Staring Into a Laser Beam
Summary and Advice
--Scott Rainey

      April 3, 1998; eleven months after zapping my right eye, I was tested at 20/15 (right eye) and I could resolve almost half of the 20/10 line on the eye chart on May 19, 1998.
      Adeana, the clinic technician, patiently tried every conceivable way to improve on it and couldn't.
      To say that it was a happy day is the essence of understatement.
      I still need reading glasses because I have middle-aged presbyopia, which everyone gets, sometimes as early as mid-thirtysomething and always by age 50.
      On April 3, 1998 9 months after being zapped, my left eye was 20/25. It tested at +0.75 with a very small hint of astigmatism. Six weeks later 5/19/98, it had not changed and they tell me it will probably stay there. I'm wearing a +0.75 contact lens which is both contact lens therapy and a vision assist. I do not expect my left eye to ultimately get the perfection of the right eye, I do anticipate at minimum a further 0.25 to 0.50 improvement.
      Except for reading I do not need glasses or contact lenses at all.
      It has not been a totally smooth ride, and there were lots of times I wished I'd not done it, however my results after nearly a year have convinced me that it was worth the expense and inconvenience.

      Read everything you can get your hands on before your surgery.
      Go to the free Seminars.... more than once.
      Make sure you're willing to face the risk of less than perfect vision when things are all done.
      If you go out of town for the process, have a local ophthalmologist and/or optometrist already setup to care for you post operatively.
      Follow your surgeon's instructions to the letter. Don't think you're being brave or tough by taking less medication than was prescribed. Take even the moisturizing eye drops as directed by your doctor exactly. I went with what "felt" right and didn't add moisturizing drops every hour because I didn't feel the need. I may have foolishly extended my recovery time by many months, but of course I"ll never know. Take all of your medicine, including moisturizing eye drops exactly as instructed.
      The USA has the best doctors in the world, but the FDA has taken a go-slow approach to testing and approving these procedures. This has kept the quantity of skilled American Surgeons behind those of other parts of the world. This has created a shortage of USA Doctor's with the skills and experience to do this procedure, even though the quality is second to none. It can be frustrating. When you calculate the cost of air travel and a vacation in an exotic land you'll be tempted to take a trip. I know I was. In my not so humble opinion, you will want to stay with a clinic which is reasonable driving distance from your home.
      If you do go out of town for the process, have a local ophthalmologist and/or optometrist already setup to care for you post operatively. Most of them will already have a relationship with a Laser Surgery Clinic and will point you to a Clinic that is not too far away.
      Although the procedure takes half a minute there is pre-operative testing and a year of post operative care involved. That means this is not a single "zap and you're done" most of the time. Follow up care can be provided by your local Optometrist, which is not a terrible option particularly if the Optometrist is properly trained and has an established relationship with your surgeon; but it's much better if you can get follow up care from a clinic maintained by your surgeon. This is always important but especially so in the event that fine-tuning was required as was my experience, or in the event of a complication.
    Corneal surgery is a great idea for:
    • Medium to High Myopes. If your correction is -4.00 or stronger, you'll probably be +/- 1.00 after a couple of weeks. This will be a tremendous improvement and you will be quite happy. Your vision will gradually get better and better, however you should not expect to resolve to perfection. For that you must expect to need glasses, especially if you're over 40 and needed reading glasses or bifocals.
    • Get along badly with contact lenses
    Corneal Surgery is not so great for people who:
    • Are Low Myopes.
    • Already need bifocals or reading glasses (you'll still need reading glasses).
    • See 20/15 or better with their glasses or contacts.
    • Work on fine visual details a lot.
Even if you fall into several of the not-so-great categories (I hit on all of them), Laser Corneal Surgery can be a good thing.

I'm very glad I did it.

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A Byte of


The Right

Zap Day
1st Eye

Recovery &
First Eye

Zap Day
2nd Eye

Recovery &

Summary &

Focus problem in a
nearsighted (myopic) eye

Animated GIF of PRK process (91k)
Images from the Casey Eye Institute Website