On Saturday I successfully underwent LASIK Eye surgery.
My eyesight was very good and never had to wear glasses…until 2009. But in Jan 2009 I went to eye clinic and was diagnosed with Myopia. The power was -1 for the right eye and 0.75 for the left. Though it was pretty less and I could do with glasses – I was very disturbed with this. I took as a insult and could not digest the fact that my eyesight has weakened.
So I decided to get LASIC eye surgery done. My friend had undergone it and got rid of glasses (power: -3.5 and -3). He explained the procedure as a simple one: ‘There are no stitches or injections – it is done in less than 1 hr. and you can go back to routine work in 1-2 days’ – that’s all!
So I went to doctor in Jan 2009 – the same day I got glasses. The doctor said, we would have to wait for 6 months to make sure that the number has stabilized….so I had no option was to wait till June 2009. (It was very difficult for me to control my stubbornness and agree to it)
Day -4 (Last week): I visited the doctor. She carried out a few tests to make sure that the surgery would suit me. The test measures thickness of cornia (which is usually 500 microns or more). The thickness has to be sufficient since the treatment involves chopping off a few microns of cornea. Fortunately the tests results were normal. So the LASIK was scheduled for the week end.
Day 0 (i.e. Yesterday): I reached clinic by 9:30 AM. No preparation was necessary – except for one eye drops that I had to put for a couple of days prior to the surgery.
Since Saturday was the only day when doctor would do LASIK, there was a long queue – I was surprised to see so many people opting for it, and was relieved a bit by knowing that the surgery has become routine now and there was nothing much to worry about.Some of the patients had come from other parts of state and India – one had flown from Chicago, since the cost of this surgery there is very high ($3000 for both eyes v/s Rs. 40,000 in India i.e. approx $800)
All of us were seated in a room. The assistant doctor put numbing drops in our eyes. The numbing drops help to make your eyes go numb, feeling heavy – so that there is no need of any anaesthesia.
The drops were put several times after a gap for 10-15 mins. Then doctor started calling each of us one by one.
Because of over-inquisitive nature I had read on the internet all about surgery – and knew exactly what I would experience and would feel. (That caused a mixed feeling – a bit of anxiety about certain procedures and a bit of comfort of not having to face any ‘surprises’)
Before my turn I was made to wear the green apron – it looks bit depressing on me. After I was called, I went into the operation theatre – 3 or four doctors were ready to welcome me with smile (You actually can’t see the smile – because their mouth is covered with the mask – but you can sense the smile)
The LASIK procedure took about 5-7 minutes per eye; off which the LASER treatment was hardly 10 sec. for each eye.
- First, they obtained informed consent with verbal explanation of what to expect and written documentation about risks of the procedure.
- Antibiotic drops, and then topical anaesthetic drops were then put into each eye
- Next, I was led to a room with a slit lamp and a purple surgical marker was used to mark the edge at two spots (3:00 and 6:00) where cornea meets sclera
- Then I was taken to the room where the Excimer Laser is kept. The procedure was carried out first on the right eye, and then the left. There was a team of 3-4 doctors.
- Doctor placed a “speculum” (a spring contraption to hold the eyelids open) on whichever eye was undergoing the procedure.
- Next, a ‘vacuum ring’
ike a suction cup) was placed over the cornea
During this time, I was lying back facing up and I was instructed to watch a green blinking light the whole time. The pressure of the suction cup increases the internal (intraoccular) pressure of the eye quite a bit. The suction cup increases the pressure to the point that blood flow ceases through the retinal artery – then you temporarily lose sight in the eye. I observed this as a PAINLESS darkening of my vision, lasting for just a matter of seconds
- During those seconds, I hear a whirling instrument that ran for a second or two. That was the “microkeratome” which cuts a thin slice of cornea, lifting a flap of the surface of the cornea I felt something painless during this on the right, but felt noting associated with the noise on the left. I must emphasize, that throughout the procedure, I felt absolutely no pain and really, I found the whole process to be easily tolerated.
- Then Doctor inspected the flap.
- The flap is a surface layer of cornea raised but that is attached to the eye at one edge.
- If the flap where avulsed (ripped free), then the doctor would suture it back on and stop the whole operation.
- If the cornea had been cut through and perforated, then you might have to wear a hard contact and hope it would heal – I was told that in such a situation, the cornea might scar to the point that you could need a corneal transplant to be able to regain clear vision. In that case, the procedure would also be stopped at that point.
- Such complications were said to occur in less than 1/10 of 1 % or less than 1 in a 1000
- As the suction cup was relaxed and the vision quickly recovered in my eye. At this point, however, the green blinking light was totally blurred and cloudy.
- Then with the flap laid back, they take a laser, which is driven by a computer program and the parameters or numbers they have entered into it. The laser passes over the inner corneal surface and vaporizes micro layers of cells to thin the cornea to the prescribed or planned thickness. This whole step seemed to require only a few seconds.
- After thinning the cornea as planned, the flap is laid back and we sit quietly for about 5 minutes, letting it ‘stick’ down. The speculum was loosened during this time but left in place to prevent blinking.
- Finally, the speculum was removed and the procedure began on the left eye. After surgery was completed on the left, plastic shields were placed over my eyes and taped to my face (to prevent me from rubbing them inadvertently).
Here is a video of complete LASIK surgery I got from YouTube:
The total cost was about INR 40,000 (i.e. approx. $800)
More about some other interesting points on LASIK later…