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My Odyssey With LASIK Surgery

Seeing the Light


Next, plastic bubbles were placed over my eyes and taped to my face, making me look like a giant insect. I was told to sit or lie in the waiting room and keep my eyes closed. That was a little difficult because I was anxious to see if I could see, and eager to get home. Before I left, the nurse gave me a little cosmetic-type bag with postoperative instructions, three kinds of eye drops, and wraparound sunglasses. I was instructed to keep the bubbles on except when I was putting the drops in, and at night. I asked if I could drive myself back the next day for my first follow-up; yes, I was told, if I felt like it.

As a friend drove me home, I found as forewarned that my eyes were very light sensitive, but that wasn't unusual for me. Once home, I fed my dogs and let them out, then went to bed, dozing on and off. This was to be my position for the next three days.

Yes, you guessed it: I was not having the miraculous, instantly perfect eyesight experience that some ads for laser eye surgery proclaim. I do know several people who say they walked out of the procedure with greatly enhanced sight and never had any trouble.

The morning of the second day, I started to drive in for my follow-up appointment, but after about two blocks I realized that my eyes were so light sensitive and my vision so blurry, the 25-mile trip was impossible. I went home and got a friend to drive me there.

By New Year's Day, things had not improved much, and I was getting scared. I talked by phone with the ophthalmologist on call, who said that things sounded normal, but that he'd be happy to look at me. I got another friend -- one of those for whom LASIK had been an instant success -- to drive me to the hospital.

The exam turned up nothing seriously wrong. The doctor put a pressure patch over the eye that was giving me the most trouble and told me to leave it on overnight. By morning it was much improved, but not to the point that my vision was as good as it was pre-LASIK.

The next morning, five days after surgery, I saw Cavanagh for another follow-up. He declared me healing well and 20/40 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. That day I tried to do some work, but my vision was still blurry. I had to hunch over and almost press my face against the computer screen to read it.

The following evening, Jonathan Davidorf, MD, medical director of the Davidorf Eye Group and a clinical instructor at UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, returned my call. (I'd previously interviewed him for a story.) I didn't tell him my post-surgery progress but asked him to describe a typical recovery process for someone with farsightedness with astigmatism. His narrative exactly chronicled what I was experiencing; this made me much more confident of the final outcome. He said it could take as long as three months for my eyes to completely stabilize, and that sometimes, further correction is necessary.

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