Monday, October 17, 2011

Adventures in LASIK - Day 15, The Big Eye Exam

Last Friday was a big day.  With the medicate drops a thing of the past, it was time to find out how well I could see with my zapped eyes.

I was a little tense.  Before LASIK, I was seeing 20/15, better than "normal" (20/20), with glasses.  They guaranteed they would give me at least 20/20, and they said I *should* be able to get to 20/15 if I was able to see that well with glasses.

But there were no guarantees for that.

That said, there was the implication that I could have an "enhancement"* if I was not happy with the result.

* - remember, that is their word for a repeat surgery, which most people would probably call a "correction".

Then there was the whole discussion about no reported cases of loss of vision to the FDA.

So, my hopes were high, but there was still that nagging concern...

Don't get me wrong, having 20/20 without glasses is great.  But "losing" 20/15 would take a bit of luster of the achievement.

I stood in the waiting room, amidst a cross-section of folks waiting to be evaluated.  Some for their first time, some, like me, for a follow-up.

I was briefly distracted when I saw a young couple with two kids, the mother with thick glasses.  As they were called in by one of the technicians/salesmen that handles the initial evaluation and price discussion, I quietly hoped that the salesman would cut them a good deal.

I did my best to use Google Reader and my never-ending RSS feeds to keep my mind from chasing its tail, worrying about what my vision would be.

Then I was called back for my exam.

I walked into the dimly-lit room.  It was the same technician that had measured my eyesight on my first visit and the day of my surgery.

"Cover your left eye".  Letters popped up.  I was able to read the bottom row.  The letters were crisp and easy to read.

"Cover your right eye".  Letters popped up.  Again, the bottom row was crisp and easy to read.

"Now, with both eyes".  Letters popped up.  Once again, the bottom row was crisp and easy to read.

"Aw, what the heck, try to read this."  Letters popped up.  The letters were not blurry, but they were just to small to make out.

Dammit, was that 20/15?  Did we not quite make it?  Was I going to have to decide between 20/20 and another round of LASIK?

"Yeah, I didn't think you could read it, but I figured why not try? That was 20/10.  You have 20/20 in each eye and 20/15 with both.

A confusing statement, but I was so relieved that I didn't press further.  20/15 was all I wanted to hear.

The rest of the exam was something of a blur (see what I did there?).

Bright painful lights in my eyes.  Something about being able to see the corneal flap and the hinge.  It was lined up and healing well, etc.  I need to keep using lubricating eye drops until three months after the surgery to be safe and promote proper healing.  Until the flap was completely healed, I would have reduced sensitivity on my cornea, so there was a greater risk of something abrasive getting on there and doing damage without me realizing it...hence the need to regular drops.

Whatever, 20/15 baby!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adventures in LASIK - Day 6, The Diminishing Flood

[Isn't that a cool picture?  I found it at]

If you have been following my adventures...last Thursday afternoon, the stromata of my corneas were reshaped with LASERS!  This was part of an IntraLASIK procedure to correct my vision.

Well, apparently, they seek elemental balance, because after the "fire" of the lasers, came much "water" in the form of a shedload of eye drops.  It's not suprising.  You just had a flap cut open in your eye.  You want that to stay moist/lubricated, calm (not inflamed), and free of infection.

There were three players:
  • Artificial tears to keep my eyes moist; I opted for the individual sterile doses of Refreshe Plus
  • PredForte, a steroid eye drop to control inflammation and allow my eyes to hit more home runs
  • Zymaxid, an antibiotic eye drop to oppose those evil, evil biotics
Day 0 - after surgery, when awake, PredForte every 2 hours and Tears every 30 minutes.  Two more reasons to just sleep through until the next morning.

Days 1-4, I was to use the artificial tears as needed for moisture (as much as hourly), PredForte 6 times a day, Zymaxid 4 times a day.  In total, typically 16 applications of eye drops each day.  So, most hours of the day, I was putting some sort of drops in my eyes.

[Oh, and for extra fun, you are supposed to sleep with the goggles for three nights to avoid rubbing your eyes; perfect for your Pitch Black scene recreations.]

Days 5-6, no more Zymaxid, but PredForte is still 6 times a day.  Tears as needed still.

It's Day 6.  I am finding that I don't need the tears very much.  At this point, I am just using them to be safe.

