Thinking about getting LASIK? Here’s my experience — from consultations through surgery and post-op care.
by Kayleigh DeMace
I’ve worn glasses since the fourth grade. I remember the first day I wore them to school, and what they looked like. They were thin, gold-wired frames that complemented my (then) light blonde hair. I put them on for the first time in the classroom and was amazed that I could see the chalkboard so clearly.
But from there, my vision got worse and worse and I eventually switched to contacts, which never really agreed with my eyes — unless I wore daily lenses. Still, even those left me with dryness and irritation at the end of the day.
After interviewing Dr. Nathalie Guibord, an ophthalmologist at Geisinger, on the difference between LASIK and PRK, I ended up booking a consultation with her the next month. To prepare for the tests they would perform, I began wearing my glasses again — an instant reminder of why I wanted to get this done. While contacts left my eyes dry and tired by the end of the day, when I looked outside the frame of my glasses, my vision was limited… a constant reminder that I was blind as a bat.
My first evaluation for LASIK
This first appointment was great, but I had a hard time during the tests. The team was extremely nice and affirming, helping me cope with my frustration with myself and with the hard time we had getting the photos and measurements Dr. Guibord needed to officially approve me for the procedure. We got a few, then had to move on.
Next, I underwent a comprehensive eye exam, much like you would at a yearly eye appointment. The exam would confirm my current prescription and that it was steady for the past few years, which is one of the requirements for the LASIK procedure.
Finally, I had my eyes dilated. It was a very strong dilation that lasted 24 hours, so I had to arrange for someone to drive me home. They dilated while I watched some educational videos, then I was given numbing drops. This was the part I was most interested in. I knew that people were comfortably awake for the procedure with the help of numbing drops, but I still felt uneasy about it.
Once the drops had time to do their work, the nurse took out a machine with what looked a little like a pen at the end and touched it repeatedly to my eyeball. Right over my dilated pupils. I was so surprised when I felt nothing at all. The only indication that anything was happening was that my vision suddenly went very slightly out of focus. I said, “Is that thing touching my eye?” And the nurse explained that it was measuring the thickness of my cornea. Amazing!
After all these tests, I was tentatively approved for LASIK surgery. I just had to come back in a month for one final test. This isn’t something everyone has to do — most people can get confirmed for the procedure at this appointment. But because of the difficulty I had during the first test, we needed a few more images and measurements. Everyone in the office reassured me that this was no big deal at all, though. Just an extra precaution to make sure I was a candidate for LASIK.
This photo was taken at the beginning of 2020... I was so excited to stop relying on glasses and contacts to see."
The COVID-19 pandemic postpones my surgery
I was scheduled to go back for my final evaluation on March 14. Then, the pandemic hit. I got the call that we’d need to postpone my appointment. That Monday, March 16, I began working from home.
The summer was an odd one from there. I ordered some contacts online to get me through days and weekends of hiking, kayaking and exercising without glasses. When I heard that Geisinger was resuming elective surgeries again a few months later, I reached out to Dr. Guibord. Within 24 hours, her team contacted me to get me back on track.
This time, everything went really well. Wearing a mask caused some fogging up on the eye machines, but some tape over the bridge of my nose and the mask helped. With a new machine, Dr. Guibord’s team got the needed measurements and I scheduled my surgery for just under three weeks later.
The LASIK procedure and recovery
Before the procedure, I needed to start a prescription eye drop four times a day. I was also prescribed Valium® and instructed to bring it with me to my appointment. The nurse told me exactly when to take the pill to help relax me for the surgery.
After cleaning and prepping my eyes with various drops, I was taken into a cool room where the laser was for my surgery. I couldn’t see a thing as I lay down and the team got ready to perform the procedure. But I was relaxed, and the team talked to me throughout it.
The only uncomfortable part was the creation of the cornea flap. Dr. Guibord pressed a ring-like apparatus onto my eye and my vision went dark, then came back into focus. It was uncomfortable, but not unbearable. When my vision came back, she used a device to hold my eyelids open and I focused on a light. She made the flap first on my right eye, then my left.
Then Dr. Guibord did the vision correction surgery as the technician counted down the time that was left for each eye. I believe the whole procedure took about 5 to 10 minutes. They told me I did great, sat me up and I said to Dr. Guibord, “Oh my gosh, I can see your face.”
My vision was instantly improved. Dr. Guibord checked my eyes to make sure everything looked OK before sending me home. I slept on the ride home, then took a 2-hour nap when we got there. The team had told me that my vision would be most improved after this at-home nap, and it was!
From there, everything else was easy
I had a follow-up appointment the next day, and I told the team that I woke up in the middle of the night with some burning, but that using the preservative-free eye drops helped. They told me that didn’t indicate a problem, that everything looked good and, after an eye exam, approved me for driving. My vision that day was 20x20 -2. I never thought I would have vision that good without glasses or contacts.
At another appointment that Friday, the team confirmed that everything was still looking good and healing nicely. From there, I would finish up my prescription eye drops and continue using the preservative-free eye drops until my 1-month follow-up appointment, gradually decreasing from once an hour to four times a day. Luckily, I’m not having any problems with dryness or irritation so far.
I chose to wear the protective goggles at night for just over three weeks after surgery (you can stop after three days if you want — unless you have animals that sleep in bed with you). But once I felt comfortable, I transitioned off of those.
Today, I’m working well on the computer, exercising without worrying about my glasses falling off and driving at night again. I do still have some light sensitivity, especially at night from other drivers’ headlights, but I notice it getting better each day.
If you’re thinking about getting LASIK vision correction surgery, I can’t recommend it enough. Having the freedom of not relying on glasses to see is amazing. Dr. Guibord has been such an amazing surgeon to work with and I’m glad I had the procedure done, but even happier that I can now enjoy better vision for years to come.