Laser Eye Surgery Horror Story.

Bob Hubbard

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As some long time members know, I had LASIK eye surgery July 2001. The comercials you see on tv with pro football players and hockey stars raving about it make it seem like a great way to remove the challenges of wearing glasses (and contacts).

No more worrying about your glasses flying off and breaking, or a contact falling out while you train.

In many cases, it all works out fine. But a large percentage of folks have a wide range of complications, some minor, some major, most in the middle.

I refer everyone interested in the "What can go Wrong" to see http://www.surgicaleyes.org/ Its a very interesting site, to be certain.

My problems so far have been the folowing:
-increased light sensativity.
-decreased night vision
-extreme starbursts, halos and glare at night.
-extremely increased dryness in the eyes (I use $50+ a week in eyedrops, still isn't enough)
-increased suseptability to injury. I've had an eyelash fall into my eye that caused 3 days of extreme bluryness. At night, the outer layer of my eyes have a tendency to dry out and either bind to the eyelids (which results in that layer being ripped off when I open my eyes) to "cracking" (think scar tissues willingness to split)

When training, I have to wear safety glasses at all times, grapplings flat out off limits. (if hair causes painful problems, I'm sure an elbow would be worse). Its incredibly annoying to have to put in wetting drops every 10-20 minutes (more if the heats running).

My career is computer related. It is impossible for me to spend hours non-stop on a pc anymore. For 2 months after the operation, I could barely work, and web surfing, reading, movies were painful.

As time goes on, it gets better, but unless my eyes can stay wet for an extended time period, its unlikely my vision will ever really be 'clear'.

I've found some interesting things since then. To treat dryness in the eyes, the followings worked for me:
-hot wet compresses 3x a day.
-flax seed oil 2x a day. (also good dietary aid I've been told)
-Refresh Liquid Gel (green bottle) - helps extend the drops usefullness
-minimizing caffine - the more caffine I drink, the tighter my eyes get. Sucks, cuz I used to drink tea by the gallon. :(

I -strongly- encourage anyone considering -any- type of eye surgury to get as much information as you can. Many folks think"hey, if I lose 1, I still got another". I spent 2 weeks on 1 eye after 1 -very- painful scratch. It sucked big time. Depth perception was way off, and driving was a nightmare.

:asian:
 

Dronak

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Sorry to hear that, Kaith. I hope things will get better with time and you find good ways to cope with the problems. I think you're right that many times eye surgery works fine, but there is a non-negligible percentage of people who do have problems. My dad had eye surgery some time ago to correct something. It could have been just a vision correction thing, but I thought he had some other problem that required the laser surgery to fix. In any case, I think it worked out well for him. His vision is near 20/20 and whatever I think he needed fixed got fixed. I think he had a few minor side effects, but I don't recall them being particularly bad.

I strained my eyes out of shape in about 7th or 8th grade (I'm serious, my eyes were fine until just before high school) and have been wearing glasses ever since. I don't like contacts because I don't want to stick something directly on my eyeball. Glasses are fine for me and since I don't even have high index lenses, there's still plenty of room for me to go. My uncorrect vision is horrible in that I can't really read anything without my glasses, but I can still see where people and objects are, so it's not like I'm blind either. Fortunately the change in my eyes has slowed down and hasn't changed significantly in about 4 years. I should actually get checked again soon, but I don't plan to use laser surgery for correction. As you noted, there are still a fair number of people who have problems with it and I'm fine with glasses now.
 

Cthulhu

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I've worn glasses since I was six years old, and switched to contacts in my teens. A former boss of mine has LASIK done and was extremely pleased with the results.

However, after reading about Kaith's problems, and checking out that Website, I think I'll stick to contacts and glasses.

Besides, when you think about it, the whole premise is kind've goofy. When we were children, we were always told to never shine lights into our eyes. LASIK shoots a LASER into your eye. What is LASER an acronym for? ;)

Cthulhu
 

arnisador

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Thanks for sharing this Kaith. I have thought of having this done for precisely the martial arts reasons you mention--my glasses were so badly knocked off and around at my last JKD glass that I had to break out the toolkit when I got home and repair them and I was worried that they'd last til I did get home--so hearing your story is something I could use. I knew of the increased burst probability but not of a story such as yours. Hopefully you'll have helped someone else with this. Good luck with your vision.
 
