Before I dive into it, just keep in mind you should always make informed decisions by speaking with an ophthalmologist and expert in this area, both of which I am not. With that out of the way, onto the details!
ARE YOU A CANDIDATE?
The first step was to see if I was even a candidate for the surgery. I had a battery of tests done (vision, pressure, dilation, size of eye, etc) so they could get an idea of the overall health of my eyes. Some reasons for not being a candidate would be not having fully developed eyes (they recommend 21+ of age), a history of disease, etc.
PREPARATION FOR SURGERY
After being confirmed as a candidate, it was time to pick a surgery date and prepare. You cannot wear contacts for 1-2 weeks. I wore my glasses for a few months beforehand because I ran out of contacts and knew I was having the procedure done. I also started a prescribed antibiotic eye drop therapy the day before surgery. Four drops a day, easy and painless.
The day of surgery you don't need to fast and you come makeup free. I went in early in the morning, wore a cap over my hair and gown over my clothes, sat in the operation chair and let the ophthalmologist do his work. It takes less than 20 minutes and you are fully conscious for the operation. He applied numbing eye drops and a contraption that would keep my eyelids open so I couldn't blink. There were two machines, one to cut the flap in my eyes, the other being the laser that would do the correction.
DOES IT HURT?
I wouldn't classify the feeling as pain nor as sensation free. The flap cutting was the most uncomfortable since the machine must apply quite a lot of pressure to the eye to cut accurately. The laser didn't hurt but it can be a bit of a psychological trip (the doctor IS slicing/burning your eyes). Also during the laser cutting, I could slightly smell my eyes burning. That was probably the craziest part of the operation for me.
I was offered anti-anxiety medication prior to surgery but refused them as I am not prone to panic attacks. If you are prone to panic attacks, have high anxiety, are so nervous you can't sit still, etc I definitely recommend you consider this option.
After the surgery, I was led out to change and for the doctor to check his work with a microscope. My vision was blurry but better than my normal vision, I would guess this part varies for everyone since my vision was pretty terrible (in the -8 range). I felt the most uncomfortable at this point. It felt as though I had a bunch of eyelashes stuck in my eye and also felt a burning sensation. I was sent home to sleep as you aren't allowed to read, look at your phone, watch tv, etc for 12 hours. I had to come back later that same day for the doctor to check his work again. So I went home, wore a special pair of goggles so that I didn't rub my eyes during my sleep, and took a nap. I woke up and could already see clearer and I no longer felt any discomfort. After seeing my doctor, I went home and was so bored! I wasn't allowed to do anything that would strain my eyes so I just conversed with my sister, listened to music, painted my nails, and went to sleep.
I am a bit over a month post op. Recovery for this surgery is amazingly fast. I could see clearer the same day as my surgery (after my nap). The next day it was even clearer. It was spectacular. There were a few instructions that I had to follow:
1. No eye makeup for 1-2 weeks.
2. No water was allowed near my eyes for a month (I had to be careful with showers, washing my face, etc).
3. I had to apply two kinds of eye drop medications in my eye four times a day. One was an antibiotic so no opportunistic bacteria would grow, the other a steroid so my own repair tissue didn't scar over and cause growths.
I also was instructed to refresh my eyes with lubricated drops once every hour to keep my eyes moist. The medicated drops lasted me around 3-4 weeks. Once I finished the bottle I didn't have to apply them anymore or renew my prescription.
The side effects I noticed for me were bloodshot eyes, dry eyes, and sensitivity during the night while driving. Right after surgery, your eyes will be very bloodshot. Due to the high pressure from the machine, the blood vessels burst. It will be like this for at least a month. I looked like a vampire! I looked terrifyingly awesome. Unfortunately I didn't capture a good pictures of my eyes when they were at their worst. But around the 2 week mark, my eyes looked like this:
Currently my eyes look normal far away but still have some slight redness. Eventually my eyes WILL be back to their normal white selves. Here is a picture from today:
The first month after surgery, my eyes got dry very easily, especially after a night of sleep. I always had a bottle of lubricated drops near my bed so I could relieve my eyes immediately after waking up. This feeling goes away after a month. Currently my eyes feel normal and I only add eye drops out of habit and because my doctor recommended for me to keep using them. As for the night vision, I can still see but some bright lights make me wince. My older sister had this procedure done around 2 years ago and she shares the same side effect of being sensitive to night vision during driving.
I highly recommend LASIK if you have been considering it and have very poor vision. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! I have been wearing contacts for over 10 years and the costs plus the upkeep always annoyed me. I never have to worry about taking anything out before I sleep, I can go swimming without worrying, I don't need to buy expensive contacts or contact solution. It takes out all the hassle!
I just had my one month check up appointment the other week and my vision is at about 20/25. This is expected since my vision was so terrible to begin with and it will take longer to level out to 20/20. I have another appointment set up at the 6 month mark where it should be stabilized. If not he will make the appropriate corrections for free. Even with my vision being at 20/25, I have not seen this crisp and clear in years! It sounds silly but I am still amazed at how great my vision is and what things I notice now.
If you guys have any more questions, feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm happy to share anything else you want to know.