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The Burning Retina (A LASIK Story)

By Jave27 in Technology
Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 11:33:37 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

About 3 weeks ago, a masked man wielding a high powered laser apparatus decided to slice open my eyeballs and play around inside each of them. The result? I now have better than 20/20 vision without the assistance of glasses or contacts. Inside contains my tale...

(Beware, references to demonic creatures lurk inside)

I wasn't nervous about the procedure until Tuesday (the day of). Everyone at work was saying, "Good luck! I hope you don't go blind!", etc. One (extremely friendly) co-worker went as far as to email me a very negative article about all of the understated risks. Upon arrival at the slaughterhouse surgical facility, tremblings of fear began crawling through my as-of-yet unscathed optical sockets. The first symptom was that my hands felt like a block of slowly melting ice... Freezing to the touch, but perspiration nearly dripping from them. Clammy doesn't begin to describe them. My mind tried keep its calm, but it had already been shattered. Had I not already paid to have this unorthodox procedure, second thoughts would have circumvented this situation altogether.

My name was called, and I was escorted to a dark room labeled "Exam 2". 'Why did I skip Exam 1?', my mind asked. But, my lips remained sealed. Fear of upsetting the staff that would soon be penetrating my body in the most unlikely of places forced my questions to remain under wraps. The evil lady pointed to a chair and urged me to take a seat. A device was placed in front of me that resembled a concave, circular checkerboard with hundreds of tiny black and white squares. There was a small hole in the center with a small red light staring back at me. I felt as if I were staring into the eye of a satanic cyclops. The menacing old lady told me to place my chin in the holster and stare into the light. As soon as I complied, she started moving the whole device with a few mouse clicks. It positioned itself so that the light was directly in the middle of the hole and then snapped a picture using a red flash which would have frightened God. She repositioned the monstrosity so that it was staring at my left pupil and took another picture. When I looked at the computer screen she was playing with, I didn't see my own eye, but rather an odd kaleidoscope-looking drawing filled with hundreds of colors in a shape roughly resembling an eyeball.

They then directed me to another room labeled Exam 8. At this point, my brain was spinning in circles in my head (quite an uncomfortable experience on it's own) trying to ascertain this office's method of incrementing numbers... It obviously wasn't single digit counting, even numbers, or exponential. I began to worry that they practiced an entirely different form of mathematics than the rest of the world, and that their procedures might not be valid with the physics of my own universe. I was told to sit in another chair and stare into another Star Trekian machine. The one was closer to my eye and when I first stared into the (again, red) light, it was just a blurry red star. A new lady operated this device - she seemed nice enough, but I could tell she was also just as evil as the rest of them. She must have been their public relations committee, because she disguised her intentions much better. All of the sudden, the devil-red star began moving away from me, then spiraling away in a clockwise motion. An image started to form which brought my emotional state to a new level of fear and anxiety... I was looking at a tunnel... with a bright red light at the end of it... I had died... and I was headed towards hell down a red tunnel with a passing lane... It was at this moment that the beast across the desk spoke, "Good, right on target". The machine began moving, which gave hope that death had not finished me off yet. It repositioned itself to my other pupil where it became another star, and the spiraling motion repeated. The tunnel appeared a second time, then I heard a number of mouse clicks and what I thought was a floppy disk being accessed. A few minutes later, I saw a 3.5" disk being removed from the computer and nearly passed out, thinking, "I'm trusting my vision to 20 year old technology with a ridiculously high failure rate?!?!"

The demoness ushered me to a new room labeled Pre-Op 1, which helped ease my fears regarding their counting abilities slightly. They cleverly placed a 3 ring binder on the table next to the chairs labeled "Thank you letters". Upon examination, I discovered they laminated a bunch of notes that seemingly praised their abilities and mentioned nothing negative. The first letter was obviously written by a political speech writer - filled with buzzwords, false promises, and the general faux feel-good sentiments of someone who is being overpaid to create a sense of hope to those who have none (nor should they). "Seeing right through them" would be an awful pun which cleverly takes advantage of a cliche and shouldn't be used at this juncture, but I'm going to anyway. Upon closer examination, I began to notice similarities between the signatures and handwriting used in the various (so-called) "Thank you" notes. My suspicions gained momentum up until the point when one of their male staff obviously noticed my intellectual prowess that I was on to their little game, so he came in and violently stole the glasses right off my face. That would be the last time I ever felt the comfort of those dual lenses resting gently along the curve of my nose. Fifteen years of an extra few ounces of external facial structure... gone...

The mysterious man in white came back into the room and started pouring a deluge of chemicals into my, now, unprotected eyes. He started with a mere drop, then another, then another, until I felt as though Niagara Falls had been relocated to mid-Michigan and I had just been granted a first row seat beneath them. The world began to glaze over, and everything appeared through a thick haze. They offered me half a Valium to "ease the nerves", which I took to mean, "dull the senses so they can have their way with me without a fight". With trepidation, however, I partook of the offered drug. Sadly, I felt no effects. I was still shaking harder than a paint mixer.

After 20 minutes of this Guantanamo Bay-style torture, I was lead to the final room. At this point, there was no turning back. I had survived the preparation, but only barely. Their mind games had forced all my remaining logic and reason to a recessed corner deep into the dark black region of my cerebral cavity. It took most of my energy to stand upright, and the rest of my will power to walk towards the machine that would soon be slicing its way through my cornea at its own leisure. The 80's beige that engulfed everything electronic during that decade still lingered on this machine. Trusting my life to more technology that resembled my 1989 dual-5 1/4" floppy drive computer sent what remaining faith I had straight to hell. Satan himself was laughing at me, and I no longer had the strength or stamina to do anything about it.

They made me lie down on their dentist-like chair. I was relieved to see there was no mechanism attached that would strap me down against my will. The first evil woman returned to the room, this time donning full doctor garb, complete with the white facemask. It finally occurred to me that she still wore glasses... This brought tears to my eyes. I was trusting a staff that didn't even trust this procedure themselves! But, I had already crossed the threshold of going back. I would not come this far just to run away screaming. The spawness of Lucifer handed me a toy alligator stuffed with beans. She said, "Hold on to this, and squeeze it if you get nervous." Are you @#$!ing kidding me?! That's your only solace? A damn toy?! But, I said nothing. This alligator would be lucky to make it out of here with any of its beans after I was finished "getting nervous".

Then came the absolute worst portion of this entire event... The "doctor" approached me with a roll of thin masking tape. WTF?! I was afraid this was going to turn into some kinky experiment with footage that would end up on some obscure fetish site that night, but then he made me open my eyes wide and placed two pieces of tape near both of my upper eyelids. Shortly thereafter, he placed something under my lower eyelids which prevented me from being able to shut my eyes at all. I have no idea what it was, but I'm guessing it was some sort of plastic.

I don't know if anyone else has seen Fire In the Sky, but I saw it when I was younger, and therein contains a scene that has haunted me to this day. Short version: Aliens abduct the guy, he gets strapped to an operating table by some sort of strong cellophane-like substance that wraps his entire body down, then a metal device pries open his eyelids and a two-foot needle comes down from the ceiling directly into his eyeball. Ever since viewing that atrocious scenario, I've had an uncontrollable fear of things touching my eyes. Eye drops make my whole body convulse when the liquid hits the eye. So, to have a piece of plastic holding my eyes open is enough to make my heart speed up to the point of bursting. Luckily for me, that's just the beginning of the procedure. Mind you, nothing about any of this physically hurts (some of the drops were numbing drops), but mentally, I'm 3/4 of the way to absolute insanity.

The chair I was [un]willingly sitting in began to swivel itself directly beneath a portruding portion of the antique excimer laser machine. Lights immediately fired themselves on - lights that rivaled staring directly into the sun with a Hubble-powered telescope. Since I was unable to close my eyes (but I tried my best - nearly shattering the plastic restraining device in reflex), I started to turn my head away. The aforementioned demoness "kindly" dimmed the setting on the lights a bit to a mere 100x-telescope-towards-the-sun brightness level. When my eyes finally adjusted, I noticed that in the center of this death-trap was a black eye with a red pupil looking at me hungrily. It was ready to either unleash a two-foot needle or devour my soul in some ancient ritual involving chanting and mad doctors dancing around in a circle with me as the focal point (still madly gripping a stuffed alligator).

One of the asylum attendants doctors covered my left eye with a large black eyepatch. This marked the beginning of the end of my vision. I saw blurry tools pass by my remaining eye - long, slender, metallic objects resembling scalpels and assorted dentistry items. They made mention that I would soon be losing all of my vision and that this was normal... I'm sorry... Blindness is not normal regardless of what anyone tries to tell you. They covered my visible pupil with some sort of suction cup device which is when the world went black. The darkness only lasted a few seconds, then a vision straight out of The Ring unfolded. I was watching them cut my eye open with some device that I couldn't feel... quite possibly a scalpel, but I had no idea, being pseudo-blind and all. The suction cup was removed, and then I watched them peel a layer of my own eye away. The experience of watching your own eye be operated on ranked up there with someone pulling out your intestines while you watched in horror (I only vicariously know how this experience feels - don't ask). As frightening as it was, the peeling away portion was probably the most enjoyable portion. The black eye surround by lights above me was all of the sudden digitized and embossed. I felt like I was seeing the world in its pure Matrix form (as 1's and 0's, but enclosed in a digitally embossed photograph, not a green monochrome display). Things were much blurrier than before, but still visible through a newly applied digital filter.

The doctors then mentioned that the machine had to find my eye, so stop moving around. Apparently my eyes were dancing around in their sockets, uncontrollably looking for a way out. I tried to focus on the black eye, but my body refused all attempts at control. One of the doctors held my head still because my eyes' frantic dance contained enough force to move the cranium that held them captive. Finally, one of them yelled, "Got it! Try to stay still for the next 30 seconds", then a countdown began. The demoness changed her tone to one of salivatory anticipation and proved her decremental counting skills worthy of a math degree. "30... 29... 28...", with the occasional, "He's moving around all over the place... but the tracker still has him... 18... 17..." The reference to a "tracker" felt even more like the Matrix. All the while, the buzzsaw-sounding machine was making a very audible clicking noise every second. During each click, my vision changed. First, it made things sharper, then dimmer, then sharper again, over and over until the countdown had completed. I realized that during the last 30 seconds, a non-visible laser had just penetrated my eyeball and destroyed my existing lens shape simply to form a new one of its own liking. This idea made me queasy, but just then the part of my eye that had previously been removed was being placed back into position. They were "patching me up". The doctor took some type of plastic brush type thing and smoothed out the re-positioned cornea with another type of liquid - eyeball glue, maybe?

