Considering LASIK Eye Surgery – My Story
I’d wanted to get LASIK surgery for a very long time. But I had preconceived notions that prevented me from proceeding even as far as a consultation. I was off-put by what I thought might be an expensive and potentially dangerous procedure. I wanted to know more about the pre-tests, the actual surgical process, and of course the cost factors involved.
As a 44 year old work-at-home mom was it even “worth” me having the surgery? Wasn’t I doing just fine with my glasses? Isn’t wearing contact lenses good enough? Why was I considering LASIK in the first place? How much would laser eye surgery really change my life?
I had questions about LASIK and I wanted straightforward answers from someone I could trust. Now that I’ve gone through the vetting process for LASIK, I want to be the person for YOU! Here are the things you’ve been curious to know about having laser eye surgery.
Are You Considering LASIK? – First, Find Your “Why”
Everyone has their own personal reasons for wanting laser eye surgery. Finding your own “why” is an important first step. For me, personally I’ve been wearing glasses since I was six and contact lenses since I was 12. Over the years I’ve grown increasingly tired of the constant care that glasses and lenses require. Getting my prescription “just right” has been a struggle with many wearisome visits to the optometrist.
I’m over the cleaning of my contacts each night and the cloudy lenses. I hate struggling to get the soft lenses in and out, and the big bottles of solution that I have to lug around when I travel. I’m sick of my glasses steaming up when I’m cooking and of them sliding off my face when I work out. And the never-ending smears across the lenses and glasses getting knocked when I snuggle my kids. It’s been nearly 40 years of dealing with vision problems that I’m ready to ditch. What is your reason for considering LASIK eye surgery?
1. Do I Qualify As a Candidate for Laser Eye Surgery?
Once you’ve decided that you’d like to learn more about laser vision correction eye surgery, it’s very easy to find out if you’re a LASIK eye surgery candidate. I was able to call Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego and schedule a consultation appointment for the following week.
Clearview offers complimentary evaluations that will determine what type of refractive eye surgery is best for each patient. I was instructed to ONLY wear my glasses for three days prior to my appointment (not my contact lenses).
My evaluation included a extensive battery of simple eye tests. They use state-of-the-art technology to determine if LASIK is the right surgery for you. If you’ve ever been to the optometrist, many of the tests will be familiar. These evaluation techniques take 3-D images of the thickness and shape of your eye, map the curvature patterns of your eye, and take a microscopic exam of your eye (to check for health related issues).
The tests are easy and quick. However there are a lot of tests so plan on being there for about two hours. While it’s a good idea to bring a driver with you (since your eyes will be dilated), you should definitely get a babysitter for the kids. The exam areas are small and not a place for little ones.
2. Committing to LASIK Surgery
After the test portion, my counselor Richard asked big-picture questions about my personal vision needs, like what I do in my spare time and for work. He went over some of the surgery details and worked up a surgery proposal with cost breakdown. At check-in I’d received a folder with details on refractive surgical processes done at Clearview and information about medical director Sandy T. Feldman M.D., M.S. Since I still needed to discuss the process with my husband and look at my calendar, I wasn’t able to commit to a surgery date at that time. Which was totally fine – the evaluation is free and I left with all the information tucked in my folder. I liked having the information to take home where I could read it at my own pace.
Feeling Comfortable is a BIG Deal When Considering LASIK
Everyone I met at Clearview made me feel at ease during the entire consultation process at Clearview and I never felt pressured to commit to the surgery at any time. As someone who likes to take time and mull over a big decision, this was extremely important to me. If you’re a busy mom like me, you’ll probably need to make the arrangements for a good surgery date, along with child care and financial concerns (let alone talking to your partner about everything!)
But there’s no need to rush if you’re considering LASIK; Your tests and cost proposal are good for 30 days so you have plenty of time to make plans and schedule a surgery date. However if you are absolutely ready to commit on the same day as your consult, you can do that too! They’ll have you scheduled for surgery within a few days.
