iLASIK: A Patient’s Perspective
Adam Stelzer, O.D.
I cannot believe it has been over 5 years since my iLASIK surgery in June 2009. In some ways it feels a lot longer since the thought of putting in contacts or reaching for my glasses seems like a distant memory. In other ways it feels like I just had it done because I still can’t believe the incredible clarity of my vision and the freedom I feel every day. Although I was only a mild myope of about -2.50 OU before the surgery the impact to my daily life has been anything but mild.
I had the same difficulties with contacts a lot of our patients do including dryness and decreased wear time due to discomfort. I also did not like wearing my glasses all the time, since I enjoy a lot of physical activities outside of work. The most difficult part of the whole process was staying out of my contacts for 2 weeks to allow my corneas to stabilize. I was ready to get the surgery over with just for this reason alone!
The pre-operative evaluation was just like any other comprehensive examination I had before except for the 24 hour dilation which I hope I won’t have to experience again anytime soon. The most important part of any refractive surgery is intense scrutiny of the corneal measurements and ocular health. Our resident doctor at The Laser Center of Coral Gables performed my examination and I reviewed my corneal scans with her. Thankfully, I was an excellent candidate and safe to have the procedure.
The day of surgery finally arrived and I have to admit I was a little bit nervous. This was mostly due to my personality, but also a little bit because of my knowledge of every possible rare complication. I reminded myself what I tell all patients: LASIK is an extremely safe calculated risk that has much less likelihood of serious complications compared to a lifetime of contact lens wear. With that mindset and a little valium I was good to go.
The actual procedure was a breeze. Less than one minute per eye for the Intralase laser to create the flaps and less than one minute per eye for the custom Visx excimer laser to reshape my corneas. The most “interesting” part was actually having the flaps lifted since I knew what Dr. Aran was doing and I have the coolest photos to document the whole thing. None of the surgery was painful or uncomfortable at all. Before I knew it I was out of the surgery suite resting. After about an hour I decided to test my vision and I couldn’t believe I was already making out the 20/20 line!
The first night I tried to keep my eyes closed as much as possible to allow the flaps to heal in-between the antibiotic and steroid drops. The next morning was a truly awe inspiring moment when I opened my eyes and it seemed like I was wearing my contacts it was so clear. Words can’t describe how it feels to have a five minute procedure take away years of blurry vision. I could only imagine what a higher myope must feel. I now understood the post-op euphoria all of the patients I have examined had felt.
The very first day after surgery I was a seeing 20/15 in each eye and I haven’t looked back since. A few weeks of artificial tears and my eyes felt like they did before the surgery. I sometimes wish I would have had the surgery sooner since I now know firsthand how amazing it truly is. But, I am glad I waited to have Dr. Aran as my surgeon and the accuracy of the iLASIK procedure.
The safety and precision of iLASIK, with 10 times safer flap creation compared to a microkeratome and 25 times more accurate vision correction versus contacts or glasses, makes all the difference. I can tell you from a first had experience, not only as a refractive optometrist, but also as a patient that it is a truly revolutionary procedure that has given me and millions of other patients the freedom from corrective lenses and the ability to enjoy life without visual restrictions.