I couldn't tell if I could see better yet, but I didn't have much time to think about it. They removed the patch from my left eye and placed it over my right eye instead. The procedure was only halfway over, and I had already squeezed the artificial life out of the alligator. Everything repeated itself. Another 10-20 seconds of blindness, followed by another Ring, then one more encounter with the Matrix and the Black Eye of Death. The clicking laser only took 15 seconds this time around, for reasons I dared not venture to ask. Suffice it to say, I was extremely grateful for the shortening of this event. The doctor brushed my left cornea back into place, then removed my plastic eye holders and masking tape. I was told I could sit up, but that I had to give back my new masochistic friend, the Alligator. I was blinking like crazy and my vision appeared as though I were swimming in a murky lake with my eyes open.

I was led to a dark room labeled Exam 7 (I was extremely thankful that I was able to read this - yay, not blind!). I sat alone for about 5 minutes staring in awe that, although murkily, I could read a sign across the office. That had never been the case prior to this encounter with Satan's minions. Selling my soul had apparently paid off, at least thus far. I was given a packet of eye drops and a set of fancy, thin ski goggles and told to use these goggles for the next week while asleep and to not, under ANY circumstances, rub my eyes. They also said to sleep as much as possible for the next 24 hours. I was driven home by a friend and went directly to sleep for most of the next 18 hours.

At 8:00 the next morning, I woke up and was quite amazed. Things were still a bit hazy, but I was definitely able to see nearly as well as before. There were halos around lights, but I could still see things. I drove myself to my normal eye doctor, and he tested me out as having 20/15 vision. Since then, it's only gotten better. I still have a bit of a halo around headlights at night, and it's kinda weird in dim lighting situations, but it's not debilitating at all, and I no longer need glasses. Absolutely amazing.

The number of scientific disciplines that had to come together to create this procedure is astounding. Imagine being the first person to say, "Hey, I wonder if I could see better if someone cut open my eyes and rearranged the lens with a scalpel [which is what they used before lasers]? There's probably an exact method of doing it, but let's just slice and dice until I can see." Gah! Anyway, I'm thankful to those idiots pioneers in this field. 3 cheers for science and technology.


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Lasers in your eyes?
o Of course! 13%
o Sure... 11%
o What? 7%
o You're joking, right? 17%
o I'd rather eat lizard feces. 8%
o Hey, there's a lizard right here... 1%
o Wow, that's not so bad! 0%
o Actually, it's quite good! 0%
o I can't wait until the next office potluck... 1%
o They're going to love lizard feces! 0%
o Kinda tastes like cajun chicken... 3%
o Except sans the spices or meat 3%
o and with more feces 29%

Votes: 154
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Fire In the Sky
o The Ring
o Matrix
o Also by Jave27

Display: Sort:
The Burning Retina (A LASIK Story) | 154 comments (141 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
I've been thinking about having lasik (1.50 / 2) (#5)
by Benny Cemoli on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 07:48:59 PM EST

I want to watch TV at night without worrying about going to sleep and waking up with my glasses all bent out of shape. Lasik scares me, though. I worry that all these lasik people will start going blind after 20 years or so.

What do you mean that things are "kinda weird in dim lighting"? You seeing dead people or something?

"the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe."

walking around like regular people... (none / 1) (#6)
by livus on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 08:44:12 PM EST

does this mean that the author is dead?

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
Not yet, perhaps (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by Benny Cemoli on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 10:32:47 PM EST

But if he's seeing people's pineal glands sticking out of their forheads, I'm definitely holding off on the lasik.

"the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe."
[ Parent ]

Haven't seen them yet... (none / 1) (#27)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:22:05 AM EST

But I was hoping I could have some kind of x-ray vision afterwards so I could do better in my weekly poker game... Sadly, that didn't happen.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Glasses (none / 1) (#15)
by spac3manspiff on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 10:37:32 PM EST

"I want to watch TV at night without worrying about going to sleep and waking up with my glasses all bent out of shape. " At one point, the people who work at the glasses store knew my first and last name when they saw me. Im really glad I bought that insurace on my glasses or i would be on the streets.
[ Parent ]
you could get contacts (none / 1) (#20)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 11:48:04 PM EST

It'll solve the bent glasses problem, anyway.

[ Parent ]
extended-wear contacts? (none / 0) (#44)
by Benny Cemoli on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:40:40 AM EST

I've had contacts in the past, but the kind you have to take out at night, and if you fall asleep with them in they wind up sticking to your eyeball.

I think there are extended-wear contacts out there that you can leave in for weeks. That might be the thing.

"the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe."
[ Parent ]

Sticking to your eyeball isn't the worst of them. (none / 1) (#68)
by Xeriar on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 05:25:18 PM EST

I had a contact slide into my eye socket once. Not the most horrible experience ever, and I drove home wondering what the $%$# was going on, but... damn that sucked.

When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.
[ Parent ]
I had that happen! (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by badtux on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 04:01:48 AM EST

In my case, it happened while I was supervising some children on a playground. I was *sure* that my lens had popped out, and frantically searched (along with some of the kids) for the lens on the ground. Eventually I gave up, and figured I'd just take off the remaining contact, put my glasses back on, and go try something else.

So I went into the restroom and washed my hands and rolled my eyeballs to pop out my contact, and... hold it, what's that scratchy feel on my other eye? Where'd that freakin' contact lens come from?!

I was kinda freaked so I popped them both out and went back to glasses, and that was the last time I wore that particular pair of contacts. I went back to the university clinic and they tried another type of contact lens with me, but it didn't like my allergies. So I went back to glasses. Sigh.
In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin
[ Parent ]

Puts me of LASIK (1.50 / 4) (#7)
by livus on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 08:44:50 PM EST

which is good, cos I can't afford it yet.

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

I still think it was worth it (none / 1) (#28)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:23:59 AM EST

Even though it was amongst the most nervewracking experiences of my life, I'd do it again.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Halos around lights (2.00 / 3) (#8)
by janra on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 08:51:40 PM EST

I've heard this is typical of lasik-modified eyes. I assume this is why lasik technicians don't get the procedure themselves...

I'll stick with my glasses and contacts, thanks.
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.

Halos = not that big a deal... (3.00 / 2) (#21)
by John Miles on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 11:56:42 PM EST

... for most people. If you wear contacts for 14-16+ hours a day, you already know what they look like. If you have very large pupils, or if your job/hobby demands perfect night vision, then you have a reason to stay away from LASIK. In my case (8 mm pupils in dim light; ~6 diopters pre-op; 8 months after surgery), it looks like I'm wearing slightly-dirty contacts when I drive at night. Noticeable, but not debilitating at all. The improvement in overall vision was more than worthwhile. However, if I were a pilot and not a programmer, I might not be such a happy camper. Do your homework, and ignore the FUD.
For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
Uhmmm.. (none / 0) (#78)
by justAnotherProphet on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 12:20:34 AM EST

Considering that you required LASIK, you wouldn't have made past the pre-screening to be a pilot.. not before the surgery, anyway... and I'd be willing to bet that you still wouldn't be. It's absolutely critical that pilots (particularly AF pilots) have perfect vision. After all, you're playing with over $500K of metal, zipping through the air because that's the only way it won't plummet to the ground and possibly carrying a hundred or more people along for the ride.

I certainly wouldn't trust someone whose night vision was equivalent to wearing slightly dirty contacts in that situation. No sir.

[ Parent ]
Private vs. military pilot (none / 1) (#80)
by badtux on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 03:29:09 AM EST

Even military pilots nowdays can have imperfect eyesight as long as it is correctable to 20/20 both near and far with glasses (the requirements for fighter pilots, given the forces involved, are naturally more stringent than those training to fly Herky Birds, fighter pilots do generally need near-perfect vision). Private pilots similarly do not need "naturally" perfect eyesight. As long as it is correctable to 20/20 vision, it is acceptable to the FAA.

However, any kind of refractive surgery pretty much disqualifies you from piloting, even as a private pilot. Apparently LASIK-modified eyeballs do not function well at low pressure or at altitude. Mountain climbers who've had their eyes "fixed" find that once they reach 14,000 feet or so, their vision starts blurring, and if they keep going up it keeps getting worse until they can barely see at all. The thought of a pilot losing all vision because of loss of cabin pressure is not particularly reassuring to the FAA...

- Badtux the not-a-pilot Penguin
In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin
[ Parent ]

Hmm, I may be mistaken... (none / 1) (#81)
by badtux on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 03:53:23 AM EST

about LASIK disqualifying you from getting a private pilot's license. It definitely disqualifies you from the military, the military views it as an experimental procedure. But I haven't been able to find any firm FAA rules on the subject.
In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin
[ Parent ]
Still all wet (none / 1) (#84)
by John Miles on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 04:05:36 AM EST

You're probably thinking of RK (radial keratotomy) surgery, the earliest attempt at refractive correction. It fucks you up pretty horribly. Mountain climbers have not reported major problems with LASIK (in fact, several LASIK patients have climbed Everest without any serious issues), but there have certainly been major problems with RK in extreme environments. These days, RK surgery is considered obsolete.

LASIK and PRK are not only not forbidden by the military, but actively performed. It pays to hit "I'm feeling lucky" before hitting "Post" ...

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

How sure are you of that? (none / 0) (#113)
by justAnotherProphet on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 11:58:13 AM EST

Even military pilots nowdays can have imperfect eyesight as long as it is correctable to 20/20 both near and far with glasses (the requirements for fighter pilots, given the forces involved, are naturally more stringent than those training to fly Herky Birds, fighter pilots do generally need near-perfect vision).

My sister applied to the RCAF to be a civilian ground mechanic in order to get some good use out of her B.Eng. I stress, again, ground mechanic. As in not going to be flying. She wears contacts to correct her vision to 20/20.

When she told the recruiter that, toe to toe, without contacts, she could not read his namebadge, she instantly ceased to be considered. Despite the fact that, corrected, she has 20/20 vision and would not be flying.

When it comes to the RCAF—and I'd be willing to bet most other Air Forces as well—perfect vision is a strong requirement, regardless of what you'll be doing.

The only reason it's as annoying as it is is because she'd been told, before the interview, that because she wouldn't be flying, her vision wouldn't matter. Clearly it does. A lot.

[ Parent ]
Halos? What halos? (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by sethadam1 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 07:56:06 PM EST

I have had halo vision since my LASIK.  I have tested at 20/13 and 20/15.  I didn't even realize I had it until someone explained it to me and I noticed it.  I may not be the most observant person, sure, but really, halo vision is NOTHING.  

What's much worse it the sensitivity to light.  I use my sunglasses much more than before.  I don't mind, but I always keep a spare pair in the car now.  

[ Parent ]

My wife got LASIK a couple of years ago (3.00 / 3) (#10)
by localroger on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 09:27:05 PM EST

She reports that it is the best thing she ever did for herself.

