see it happening, and he basically squeegees it back to make sure it's perfect. And then BAM! I could see better, only everything was still a bit foggy, and the edges of everything had a haze around it like my eyes had a Barbara Walters filter on it. My eyes were also super-sensitive to the light, so I was basically squinting so that I could see where I was going, but I wasn't letting that much light in.
After it was all done, they sat me down in a massage chair, and told me to just chill out and close my eyes for a bit. After about 15 minutes, they were checked out again before I could leave. I put the sunglasses they gave me to wear to sleep on, and as soon as I went outside I was like, WHOA! It's way too bright. So I basically clung to my boyfriend and kept my eyes shut. He guided us to the car and drove us home.
On the way home, the numbing eye drops wore off and my eyes started to tear and eventually burn like I had soap in them or something, which they warned me about. They just said as soon as that starts happening just put the numbing eye drops in again when you get home and take a nap.I felt like a fountain of tears, so I did as they said, and when we got home, I had my boyfriend help me put the numbing, antibiotic, and steroid drops in since I was the absolute worst with eye drops (I've since improved — I mean I HAD to) and lay on my back with the funny shades on and went to sleep.
After I woke up, my eyes didn't hurt; they actually never hurt like they did when the drops wore off the first time again. They just felt really dry. Luckily I was able to take a week off and just chill out and heal. They gave me instructions to take the antibiotic and steroid drops for the next 5five days, along with a ton of other information and an emergency number in case anything happened. They also said to use Bion Tears every hour for the first day and then four to six times a day for the next month and a half.
The funny thing was that exactly a week after surgery, I had to work a booth at IMATS in Toronto — without eye makeup. And I had burst blood vessels in my eyes from the suction cup, so I had some pretty crazy-looking eyes. They say you can wear makeup after a week, but they also say you're not allowed to rub your eyes for a month. So I opted not to wear eye makeup for a month since I ALWAYS rub my eyes to get my eye makeup off. I wasn't about to risk lifting the flap and having to go through the process of fixing it just to wear eye makeup.
I was actually super-paranoid about messing anything up, so I was having baths instead of showers for the first couple weeks just to make sure no water or soap got anywhere near my eyes. I was extremely careful when washing my face. My boyfriend kept telling me I was being a little nuts about how careful I was being, but I figured I'd be as careful as humanly possible. I really didn't want to mess anything up.
I had a series of checkups booked with my eye doctor starting from the first day after my surgery, and then in two weeks, then three months, six months and then a year to check on my healing progress. I saw halos around lights for probably a month or two, but they weren't terrible; the little haze around lights was just a lot bigger — probably double what they normally are. Now they're back to normal. The only side effect that's still lingering is the dryness, but it's mostly just in the morning when I wake up. Throughout the day, I'm fine up to about nine hours or more without eye drops. It's still nothing compared to the irritation I had with contacts.
Of course I had a lot of questions about the what-ifs. Like, what if something goes wrong? What if I go blind? What happens if the flap moves or comes off or something? Does that ruin my vision? My eye doctor told me that she only knew of one person actually rubbing their eye so hard their flap came off, which is probably one of the worst-case scenarios other than infection. But all they had to do was get a protective lens put on while the flap area grew back. Their vision was fine. And apparently no one has ever gone blind from it, so that was reassuring.
Now, I can totally rub my eyes to get my makeup off or in the shower and I'm fine. You're not really supposed to rub your eyes, though, so this has helped me stop that habit for the most part.
Though having dry eyes kind of sucks, it's still a thousand times better for me than wearing contacts or glasses. I've been told the dryness could go away, but it may not. It just depends on the person. Even so, if I could go back and had to choose to do it or not, I would definitely get it considering how much easier it is not having to worry about contacts or glasses. Going from having to worry all the time about how long I'd be able to tolerate wearing contacts for an event or something before I'd have to switch into my glasses or having to go without glasses and contacts is such a relief. I'm all for it.
And the best part is, I can actually see better than I could with glasses, which is awesome.
- Have you had LASIK?
- What are your concerns about the procedure?