K

Kirk

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I have a couple friends who have had the surgury done, and
pretty much love the results. But because of horror stories like
Kaith's I've been reluctant to front the money for my wife to get
it done (she's blind as a bat without her specs). Her uncle is an
optician, who works for a surgical eye doctor. He claims that
there's a process going through FDA testing now, that will make
LASIK and radial carototomy (sp?) obsolete. It's simple cataract
surgery, where they replace the lens in your eye, with a TINY
TINY incision. But the lens is computer cut for the prescription of
your eye, basically. There's a lot of cases in senior citizens that
get cataract surgery, and have 20/20 vision after the fact.
The only side effect being claimed as a result of this surgery is
light sensitivity .. however, no more than those with LASIK, and
it apparently goes away ( I think ya get used to it ). He's claiming
that the hold up in the FDA allowing it, is all the doctors that have
paid top dollar for robot LASIK machines. So he's predicting that
within about 2 years, it'll be released. Should be a cheaper
process too.
 

Cthulhu

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Another reason to hold off on eye surgery of this type: presbyopia. Basically, as we age, the lenses in our eyes lose elasiticity, impairing focus. This is usually noticeable around middle age.

So, you get your fancy-shmancy eye surgery done in your twenties or early-thirties. You're one of the lucky ones and you get perfect vision with little or no side effects. You hit middle age and WHAMMO, your eyes go outta whack again. So, you need to get glasses...which is why you had that damn surgery in the first place.

Cthulhu
 
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Bob Hubbard

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One of the biggest things with the laser jobs is to get pre-screened properly. I should never have had it done. I had dry eyes going in, and most docs would have red-flagged me.

Mine didnt.

Most of the places doing these laser jobs are run assembly-line style. Your just a piece of meat to them. They do 50-100 a day and don't even blink.

If anyone is considering it, get -MANY- opinions. If you have the least bit of reservations on this stuff, don't do it.

Better to have to replace a $150 pair of glasses that ya stepped on, than go through some of the crap I did.

Heres a final tip:
-Wear safety glasses when working out. Guys, thats right up there with the ol cup. Regardless on how ya look at it, protect yer ballz. :D

Cthulhu is right...this is only a temporary sollution. So, I spent $2000 to F-up my eyes (for vanity and convenience), have spent over $2000 on eye drops over the last 6 months, and will most likely still need glasses again in about 15-20 years.

The jurys still out if all this crap was worth it. There have been some good points (like being able to wear regular sunglasses again, seeing the time when I wake up, etc), but a hell of alot of "This Sucks!" moments too.

I'm at the point where I can joke about some of it, so thats a good thing. I mean, at least this year I'll be able to enjoy bikini season. (Both days of it here in Buffalo. Wonder if the bikini will be out?):D

:asian:
 
D

DJDragon

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Wow, that is terrible to hear. Thanks for the info. I was absolutely convinced that laser surgery was perfect, now I'm thinking twice. I'm in my teens and I wear contacts, and bad eyesight has hindered my life since i was 9.

Despite your bad experience, I will probably consider laser surgery when I am older. It's the little things that I can't do, that I would really like to.
 
