A little over a week ago I had LASIK eye surgery on both my eyes. It was simultaneously the scariest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. (Scariest being the days leading up to the procedure when I was worrying about lasers in my eyeballs! Easiest being the actual procedure, how quickly I saw results, and the fact that recovery was a piece of cake.)
It is so crazy to think that the surgery is now behind me. And that I now have 20/15 vision without glasses or contacts. My life has gotten so much easier overnight! I think my brain still thinks I have glasses on. I reach for them, and they’re not there. Or as I’m getting ready for bed I’ll remind myself to take my contacts out and then remember I don’t have any in. It’s the weirdest thing.
Since I mentioned that I was thinking about getting LASIK and then shared what my LASIK consultation was like I have had many conversations with you guys about LASIK. So many of you reached out to let me know that you’ve had LASIK done and are incredibly happy with your results (And assured me the procedure is super simple and not painful at all). And others reached out with questions and to let me know that you are thinking about getting LASIK too. Before getting this surgery I don’t think I realized how many people have already had LASIK or how many people have getting LASIK on their to-do list. It’s a pretty popular procedure!
I thought it would be helpful to share my experience getting LASIK as it was so helpful for me before getting it done to hear from others so I knew what to expect. This post is long and brutally honest and hopefully useful for you as you consider LASIK.
Big caveat: I am not a doctor or medical professional in any way. This is purely my experience and not intended to be medical advice in any way, shape, or form.
My experience with LASIK eye surgery
My procedure was scheduled for 3:30pm on February 21stat Kugler Vision. It was originally supposed to be the month earlier, but I had to push it back due to a last minute (but freaking amazing) two-week trip to Peru. While I was sad to have to push back LASIK, a small part of me was relieved as I was so nervous. It was easy to be excited about getting LASIK when the procedure was still far away. As the surgery got closer, it started to feel more real and I started to get more nervous.
Something to know about me (if you don’t already) is that I am incredibly anxious when it comes to medical procedures. I remember the night before jaw surgery trying to force myself to eat dinner despite the butterflies in my stomach since it was the last meal I’d be able to chew for quite a while. The night before LASIK surgery I struggled to sleep as my mind raced with what-if scenarios.
The next day it was time to put my fears aside and trust in science and the medical team at Kugler Vision. I truly believe that they are the best eye surgeons in Omaha and felt safe and confident entrusting my vision to them.
When I arrived at the office, I was taken back to do the final tests on my eyes before surgery. This was to ensure that everything had stayed the same since my consultation. Dr. Hiatt, one of the optometrists, gave me my final eye exam and let me know I was about 20/400 without glasses. I couldn’t wait for that number to change!
Because I am a crazy person, I brought a notebook filled with last minute questions.
Some were genuinely good questions. Example: What’s the best thing I can do to avoid infection? Answer: follow your post-op instructions and eye drop schedule!
Some were ridiculous. Example: When can I pluck my eyebrows again? Do I really have to throw out all of my makeup?
Dr. Hiatt was so patient and thorough as she listened to me and answered all my questions. If you struggle with anxiety before medical procedures I highly recommend doing this. I bring a notebook filled with questions I have to every appointment so I don’t forget them.
After the eye exam I was taken back to a room with a massage chair where Jolene, a fabulous nurse, administers the Valium. Josh said he wished I could have been given Valium for the two days before the procedure. 😉 She went over post-op instructions and assured me everything was going to go great.
The last thing she did before the surgery was put special eye drops in my eyes to constrict the blood vessels so I wouldn’t get that “bloody eyeball” look that can be common after LASIK. Subconjunctival hemorrhages aren’t dangerous but they sure look gross! It’s things like that that I really appreciate about Kugler Vision. They think of the little things and keep patient comfort front of mind.
After that the surgeons came in and it was go time. Dr. Kugler (right) and Dr. Stuntz (left) perform their surgeries together. I truly can’t say enough good things about them. They are so professional and so on top of their game. I may have been an absolute nervous wreck in this photo (as I literally wring my hands) but I knew my eyes were in the best possible hands and that I had made the right decision in deciding to have LASIK.
The surgery itself was legitimately a breeze. It was 9 minutes long and I got to rock out to country classics like Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy and Country Girl Shake it For Me (You get to pick your surgery music. Country was already on so I went with it and then was super happy I did when those songs came on).
We were almost halfway done with the surgery before I fully realized that it started. They put numbing drops in my eyes so I wouldn’t feel anything and these little instruments to keep me from blinking and taped my eyelashes down. I thought this would feel restricting to my eyes but I didn’t have any discomfort.
I read online about people feeling intense pressure during the beginning of the surgery when the machine cuts the flaps. I felt absolutely zero pressure. When I asked Dr. Kugler about it later he said that’s because newer machines don’t cause that same sensation but lots of places still use older machines. He uses the latest machines so you’re going to get the latest innovations.
The best way I can describe LASIK is that it feels like you’re in a spaceship looking out at stars in space. I expected to feel panicky or claustrophobic but I really just felt like I was looking at faraway lights.