She was 6 diopters out with severe astigmatism, so unlike most LASIK patients she wasn't actually able to see right after the procedure. I was working, and a friend took her to have it done; when she got home she was wearing dark glasses and sulking because she was blinder than ever.

Fast forward to 2:30 in the morning: I was awakened by a frantic shaking. "Roger, I can see! I can see!" It was the first time in her entire life she had been able to see on awakening without reaching for her glasses first. (She still did reach for her glasses for a few weeks, out of habit.)

Anyway, good on ya for having it done; glad you survived the procedure and don't need a seeing-eye dog any more :-)

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Could she have had it done in Mexico? (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by The Jewish Liberal Media Conspiracy on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 10:46:53 PM EST

What if you rewrote the program controlling the laser in hand-optimized assembly?

Inquiring minds need to know.
This account has been anonymized.
[ Parent ]
You're laughing, but... (3.00 / 4) (#17)
by localroger on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 11:09:44 PM EST

...we met people who DID go to Mexico for their LASIK. At one Las Vegas casino a whole group of employees rented a bus and they all drove down and had it done en masse. This was before the prices fell, and it was running $3K per eye in the US and $800 per eye in Mexico. Lately with even American doctors advertising $600 per eye, it's not worth making the trip.

The interesting thing is that LASIK is mostly software. The machinery is pretty simple, and the doctor's role is mostly to set it up so the computer can do its thing. Advances that are regularly announced are really software upgrades; the machinery doesn't change, though the newer stuff can be pushed further than the older stuff. If you're only four diopters out with no astigmatism, and you can save two thousand bucks having it done in Mexico, it would be worthwhile. If you're on the edge of what is possible, you want someone closer to the state of the art doing the procedure.

I don't know if the software is done in Assembly; I suspect not. Given that it is engineering based I would be be totally unsurprised to find that it is in FORTRAN, which is almost as bad.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

I know at least one of their machines ran Windows (none / 0) (#26)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:19:31 AM EST

The first one that took the picture was running the software in Windows. Not sure what it was, but I caught a glimpse of it as I was leaving the room.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Yeah, the UI is in Windows (none / 1) (#42)
by localroger on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:18:56 AM EST

I suspect the actual laser control is a dedicated microcontroller though. If I had to make a more serious guess I'd suppose there is a good chance it's running a RTOS like QNX, in which case it would be programmed in C. It depends on how many sensors are involved in the tracking and how abstract the marching orders are from the setup/UI box to the hardware control.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]
How does astigmatism affect the procedure? (none / 1) (#41)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:04:34 AM EST

My girlfriend wants this done as soon as we can afford it, which might be soon. Her left is astigmatic (is that a word), and both are extremely myopic... even with contacts she doesn't have anything like 20/20.

On the other hand, she'll be able to see just how ugly I am. Guess I'll find out if she really loves me...

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Astigmatism (none / 1) (#43)
by localroger on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:22:23 AM EST

The ability to correct astigmitism via LASIK was relatively new when she had it done. She had to stop wearing hard contacts because they alter the shape of the eye lens, so it would adjust to its natural shape; she had to keep getting new eye maps done every month until it stabilized.

Then, if you have astigmatism corrected, you usually can't see right after the procedure; it takes more time for the adjustments to settle in for some reason. At this point six diopters and relatively severe astigmatism is no longer bleeding edge, but a good doctor will warn you if you are entering the zone of potential fuckup.

I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds -- J. Robert Oppenheimer
[ Parent ]

Haha... (none / 0) (#51)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 10:07:25 AM EST

I just realized how relevant my sig is in this story... you guys can check, I've had it for weeks.

Thanks for the info, lr.

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

Contacts (none / 1) (#11)
by yamla on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 09:57:16 PM EST

Did you wear contact lenses before the procedure? It sounds like you wore glasses. If you didn't, do you think the procedure would have been easier if you wore contacts and thus were more used to things touching your eye?

Irrational fear of touching my eyes (none / 0) (#25)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:17:52 AM EST

prevented the whole contacts thing. I tried hard lenses in high school and hated them. It usually took 20+ minutes to get them in correctly because I kept shaking and closing my eyes too quick.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

I kind of have that (none / 1) (#31)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:44:18 AM EST

I get around it by looking as far the side as I can, putting the lens in, and then rotating my eyeball around to get it to fall into place. Seems to work for me, since my main issue is being able to see my finger coming, not the actual touching.

This only works for soft contacts though—hard contacts have to actually be put on in the right place, while soft contacts can be put in pretty much anywhere and will end up in the right place when you rotate your eyeballs around a bit.

[ Parent ]

This seems to happen to a lot of people... (none / 0) (#34)
by mtd on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:45:17 AM EST

but it does tend to go away with time. I used to _hate_ touching my eyes, but after dealing with contacts for a few months, it started getting better (and taking less time to get in). Now that I've been wearing them for years, I can put them in my eyes in less then 5 seconds without a mirror and touch my eyes just fine.

[ Parent ]
Licking.. (none / 0) (#87)
by tonyenkiducx on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 07:06:13 AM EST

An ex of mine introduced me to having my eyeballs licked. Its not a kinky thing ;) It just feels extremely strange, and I highely recommending trying it to get past a fear of touching them.

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Damage? (none / 0) (#99)
by dejohn on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:21:48 PM EST

That sounds like it could damage the eyeball. Saliva is a base and the tongue isn't really all that soft.

[ Parent ]
Well its not a regular thing.. (none / 0) (#122)
by tonyenkiducx on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 05:33:58 AM EST

And if it was you would probably have more than eye damage to worry about..

I see a planet where love is foremost, where war is none existant. A planet of peace, and a planet of understanding. I see a planet called
[ Parent ]
Some of us can't wear contacts (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by badtux on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 03:01:11 AM EST

Humorous story: the first time an optometrist placed contact lenses in my eyes, I passed out. I think I was 16 years old at the time. They had just developed soft contact lenses. Tells you how many years ago this was :-).

Since then, I've tried contacts three different times, including in conjunction with a university school of optometry that tried me on several different types of contact lenses. No go. They've developed some new technology since then, but my basic problem is allergies, and I doubt that the new stuff will work any better. The goop produced by my eyes gunks up lenses, requiring them to be cleansed nightly or they cause a lot of irritation, and I have a tendency to develop an allergy to the material of the contact lenses which makes it even worse. The end results is that contact lenses do not last long for me, and tend to cause a lot of eye irritation.

So I'm back to glasses. I've considered LASIK, especially with the new computerized gear that's almost impossible for even the most incompetent doctor to screw up with, but as long as I can still read without bifocals I have no real functional reason to do so. Once I need bifocals to read (which will be soon now, since I'm that age), then I do have a functional reason to get the eye surgery -- then I can just carry reading glasses around, rather than expensive/hard to use bifocals.
In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin
[ Parent ]

Other contact lens woes (none / 0) (#151)
by Kugyou on Tue May 03, 2005 at 11:13:55 PM EST

M'self, I've a similar (though opposite) problem: I can't wear contacts because my eyes are too dry. I tried 'em back in '97, and I'd go through a (granted, small) bottle of wetting drops a day to make sure the things didn't fold up and fall out. Apparently, I also had some sort of reaction to the "protein remover" they give you for permanent soft lenses - every time I'd use it, I'd have to rinse my contacts twice a day over the weekend before I could put them in for school Monday morning. And, of course, since the one complaint I keep hearing about LASIK is that your eyes get drier (at least, I keep hearing about it from my friend's mother), that rules me out, no questions asked.

Wow. I feel all AOL'y. "Me too!"
Dust in the wind bores holes in mountains
[ Parent ]
+1, but... (1.71 / 7) (#12)
by elver on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 10:15:32 PM EST

I still have a bit of a halo around headlights at night, and it's kinda weird in dim lighting situations,
There! Right there! That's my problem with the entire procedure. I can see fine with my glasses on and I won't do something that'll completely fuck up my vision like that. If you can live with that, then sure, get a LASIK operation. I can't.

Oh and congratulations on purchasing weaker eyes -- you now run the risk of your eyeballs bursting when you get hit, get in a car accident or even jump from high enough.

All in all, 0 from me. Mainly because it was interesting, but you neglected to tell the good folks here about the bad things that can happen.

I meant +1 sp... /nt (none / 0) (#13)
by elver on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 10:16:36 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#24)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:16:29 AM EST

it wasn't meant to be an informative article about LASIK. People can look that up anywhere. It was just more of a (I hope) humorous account of one of my experiences.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Why I haven't gotten LASIK (yet, anyway) (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by Delirium on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 11:45:29 PM EST

I'm supposedly a pretty good candidate for LASIK, because I have severe myopia to the point where I'm nearly blind without corrective lenses (9.5 diopters), but it's been at a fairly constant level for some years now. I haven't gotten it done so far though, because I suppose I don't see why it would be a huge improvement.

Unlike nearly everyone, it seems, I am not really inconvenienced in the least by my contact lenses. I have soft, extended-wear contacts, which I sleep in. This used to be the recommended thing to do (wear them 2 weeks, day and night, then throw them out and use the next pair for another 2 weeks, etc.—they cost about $2 a pair). Sometime in the last few years they've become paranoid about that and started recommending you not sleep in them, but now they've come out with some silicon-based ones that are much more permeable, so if you opt for those (which are more like $6 per pair) you can sleep in them again, and they last for a month to boot (although you should probably take them out and clean them more often than that).

The upshot of it is that, for all practical purposes, I have 20/20 vision 24 hours a day. The only difference is that every 2 weeks or so I throw the contacts away and then sleep without any in for a night. So for about 1 out of every 14 days I can't see when I wake up until 30 seconds later when I've put a new pair of contacts in.

All in all, I don't see why I would want to have LASIK done? It certainly isn't cheaper than paying $180/year for contacts for nearly forever, it seems riskier, and it doesn't seem like it would buy me much at all as far as convenience goes, unless you want to work in a profession where contact lenses aren't acceptable (e.g. fighter pilot).

Some people do have eyes that seem to dry out very quickly or are very infection-prone, such that they can't sleep in even extended-wear soft contacts, in which case the calculus might be different.

Fighter pilot (none / 0) (#23)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:14:54 AM EST

Some military positions are off-limits to people with LASIK surgery because they don't know the long term effects yet. But, it's a risk I took anyway, since I'm not in the military and don't plan on flying planes anytime soon. I just had a really rough time with contacts. I tried hard lenses in high school, and I absolutely hated them. It took me way too long to put them in each day because of my irrational fear of touching my eyes. But, if they work for you, just stick with them. For me, the LASIK thing has been definitely worth it.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

hard lenses (none / 0) (#30)
by Delirium on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:42:12 AM EST

I've never tried hard lenses, but I hear they're a real pain in the ass. Soft lenses are a million times better, and you don't pay a zillion dollars if you lose one, since they're worth only a few bucks each. But, yeah, even extended-wear soft lenses don't seem to work well for everyone (my brother has a lot more problems with them than I do, for example).

