Three years after LASIK eye surgery

Three years have passed since I decided I'd had enough of wearing glasses and decided to go get LASIK eye surgery done. It isn't a decision to take lightly, as anything involving pointing knives and lasers at your eyes is bound to have some risk. If you get unlucky, it could ruin your life.

Is there pain?


Which is kind of surprising as it involves knives. Yep, knives. Although the adjustment is done by laser, a small hole into your eye has to be peeled open first. Kind of like opening a container of yogurt, with one side still left a bit attached so that it can be firmly put back into place. Try Googling "PRK" or "LASEK" if you want to compare with other ways that don't involve cutting flap. They all do involve somehow getting rid of the outer layer of the eye, and some methods may take longer to heal. The reason I went with LASIK instead of these other options was simply that I live in a small town and it was available here.

They kindly agreed that I could upload a video of the surgery to YouTube. It's just a straight clinical video, no editing or explanations, straight from the DVD they gave me afterwards.

So to get back to the pain question, in my case at least, there was absolutely no pain. Before any stabby stuff happening, they put drops of a very effective anesthetic into your eye, such that you cannot feel a thing. You don't feel what is happening at all, and you cannot really see what is being done, so no feelings of disgust either. If I had to really try to think of how someone might find it uncomfortable, I guess if you had some claustrophobia then being forced not to move might disturb you, but it is over rather quickly.

I should add that just because I am prone to some anxiety, I did take a rather hefty dose of diazepam (aka valium) before the operation, just in case. I think it was a good idea, as it is probably helpful to be able to stay completely relaxed and still.

Halo effect

Unfortunately one downside has still remained, which is the halo effect. It's not a big issue, and I hear that even people with normal vision from birth can experience the same, but when you look at bright objects in the dark, a pretty strong halo will seem to appear around them.

Here you can see a picture of the letter O on a dark background. I edited it to look exactly how it looks like to me now after the surgery, seated normally in front of a 27" screen. As you can see, to me there is a bit of halo around the letter. Luckily it is not apparent at all during daytime, but at night it seems like someone turned the bloom filter on in my life's display settings.

It is never so bad that it would prevent me from doing anything, but I guess some might find it annoying. If I look at the bright moon on a dark sky, the halo can be as large as the moon itself. The halo actually isn't always completely symmetrical, but can appear a bit warped.

I can still look at a computer screen at night just the same as before. The halo only appears where a very bright spot is in a wide dark area, which is pretty rare unless you are walking outside at night. I don't do night driving, so I cannot say how much that might be affected.

Would I still go through with it?

Absolutely. Although obviously I get to say that because the operation happened to be a complete success in my case. No-one is paying me to say this, but I simply feel that the freedom of being without glasses was worth the cost and the small risk. Sometimes I forget that I ever had glasses to begin with, then smile when I remember. Mostly when I pass by shops and advertisements for glasses or contact lenses and feel glad that I don't need to shop for those any longer. Besides the cost, it's also an extra thing you have to do and think about.

I used to hunt for the best prices to get contact lenses. Now instead of paying for my vision in tiny installments (contacts and glasses) I've now prepaid it for some time to come (by getting the operation). I also had the habit of placing my glasses next to my bed absent-mindedly, then step on them in the morning and have to immediately go and buy a new pair. Not a cheap form of clumsiness for sure.

At first it was a bit strange to see myself in the mirror without glasses, but now it doesn't even occur to me. This is me now. At first I tried to find my glasses in the morning upon waking up, before realizing I no longer need them. That hasn't happened anymore.

I've had nightmares where my vision has become all blurry again. Of course this won't last forever, as when I age I will start to need reading glasses again. But I'll still be able to enjoy moving freely outside. My hobby is open water swimming, so it is especially freeing for me. Sometimes I just float on my back and enjoy being able to see the clouds.

Thanks for reading

If you want more details, I wrote another post which goes into more detail on what the operation was like. There are some days of preparations necessary, and the post explains those as well.