Wow, I have never put so much stuff in my eyes.  But wow, I am getting really good at putting eyedrops in my eyes!

I will be glad when the PredForte ends.  No, not because I am ethically opposed to eyeballs "juicing", but because it's a milky white solution, so when you put them in, it dulls your visual clarity a bit, as if you are looking at the world through a dirty window.  Also, it tends to form more eye boogers. :-P

Tomorrow, Day 7, starts a 6-day period where I only need to use PredForte twice a day, and tears when needed.  After that, it's just tears when needed.

So, by the time the 2-week follow-up occurs, the medications should be all done.

For now, I am glad that my watery shackles will loosen a bit tomorrow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Adventures in LASIK - The Day After, Part 2

Time for some belated additional comments on my first post-surgery day.  I meant to post this last night, but it will become clear why I did not as the story unfolds.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was instructed to not work on the computer or read for at least 24 hours after the procedure.  The rational given was that you tend to focus more intently during such activity, leading to less blinking and more drying.  Drying is the mind wait, that's Dune.  Drying can slow your healing or even damage the flap they made, which is, in a word, bad.

No worries, plenty of meetings and calls to resolve, and I can get buy just glancing at my laptop for a quick e-mail or to look up a contact.  And I had forced myself to stay in bed throughout the evening and night, so I was being pretty safe.

There are some things that were covered in my visit yesterday morning, which I neglected to mention in the other post.

First they mentioned that due to swelling, moisture (or the lack thereof), etc., I may see small fluctuations in my vision until my eyes completely heal.  OK, I can understand that.

Don't freak out if my vision is not 100% constant for a little while.  Check

Try to wear goggles or sunglasses for the next few days.  Hmm, those goggles sure are sexy, but I picked up a shiny new pair of sunglasses just the same.

Wearing sunglasses is such a strange thing.  I haven't bought a pair since I was a teenager in the Army, because after I got out, I simply started wearing my regular glasses all of the time and with anti-glare coating and 100% UV blocking, there wasn't much need.  Of course, my glasses got smaller and trendier over time, so they probably did not provide as much coverage as my optometrist would like from the brutal, unrelenting UV beast that is the Sun.

But I digress.  Pick up a pair of Ray-bans.  Check.

And you know those drops?  You ain't seen nothing yet!
    • Steroid SIX times a day for SIX days, then twice a day for two days
    • Antibiotic FOUR times a day for FOUR days, then stop
    • Oh, and moisturizing drops as needed, probably as much as hourly
Go go gadget iPhone alarms!  So, I punched in my TEN dose times. and went about my business day.

Prepare to make it rain on my eyeballs.  Check.

As mentioned, I stuck with conversational stuff most of the day, and avoided staring at a screen too much.  Things were going great. It was a little weird wearing sunglasses indoors, but I simply explained to my colleagues why I was doing it, and we moved on (typically after fielding some questions about LASIK).

However...when I got home yesterday evening, I started doing some heavy re-coding of a collection of portal pages I created for OwlCon's Gaming Coordinator.  Minutes turned into three hours and as I wrapped up the work, I noticed that the words on the screen were a little blurry.  I had put some drops in during that time period, but I guess not enough.  I guess they were not kidding about that whole "drying activity" thing when they spoke of working on the computer.

Which is why I postponed my follow-up blog post of last night until this morning.

When I woke up this morning, there was a bit of cloudiness to my vision, but after some drops, that improved.

Some of it is the brightness.  I don't notice any discomfort from the illumination of the screen, but sometimes it is as if the light I am taking in from what I am viewing is strangely bright.  It's sort of like the effect when someone shines a flashlight at you and that affects our ability to see who or what is behind the flashlight, but on a teeny tiny scale.  That's a crappy explanation, but it's as close as I can get to explaining it.

There is also an occasional miniscule lag in visual clarity when I look in a different direction, which may simply be related to moisture, swelling, or whatever.  It is occasional and only noticeable with something like text, where subtle changes in crispness are more obvious. It's not dramatic either, I can clearly read the text immediately, but there is this strange sense that it was just short of being completely crisp for maybe a tenth of second.

And yet, right now.  Everything looks and works perfectly.

And in the fine tradition of my monkey ancestors, I will learn from last night, post this, and step away from the computer for a while. :-)