[ Parent ]
Pain in the ass? (3.00 / 5) (#60)
by Imma Troll on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:51:31 PM EST

Whoever told you that wasn't inserting the lenses in the right place.
Will somebody light my sig?
[ Parent ]
All pilots (none / 1) (#56)
by BadDoggie on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:23:32 PM EST

If you get any of corrective vision procedures done, you're automatically grounded for at leas six months, whether military, commercial or civilian. Seeing haloes and havin screwy low-light vision are common, and they're huge problems if you want or need to fly at night.

The risks (general physiological, incompetence, mistake, equipment failure) are still too high for me even though my brother had it done with n ill effects. I wear the contacts.


"Eppur si muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."
[ Parent ]

BS(?) (none / 0) (#57)
by John Miles on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:57:41 PM EST

If you get any of corrective vision procedures done, you're automatically grounded for at leas six months, whether military, commercial or civilian.

I seriously doubt that. Citations?

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

The all-seeing, all-knowning Google... (none / 1) (#58)
by jldera on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:06:45 PM EST

I Googled a bit and found this lawyer's site on what military and FAA regulations are in place for optical surgery patients: http://www.cornealaw.com/military_and_pilots.htm

[ Parent ]
That site... (3.00 / 2) (#85)
by John Miles on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 04:14:47 AM EST

... is a bit out of date, from what I can tell. Looks like they are mostly doing PRK (similar to LASIK but without the flap, and with a fairly-different healing profile) on aviation types these days.

Private and commercial aviation regulations don't "ground" you for having either LASIK or PRK. At least, not currently. That being said, there's been at least one major lawsuit against a refractive surgeon by an airline pilot who underwent LASIK and had his night vision hosed beyond belief. I'd stand by my earlier comment that the surgery is not necessarily a good idea for people whose livelihoods depend on perfect nigiht vision, even if it is permitted.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

There's supposed to be a newer, better (none / 0) (#37)
by jongleur on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 02:08:37 AM EST

laser treatment now, that doesn't cut your eye at all. I don't know whether the results are any better though.
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
on the length of the piece (none / 1) (#33)
by metagone on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:16:27 AM EST

i think we should keep in mind the psychological implications of such a procedure. while the piece if lengthy it does capture the sense of fear of the unknown and of many medical procedures.

maybe those of us with more training can do some cursory analysis of the account. of note are references to demons and aliens. what is it about our psyches that reach out to God or Aliens? another important factor is fear and what it does to us and its uses in conjunction with our imagintation...or perhaps it ability to bypass so-called higher brain functions that are necessary for logic and reason. given the scope fear has on our lives maybe it is not so much an evolutionary mistake that it is located where it is in the brain. could it be that fear or its abilities have much more important uses?

anyways a lot of speculation can be drawn from this piece. and this relates in more ways that one to culture and technology....from the trenches.

Go for it man /nt (none / 0) (#38)
by jongleur on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 02:15:23 AM EST

"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
actually i ran out of steam n/t (none / 0) (#146)
by metagone on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 12:16:12 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Hah (none / 1) (#36)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:54:05 AM EST

My right eye was fucked up but it is fixing itself. That's right. The last time I went to the eye doctor like two years ago she said my eye was improving itself. And it's gotten even better since then. I don't need no stinking lasers.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

Exactly. (none / 0) (#105)
by bjlhct on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 07:59:01 PM EST

I plan to fix my vision with sheer will power. I figure I should have it down in a year or two.

[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
Normally I'm all for early adoption. (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by Kasreyn on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 07:31:33 AM EST

But the idea of getting this done just gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies like nobody's business. So I'm going to wait on this and see if people's eyes melt after 20-40 years, or if they go blind / get cataracts earlier in their old age than the rest of us.

Not to mention I'm terrified of a botched operation. If I went blind, I think I'd kill myself. I don't know how I could face life without books. (And don't tell me audio books, and I won't give you the finger.)

Plus I like how I look in glasses, which I suppose is a dumb reason, but there it is.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Blindness (none / 0) (#49)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:51:46 AM EST

According to the documentation they gave me, there are no documented cases of blindness in the U.S. from this procedure. So, it's either a really good cover-up or it works. :-)

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Melt? (2.50 / 2) (#119)
by QuickFox on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 11:40:25 PM EST

So I'm going to wait on this and see if people's eyes melt after 20-40 years,

Don't be ridiculous! Of course people's eyeballs won't melt! How could your eyeballs melt?

All that happens is that that they swell a little. It's just the tiniest swelling. Of course over the years it does add up. Ever so slowly your eyeballs reach a point where there isn't room for them in their sockets any more. But don't worry about it. All you have to do when they plop out is push them back in. Then, simply squint a little to make them stay in their sockets.

Don't worry about the squishy sound, it's quite normal.

It's really nothing to worry about. It doesn't even happen very often. If you'll just squint carefully they probably won't plop out more than once every three hours or so.

Pushing them back in does become a little tricky over the years, because the visual nerve from which they hang tends to stretch, so your eyeballs will hang lower and lower on your cheeks when they plop out. In time, seeing you like this might disconcert some people, because the nerves usually stretch differently, so that one eyeball hangs much lower than the other.

But all you have to do is push them back in. Nothing to worry about.

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

It has happened (none / 1) (#121)
by rmn on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 12:27:11 AM EST

"Don't be ridiculous! Of course people's eyeballs won't melt! How could your eyeballs melt?"

Did you see Raiders of the Lost Ark...? Well, there you go.


[ Parent ]

Re: It Has Happened (none / 0) (#135)
by UCF BullitNutz on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 07:44:46 AM EST

Anyone with Japanese-born parents/grandparents over, say, 70-75 in the house? Ask them about eyes melting. Sure, Japan's a big place, but I'm sure they've seen their share of pictures
" It ain't a successful troll until the admin shuts off new user registration for half a year." - godix
[ Parent ]
and now you have satanic vision :) (3.00 / 3) (#40)
by dimaq on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 07:36:54 AM EST

The moral of the story is... (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by mcgrew on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:02:23 AM EST

Don't get shitfaced stoned before going to get surgery!

"It finally occurred to me that she still wore glasses... This brought tears to my eyes. I was trusting a staff that didn't even trust this procedure themselves!"

If you are severely myopic, the surgery will improve your vision but you'll still need glasses. Which is why I haven't had it done.

I read that they've come out with a new, soft plastic lens implant that will not only cure my extreme nearsightedness, but my age related inability to focus as well.

They used to call me "foureyes." Now that I have contacts and reading glasses, I guess I'm "sixeyes."

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

get those implants (none / 0) (#62)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 03:34:14 PM EST

and u can be 8 eyes  w00t!

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Hey (none / 0) (#63)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 03:46:28 PM EST

When are you going to post another Mac & Cheese style article? I think one is needed.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

heh (none / 0) (#75)
by balsamic vinigga on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:23:45 PM EST

I got bigger things to worry about, like reclaiming my title.  Thankfully I now have this little article to work with.  And eye surgery sissy  omfg u r fucked now.

Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Hey, it made the front page, didn't it? (none / 0) (#95)
by Jave27 on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 11:31:48 AM EST

Just be aware that I'll keep bringing that up in the next battle... I've only ever submitted 2 stories to K5, and they both made the FP. :-)

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

LASIK: Not for everyone... (3.00 / 2) (#64)
by SoTuA on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 03:51:39 PM EST

...if the doctors are at least somewhat responsible and ethic, they will not perform the procedure on somebody whose eyesight is still degenerating. My wife has been waiting for six years, but every time she goes to the oculist the myopia is worse, so operating would be a waste.

[ Parent ]
A slightly different experience. (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by Surial on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:31:45 AM EST

I went through many of the same steps, but in my case, the various antics done to measure the exact correction required was done a week or two prior to the actual scheduled operation.

I used to wear glasses, because anytime I tried to get a lens into my eyeball, I start turning and tearing as if my life depended on it. This severe reluctance to keep still while someone is thoroughly inspecting my eye was of course noted by the nurse doing the measurements, and I was invited for a talk with the doctor.

She advised me to go with LASEK instead. It's similar, but the primary difference is that instead of using a scalpel to cut open your cornea, they throw in some nasty chemical that just weakens the bond between eye and cornea so much, they can rip it right off. The advantage of this particular style of operation is that the 'tracker' has a much easier time, and the patching up part, where they envisioned the most trouble, would be a lot easier; stick the cornea back in, put in a so called 'bandage lens' with the diameter of a decent shot glass (I shit you not), wait 3 days, remove said lens, and, voila. Perfect vision.

Who am I to reject such advice, so, LASEK it was. Getting my eyeballs carved up was an interesting experience. From the moment they took out the cornea, I had a serious case of blurry vision (this is normal), and then I actually thought I could smell the burned eye going up in smoke, though that may have been vivid imagination on my part.

Now the real story starts, though - I ended up going home, feeling just great. Of course, as it goes with LASEK, your vision is not great yet, you can't actually see much until 2 days or so into the healing process. I didn't feel a thing. Later the doc explained to me this was because one of the drops I got pre-op was a nerve inhibitor or painkiller or some such. Basically turns most inner eye muscles into a paralysed state, along with the nerves, so you don't feel much.

About 2 hours after the operation, I'm starting to feel an itch. I was warned that this was both normal and that, in NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER, was I to so much as get within touching distance of my eyeballs for the next week, especially the next 3 days.

Unfortunately, said itch is getting worse. Very much worse. The fact that you can't read or watch something to try and get your mind off of things isn't helping. Just my luck, but most of my friends were out of town, so there wasn't a whole lot to do except sleep.

This worked for a while, but by now the itching has changed into a full blown searing pain. Felt like I had a couple of needles stuck in my eyeballs. Sleeping was out of the question, and at some point I had to forcibly sit on my hands to prevent myself from ruining my vision by rubbing at them.

This lasted for -3 whole days-. The only break I got is a re-application of the paralysing drops, which killed all the pain (and, unfortunately, also the healing process, so they can't keep you on drops forever. In fact, I was told that applying drops slows the healing process more than the timeout you get from the itch and pain, but I really needed a break) and let me sleep a blissfull 4 hours.

After my 3 days in hell, I had another appointment with the doctor (I did call a couple of times to confirm, with a somewhat incredulous tone, if this was how the hell it's supposed to be) and fortunately my vision turned out nearly fine. Right eye was pretty much perfection, left eye had a remaining -0.20 or so nearsightedness to it, and I was asked if I wanted that corrected again, no charge.

