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Lasik Complications

This is part 2 of a 3 part series. To read part 1, click here.

So far as the post-op procedures went, I had three different sets of eye drops to use. The first was an antibiotic that I was to use four times per day. I started it the day before the surgery. The next was an anti-inflammatory/steroid to be used every 2 hours for the first four days, and then 4x/day after that. Finally, I was to use preservative free, single use saline drops every hour for the first week and as-needed after that.

I set up something of a schedule so that there was virtually no overlap between them. The problem with overlap is that one set of drops can push out the benefits of another set of drops, so you are supposed to wait a minimum of 5 minutes between each set of drops.

The first set of drops I used at 8am, noon, 4pm and 8pm. The next set I used every odd hour of the day on the hour. And the saline drops I used at the half hour mark of every hour. I was also to do a full round of each set just before going to bed, which prolonged my bedtime rituals by about 20 minutes each night.

Here’s an unpleasant little tidbit about the drops. Your tear ducts are somehow connected to your throat, for drainage purposes. So these drops end up in your throat. As a byproduct, sometimes they hit your taste buds. These drops are the nastiest things in the world. A “good” friend of mine once convinced me to try this stuff called Echinacea drops. The story was that it’s supposed to have some weird medical benefits and that I needed to try it. This is the same guy who got me to try Goldschlagger years earlier.

Anyway, the drops reminded me of Echinacea drops. The taste of the drops isn’t nearly as strong as the Echinacea, but if you’re ever interested in finding out what it tastes like, I invite you to give it a whirl. You won’t thank me, I’m sure of it.

In addition to the drops, I was to wear my Spiderman eyes every night for the first two weeks. I thought they would be really uncomfortable, but it wasn’t really that bad. They sit right against your face, so you don’t really notice after a few minutes, so long as your eyes are closed. Looking through them really distorts your vision because they aren’t glasses and your eyes aren’t healed yet. The down side of those was that in the morning, I had to peel them off because they were held on with tape. Avoid taping them to your eyebrows. Trust me on that one. And there were some slight indentations in your face for a few hours every morning from where the plastic was held against your face.

So the doctor gives my wife instructions to have me lie down in the car on the way home, close my eyes and try to get to sleep. She was ordered to get me a Snickers bar or some other similar candy bar with some substance to it for the ride home. When I get home, I was to put some drops in and then go straight to bed for at least 3 hours.

We got home around 5pm and I went to bed, as instructed. A short time later, my wife brought me some pizza for dinner, which I ate in bed with my eyes closed. If you ever want to know what it’s like to be blind, try eating dinner with your eyes closed. It’s another freaky experience.

I actually fell asleep for a little bit and got up around 8:30pm. A few more rounds of eye drops and after chatting with my wife for about an hour and a half, it was back to bed. Surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to get back to sleep. I set my alarm clock for 5:45am so I could be out the door at 6am to be at the doctors’ office by 7am.

I know what you’re thinking. Gross. He didn’t even shower. Those were the doctors’ orders, I swear. He said not to shower or take the Spiderman eye shields off until after I came back and he looked at my eyes.

Amazingly enough, when I woke up the next morning, I could see. My vision wasn’t perfect, but I could see almost as well as when I had glasses. I got to my post-op appointment just before 7am and then waited around until after 8am to be seen. Notice a pattern here? There were easily more than 20 people in the waiting room for their post-op and I was one of the last people there. He had done the surgery for every one of them the day before.

Several of us got to chatting about our experience, the exact procedure we had done, the fact that the light would move on us, etc. Two people there had eye surgery in the past. One had his back in 2003 and had the RK surgery. He had a lot of scarring and had to wait until it healed before they could do it again.

The second guy had his surgery about a year ago. His vision had started deteriorating and although he was still happy with it, the doctors said they could do better. Since it was free with the insurance, he said to go for it.

A few others chatted about the PRK surgery they had and discussed in detail to the point that I was really glad I didn’t get it. The reason they had a different procedure because they didn’t have thick enough eye tissue to cut flaps that they could peel back and use the laser. Instead “they took this thing that looked like a toothbrush and scratched the front of the eyeball off”. Their words, not mine. Their stories made me glad that I declined that as an option if the surgeon decided he couldn’t do the LASIK.

The surgeon looked at my eyes for a couple of minutes and said they seemed to be healing pretty well. He put me through a couple of eye tests to check my vision and that’s when a complication I encountered was revealed.

My Lasik Complication

Apparently when he was cutting the flaps of my eye for the laser, there was some serration that occurred. In layman’s terms, that means that instead of a straight cut through the eye tissue, the edges between the flap and the eyeball are a bit wavy. If you looked at it from the side, it might appear like a sine-wave or something close to it.

What that does is causes some slight deterioration in the vision that otherwise wouldn’t be there. He said it’s relatively common, but it generally goes away completely as the eye heals. The result of that serration is that my vision isn’t quite as good as it will be just yet and I should expect that my vision will be better on some days and worse on others until it does heal.

Oh goody.

I didn’t think to ask exactly why this happened. Maybe his hand slipped a bit, maybe the blade twisted, perhaps my eye twitched as he shoved the hatchet into it, or more likely I didn’t hold still as he screamed “Hold still you little bastard!” Ok, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic. Regardless, it happened but in the end this complication wasn’t really a big deal.

So the Spidey shields were removed for good. I was told I could go home and would need to come back in two weeks for another follow up. I wasn’t to watch television, read, get on the computer, or do much of anything that involved looking at stuff for another 24 hours. I would still need to wear the Spidey shields for another two weeks at night to keep myself from accidentally rubbing my eyes in the middle of the night.

A word of advice: When you go to the post-op, bring a pair of sunglasses. Your eyes will be a lot more sensitive to light and if you don’t bring sunglasses, it might be a little difficult to see. In fact, definitely bring sunglasses to the evaluation as well. The eye drops they give you during the pre-op really open up your pupils and it can be really blinding to the point of being dangerous to drive.

So I know what you’re thinking. How soon before you were able to go about your normal activities? I was back to normal almost immediately.

In fact, after having the surgery Saturday afternoon, on Sunday evening I got on a plane and flew out to see one of my customers the next morning. Monday and Tuesday, I avoided sitting at my computer as much as I could, but my eyes were basically fine. They tended to be a little dry, but the constant regime of eye drops helped keep that feeling at bay.

I did get a little scare on Sunday, which was the day right after my surgery. I was fooling around with my younger son and he twisted quickly as I tickled him, which resulted in his shoulder going into my right eye socket. He definitely hit my eyeball a little bit because my eye hurt, but it didn’t dislodge the flap that had been cut the previous day. I think my face caught most of the blow, but that ended me fooling around with the kids for the day.

A mere nine days after the surgery, the only symptoms left to speak of were continued blood spots (see photos) in my eyes around the iris and some continued dryness. I was still using the saline drops quite a bit, but it was getting to be longer and longer time periods between doses. By the 11th day I’d forgotten the saline drops more times than I could count.

This concludes Part 2 of this series. Tomorrow, I’ll post Part 3 and you can hear about the final results from almost 3 weeks after surgery and my conclusions about the ordeal.