They first cut the flaps one at a time, then moved me over to the next machine (via this really cool moving platform so I wouldn’t have to get up and walk) where the laser reshaped my corneas one at a time. They tell you to stare at lights, and you do, and they count down, and then it’s over. I read a lot of complaints online about this part smelling like burning flesh. I guess I don’t really know what burning flesh smells like but to me it smelled like when you use a straightener on your hair. I could smell something, but it wasn’t gross or bad.
After that the surgeons took (what I envision to be) little paint brushes and glued my flaps back down. This felt like the longest part of the procedure. I started to get nervous something had gone wrong as they had to adjust my one eye a bit but they are just that thorough.
And with that, I was done! They gave me sunglasses and told me to go home and sleep for a few hours so I’d miss the worst of the discomfort. They tell you after surgery that it looks like you’re underwater and that’s the truth. I could see but I couldn’t see. Everything was smudged. I remember going into the lobby to get one of their fresh baked chocolate chip cookies for the ride home (the best!) and missing the door handle. Whoops!
Also, fully closing my eyes for the first time after surgery felt SO weird. At first it felt like my eyes wouldn’t do it, but with some practice they did! Haha They told me this is due to the numbing drops and your eyes swelling slightly after the surgery.
When I got home I crawled into bed and put on my fancy new night shields that I had to wear for the first week to ensure I wouldn’t touch my eyes. Josh made me the tea in the goody bag Kugler sent me home with and then I fell asleep.
I read a lot of things online about the first night after surgery. Some say their eyes watered uncontrollably. Others said it felt like someone threw sand in their eyes. Aside from my eyes feeling slightly dry, they felt normal. I could open them to put in drops and look around and see without problems.
Dr. Kugler called while I was napping to ask how everything was going which I really appreciated. The answer was everything was going great!
The next morning I woke up and could see my alarm clock. It was so cool. As I looked around more though, I started to worry something had gone wrong. I could see everything, but I couldn’t see it crystal clear. It was like looking at something under a microscope but shifting it slightly so it was just slightly out of focus. I read so many stories online that talked about people waking up the next day with 20/20 vision. Was my procedure a failure because I woke up with less than perfect vision?
I had my follow-up appointment the next morning and came prepared with my notebook filed with more questions. Looking at them now I have to laugh. Example: When can I start using lipgloss? Can I have a margarita for National Margarita Day?
Some were also incredibly dramatic. Example: Do I still have a chance of seeing 20/20? Will I need a revision surgery?
Slow your roll, nervous nelly Erin. Dr. Stuntz looked at my eyes and told me they were looking perfect, they were just dry and that was the reason I was seeing 20/40 instead of 20/20. (Still a huge improvement from 20/400!) He put in punctal plugs to help my eyes regulate my tears (a simple, two minute procedure that just requires numbing drops) and told me I should be seeing 20/20 within a few days.
The punctal plugs worked really quickly because by that afternoon I felt like someone had taken a pencil and filled in all the final details of my vision. I could fully see! I had to take a picture of my eyeballs I was in so much shock. I couldn’t believe that less than 24 hours earlier they were being operated on and now I had such clear vision.
Also, I talked to quite a few of you guys via FB and Instagram the day after the procedure and so many of you said that you didn’t see 20/20 immediately the morning after surgery either. Apparently it taking a few days can be quite normal.
The weekend passed in a blur of eye drops, catnaps, and steroid drops. Take your drops people! It’s so important to keep your eyes wet and protect them from germs while they heal.
The following Tuesday I had another follow-up appointment to see how my eyes were doing with the plugs. I was told my eyes were healing marvelously and that the plugs were doing their job. Best of all, I was seeing 20/15!
And now here I am, a week and a half out of LASIK, with 20/15 vision and no need for glasses or contacts. I no longer need to use steroid drops but do have to use eye drops multiple times a day to keep my eyes moist. My eyes feel really good, and I haven’t been having issues with glare or halos. I have my follow up appointment in a month to see how my eyes are doing. Until then, I just need to live my life, take care to not rub my eyes, avoid hot tubs, and wear sunglasses when I go outside.
It’s truly insane to me that we live in a time where science can so completely change your life like it’s no big deal. One day you wake up and can’t function without your glasses. The next you wake up and can see with no visual aids necessary. For as much as I worried about getting LASIK, having it done was very anticlimactic. You lay on a bed, stare at some lights, put in some drops, eat a chocolate chip cookie, and go on with your life.
I’ve come to realize that, for me, my nerves before I do something scary are usually way worse than whatever it is I’m actually doing. And LASIK was very, very worth doing. Dr. Kugler and Dr. Stuntz have given me the gift of sight. I wish I could give this gift to everyone.
This is going to sound cheesy but I’m very proud of myself for being brave and doing this. It’s so easy in life to let fears keep us from going after what we want. I’m so glad I didn’t let my anxiety keep me from gaining this new view of the world. If you want something in life you have to go after it. You deserve to live the life of your dreams.
Questions of the Day: Do you wear glasses? Are you interested in getting LASIK? What were you most surprised to read about regarding the procedure?
Kugler Vision provided complimentary LASIK services in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.