Hell No. I'll take -0.20 in one eye and perfection in the other, thank you very much.

On the whole, though, the operation was even more of a success (aside from the whole 3 days of hell thing) than I dared hope. Unlike most people who undergo this sort of operation (LASIK or LASEK), I did not end up with significantly more 'dry eye syndrome' than usual, and I already had that prior to the operation. I also did not run into aversion to anything too bright. Normally after such an operation you'r slightly more sensitive to very bright light, and you're advised to buy sunglasses and use them a lot. No such problems for me, fortunately.

On the whole, am I happy I did this? Yes, I am. I'm definitely happy I didn't go to india or turkey or some such to get this done, as there were certainly complications. I also heard from the doc I was a somewhat unusual case due to the odd shape of my cornea which may explain the unusual recovery period antics I had to go through.

Something to consider. It works, but be prepared, and preferably, just in case, make sure someone's there and willing to stay up for long periods of time right after you return from the operation.

"is a signature" is a signature.

Haloing? (none / 0) (#59)
by Skywise on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 01:50:40 PM EST

Any of that?

[ Parent ]
wha? (3.00 / 3) (#61)
by shokk on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 02:12:13 PM EST

Didn't you read the post? He couldn't see straight for 3 days! How was he supposed to play Halo during that time? Seriously though, what do you do for three days of blindness to keep yourself occupied while all your friends are away?
"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
[ Parent ]
No halos (none / 0) (#65)
by Surial on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 03:57:21 PM EST

nope, none of that. Fortunately. As far as what to do when you can't sleep - eventually I visited some family in the area, but, mostly, listen to music and try to sleep.
"is a signature" is a signature.

[ Parent ]
+1, but really ... (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by Benny Cemoli on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:59:44 AM EST

The poll is much funnier than the story. You're trying to hard to be funny. If the piece were shorter by half, you wouldn't have to repeat the same jokes.

But I'm thinking about Lasik myself, so +1.

"the fabric of space quivers at the touch of even a microbe."

section (none / 0) (#53)
by mariahkillschickens on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 11:34:07 AM EST

i question whether this is really technology.

i enjoy it, though, and would like to see a follow up or at least a link to something explaining the real science behind it. then i'd feel more comfortable with the technology sectioning of it.

btw i could do a shoddy job at explaining it, but it probably wouldn't go much beyond what most people already know.

"In the end, it's all dirt."

ps (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by mariahkillschickens on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 11:35:36 AM EST

sorry you didn't get to keep your new friend.

"In the end, it's all dirt."
[ Parent ]
obviously (none / 0) (#55)
by klem on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 12:11:12 PM EST

everyone answered the feces poll option

I have the same results (3.00 / 3) (#66)
by nebben123 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 04:06:31 PM EST

"Since then, it's only gotten better. I still have a bit of a halo around headlights at night, and it's kinda weird in dim lighting situations, but it's not debilitating at all, and I no longer need glasses. Absolutely amazing."

I had lasik done about 6 months ago, and this is my only complaint. During normal light situations, my vision is 20/20 or 20/15. But at night I still have a few halos or starbursts (although it's nothing compared to a smudge or scratch on eyeglasses) -- I can drive just fine at night, and really I don't know what I'm missing since I haven't had perfect vision in about 14 years anyway.

And "low light" situations are kinda weird too... can't really describe it, other than that it just takes a little longer to focus on things.

Either way, I don't regret it at all. Being able to go in water without being blind or having to worry about contact lenses falling out is absolutely amazing and worth every penny. Riding my bike in the rain, swimming, scuba diving, etc. Can't put a price on that if you ask me.

halos (none / 1) (#86)
by coderlemming on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 06:53:41 AM EST

I get halos just with my glasses.  It was worse with contacts, by the time night arrived, enough crud would gather on my contacts to make a halo around stuff.  It was no problem, easy to deal with... maybe a little distracting.  I imagine these halos you lasik patients are describing are similar...

Go be impersonally used as an organic semen collector!  (porkchop_d_clown)
[ Parent ]
That's what a lot of people are missing (none / 0) (#101)
by John Miles on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:41:50 PM EST

Your eyes aren't perfect before you have surgery. They aren't perfect afterward, either. Big surprise! Given a choice between a few halos and starbursts at night and having to walk around with a bunch of plastic and metal hanging off my nose 18 hours a day, the choice wasn't really all that agonizing in my case. Contact-lens technology is also not entirely free of side effects and horror stories.
For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
Huh (none / 0) (#103)
by rusty on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 04:53:48 PM EST

I've always gotten halos around lights at night without glasses and with nominally perfect vision.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Me too. (none / 0) (#111)
by wiredog on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 09:32:43 AM EST

But then, I did lots of acid in my Sinful Youth.

Wilford Brimley scares my chickens.
Phil the Canuck

[ Parent ]
That's normal (none / 0) (#120)
by rmn on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 12:23:56 AM EST

There are several different effects that people may describe as "halos", most of which are perfectly normal. There are "real" halos, usually caused by humidity in the atmosphere (similar to what causes rainbows); even a camera will see these (very common on streetlights, at night).

There are also glows caused by reflections inside the eye itself (sort of like lens flare). These are also normal, but should only happen with pretty strong lights, aimed directly at the eye (ex., light bulbs, flashlights, etc.). Usually if a light is strong enough to leave an after-glow, it's strong enough to cause a halo.

Excessive halos can be caused by the eye's inability to focus, the eye surface being too dry or cataracts (common in old people). If you see halos around shiny objects and weak lights, go see a doctor.

[ Parent ]

halos with contacts (none / 0) (#144)
by Cro Magnon on Mon Feb 07, 2005 at 09:59:30 AM EST

I have had night halos bad enough to be a driving hazard with contact lenses. It wasn't too bad because I could just take out the lenses and wear my glasses driving home, but if I had halos that bad after Lasik, I'd be SOL.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
My own LASIK experience... (3.00 / 3) (#67)
by Yaroslav The Wise on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 05:16:36 PM EST

I had LASIK down about two years ago. The first thing I did was to research all reputatable Opthamologists who offered the procedure in my area. I also spoke to co-workers who had the procedure done. I finally picked a well-known doctor with a stellar track record and many recomendations. Hell, I even researched the particular machine he uses for said procedure. Of course, the first step is to find out if you are even a candidate for LASIK. Mine was a two hour test of all things eye related. Turns out, even with astygmatism, I was still considered low risk.

The Cutting Day

I asked no less than 5 people I knew who had LASIK done to them. I knew the whole story and what to expect. There are certain surreal aspects to this procedure that I was dreading beforehand. The procedure is in two parts. The first is to cut the flap of the cornea and the second is the actual reshaping of the surface of the cornea. I had opted for the All-Laser procedure. It is standard now, but two years ago you had the option of cutting the flap with a razor like mechanism or to use a laser. Of course, the All-laser is said to be more accurate.

The actual cutting of the flap was much as described in the article. From a procedural standpoint, they use eye clips to keep one eye lid open. The other eye is covered with gauze to remove it from use. They squirt a whole bunch of numbing and lubricating drops in your eyes. They then attach a tube about the radius of your eye's iris with a suction cup on the end. They then attach a small hose to this tube and apply a vacuum. All this does is to keep your eye fixed in one position and get it to stand up in the socket so they can lower a laser microscope on top of your eye. A normal side effect of the suction is a temporary blindness in that eye much like when you rub your eyes too hard and they go dark for a second while they readjust. The laser scope then takes about 30-60 seconds to cut a very shallow perfectly shaped perforation on the top layer of the cornea. They do the same thing to the other eye and you are on to phase 2. Oh, I forgot to mention that my eyes were slightly blurred after this process from what they tell me is a normal build up of tiny air bubbles caused by the process.

The second part was, to me, a lot easier and quicker. They moved me to a new room with a nice comfy laid back sort of dentists chair. The laser apparatus is swivel mounted and they can swing it up over the eyes. After a re-application of the eye clips and numbing drops, they go to work, one eye at a time. The laser is a red blinking light that you focus your eye on as best you can. This is the distraction while the doctor gently lifts up the flap and folds it back. This is where things get surreal. The somewhat focused, blinking red light suddenly became a blinking red mist. The moment your flap is lifted, your eyesight is severly out of focus and light tends to disperse across your cornea. Once the laser has your eye mapped and tracked, there is a sharp , repeating clicking sound to let you know the laser is at work. The real clue is that you can actually smell the burned corneal cells from the laser. I should add that there is absolutely no pain or other discomfort. It is all in the mind. I had resigned myself to just getting it over with and I had practiced a rhythmic breathing just to keep myself still and give myself the best chance at a successful outcome. The actual cutting was only about 20-30 seconds. The doctor then gently replaces the flap and smooths it over with a small brush and some kind of viscous clear goop. As soon as the flap was lowered, my vision was sharp and clear, albeit a bit watery if that makes sense. The other eye follows the same procedure. Each eye took a few minutes from start to end. I did not have the benefit of the ski-type goggles to wear for my post-op. They taped some frameless goggle eye pieces to each eye. The tape was a pain as it pulls on the skin. I had to wear these things for 5 nights to prevent me inadvertently rubbing my eyes. That's the trick. If you value your eyes, you should give yourself every chance of success. I followed the post-op directions to the letter.

Post Op Problems

I was one of the rare cases that actually suffered from post operative issues. I suffered from what is called Epitheleal Erosion. You see, the flap consists of epitheleal cells, some of which need to be cut to lift the flap. Once the flap is replaced, the epitheleal cells start to regenerate and fill in the area where the cut line exists. The trick is, the cells take a little longer to essentially cement into place and stick to the rest of the cornea. In my case, I was suffering from excessive dry eye over night, even though I used the drops to prescription. What would effectively happen is that at night my eyes would dry and get a little tacky under the eyelid. Upon waking up, I would open my eyes a little too quickly and it would tear out some of the newly reformed epitheleal cells. This irritates the eye and causes a longer recovery time. Initially, the doctor said this happens and not to worry. In my case, because it kept happening, they prescribed a thicker version of the drops, which was actually more like petroleum jelly. This allowed the eyes to stay moist and lubricated all night. After a few weeks of this treatment, my eyes normalized and I was on the road to 20/20 vision.

Although I did have some minor issues, overall, I was thoroughly happy with the outcome. If you are thinking of getting this procedure done, then pick a good doctor. The best doctors are most often not the cheapest ones, but hey, how much are your eyes worth to you? In all reality, this procedure is so well understood that it is really become a very minor outpatient surgery. I wouldn't worry too much about going blind. In comparison to other forms of surgery, the chances of death from any sort of surgical anathesia are listed at 1:10000. To me, I do not like those odds because they equate to one person in every 10,000 dying in the operating room for even the simplest of surgeries. For the millions of people who go under the knife each year, that is too many. I asked an Anathesiologist about this and he simply said that the ratio is much more favorable but just that 1:10000 is really just the ceiling of the whole risk scale. Perhaps any medical types can confirm or deny.

