|Staring Into a Laser Beam
Thoughts on The Surgical Removal of Eyeglasses
via Laser Surgery -- by a Happy Patient.
March 2012 Update:
My vision has been super stable since the 1997 PARK eye surgeries.
I have not been back for a follow up, which is foolish, but I'm the sort who doesn't seek medical attention till something is wrong. I wear Costco and Dollar store reading glasses for books and computer screens.
An interesting item recently learned:
In the armed services, vision specific jobs like Jet Pilot may be closed to people who've had LASIK vision correction surgery. PRK/PARK are however A-OK. I guess the worry is that a blow to the head can make the flap break loose. If you're in combat but suddenly can't see, that's probably a bad thing.
The original Story:
Ever since the mid 80's; when the first reports leaked out of the Soviet Union that a new type of surgery was enabling people to see perfectly without eyeglasses or contact lenses, I have wanted desperately to "just do it."
One does not muck with one's primary sensory organ lightly. Over 50% of your brain is devoted to processing what you perceive with your eyes. I checked around. The word on the street wasn't good. The procedure's name was "Radial Keratotomy" or "RK" but the street name was "Slice and Dice."
"Wait for the laser system," the knowledgeable said, so I waited. And Waited. And Waited... for the laser surgery to become available in the USA.
Well I waited for it to become available in the USA for over 10 years. Finally in 1997 I got to do it, and here's the tale.
If some of the terminology used here is alien to you, click here or at right for a handy Glossary
This is a long story, so I've broken it into chapters which can be accessed randomly or in sequence.
There is a lot to know before you go staring directly into a laser beam.
I encourage you to read all of what is said here, to talk at length to your ophthalmologist, and to do LOTS of further research on your own.
If you are reading this because you or someone you care about is contemplating Laser Corneal Surgery please remember that you are a being of living tissue and every specimen of living tissue reacts differently to invasive processes like surgeries.
I will tell you here what the doctors often don't in office visits:
The recovery process can be a bitch, and it can take a long time.
There were weeks after I got my second eye zapped that I was quite grumpy indeed.
However my friends who've worn Orthodontia appliances have reported the same sweep of emotions and now they are quite pleased with their straight teeth.
Today, I am glad I did it, and would do it again almost exactly the same way. I not only recommend it to just about everyone of every age, I have hosted friends from out of town who've come to Portland to get it done, and driven others to clinic on zap days.
At one point I had guessed that the future is LASIK, not PRK. The PRK healing process seemed a bit too protracted.
My Surgeon, Dr. Larry Rich, co-editor of Principles and Practice of Refractive Surgery - ISBN 0-7216-6552-7 says that although the initial recovery period with LASIK is faster, the time to final healing is about the same, or longer. Data available in 1997 indicated that complications from all causes is much higher for LASIK over what it is for PRK until you get to about -5.00 diopters nearsightedness.
Focus problem in a
nearsighted (myopic) eye
Animated GIF of PRK process (91k)
Principles and Practice of Refractive Surgery - ISBN 0-7216-6552-7