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Considering LASIK Eye Surgery

May 30, 2012

It has not been a great year for my eyes.  I started off the year replacing my glasses since I had an eye issue that prevented me from wearing contacts for 1-2 weeks.  I used up my eye benefits and still had to take about $300 (unplanned) out of my flex spending for the year.  The issue/infection itself required 3+ doctors visits before it was deemed completely heeled, resulting in $20-$50 in co-pays each time.

This month I ran out of contacts lenses and also got a call reminding me to come in for a check-up.  It was a light week at work, so I decided I’d take care of it right away.  I got my prescription checked, ordered new contacts, and walked out the door about $300 poorer.  I didn’t allocated that much to my HSA this year, so this is just an out of pocket expense.

Side note:  I HATE that eye doctors charge extra for  “contact lens exam”, which have never been covered under my various insurance plans.

My prescription had changed slightly, but I asked if I could still get LASIK.  Most doctors tell me I should wait until my prescription stabilizes.  If my parents’ eyes are any indication, my eyes will continue to get just a little worse each year from now until forever.  Everyone I know who has had LASIK raves about it being the best thing ever.  I don’t doubt that – but am still concerned about my ever degrading prescription.  I don’t want to do it only to be back in contacts/glasses 3- 5 years down the road!

I’m planning to get a consultation or two this fall and see what the doctors say.  Perhaps I’m not even a good candidate for other reasons, perhaps the prescription issue is bigger (or smaller) than I thought.  If I am, I’d need to know sometime in the fall in order to allocate the money for my HSA for next year.

For those of you who have had LASIK, how did you find a good LASIK doctor?  Are there any important questions to ask?  Can you point me to any good research resources?  Also, does anyone who has done it NOT recommend it?

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2012 11:47 am

    I had LASIK in January and love the results! To find a doctor, I asked my optometrist for a recommendation. UCLA was on her list, and since I’m an alumnus, I was happy to support the school by going there.

    I have a more about my thoughts on the procedure here:

    Good luck!

  2. May 30, 2012 12:50 pm

    I’m interested in hearing other people’s opinions too. My prescription keeps changing as well 😦 Drives me mad

  3. Karen permalink
    May 30, 2012 4:31 pm

    I had LASIK about a year ago. I asked my optometrist for a name…I got the dr that performed his daughter’s. The dr turned out to be pretty active in his field. I contacted one of the surgery centers that advertise on the radio but didn’t like the interaction (seemed too much about making money). Here’s a link for what to ask
    You may have to have the procedure done again anyways as your eyes age. One friend has it redone at least once (10 yrs later) plus when you’re in your 40s you will need reading glasses (the dr office kept telling me this! I thought, “Stop reminding me I’ll be 40 soon and also, just let me enjoy my contact-free vision! Haha)
    You can develop dry eyes and for some that can be painful.
    Obviously, the surgeon is the one to tell you if your eyes qualify. You also have to have thick enough corneas for LASIK however, PRK is an option if your cornea is too thin. My left one tested too thin twice but I was able to have LASIK (if your eye is not perfectly centered during the test, the reading can be off).
    I wish I had done it younger but honestly, I was scared! The thought freaks me out. I think the valium they gave me was a placebo!

    • May 30, 2012 10:15 pm

      Yeah, I knew about the reading glasses part, but my 40s are long enough away that I’m OK with that!

      A retouch? Hmmm… I think I’d be OK with that, but I just wanted want to have to go back to contacts/glasses within a short time frame (5 years or less).

  4. May 30, 2012 9:26 pm

    I did it a few years ago, BUT my prescription had not changed in *five* years. (Well the contacts had, but I hadn’t gotten new glasses lenses in five years and the laser eye surgeon measured my vision to be the same “prescription” as my glasses, which were five years old.)

    It’s been absolutely amazing. I almost forget what it was like to wear glasses/contacts now 🙂 I went to a place where I knew multiple people who had had it done and they guaranteed it for life.

    It was super super scary for the first 48 hours. But it did turn into magical vision (that’s what I called it) within a week and my vision is still 20/15, better than it ever was with contacts. I got glasses when I was in early elementary school, so I really couldn’t remember a life without them and now I can’t remember a life with them.

    • May 30, 2012 10:13 pm

      I am sure I would have done it a long time ago, but with a changing prescription, I’m still very much on the fence. Lucky you that your eyes stabilized!

      I had glasses in pre-school, so, yeah, I was really cute I’m sure. I got contacts by the time I was 12 or 13… A lifetime of eyewear!

  5. May 30, 2012 9:42 pm

    I really wanted to get it done, because I hate wearing glasses and contacts aren’t suitable (even if I could bear to put them in and out). But I’m long-sighted and was told it just wasn’t very effective for longsightedness and I’d be back in glasses in a couple of years.

    I still wish I could have it, because how awesome would it be to wake up the next day and be able to SEE? But I guess I’m reconciled to glasses now.