Anaesthetic casualties (none / 1) (#82)
by John Miles on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 03:56:43 AM EST

To me, I do not like those odds because they equate to one person in every 10,000 dying in the operating room for even the simplest of surgeries. For the millions of people who go under the knife each year, that is too many. I asked an Anathesiologist about this and he simply said that the ratio is much more favorable but just that 1:10000 is really just the ceiling of the whole risk scale. Perhaps any medical types can confirm or deny.

IANAMD, but think about it -- if someone is undergoing a surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia, they are probably not in the best of health to begin with. That "10,000" number includes a lot of heart patients, longtime diabetics, cancer patients, trauma victims, and what-have-you. Not many of those deaths are healthy 20-year-old women undergoing boob jobs or 40-year-old mid-life skateboarding devotees getting a knee replaced.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Great recap (none / 0) (#94)
by Jave27 on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 11:30:09 AM EST

Other than the post-op process, that pretty accurately describes my experience, too. I just had to embelish the story a bit. :-)

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

What is is, slashdot?!?! (none / 1) (#69)
by theantix on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 05:30:26 PM EST

Duplicate post alert!


You sir, are worse than Hitler!

Haha (none / 1) (#73)
by Jave27 on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 08:09:09 PM EST

Not even sure I visited this site back then... Maybe... But, I know I never read your article until just now. :-)

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Missed during voting (3.00 / 6) (#70)
by Sgt York on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 05:36:32 PM EST

But great story. A little long, but entertaining enough to forgive verbosity.

I have a friend that is a LASIK/LASEK surgeon, and he's been bugging me for years to get it done. I do computer work for him sometimes, and in the past he's offered to do it at cost, just for the supplies he'd need. I guess the friends & family discount plan works both ways...

But like your tormentors, he still wears glasses. It's a bit disconcerting. He jokes that it's because he's the best surgeon around, and he wouldn't trust his eyes to anyone but himself. He says that although he can now do the surgery in the mirror, he hasn't quite gotten it down with one eye closed, as well.

I'm sending him this story....he'll love it.

Oh, and the tracker...It's a pretty cool chunk of technology. He showed me a demo video of it when it came out a while back and he was going to buy one.

They had this simulation doll strapped in a chair. The eye was made out of thermal paper, so you could see what had been hit. They shot the laser at one spot of it for just a second, and it left a small black dot. Then, they locked the tracker onto the paper eye, fired up the laser and started the chair shaking violently and randomly. The doll was bouncing all over the place, and its head was bouncing around in its restraint. You could just make out this little red dot locked onto the eyeball. After 10 or 15 seconds, they stopped it and zoomed in on the eye-paper. You could very clearly make out the company's slogan, etched flawlessly, using the original dot as the period.

Very, very cool.

There is a reason for everything. Sometimes, that reason just sucks.

No LASIK story is complete (3.00 / 3) (#71)
by killmepleez on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 06:21:07 PM EST

without a link to Surgical Eyes. It's the best site I've found for information on various corrective surgeries and/or the complications which may follow.

"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
I won't get destructive laser surgery (2.20 / 5) (#74)
by Stylusepix on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:14:54 PM EST

Removing part of the eye to cure it sounds like a bad idea to me. There are downsides and risks to laser surgery, and I'm not willing to accept them. My night vision is dear to me and the possible complications of the microkeratome cut scare me.

However, there is a technology which I am considering: intra-ocular implants. While still in its infancy, it is very promising. The success rates appear to be higher than those of LASIK, and the procedure involves no destruction of eye tissue (apart from the slit through which the implant is inserted). There is no degradation of night vision, and the procedure is reversible, since the implant can be taken out or removed.

But laser surgery has become, in North America, the leading form of sight correction surgery. It will take a long time before implants gain momentum - even if they come to be proven safer and more effective. For now, implants may be 5 to 10 times more expensive than laser surgery.

Hopefully, this cost will fall and the implants will be proven to be a safer alternative to LASIK. For those whose eyes have been damaged by destructive surgery, the implants can be used to correct part of the aberrations. Also, the implants, adding to the eye rather than taking from it, can correct a wider range of conditions; there are even multifocal implants that correct both near and far-sightedness.

We have already developed prototype implants that contain a tiny LED array; right now it's an 8x8 array, but the construction of a 64x64 (kilopixel) array is underway. Those implants receive signal and power wirelessly, and are intended for use in those whose cornea is opaque. However, once the technology improves, these intra-ocular implants that both correct vision and provide a computer display will be a great leap towards the cyborgification of the willing. I for one cannot wait for megapixel implants in each eye that correct my vision and let me be connected to the internets in permanence. I suppose I'll have normal, non-display implants for a few years before those are availaible, though.
Go; you're an it-getter, but No; it's all in good fun (and games). Laugh, in stock?

Not for me, until... (2.25 / 4) (#76)
by HardwareLust on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 09:31:44 PM EST

they fix the night vision problems and the halo's around lights. Seems to be a common complaint from Lasik patients. When and if they ever fix this problem, I'll be the first one in line to get it.  I can't see (no pun intended) losing my night vision to gain 20/15 in daylight.

If some doctor or machine is going to slice my eye up, it's going to be for 20/15 24/7 or not at all.

Just my opinion, though.  I'm glad you're happy with it.

If you disagree, POST, don't moderate!

Already done for most cases (none / 0) (#89)
by GaAs on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 09:51:33 AM EST

Hi. The problem you mentioned has been arealy fixed for most cases. Halos usually appear when the maximun diameter of the pupil is very big (as is in my case) and traditional lasik has been used.
Now this can be fixed using a different approach: instead of doing a standard correction, they perform first an aberrometry (don't know if this is right in english), and then use those data for correcting the indiviual optical aberrations of your eyes. Unfortunately I don't remember the exact name of this technique, and has not spreaded as widely as lasik yet.

[ Parent ]
Zyoptix (none / 0) (#90)
by GaAs on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 09:59:50 AM EST

That was the name: http://www.zyoptix.com

[ Parent ]
You want to do *what* with my eyes?!! (none / 0) (#97)
by crazyeddie on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:09:47 PM EST

I'll wait until they can find a way to do it under general anasthesia. My "things touching my eye" phobia is even worse than the author's. I can't bear the thought of contacts or even eyedrops.

[ Parent ]
General anesthesia? (none / 0) (#131)
by onemorechip on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 09:36:36 PM EST

I wonder if it's even possible. IANAA. Does anyone know if the eyes of a person under general anesthesia can be made to look at a single point, straight ahead, for about 30 seconds to a minute so that LASIK could be performed (and that's after the flap is cut)?

I did my essay on mushrooms. It's about cats.
[ Parent ]

Not for me, until (none / 0) (#109)
by sllort on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 01:18:19 AM EST

They tell you what your night vision is like 40 years after the procedure. The conversation usually goes like this:

Me: I'm worried about my night vision down the road.
Lasik Modified Person (LMP): Well I have halos now, but I'm sure they'll fix it.
Me: Do you know anyone who's had Lasik for thirty years or more?
LMP: No, it hasn't been around that long.
Me: Aren't you curious what's going to happen?
LMP: I'm sure they'll fix it.

They used to pull kids tonsils and adenoids just on principle until they figured out it destroyed their immune system, too. Still can't fix it.

With my glasses on, I see really well in the dark. And two grand an eye buys you some truly beautiful glasses. Lots of them.

P.S. if you need prescription polycarbonate sunglasses but hate that "windows-ground-into-them" look that Oakley charges $400/pair to sell you, check out the one guy in the world who hand-grinds curved-lens sports sunglasses (smith/oakley/whatever). It's not a large sports company - it's some guy named Bret. But if you call Rudy Project and ask for truly custom Rx, they'll give you his phone #. He'll mix brands for free, will custom vent them, and is dirt cheap.
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]

40 years down the road (none / 0) (#128)
by John Miles on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 01:12:56 PM EST

This is a particularly-ill-informed concern.

Keratomes have been in use in corneal surgery for at least 30-40 years. Contrary to what people seem to think, the idea of cutting a flap in the corneal epithelium was not invented last year by some shady Russian eye surgeon out to make a fast buck.

It's true that the cornea's healing response is relatively lousy, but if there were mechanisms of disease that didn't become apparent for decades, we'd know about them by now. They don't exist. Flap dislodgement through severe physical trauma -- the kind that would probably damage an untouched eye -- is the primary concern. A secondary concern is ectasia (corneal bulging) appearing in patients who were left without sufficient corneal tissue after improper pre-op screening. This can show up as much as 2-3 years down the road from what I've read, but again, it's not going to come back to haunt you after the often-quoted "30-40 years."

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

How long have they been cutting eyes with lasers? (none / 0) (#133)
by sllort on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 10:33:46 PM EST

And how the hell do you know what the side affects will be?
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]
Lasers (none / 0) (#134)
by John Miles on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 01:21:18 AM EST

How long have they been cutting eyes with lasers?

Who cares? There's nothing particularly interesting or special about using a laser to ablate tissue. It's just light, not ionizing radiation. Once again, anything that's going to go wrong is going to go wrong within the first year or two, and usually a lot sooner than that. I have no problem betting my eyesight on our current understanding of the biology and physics involved.

That being said, if you're really that risk-averse, you'll be happier with glasses in the long run. Nothing wrong with that.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 1) (#139)
by sllort on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 09:16:24 PM EST

You call me ill informed, and then you tell me you don't have a clue what the long term effects of cutting someone's eye with a laser are.

I've still got my tonsils too, sucker.
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]

AHAHAHA (none / 0) (#143)
by sllort on Mon Feb 07, 2005 at 12:27:46 AM EST

You proved how high minded you are by moderating me down without replying. Nicely done.
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
[ Parent ]
The Story of General Moustafa LASIK: (1.44 / 18) (#77)
by the ghost of rmg on Mon Jan 31, 2005 at 10:30:58 PM EST


As a reader of an article on LASIK Corporation's, I urgently hope you will find time to read the story of General Moustafa LASIK whose work has cured so many and set the eyes of so few aflame. The late General LASIK was a great man and his life's work stands in great peril of statist seizure.

As young man Genera lMoustafa LASIK worked in optical research at the CAIRO POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE where he worked in optical surgery using optical methods. In the late seventies his research led him to Lebanon where he was tenured professor of medicine at STATE UNIVERSITY OF LEBANON. It was later in the mid eighties that the threat of AMERICAN ZIONIST EXPANSION inspired him to take up arms with his Islamic brothers SIERRA LEONE.

