VisX CustomVue Lasik 12-26-07

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VisX CustomVue Lasik 12-26-07

Postby Joseph » Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:38 am

I've been lurking here a while soaking up all the facts and opinions. I finally took the plunge yesterday. I'm a bit dramatic, so this account might read a little less technical, and more emotional than some.

I've probably been nearsighted all my life. I finally got my first pair of glasses as age six, and remember being amazed looking at the mountains around my home near Denver, and seeing that their were trees on the ridges.

By age 19, I was living in L.A. and acting in stage plays. One night I whipped off my glasses to go on for a musical number and almost fell into the orchestra pit. The next day I went for a contact lens evaluation I eventually quite acting, but kept wearing contacts for the next 30 years.

In those years, I joined a labor union, and then ended up starting my own company. The union liked the idea of a former member/manager and asked me to be a Trustee on their health and pension fund. I continued as a beneficiary on that fund as an owner/operator. So, the decisions I made had a direct effect on my own health benefits.

The fund did not cover Lasik, and I quietly waited to see if some other member would file an appeal asking us to consider it. A few months ago it finally happened. I was all excited over it thinking that I could finally get my own eyes done at the trusts expense.

The thing is, Trustees are outnumbered by "Professionals" at the table by about 4:1. Only Trustees can vote, but the "Professionals" (Doctors, Lawyers, Administrators, etc) tell us what the legal problems are, and what the general thinking is in the rest of the Erisa Trust world.

The Pros told us that most Trusts were not covering Lasik because it is currently affordable to their general membership. Members who don't have the cash in the bank can usually take out low (or zero) interest loans to cover the procedure. The fear is that once big insurance dollars are available for Lasik, then Lasik will cost a lot more money. Our members have a 10-20% co-pay, so on the low end, if Lasik a few years from now costs $45,000, then our members will be paying $4,500-$9,000 for the procedure.

I thought back to a file my Mother gave me a few years ago. In it was certain documents about myself. One was a billing from the hospital when I was born in 1958. I was a difficult birth. My Mom and I ended up in the hospital for four days. The cost to my uninsured Dad? $198.42!

Now, I know that $198.42 went a ot farther in 1958 than it does today, but come on.... have our wages increased that much? And what does it cost today for a birth like that?

So, we all voted "NAY", and I knew that if I wanted Lasik in my lifetime, I would probably have to pay for it myself.

I ended up with a reputable Ophthalmologist in my area that came highly recommended by other patients. I did my research here and on other websites, and went to my initial appointment.

The Doctor told me that I was in a range where he could help me. My contact lens prescription was -4.75 Right, and -5.00 Left. I had tried monovision in the past and had tolerated it fine, so I wanted that procedure so I didn't need glasses to read up close.

Yesterday, when the time came, I was amazingly calm. My wife and I drove to a restaurant nearby and I had a late lunch/early dinner. Then we went a few blocks past and I walked into the office.

Members of my Family had decided to take up a collection to help me pay for the procedure, which was $4500.00. They had contributed $1,100.00, so I askd the desk clerk if I could write a check for that amount and put the rest on "Care Credit", which gave me 6 months with zero interest.

She couldn't get the "Care Credit" machine to work, so I came behind the counter and did some trouble shooting. I'm the computer guy at my company and easily diagnosed the fact that no phone line was connected to the machine. I made the connection and effectively charged myself for the balance due. She was delighted and asked me if I wanted to "go on payroll". I smiled and declined her polite offer, though now I wonder if I could have bargained for free Lasik in exchange for plugging their fax machine into the wall a few times?

The time came, and a nurse took me to the back room. I had taken a Valium 30 minutes before and felt kind of calm. I suffer from an anxiety disorder anyway, so this kind of drug isn't a stranger to me. I didn't feel zonked, just like the edge had been knocked off.

The nurse motioned to my glasses and asked me if I was ready to "throw those away". I said, "Sure!", and tossed them into a bag. Then she asked me to close my eyes and swabbed the area around my eyes with betadine.

I was taken into the operating room, and then it hit me that this was a real surgery. Everybody looked scrubbed. They put one of those paper hats on my head, and asked me to lay down on a table. Then they put a support under my knees so they could be bended comfortably. Finally, I was given a "Teddy Bear", and told "Squeeze this".

The Doctor came in and said in a friendly voice, "So.. Mr. Sheppard, are you ready to see better?". I said, "Yeah!!!".

He rotated me under the laser, and explained that I should try to look at the blinking light whenever I had vision. Then he put tape on my right upper eyelid, and the right lower eyelid. I knew what was going to come next from the websites I'd visited, and I knew he had not put any numbing eye drops in.... I wondered if he would cut the flap by accident without doing that, and I began to panic a bit. "It BURNS!", I said. He said, "Oh...", and poured some solution into my eye.

Then he said, "I'm going to put an object on your eye. It's going to create some pressure, and your eyesight might become dim, or go black. This is NORMAL."

I thought, "Oh my GOD... this is going to be the eyeball peeler!". He did indeed put something heavy on my eye. The nurse said, "Suction is good!", and my vision went black. Then he said, "You will hear a buzzing sound".