  6. candykey permalink
    May 31, 2012 12:32 am

    I had eye surgey from back in 2004 only about 2.5k; I had PRK which is like lasik but they scrap the flap off because it’s too thin. So recovery is slow. Took about 3 days before I could barely read computer screen. You should plan to take at least 3 days off from work. After 1 month, all was perfect better than 20/20. Before this I couldn’t even recognize people faces without glasses. Only side effect was halo on night lights which finally went away after 6 months. It’s been good ever since. No regression. No side effects. Vision is still better than 20/20 and has been stable.

  7. Rob permalink
    May 31, 2012 7:03 am

    I had it done November of 2010 just shy of being 30yrs old. Greatest decision I’ve made. My vision wasnt too bad (-3.75 contacts) but 3 days after the surgery I tested 20/10 and have tested that way ever since. No side effects, issues, or complications. I would suggest looking for a doctor with a long, great track history for obvious reasons. Although this is a PF blog, do not focus on price…pay attention to the doctor. That being said, i was able to negotiate 3yrs 0% financing on the entire cost and my health insurance knocked off 15%.

    • May 31, 2012 9:14 pm

      I definitely agree that a track record is important – I’m just wondering how to find those doctors and how to evaluate my options. The information available about each doctor seems to be self-provided.

      I guess I’ve gotten too used to buying products by comparing the various futures and user reviews, and I”m struggling to find a system to find a doctor!

  8. May 31, 2012 7:14 am

    Make sure you do your research on your doctor. In my hometown, there was a doctor who did LASIK procedures – he was busy – everyone went to him for years.

    Then there was another doctor, based in a town 2 hours away – he actually ended up opening a part time practice in my home town, 2 days a week, just to FIX all the patients of the first doctor. Unfortunately, not all LASIK problems can be fixed- my friend’s dad ended up blind in one eye due to the first doctor’s butchering.

    • May 31, 2012 9:16 pm

      Yes – do you have any suggestions on HOW one goes about researching and evaluating doctors?

      The best advice I have so far is to get a referral from my regular doctors. But while I certainly trust them to provide me with my prescriptions and such, i didn’t do any sort of critical evaluation of THOSE doctors, so how do I know if I should trust their opinions? Finding a surgeon seems like a whole different ball game than finding someone to do a yearly physical!

  9. May 31, 2012 7:04 pm

    I had LASIK done in 2009, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself.

    Definitely get a few consultations – they’re free, or they should be from a reputable doctor. They’ll do several tests to determine whether you’re a good candidate, although one of the requirements is that your prescription be stable for a period of time (depends on the exact type of surgery you’re looking at). I asked a lot of questions of the doctors I met with, including why one of them hadn’t had the surgery himself. He wasn’t eligible, and explained exactly why, which I appreciated. I also asked a lot of financial questions, and the financing ruled out one doctor entirely. They just would not take no for an answer that I wouldn’t finance the surgery – they even called me the next day to remind me that they had 0% interest for six months, despite my telling them that I would only get the surgery when I could pay cash for it. That pushiness really turned me off.

    You can also check for referrals from your health or vision insurance company – even if they don’t cover the procedure, they may have agreements with certain providers for a discount. I was able to get a 15% discount on the procedure as well as pay for it using flex spending funds for the equivalent of another 30% discount in pre-tax funds. All told, I’d say it was the best $4,500 I’ve ever spent in my life. The first moment when I glanced up and could read the clock across the room – after spending more than twenty years with glasses and contacts – that moment was amazing.

    • May 31, 2012 9:11 pm

      Thanks! I definitely plan to use flex spending, but I didn’t realize I might be able to get a discount through my insurance.

  10. belowhermeans permalink
    May 31, 2012 10:19 pm

    I have astigmatism but I’m afraid of LASIK after a friend had it and was in pretty terrible pain for two days afterward. I’m a sissy. I also love my glassesl

  11. June 4, 2012 11:45 am

    ugh these comments make me want to get it.

    My eyes aren’t terrible (-2.5) and my prescription has been pretty stable.. I notice my eyes are worsening slightly but it’s been nearly 2 years since I last saw the optometrist so this is definitely the longest they’ve gone without changing.

    I’m really worried about them botching the job though. I think it’s risking a lot but it seems soooo worth it.

  12. kristin permalink
    June 4, 2012 1:26 pm

    Honestly, if your prescription is still changing, I’d wait. I had it done in 2006. At the time, my prescription had been stable for 3 years. By late 2008, I was back in glasses to drive and watch tv. I wear contacts all the time now. My prescription is much lower now, but it’s still frustrating. Yes, I can get a retouch done. However, it’s a different surgery that doesn’t have the same instant results as the original surgery, and since my Rx is still changing, I’d likely be in the same boat in a few years. Also, depending on the thickness and health of your cornea, a retouch can usually only be done once, if at all.

    I don’t regret getting my surgery because I went from -6.75 contacts to -1.75 now. At least I can walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without running into a wall 🙂

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