In SIERRA LEONE General Moustafa LASIK employed his quite considerabl efortune of 24,000,000 USD made in OPTICAL LASER SURGERY PATENTS in the defense of the OSIEU CH'PUA GOVERNMENT in repelling CIA supported contras. It was at this time that I urgently met with General LASIK to settle his personal accounts should he lose his life in the fighting.

Now twenty years later I am given word that General Moustafa LASIK has been killed in the DARFUR REGION OF SUDAN. Though he had wife his marriage produced no issue and so he is left with no living hiers (his wife was also found hacked to death).


As the sole executor of his estate I am in need of a business partner of the highest fidelity and honesty to complete a transaction of a most lucrative nature.In three years, if General Moustafa LASIK's money remains unclaimed it is confiscated by the SIERRA LEONE GOVERNMENT. As I am the only one who knows of General LASIK's account I know that no one will come forward to claim it. Therefore I need a honest GOD FEARING partner who can claim the funds and transfer them to an account at the CENTRAL EUROPEAN BANK in AMSTERDAM.Once it is there, we can appropriately split the money 70% for me 30% for you and split our prosperous ways.

To complete this confidential arrangement please make your urgent reply at the earliest possible so we can finalize and arrange for your trip to SIERRA LEONE to claim the cash in person. I am in the utmost need of your generous assistance!

Compliment of the season to you and your wife. GOD BLESS YOU.

Yours Faithfully,


rmg: comments better than yours.

YES!!! (none / 1) (#93)
by Jave27 on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 11:19:25 AM EST

I've arrived!!! My story has been trolled by rmg!!! (You honestly don't know how long I've waited for this moment...) :-)

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

0, don't like gays (1.00 / 3) (#102)
by Harvey Anderson on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 04:29:53 PM EST


[ Parent ]
No LASIK for me (none / 1) (#88)
by cpghost on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 09:34:32 AM EST

I went through preliminary tests for a LASIK, having -8.00 diopters on the left eye (-1.00 on the right eye, nothing necessary there), but with a cornea thickness of 435 microns, LASIK was not an option (cornea too thin). PRK seemed just too painful to me, so I preferred to avoid surgical operation completely.

So in a sense I'm happy to have avoided this nightmare, being very nervous myself, though I still hope for a technological breakthrough.

cpghost at Cordula's Web
You didn't mention the pain (none / 1) (#91)
by clambake on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 10:57:01 AM EST

When I had my lasik the next day I felt as if somone had cut into my eyes ith a knife and fried bits of them at thousands of degreees with a laser.  It hurt as bad as it sounds, quite literally...  Now I finally have a retort for the women who think I'll never understand the pain of childbirth.  Lasik is the ultimate pain...

Great drugs, tho... and the pain went away the next day.

Didn't really have any (none / 0) (#92)
by Jave27 on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 11:17:51 AM EST

Just a bit dry for about a week. They itched some the first day, but that's it.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

That's strange (none / 0) (#127)
by John Miles on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 01:05:22 PM EST

I don't know why some people experience pain while others don't, but it does seem to happen sometimes. I didn't feel anything beyond the mildest itching, which was gone in 24 hours. (Are you sure you didn't have PRK and not LASIK?)

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]
a friend's father, an eye surgeon, says... (none / 1) (#96)
by brettd on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:04:54 PM EST

..."laser vision correction is elective surgery on a critical organ of the human body".

Maybe in 30 years, when we know what the long term effects are- but not a day sooner, thanks but no thanks.

Remember, medical "experts" used to think lobotomies were a great way to cure everything from depression to mental retardation...

Critical (none / 1) (#100)
by thankyougustad on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:27:38 PM EST

I don't see how the eyes are critical. The lungs are critical. The heart. The brain (mostly). The eyes you can do without.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Lobotomies do cure everything (none / 0) (#150)
by saltmine on Sat Mar 05, 2005 at 04:26:21 PM EST

Most likely you'll die and all your problems are solved.  Depression? Gone!  Are you a retard?  Gone!  See the pattern?

[ Parent ]
Heh... (3.00 / 3) (#98)
by dejohn on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 02:15:27 PM EST

Boy, where's that ASCII re-enactment guy when you need him? :)

Almost right... (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by mintee on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 06:14:40 PM EST

I had the surgery 2 years ago, and you nearly described it perfectly. However... You forgot to mention the part about smelling your own eyeball burning. After they started the countdown (They started around 26 for me) I slowly started smelling something awful! After a few seconds I realized... "That's my *&^%$ eye burning" EEk!! After they finished my first eye, I was unscrupulously relieved.. I thought wow, 1 down, now I can take a break and smoke a cigerette. But no, they whipped me around and switched eyes faster than I could say "TEDDY!!!!!!!!!!" (yes, I had a teddy bear.) Oh, and as for the device that cut your lens from your eyeball. I believe it was shaped more like a cigar cutter. I took special notice to that. All in all, within 2 minutes of my surgery I noticed that I was seeing better than I was before the surgery. The next day when I went for my follow up, sure enough, I had perfect 20/20 vision. I was also given a 1 year warrenty with my surgery, (as if my eyes just can break and be replaced). Now that it is nearly 2 years later, I'm starting to notice a little difference in my vision. I believe that slowly, with time, your vision will worsen and you will have to revisit your demons. But all in all, for $4000.00, it's worth 10-15 years of glassesless/contactless vision. <Excuse any grammer mistakes, I'm in a big ass hurry>
-The Lazy Writer
Wow thanks (3.00 / 2) (#106)
by jbiafra on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 08:17:09 PM EST

You've pretty much summed up my own personal terror when it comes to my eyes. In times past my wife has tried to help put in even regular eyedrops, and one time I had to apologize for hitting her in the chin as I frantically slapped the drops out of her hand.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the Fire in the Sky reference though. I think that scene might also be the reason I am so terrified (like we're talking blind, pants shitting, gibbering terror) of anything getting near my eyes. Maybe one day I'll summon up the courage you showed, maybe not. Well done sir, well done.

Another doctor (none / 0) (#116)
by paranoid on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 03:30:19 PM EST

May be you need to see a shrink? It might be easily fixable, you know.

[ Parent ]
Easily fixable (none / 1) (#137)
by rusty on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 09:21:06 AM EST

Sure it's easily fixable. Just sit still for a moment while we aim this laser at your brain...

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
hahahahahahahaha (none / 0) (#138)
by Harvey Anderson on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 10:28:51 AM EST

that's soooo funny! #*( !!

[ Parent ]
my trip (none / 1) (#107)
by asv108 on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 09:04:31 PM EST

I had LASIK done over a year ago, and the results have been great. Better than 20/20 with no side effects.

I was a tad nervous going in to the laser room. When they sat me down, I could see that the laser's guidance system was running on windowsNT, then I started to wonder. I asked one of the techs, "you guys expect me to put my vision in the hands of the NT kernel?"

Needless to say, the techs were kind of annoyed with me questioning the software controls for the laser. When everything was finished, and I was stumbling out the room, one of the techs jokingly said, "Not bad for windows, kid!"

Clueless, but then, so many are. (none / 1) (#108)
by Adam First on Tue Feb 01, 2005 at 09:39:41 PM EST

The ads for lasik in my neighborhood come right along with the grocery ads and the ads for vinyl siding.  Lasik is marketed to the lowest common denominator for good reason.  A person whose vision is correctable with glasses would have to be daft to  let someone cut on his eyes.

Congratulations (none / 1) (#110)
by CaptainZapp on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 09:29:51 AM EST

For your new, improved vision. Having around ~4 dioptries (sp?) I can appreciate your newfound happyness. Now here's my reason why I never, ever will let those folks fuck around with a laser on my eyes, unless there is no other choice.

See, LASIK is a hugely profitable business. Now, whenever lots of money is involved then ethics and truthful information are very scarce and hard to come buy. The basic information that I can gather here is provided at "information" events by the fine folks selling the "product" and they are certainly not unbiased.

There are a lot of horror stories which might, or might not be true. But even hearing from an uncomfirmed source that the laser is guided by a computer running Windows makes me not think twice. In fact such rumours make me run far and wide.

An additional thought, if you permit me to be a cynical bastard for a moment: You're a guy with a nick on a forum on the internet gushing about the success with such an operation and you might well be the person you claim to be and really had a good experience.

But then again you could be a paid employee for a pr company which specialises in astroturf trying to sell this hugely profitable technology to the world.

I'm not claiming that this is the case, but I certainly wouldn't permit aybody to fuck around with a laser in my eyes based on such a report on a public bulletin board.

Somewhat agree (none / 0) (#112)
by Jave27 on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 10:18:34 AM EST

I could be a guy selling astroturf, correct. Plus, I don't have much of a posting history here. So, I understand your concern - I would share it, assuming I was referring to another unknown person who is not me (being that I'm not unknown to myself). This wasn't a propaganda piece by any means, this was just a retelling of my experiences. Consult with your eye doctor (or 2 or 3 or more) before having any type of elective surgery. The excimer laser is approved by the FDA and countless other countries around the world, so you have a pretty good chance of success, but don't take my word for it.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Business laws (none / 0) (#115)
by paranoid on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 03:29:01 PM EST

There are no hugely profitable businesses. Any business area which repeatably produces higher return than the market rate soon experiences an influx of new players. Unless there is a company with a monopoly on LASIK surgery or unless the companies engage in price fixing, the profit is exactly what is needed to cover the management costs and the cost of capital. Eye surgery is not a scam. From almost all accounts that I read, the doctors always inform about possible complications, and often recommend alternatives (such as glasses or contacts). Of course, this article explains very well the real reason why many people don't like the idea of eye surgery. The reason is they are scared. Stupid and bad for them.

[ Parent ]
Horse crap (none / 0) (#129)
by wurp on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 05:43:26 PM EST

There certainly are hugely profitable businesses.  Look at profit histories on insurance companies, oil companies, and Microsoft.

If you somehow have some limited resource available only to a limited number of people, you can have a very profitable business.  This can be a result of buying laws that present barrier to entry, knowing people who are gatekeepers to some element essential to the business, having monopoly power over the space in which the product is used (MS), requiring an exceptionally high initial investment, etc.

Lasik prices are a combination of a limited resource (the doctor) and high economic barrier to entry (buying the machine).  The second one is mitigated by loans, but it takes time for the banks to accept something like that as a good loan without a lot of effort convincing.

I know people who work for Lasik doctors.  The doctors are working as many hours as they can squeeze out and still not running out of customers.  There simply aren't enough doctors to pull the price down to something reasonable, because lowering the price doesn't let you process more customers, because you have all the customers you can handle even with the high prices.