T

tunetigress

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Well this old bat also had endless difficulties from a young age due to the coke bottle glasses of severe near sightedness. I had my eyes done before they were even doing it with lasers, and almost no-one had heard of the procedure ( 80's). Back then it was done surgically and cuts were made in the cornea in order to reshape it. I had all of Kaith's symptoms at first too. I had to wear sunglasses constantly for about a year my eyes were so sensitive. I had all manner of wild and weird visual effects, starbursts, you name it, real trippy stuff. And the pain was excruciating at times. After the first few months of torment the symptoms began to wane. Right from the first though, I could see like I had never seen before. The salmon jumping, the eagles in the trees and even circling high overhead, and no longer marred by the raindrops and fog on my heavy cumbersome glasses. And suddenly I found that I had acquired peripheral vision! Wow it was a powerful thing. Changed my life. Put my head under water, left the side of the pool and learned to swim! Was suddenly able to catch a ball, ride a bike and see where I was going, and could see well enough to find my way into Kenpo with no fear of having my glasses smashed into my face. (yet one more time like when 'trying' to play a 'sport') I've had a dozen wonderful active years since I had my eyes done. Sure, this Tigger's getting a bit long in the tooth and I had to get those darn reading glasses, but even then, I don't need them all the time, they weigh a tiny fraction of what my old ones did, and I don't need glasses to find where I put them! For me, in retrospect, the suffering was (relatively) fleeting (tho trust me, it didn't seem so at the time, as Kaith will surely agree) and the long term benefits to my overall quality of like have been just too numerous to mention. So, I would say that if I could go back in time, I would still choose to get it done and suffer it all again, cuz if I hadn't I wouldn't be writing this today. That surgery gave me the freedom to experience activities never before possible or considered. Those new experiences helped to give me the courage to stand where I do today, and take another step on the most incredible journey of my kife, Kenpo. :asian:
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I finally saw a second doc, and she perscribed a nighttime ointment to try. Its basically vassiline and babyoil, with a few other things. Ya cant see for beans for about an hour afterwards, but so far, I'm seeing some improvement.

If I had it to to over again, I'd probably not get it done myself. The more research I do, the less suited I was for this surgury. PRK it seems would have been a better choice. (no cuts to the eye, less haloing)

So, my advice to anyone considering it is, do aLOT! of research, and don't base anything on price. You may save $200, but realy screw up your eyes. Get at the minimum 2 opinions from docs who aren't related to each other. 3 if you can.

Somedays, its great, otherdays, its hell. But, it does seem to be getting better, so heres hoping. :)
 
T

tunetigress

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Kaith is right. This is definitely not the type of thing to pinch pennies on. Perfect vision and freedom from glasses has value far beyond the price paid to achieve it. But, as in all purchases for goods and sevices, Caveat Emptor, let the Buyer Beware! :asian:
 

Dronak

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I agree. When you're talking about your health, you certainly don't want to mess things up. If it costs a few hundred dollars more to get a procedure done properly from a doctor you trust to do it right, it's going to be worth it in the end. Personally, I'm sticking to glasses. As I said, the change in my vision has slowed and I'm not even wearing high index lenses yet. I have a ways to go before I exhaust the glasses option. I suppose there would be benefits to not having glasses (or contacts) but it's not that big of a concern to me to warrant researching eye surgery. Not now anyway.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Bit of an update (since I saw the question asked on slashdot.org, and it jogged my memory about this thread.) (Hello to all the folks reading from Slashdot!)

Due to an alergic reaction with every eye drop I seem to try, I'm stuck using the single-shot non-preservative drops. Currently, I go thru 2-3 boxes a week at about $12/box (50 vials perbox)

This is suplimented with 1 tube per month of Muro 128 5% ointment that I use every night so that my eye surface doesn't dry out and fuse to my eyelid. (If that happens, I rip the surface of my eye off when I open it....very painful...to understate things)

Also use about 1 bottle of Refresh Liquigel every month (about $7)

So, total monthly maintainence is about $160-200 in eye drops. I get to do this for possibly forever, at least another year or 2 in any event...baring a sudden return of my eyes ability to produce tears.

Readings a nightmare..can't curl up with a good book or 3 like I used to.... Long drives are much longer as I either have to apply drops while driving (not fun at 70mph) or pull over a hell of a lot).

So.... after almost 15 months....I have to say, it sucks. I can see, but man, the price.

:asian:
 
P

PassingThrough

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Hi ... I'm one of those Slashdot types who followed your link here. :)

Before I say anything else, I'd like to say you've got my sympathy! If it's any consolation, it's stories like yours that have helped me to make up my mind that having to wear glasses really isn't all that bad a thing to be "burdened" with.

I went to the trouble of signing up for an account here because I have an experience that might (it's probably a real longshot) be useful.

I've never had LASIK done, nor any other kind of corrective eye surgery.

That said, a few years ago, I suddenly started developing really dry eyes overnight. When I woke, I found that my eyelids were alarming hard to open - and it really hurt to do so. It was as if my eyes had become so dry overnight that my eyelids were effectively sticking to my eyes. It was one of the most weird, disturbing, unexpected experiences I think I've ever run into with my vision.

