Is Laser Eye Surgery Worth it?

Vision Improvement |

Everything was a blur for me. I would wake up and see a blurry clock, a blurry room, a blurry bathroom, until I put my contacts in, first thing every morning. After wearing contacts for over ten years, this routine was starting to get a little old!

I was curious about laser eye surgery when it debuted in the early/mid 90’s, as it was still in FDA trials. I started skydiving as a hobby (no I’m not crazy) and my contacts couldn’t hold up to the pressure of the wind. This is what finally forced me to research and seriously consider the advances in laser eye surgery.

The research began by locating a doctor that had been involved in FDA trials from day one, performing many laser vision surgeries, and more importantly, someone that I was trusting my EYES with, my vision, my window to the world. I found that doctor in Chicago, Dr. Manus Kraff. My first evaluation proved I was a candidate for the most recent vision correction surgery (at the time, PRK). I expressed my concerns and fears, he suggested I watch a procedure, and that might help my decision making process.

I watched a PRK procedure that Dr. Kraff was performing on a patient, who was willing to let me in the operating room. I was quickly amazed at the patient’s ability to joke around and talk to me while Doctor was in phase one of the surgery … scrapping the cornea to remove the top layer. As far as I’m concerned this is the worse part of the procedure. The patient assured me she felt nothing. The laser came next, lasting only 30-40 seconds an eye. It was over! I thought wait, there has to be more to it! Nope! The patient was guided to an exam room and was immediately reading nearly 20/20 on the eye chart!

After considering the operation for another month … I made the decision … I was going to get laser eye surgery.

What is PRK?
PRK is performed with local anesthetic eye drops. The refractive surgery reshaped the cornea by removing microscopic amounts of tissue from outer surface. The laser beam is so precise it can cut notches in a strand of human hair without breaking it. My procedure lasted about 30 seconds on each eye. It was truly painless and my vision improved immediately! I was prescribed pain pills, to ease the pain when the anesthetic eye drops wore off. Amazingly I felt too good for the rest of the afternoon. I even went to a going away party for someone at work that night, nobody believed I had laser eye surgery less than six hours earlier!

The next day my eyes were really itchy and sore, and it was difficult to keep them open. The pain pills and eye drops helped. Within 3 days, I had no pain, and literally noticed my vision improving by the hours! After two weeks my doctor gave me the go ahead to skydive. I went on a mini-vacation and went snow skiing and skydiving … my vision was unbelievably great! This is the best thing I have ever done, by all means!

Drawbacks:
According to the FDA, 5% of patients with PRK continue to need glasses, and 15% need glasses occasionally, such as when driving. Some people experience halo’s around light, however this is said to end after six months. Laser surgery is also said to cause a possible premature need for reading glasses. In my opinion, it is worth it. I’ve been six years without glasses or contacts, and if I have to put on glasses to read tomorrow, that is fine with me. I am still ecstatic with the results.

LASIK:
LASIK is more complex than PRK, and is now the choice vision correction for most people. The surgeon uses a micro-knife to cut the flap of the corneal tissue, removes the targeted tissue with the laser, then replace the cornea flap. Some doctors say LASIK is suitable for correcting the most severe refractive errors. They also say there is a faster recovery with LASIK than after PRK.

Is Laser Surgery for You?
For myself and many others, laser surgery is the ultimate freedom from the hassles of contact lenses and a second chance at having normal eyesight. However, it is not for everyone. It’s crucial that you find a doctor who has performed many laser vision procedures and can talk about the advantages and disadvantages for your particular condition.