I suspect this will lure people into eye surgery as a career, but it takes a long time for those people to show up in the market.  And even then, people who might choose that as a career have to make judgements about the market 10 years hence, so you can't have the quick response shift in labor that would make the price settle down to something reasonable.

That said, the fact that they have more customers than they can handle is likely to lead to them being up front about any risks, since doing so doesn't cost them any customers.
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Overdone (1.33 / 3) (#114)
by paranoid on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 03:17:26 PM EST

Reading this became boring quite soon. It should have been 2-3 times shorter, than your pathetic attempts at humour would still be funny at the end.

Congratulations on all counts (none / 1) (#130)
by T818 on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 07:48:03 PM EST

This piece provided a lot of detail, was well written and funny.

[ Parent ]
No way Jose (none / 1) (#117)
by dark ally on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 03:51:38 PM EST

I look at it this way - I have two eyes and there is no way to replace them if the surgery doesn't work as expected.  I'll stick to glasses and contacts which I can remove, replace, and change as required and desired.

No Way Jose (none / 0) (#140)
by Barbarian on Sat Feb 05, 2005 at 04:33:40 AM EST

Amen to that.  It took them three tries to get a pair of contacts that I could see at night with, and I'm not going to take one-and-only chance with LASIX.  I guess my eyes open up really big, enough that some contact lenses don't even have a lens part where I am looking through.

[ Parent ]
Lasik Surgery (none / 1) (#118)
by MELo on Wed Feb 02, 2005 at 05:05:15 PM EST

I did Lasik surgery 2 years ago on both eyes. I see much better then before. However I notice that over time my vision gets worse ... Is it something to expect?

different in each eye (none / 1) (#123)
by yitz on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 09:00:18 AM EST

don't they carve one of your eyes for distance viewing and one for close viewing??? this was the reason that i wouldn't even hypothetically consider lasik. true, people predominantly use one eye for distance and one eye for close, but presumably if one eye failed you, the other could do both.. i don't know what would happen in the case of lasik. having said all this, i'm glad your surgery worked out well for you :)

Monovision (none / 1) (#126)
by John Miles on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 01:00:16 PM EST

They'll do that if you want them to, but it's not required.  

The idea is that if you leave one eye nearsighted, you may be able to read without glasses when presbyopia sets in in your 40s-50s.  Otherwise, most LASIK patients will still have to wear reading glasses at that point.

Apparently the brain can usually adapt to this form of lopsided vision after a few weeks.  Patients are encouraged to try it with a contact lens before surgery, obviously.  Some people swear by the technique.  It's certainly not for me -- even the slightest eye-to-eye discrepancy in prescription accuracy used to drive me nuts when I wore contacts.
For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

I've got that naturally (none / 0) (#136)
by simon farnz on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 08:14:11 AM EST

My left eye is 20/20, and my right eye is badly myopic (haven't had it tested in a while, so don't have the figure to hand). It's perfectly possible to function normally with it if your brain adjusts, with only two oddities:
  1. No depth perception; I handle depth from visual cues, like shadows, and cannot tell the difference between a large, distant object in free space, and a small, near object in free space. This means no playing ball games, as you just can't locate the ball in space to catch it.
  2. Split vision; while driving long distance, my eyes naturally settle down to the right eye watching the dashboard (speedo, fuel gauge, temp gauge etc), and my left eye scanning road and mirrors. Can confuse people around me when it happens, but is very handy for speed camera infested areas (can watch both speed and road).

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]
So -- how's your dark adapted vision then? (3.00 / 2) (#124)
by jolly st nick on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 10:12:34 AM EST

As anybody who knows anything about optics knows, it's easy to make a good lens if the ratio of focal length to lens diameter ( the f- number) is high. During the daytime, when your pupils are constricted to tiny diameters, your lens has in effect a very high f number, so aberrations of various sorts are unlikely to bother you. This is one reason why it's easier to see in bright light.

At night, however, your pupils dilate (get larger) so the f-number is smaller, and optical aberrations can come into play if they don't get it right. People's maximum dilation runs from around 5mm to 7mm, depending partly on age (it tends to go down as you get older). If you are at the low end of the range, then laser surgery is probably a safe bet. If you are at the high end of the range, you'll have to consider a possible loss of nighttime acuity. If you are one of the freaks who can dilate to 7.5 or 8mm, I'd positively avoid it.

I've been interested in laser surgery, but I'm waiting for a decade or so more on the theory that when I'm in my fifties, I will probably only dilate to 5mm or so, and by then the technology will be better.

A little weird at first (none / 1) (#125)
by Jave27 on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 11:36:13 AM EST

Like when I first walk into a dimly-lit room, everything seems a bit hazy and out of focus. This has gotten better over the past few weeks. But, after I'm there for about 10-15 minutes, I can see perfectly. I'm not sure why it takes that long of an adjustment period, but it's odd. Driving at night is a bit worse than before. It's like wearing dirty glasses unless there is a vehicle directly behind me and I can see the bright headlights in my rear-view. When my pupils are less dilated, my vision is better. It's not debilitating by any means, though. Still worth it, IMHO.

"Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Here's my account (3.00 / 3) (#132)
by onemorechip on Thu Feb 03, 2005 at 10:05:39 PM EST

I had the procedure around 7 years ago, when it was still fairly new. I started at -9 to -10 in each eye. My best vision came about 2 or 3 days after. Then I had very crisp 20/20 vision. There were pronounced halos at night and considerable dryness.

After several months I noticed that the crispness was gone; edges were no longer as precise as before (not so much out-of-focus as a reduction in contrast, I guess describes it best). My eye exam at one year showed one eye was now 20/40 but the other eye was still 20/20. I got a contact lens for the right eye, which I wore only occasionally (going to the movies, playing tennis, that sort of thing). I also got a pair of glasses which I also wore only occasionally (mostly for driving, so I could take them off when I got to work, since it's easier to see up close without 'em). At 20/40 I don't really need either glasses or contacts to drive, but it helps, especially at night.

I've noticed that I see better with glasses than contacts, whereas previously it was the reverse. This could be because (1) I now have a little bit of astigmatism where I had none before and (2) I used to wear the semi-rigid gas-permeable contacts whereas now I wear soft lenses.

A few years ago I went in to see about an adjustment to the right eye but I wasn't a good candidate since the thickness of the cornea remaining after the second procedure would have been just below the recommended guideline. Also I was advised that the margin of error for the procedure is pretty large compared to the small amount of adjustment I was going for, so the risk of overcorrection was there. I decided then that I was happy with what I had.

Now at seven years my eyes have stayed almost the same as at one year. I probably wear the contact lenses and glasses even less than ever, in part because of the onset of presbyopia and in part just from laziness and the fact that I see well enough without them for 98% of everything I do. My eyes get dry from time to time, still, but it is a mild dryness and much less of an irritation than I would sometimes get from contact lenses. The halos are much less noticeable. If I look at a point source of light, such as a bright star, I often see a double image, with the fainter image just to the right of the main image. Other than that, I have no complaints at this stage.

I did my essay on mushrooms. It's about cats.

I'm on my second day. (none / 1) (#141)
by Sen on Sat Feb 05, 2005 at 09:32:31 PM EST

A bit of glare but very good so far. I do know that this will not be my only eye surgery. I will get eye implants once they are available. Transhumanism awaits.

Acoording to the poll, (none / 1) (#142)
by Vesperto on Sun Feb 06, 2005 at 11:05:55 AM EST

the majority of K5ers prefers feces.
If you disagree post, don't moderate.
Not a Premium User.
Intacs (3.00 / 4) (#145)
by sg2 on Mon Feb 07, 2005 at 04:20:39 PM EST

I opted for the reversible solution that has shown much better results:


I got these as part of a study, pre-FDA-approval.   I've had them for about 5 years now and my vision is 20/10.   Unlike LASIK, where your vision is at-or-near 20/20 within 48 hours, it took nearly a month to go from 20/400 to 20/20.  However, within the first 72 hours I was near 20/40 and able to drive.   It took about a year for my eyes to get to the 20/10 they are now... and the intacs did not fix my astigmatism.

I like to think of it as a bionic eye.

Anyway, two little half-rings in my eyes have been excellent.   For the first few months I could feel them and occasionally see them in very dark situations (such as a movie)... but for the most part they stayed out of screen.   Now I don't even notice them or see them.

 Reversible -- any problems and they simply remove them.
 Effective -- works best for people wearing contacts from -1.0 to -4.5 (20/40 - 20/400)
 Does not interfere with central optical zone -- rings go outside the normal dialted iris area.

 Price -- about 1.5 to 2x more expensive than the higher-end LASIK.

anyway, feel free to do your own research.

Corneal refractive therapy (none / 1) (#148)
by hans on Mon Feb 14, 2005 at 06:28:53 AM EST

I've been thinking about CRT.  You wear contacts at night which reshape the cornea similar to the process you described.  During the day, you're glasses free.  Since I have the aforementioned alien-probe reflex to anything that approaches my eye, I haven't been too keen on the contacts part.     I'd never heard of intacs, thanks!

[ Parent ]
haha (none / 1) (#147)
by alevin on Thu Feb 10, 2005 at 07:47:44 PM EST

i have better than 20/20 vision by nature.
The option you never hear about (3.00 / 2) (#149)
by mmealman on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 03:29:21 PM EST


They're hard contact lenses you wear while you sleep which reshape your eyes. When you take off the contacts in the morning, your eyes retain their corrected vision shape for the day.

It's been around for 40 years, 100% reversable(just stop wearing the contacts), as safe as hard contact lenses, and they can be changed to fit your changing vision throughout the rest of your life.

The only downside is that you're still wearing contacts, just when you sleep instead of your normal day.

may be (1.33 / 3) (#152)
by keleyu on Sat May 14, 2005 at 09:17:21 AM EST

i have no idea

good (none / 1) (#153)
by soart on Mon Jun 20, 2005 at 11:38:38 AM EST

oh!It's good!
But what about? (none / 1) (#154)
by rebelcan on Fri Sep 02, 2005 at 05:19:59 PM EST

<sarcasm>But if I got my eyes repaired, how am I supposed to wear my trendy emo glasses that mark me out as an individual?</sarcasm>

With that out of the way, I don't think I'd ever get corrective lens surgury, of any sort. I'm just used to glasses, and many people tell me I look better with them anyways. Besides, for me, wearing glasses is part of my being a complete computer geek. My glasses are like my geek badge. I cannot go without my geek badge!

Okay, I'll stop now.

God is dead -- Nietzsche
Nietzsche is dead -- God
but Zombie Nietzsche lives! -- Zombie Nietzsche
The Burning Retina (A LASIK Story) | 154 comments (141 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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