3. Is LASIK Safe?
Hundreds of thousands of LASIK procedures are performed in the United States each year, making it one of the most common surgeries performed. Clearview uses a sophisticated iFS laser that is completely blade free. Dr. Feldman customizes the procedure individually for each patient, based on their eye evaluation tests. The precision technique takes less than ten seconds per eye. Clinical studies prove that patients have faster visual recovery and fewer dry eye symptoms after surgery with the iFS laser.
Seeing a qualified specialist is tops on my list for laser eye surgery safety. I specifically went to Clearview because of the reputation of medical director, Sandy T. Feldman. She has been performing refractive surgical procedures for over 21 years (over 20,000 procedures!) She’s been trusted by many athletes and even other doctors to perform their eye surgeries.
Considering LASIK – All Results Vary
Refractive laser surgery is a medical procedure. There are no guarantees or promises when it comes to any medical procedure as everyone’s individual results may vary. If a surgical center guarantees “perfect” vision, be wary because that may not always be accurate. Everyone’s final results after surgery are going to be different.
Clearview recommends starting your process with an evaluation in their office and discussing the full details of surgery in person. The pre-surgical testing at Clearview is extensive. As noted earlier, it last around two hours and includes a wide range of vision tests to ensure that everything about the eye is recorded properly. Dr. Feldman personally reviews all records of the tests to personalize the surgery to each patient’s needs.
4. Overcoming Fears About Having Laser Eye Surgery
I have to confess that reading and hearing about the LASIK process sort-of gives me the heebie-jeebies! In all honesty, I didn’t want to hear about the actual surgery details at all. Just do the surgery and let me get rid of my glasses!
Naturally the fear of having surgery on your eyes is a major hurdle. You’ll want all the information on how safe the procedure is. You want to feel comfortable before/during/after the surgery. And of course you want to feel like you’re in capable hands. Fear of the actual eye surgery can be a major stumbling block and concerns about the end result often stop people from scheduling the surgery.
Choosing the right surgical center for your procedure goes a long way towards achieving that comfort level. At Clearview, the people you encounter in the office are the same people you’ll see in the surgery room. All of the refractive eye surgery equipment is owned and operated at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center so your consultation and surgery will take place in the same office. To put you more at ease, each patient meets with the surgeon before the big day. Having the chance to meet Dr. Feldman and ask your important questions helps with overcoming fear and feeling safe when facing surgery.
5. Best Questions To Ask in Your Consultation
A lot of questions will come up during your consultation. Best to ask questions about LASIK surgery risks to ease any concerns up-front. Here are a few talking points you might want to mention to the eye doctor:
- How long does it take to recover after the surgery?
- What are the possible side-effects?
- Will I experience pain post-surgery and how long will it last?
- What kind of vision can I expect a few days/weeks/months after the surgery?
- When can I go back to work/drive a car/exercise?
- How in the heck do you keep your eye still during surgery when there’s a laser involved?!
- How often should I return to the office for check-ups?
- What happens if my vision gets worse?
- Are there any possible long term effects or vision problems after having LASIK?
6. How Much Will Laser Eye Surgery Cost?
Does insurance cover LASIK? You’ll have to do the research on your personal policy. However LASIK is considered an elective procedure, which means most insurance companies won’t cover the cost. With this in mind, I was actually surprised that the cost wasn’t as high as I’d expected. You can expect to pay about $2700+ per eye.
Talk to your counselor about payment plans offered in-office. LASIK is also a great way to use your “flex plan”. There are also discounts available at Clearview for military and teachers, so ask about that during your consult.
At Clearview, any post-operative visits are covered in the initial cost for 12 months. This includes any possible “touch up” that might be required. It doesn’t happen that often but great to know it’s covered if you need it. After the 12 month period you can schedule additional check ups and surgical touch ups and the cost is only $750 per eye for these procedures.
My LASIK Eye Surgery Experience
I ditched the corrective lenses and haven’t had to wear glasses in two years since having my LASIK surgery procedure! Other than experiencing occasional dry eyes after the surgery, my eye health has been amazing. Laser vision correction is a big step. But if you’re considering LASIK, at least try the consultation and see if you’re a good candidate.
I had my LASIK eye surgery at the Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in 2018. Read more about my personal experience and the Laser Eye Surgery Checklist for Ideal LASIK Recovery.
This article was originally published on Apr 12, 2018 and has been updated and republished.