Lasik Doesn’t Work For Everybody
Clear Channel radio stations sure have cornered the market on repetitive mantra advertising. It doesn’t matter if I listen to a rock, alternative, or pop stations they all have their list of products that each & every DJ swears by a minimum of three times an hour. Remember the now defunct Body Solutions which touted weight loss simply by drinking a capful of aloe vera before bedtime? Oh it might have worked IF you made sure that you didn’t eat anything several hours before bedtime either. I was surprised anyone was naive enough to buy the product, but DJs swore by it up until the moment advertising dollars stopped rolling in.
Now the marketing machine has gotten behind Lasik surgery. I’m not bothered much by celebrity endorsements; what really ticks me off are the local radio endorsements:
“I went to Dr. So&So and he was great. The procedure was totally painless, I had no complications and I had 20/20 vision that same evening. I know some people are worried about the risks associated with Lasik, but it’s really a common procedure now. My life is soooooooo much better after Lasik.”
Let’s get one thing straight, LASIK SURGERY IS NOT ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR A HAPPY WELL-ADJUSTED LIFE. Do yourself a favor if you’re thinking about taking the plunge go read the horror stories at Lasik Disaster & Surgical Eyes. Some might argue there’s only a small percentage of folks that have experienced complications, well consider me part of the minority. Take a look at that eye chart. The right side is how I view the world EVERYDAY. Here are more examples of how Lasik has “improved” my vision.
I received the Lasik procedure in January 2002. Ever since the idea of surgical correction was introduced on the TV show That’s Incredible back in the early 80’s I often thought of a time when I might not need glasses. Mind you I only considered surgery as I have never have been able to wear contacts. Allergic conjunctivitis was a reoccurring problem no matter the brand of lenses or changes in technology. Eventually I came to accept glasses until the onset of Lasik advertising in late 90’s. That coupled with the hindrance of wearing glasses while I went jetskiing made the procedure worth considering. There were several people I knew that had the procedure done. And when I finally made my decision I waited another year after a friend had his surgery just so I could see his progress.
I eventually made an appointment where I could get my laundry list of questions out of the way. The biggest concerns for me were how my allergies would be affected, should I be worried about my pets and what were the chances of complications. After running a barrage of tests I met my ?counselor? in a small windowless room. It was rather sterile and uninviting, but I expected no less from a doctor?s office. The counselor was perky and very anxious to answer all my questions. In fact, she had an answer for everything. I should have seen this as a warning sign. After conversing for about 20 minutes I watched a video about the operation while I flipped through a brochure written by the surgeon who would be doing my procedure.
After the orientation process I felt pretty good, albeit undecided, about having the surgery done. I decided to sleep on it before scheduling any surgery. The doctor?s office made a follow up call the next morning to let me know that I could have my surgery done that week. There was even a discount if I could rearrange my schedule to fit the opening. Discount? Well how could I pass that up? After talking with Michelle and talking some more with my coworkers I decided to schedule the appointment.
The day of the surgery I was pretty nervous. I had a nine `o clock appointment and looked forward to some downtime from work while I recuperated for the day. There was no way I could have foreseen the problems that would arise after the procedure. There was slight discomfort while the laser was applied, but my concentration was focused on not moving as I did not want my incompetence contributing to any mishaps. I was glad that the surgery seemed to go relatively pain free.
After the surgery Michelle drove us home and it was approximately an hour later that the problems surfaced. Goggles were placed over my eyes to protect them and I was told to keep them closed and sleep as much as possible that day. However, shortly after arriving home I had extreme pain in both eyes. For a moment I thought something was horribly wrong, perhaps I had torn both cornea flaps off somehow? Michelle called the doctor?s office and we immediately went back.
They made us wait 30 minutes after we arrived before anyone saw us. My surgeon did not come speak with us; instead we spoke to a resident. He informed me my eyes appeared to have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic they used and they would attempt to reduce the swelling with a saline rinse. I thought the pain could not be anymore excruciating. I was wrong. After the rinse they disappeared for another twenty minutes. The resident came back and informed me the swelling had not gone down. They would have to inject a steroid in my eyes to reduce the swelling then they would put protective contacts in to hold the flap in place. Yay, a needle in my eye. I was so very happy with my decision at this point. While the pain finally subsided I was by no means comfortable.
We took another trip home, this time with some sleep aids. I rested most of the afternoon. I was told my vision would be spotty given the plastic lenses in my eye. I attempted to watch TV that evening, but it only gave me a headache.
The next morning we returned to the doctor?s office. They removed the lenses and it appeared the swelling was gone. I was told that my vision should fluctuate over the next few days, but by week?s end it would be a sharp 20/20. I did not return to work as some personal circumstances called Michelle & I out of town for the week.
Over the course of the week I noticed my vision did not seem to be getting better. My night vision was extremely poor and I saw rays and starbursts from any light source my gaze drifted upon. My vision seemed to be at its best during the day in the brightest light, but I noticed everything I looked at seemed to have a haze around it. I was told to expect changes to my vision during the healing process, but I still had a bad feeling about what was happening.
It was not until we returned to the doctor?s office that I realized I was in trouble. I complained about the problems I was having with my vision and immediately the resident became defensive. “Nothing to worry about, you?ll be fine“ he quipped with no notable enthusiasm. I was very specific in my complaints. I had no night vision and I did my best to explain the halo that surrounded everything I looked at. I was assured by the resident and a couple of nurses that these problems would go away soon. Soon never happened.
For the next nine months I raised the same concerns with the doctor?s office. Along the way I came down with conjunctivitis an average of twice a month caused in part by an increased sensitivity to allergies. I could now add steroid eye drops to my list of daily medications. In nine months of treatment I only saw my actual Lasik surgeon twice; once during my procedure and again at my three month checkup. The rest of my visits became routine. I would come in, voice my complaints, be assured that my eyes were healing quite nicely and we would see how I was improving the next appointment.
I realized that the doctor no longer was concerned about my situation if he ever had been. I decided to pursue my legal options and after visiting four other doctors and quite a few attorneys it became apparent I was in a losing situation. I was told that a case would be difficult because I had chosen elective surgery and the doctor had me sign a number of wavers. As only one doctor out of five even acknowledged I had a problem my case would be a long shot at best. I was advised to consider the fifth doctor?s opinion (which meant more surgery) and perhaps my vision would improve. Ultimately, unforeseen changes in my insurance kept me from pursuing the matter any further.
Make no mistake I accept that I made the decision to have the surgery done. But I won’t accept the post-op care provided by my surgeon’s practice nor will I accept the frat boy loyalty the Lasik community favors over patient treatment. According to the Lasik community I have 20/40 vision. This doesn’t reflect the quality of vision (or rather lack of). I will always have double vision, my night vision sucks, and I mentally block out the pain of sitting in front of my computer monitor for extended periods of time. Once again those Lasik info sites are Lasik Disaster & Surgical Eyes.
If you read this far, thanks for hanging in there. I’ve been needing this rant for a long time.