Anyway, after 3 or 4 weeks of just hoping it would go away, I couldn't stand it anymore and made up my mind to go see my optometrist. As I was on my way to work, I started thinking about whether I had any related symptoms to tell him about in hopes that it'd make it easier to figure out what exactly the problem was (assuming it was more than just some type of normal "dry eye" condition - I had no idea what to expect). Anyway, as I continued driving, I also thought about past lines of questioning used by various doctors. I figured my optometrist might ask me if I'd had any recent changes in diet, etc. Heck, I figured he might even ask if there'd been any construction in the apartment building I was living in (stirring up dust or whatever). I also thought he might also ask if I'd changed soaps recently or stuff like that. Ironically, I always hated those kind of questions, because my answer to them all was always "no".

But then I had the sudden realization that I actually had changed something in my routine recently. I thought about it some more and realized that the change did also seem to correspond roughly with the time I started having problems with dry eyes at night.

The change I made? After succumbing to the marketing for them, I had switched the type of dryer sheets I used in my laundry to those "time release freshness" kind (yeah, I know).

That evening, despite having washed them the day before, I threw all my sheets and pillowcases into the washer and skipped using a dryer sheet altogether. The next morning was an instant improvement. I'm not exaggerating: my eyes were completely back to normal. I threw out the box of dryer sheets and decided that if I was that sensitive to that new kind, I wouldn't even go back to my old kind - I'd get the "scent free" variety in the future.

I figure that, having washed those sheets every few days ... and in particular pillow cases ... every night for about 8 hours I was putting my head and eyes right down on top of something it turned out I was allergic to in a really unpleasant way.

So, there you have it. I'm sorry this turned out so lengthy, but I felt bad enough for you I figured I'd outline everything here in case you think switching some things around in your routine might be helpful. Maybe some different laundry detergent or dryer sheets? I realize your eyes are dry all the time, but heck ... even if trying something different only improved things 10% ... from what you describe that might be worth it. You might even want to consider getting new pillows - there is always some trace out-gassing from foam and such that is of a normally ridiculously small amount ... but with your new sensitivity, maybe even that would be something to consider.

Regardless, good luck. I really hope your eyes improve.
 
K

Kirk

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Thanks for your information, ya never know, you just might end
up helping someone! :)
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I appreciate the suggestion.... will be trying it tomorow. :) Thank you!

Ya know, its funny....but a friend of mines so sensative to things that he has to use that no-perfumes/no bleach/etc stuff, else he has vision problems (among other things)... I never even thought of it til now though...and it makes perfect sence given that my eyes are ultra sensative to stuff that never really bugged me before.

:asian:
 

KennethKu

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Thanks for making this informative post. My eyes tend to get pretty dry when I sleep. I would not be looking at LASIK now. Will keep wearing my contacts instead. Thanks for the info again.
 
L

Lasik Mess

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Hello, I am just passing through too. I just wanted to say that I went to one of the most well-respected doctors in the world and I am a mess of lasik complications.

Paying extra did not save me from the horrors that can be wrought by laser eye surgery, and I cannot see well now with glasses or contacts.

There's a lot to know about lasik that the docs don't tell you. Visit www.surgicaleyes.org, and also www.lasikdisaster.com and www.lasiktruth.com.

If I'd known how bad things could be, I never would have had surgery on my eyes. :(
 

qizmoduis

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Major lurker here. Just to provide a counterpoint, I got LASIK just over a year ago, and have had no complications. My eyes were extremely astigmatic and nearsighted prior to surgery, but my vision is now almost (but not quite) 20/20.

I do have a tiny bit of glare around light sources at night, but that's gradually reducing over time.

The dry eyes cleared up after 3 months.

It's not all horror stories out there. ANYTHING can go wrong, but the vast, vast majority of times, it doesn't.

My vision is better now than when corrected by glasses, and I could never wear contacts of any kind. For me, it was well worth the price.
 

Cthulhu

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I have very bad astigmatism as well, but the new toric contact lenses work very, very well for me.

Cthulhu
 

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