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Author: IndecisiveFool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 43  
Subject: My experience Date: 4/12/2002 12:48 PM
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Last week, I had Lasik surgery. So far I have had only one small complication and my vision is good. I was able to see pretty well immediately after the procedure. By that evening, I was actually able to drive a vehicle. At the next day check-up, I was able to read the 20/20 line on the charts with each eye. I am still maintaining 20/20 vision after my one-week follow-up.

My surgical experience
I had the first appointment of the day. It felt good to have the first appointment after the laser is calibrated for the day. I arrived 30 minutes before the procedure. The Lasik coordinator took me to her office to sign the consent forms. Then I was given a Valium. I was also given one liter of water to drink to make sure I was hydrated before the procedure. I was led to the pre-op room where numbing drops were added to my eyes. My eyelids were also cleaned. I was fitted with booties and a hair covering.

When the surgeon was ready, I was led into the surgical room. After laying on the recliner, my head was stabilized. I am then given additional numbing drops. The eyelid was held open with a device (can't remember name), a corneal flap was created with a microkeratome, the laser shapes the eye, and then the flap put back in its original position. One complication arose during the surgery. There is a rough edge on the flap in the right eye. A contact lens is placed on the eye that will be removed the next day. The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes. There is no pain during the whole procedure. I go home to recuperate.

On the way home, I can read signs. The right eye is blurrier due to the contact. When I go home, I go to bed for several hours, which is recommended by the doctor. After waking up, my vision was pretty good. I could see thing clearly. I was required to use antibiotic drop three times a day and lubricating drops every hour. I felt so good by the evening that I went to the mechanic to pick up my vehicle that was being serviced. (Yes, I am bad boy.)

I have my first follow-up the next day. The contact is removed from the right eye. My vision is checked and I am seeing 20/20 in each eye. I can even right some of the 20/15 line. I am told that I am four lines ahead of their expectations as I was expected to read the 20/50 line. My eyes were around 20/200 before the surgery. I was nearsighted with an astigmatism. The actual prescription is –3.25+1.00x89 in the right eye and –3.75+1.00x78 in the left eye. I go back to work after the appointment. At the one week appointment, my eyes are still seeing 20/20 with no side effects such as dry eyes or halos around lights. I am happy so far with the results from my surgical experience.

Researching the Lasik Procedure
I spent three years looking for information on the procedure. I looked for information on the internet, posted a thread on the LBYM board each year, and talked to people who had the surgery. My favorite place of information was a website by the Lasik Institute at http://www.lasikinstitute.org/ My opinion is that this website gave detailed information on the procedure itself and the complications from the surgery. I felt the information was presented in a balanced manner, showing both the positives and negatives of the procedure.

One of the best sections of the above site is the page for links to other resources of information. It can be found at http://www.lasikinstitute.org/links.html It would list sites that were both for and against the procedure. It even listed www.surgicaleyes.org which lists negative surgical experiences.

When searching for a doctor, I found that the area doctors mainly used three different lasers – Autonomous Ladarvision, VISX Star S3, and Nidek. The Autonomous is a spot scanning laser, the VISX is a broad beam laser, and the Nidek is a slit-scanning laser. Discussing the lasers with a relative that is an optician, I eliminated the Nidek laser. I used the FDA website to research the other lasers. The address is http://www.fda.gov/CDRH/LASIK/lasers.htm In the end, I was comfortable with either the Autonomous or VISX, but I was leaning toward the VISX laser.

Searching for a doctor
I started my search for a doctor in the fall. I attended 3 free seminars to find out more about the surgery and to find out more about the qualifications of the doctor. The surgeon ran each seminar so it is a good time to ask questions on his background and surgical experience. I followed up the two seminars with free evaluations of my eyes. The evaluations showed that I was a good candidate for the surgery. Also the evaluations allowed me to study the thoroughness of the exam and the professionalism of the staff. I was able to eliminate one surgeon since I felt the evaluation was incomplete. The staff did not use a pupilometer to measure the diameter of my pupils. My pupils are large and I had a concern with halos around lights at night.

Since I was interested in a surgeon that uses the VISX Star S3 laser, I searched the area for a new surgeon. I found one and scheduled an appointment. I was impressed with the evaluation by the staff. The evaluation was more thorough than the previous evaluations that were completed. Based on my experience that day, I scheduled my surgery before I left the office. I felt comfortable with this doctor and staff.

Financial
My doctor's fee was $1850 per eye. He does not accept insurance but will match the price that an insurance company will pay. One of my medical insurance policies would reduce the cost to $1500 per eye. I was able to save $700 on the procedure. The total doctor's bill was $3000. There were no hidden extra costs. All medicines and follow-up visits are covered in the surgical fee. Since I used the evaluations to determine that I was a good candidate for the surgery, I used my wife's flexible spending account to set aside $3000 for the procedure. Using the flexible spending account will lower my taxes by approximately $810. So the final out-of-pocket cost is around $2190.
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