"I thought... Oh GOD... this is where they are going to cut the FLAP!". I started to pray... you know the kind of prayer crazy non-church going guys like me pray when they are scared out of their minds, "Dear Lord, please guide the surgeon's hand, please guide the laser, please help the Nurses...". "ZIP!!!". I felt a stinging sensation in my right eye. I swear, I could feel the knife go in a half circle shape. It didn't really hurt, but it did sting a little.

I could still see the blinking light above me. Then I saw something like tweezers coming toward my eye. "OH NO!!! IT'S THE EYEBALL PEELER!!", I thought!

The flap was peeled back. Now, had I not goggled "Lasik Flap" on goggle images, I'm sure I'd have no clue what was going on. But, I knew he was peeling back the top skin of my eyeball.

Then, the laser did it's thing. "Bump, bump, bump", it said. I could smell an odor that was much like when you get your teeth drilled to get a filling at the dentist.

Next, the tweezers came back, and I could see the blinking light much clearer than before. He removed the tape and asked me to close my eyes gently.

I began to realize that the procedure had been less painful, time consuming and irratating than the bi-annual teeth cleaning I had at the dentist a few days before.

He rotated me over to put the left eye under the laser and started again. Same stuff.

When it was over, the took the teddy bear away and asked me to sit up. I instantly looked out the window and noticed I could see the mountains and trees clearly. Then I looked at their computer screen and it was a little cloudy.

The Nurse took me back to the Optometry room, and sat me down in the chair. The Doctor came in and looked at my eyes under the scope. When he say my right eye, he said, "I want to work on this a little more. You might get some liquid on your shirt. He took what looked like a syringe and manipulated the flap.

He gave me some wrap around sunglasses and asked me to wear them home. Then he showed me some clear goggles and said, "change to these when you get home". Then he held up surgical tape and said, "Tape the goggles to your face top and bottom before you take a nap. Take the second Valium before you get home and just try to sleep. The more you keep your eyes closed in the next twelve hours, the clearer your vision will be tomorrow".

I came out to the waiting room. My wife seemed surprised I was out already. Only about 20 minutes had gone by. I stood by the car and looked at some landmarks I had set in my mind before going in. There was a sign that said "Optometry" that I could read with my glasses, but not when I looked above them. I could see it now! Other signs on the building were reasonably clear that had been mush before.

We got home, and I went to bed and took the second Valium, and closed my eyes. I was still wide awake, so after about an hour I took a Benadryl and that knocked me out until about 9:30pm. I got up and everything looked very clear. I took off my goggles, went to the bathroom to pee, and then went back to bed to put in my eye drops. Things looked really good.

I slept until about 5:00am, and got up and took off the goggles again and put in more drops. I looked up at my alarm clock, which projects an image up on the bottom of a shelf about 4' from my bed. In the past, I had to fumble for my glasses to see the time, but now it was crystal clear.

I walked around and tried to evaluate my site. What I found was that my left eye (set for reading) was seeing distance better than my right eye (set for distance). As the day wore on, this got better.

At 4:30pm, we had a follow-up appointment with the Doctor. They had me read some eye charts and determined that my distance eye was better than 20/20. They gave me a card to read, and my close eye could read the very smallest print.

I told the Doctor that I am seeing great in the far distance, and great on close reading, but the mid-range is a bit blurry. He said that it might always be that way. But, with results this good in 24 hours, I'm hoping that things might improve more.

Thanks to everyone here who has told about their experience. I have enjoyed lurking here.

Now, here is a photo of me moments after my procedure, it was taken by my wife of me while I was following Doctor's orders:

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Postby LasikExpert » Fri Dec 28, 2007 7:22 am

Thanks for telling us all your own experience. Please keep us posted on how you are doing.

For those interested, read our article about Lasik monovision.
Glenn Hagele
Volunteer Executive Director

Lasik Info &
Lasik Doctor Certification

I am not a doctor.
Site Admin
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Location: California

One month following the surgery

Postby Joseph » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:50 am

If I don't think about "monovision" I really dont notice it. The most improved type of vision is driving. I really don't notice a difference between my eyes, even when looking over my left sholder to make a lane change. My left (reading) eye, is only slightly nearsighted. I can see distance with it now much better than before the surgery. The right eye (distance) is razor sharp.

On Saturday night, I had to drive for about three hours during the night. I've been doing a little night driving, but thins was the first long drive in the dark. Most of what looks like starbursts or halos are the "blurry" right eye. If I hold a hand over that eye, the distance vision is very clear even with oncoming headlights.

There is a mid-range where it can be difficult. This would be where it is too close for my distance eye to read, yet too far for my reading eye. Mostly, I notice it when using the computer, so I'm moving closer to it hoping to catch it with my left (reading) eye.

I've thought about how fantastic it would have been if I'd had both eyes corrected for distance, but then I remember that if I hadn't picked monovision, I would have needed reading glasses. If I close my left eye and look at my watch or cell phone, I can't read them at al. Of course, if I open my left eye, I can see it all very clearly. I couldn't do that before, and found myself avoiding reading newspapers and magazines over the last year or two because I just couldn't see them, unless I held them out about 3' Now even the fine print on my wristwatch is readable.

I'm considering waiting until six months is up and then going to my eye doctor and asking for a lens to correct my left eye for distance, just for long driving trips. Also, a pair of reading glasses that have no correction in the left eye, but slight magnification in the right so if I want ot read a novel I can do that with less effort.

Overall, I'm very happy with my surgery, and my choice of Monovision.
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