Well, I’ve recently made the financial and psychological commitment to getting LASIK surgery back around September long weekend. It is something that I had always wanted to do since I was a child as I had been unluckily sporting glasses since grade 2. I had a very bad experience with hard contacts as a child in gr 4/5, and thus did not try soft lens until really last year. I still didn’t enjoy wearing them as my eyes would get dry easily and it would cause discomfort.
I was scared about the slim chance of failure and complications but was more eager to get it however after a close friend of mine, Adrienne, got the surgery about half year ago. In a sense she was my guinea pig to prove to me personally that it IS in fact safe.
On choosing which type of surgery and also which surgeon, I had a lot of difficulty in narrowing my choices down, especially on the latter. I found that there weren’t many opinion reviews or really much scientific details online either. So I decided to document my experience as maybe it can be helpful to others.
Firstly there were 3 different types of surgeries available for me (please read up on each type in further details as linked as my details are probably not extremely accurate nor scientific)
- LASIK – The most common/basic one where they use a laser to cut a flap on your cornea to lift up, and then another laser to do the vision correction. Usually you recover in a few days, can potentially go back to work and drive the next day.
- PRK – Instead of a flap, laser is used to take away a top layer before vision correction is performed. This method takes longer recovery time; about a week, so usually LASIK is recommended first if possible. PRK is usually suggested if you have issues like eye dryness or thin cornea making you unsuitable for LASIK.
- SMILE – I don’t believe this is offered at all clinics and I had only heard about it from my consultation at Herzig. It uses a small incision to remove corneal tissue from a deeper section of the cornea so it does less damage to the corneal nerves compared to the first 2. This is also a newer generation of laser surgery.
My first clinic of choice was Bochner Eye Institute given it’s close proximity in Markham. They allowed me to book a time slot for surgery without any down payment required – so why not, I did. Bochner was definitely a well known clinic however the one thing I was worried about is that the doctor doing my consultation told me my eye was a bit dry and that on surgery day if it was too dry I would have to change to do PRK instead. That made me really nervous because I was unsure whether or not LASIK was really best for me. I didn’t want to just be borderline suitable. However, they did recommend me to use lubricating drops every day up to surgery day to keep my eye more moisturised pre-surgery.
My second clinic of choice was Herzig Eye Institute which I was told is the best in Toronto by a few people, and upon searching surgeon rankings, Dr. Herzig was ranked #2 (in Canada? I forget). But definitely higher than the other doctors I was contemplating between. I didn’t like my consultation at all because I was there for about 2 hours and the actual time spent doing any testing and consulting was only about 15 minutes. However, I did like the fact that they did more testing on my eye compared to Bochner which made me feel that they were at the least more aware of my eye’s situation. They performed the pupil dilation test which Bochner didn’t. Anyway, they recommended LASIK (or SMILE) to me too and commented that they didn’t notice any dryness of eyes – though likely because of the drops I’ve been using.
The third clinic I had originally booked a consultation for was with Crystal Clear Vision which my friend Adrienne did PRK with (over Bochner) because she felt their customer care and service was better. Unfortunately for me (or for them) they made it very difficult for me to book any appointment with them at a decent time so I had ended up paying my down payment as required with Herzig before the consultation date. From researching though, their laser equipment did seem to perform a bit better in the few studies I could find.
Reasons why I chose Herzig
- More reputable overall from my peers
- I liked how they had performed more detailed testing in my consultation
- Was cheaper compared to Bochner (although no lifetime guarantee, only 3 years for regression)
- Got a referral discount through a colleague
- They seemed more advanced given they had the next generation technology available while other clinics didn’t
I didn’t choose SMILE in the end even though that was the one the consultation doctor recommended most as she said it would cause less dryness post surgery and also a faster healing process. However, I had a feeling she was just selling that to me because it costed more ( and my referral would also be unable to apply towards SMILE). I did some research on SMILE with the limited studies available and I chose LASIK because SMILE just seemed a little too new for my comfort and the machine did not have as good of an eye movement tracker; it was also a less automated surgery. I’m glad I went with LASIK because I moved my right eye a lot during the process and that eye tracking was well needed.
Pre-Surgery: Not much to note pre-surgery, only thing was you have to stop wearing soft contacts about a week prior to surgery date. And on the day of/ day prior to stop using any creams and make up.
Day 1 – Surgery Date: At Herzig we did some re-testing to make sure I’m still compatible for LASIK and then measuring for my prescription so the machine can be customised for surgery on my eye. This is done by another doctor/assistant, but right before surgery Dr. Herzig does a final confirmation on the details and he does the surgery himself too with assistance of 2 others. A mild sedative is given to us prior to calm our nerves (but I found myself acutely awake during the surgery nonetheless and very aware of what was going on) and anaesthetic eye drops are given so you don’t feel the pain on your eyeball as they move the cornea flaps. However, I have to admit on one eye it hurt more than the other when they used a suction cup to prop my eye open.
The process itself was very fast and kind of started before I was expecting it. They quickly opened the flaps of both eyes one at a time and then performed the laser correction. During the flap opening you do see blackness for about 10-20 seconds due to the suction cup. I had trouble keeping one of my eyes still for the correction part, but the machine is made (and/or someone is watching very very closely too) to turn off when your eye strays too far and then it just continues again after when stable. I was really worried that this would cause undercorrection but I think this is still a common enough occurrence because neither of the doctors seemed worried at all.
After 15 minutes post surgery, Dr. Herzig does some final check up on the eye and I was free to go. We also got a little bag of all the drops, eye shields and sunglasses we would need to use for the next week. Instructions were luckily told to me prior to the surgery.
The ride home was hard as it felt like my eyes were burning probably as the anaesthetics had worn off and my eyes were extremely squinty. Vision was also quite hazy and my nose was extremely stuffy. I was worried that this would be how I would feel for a good few days. However, by mid afternoon after a nap once I got home, (I did my surgery at 10:30am) I could basically see quite well and all those discomforting symptoms subsided!! But I refrained from looking at electronics very much. When I got home I also noticed the whites of my eyes were super red due to the pressure the eye suction caused – unfortunately was told it will take weeks to completely go away.
Day 2 – 1 day check up: Check up was with another doctor and not with Dr. Herzig himself. He just looked at my eyes to see if the cornea and the flap was healing well – he said they were! And we did some reading on the charts. I was worried because I knew I couldn’t read/see as well with my right eye compared to the left (obviously extra worried because I moved my right eye more during the process), but he seemed not worried at all and said that my reading and healing was pretty good compared to others already for a first day after and that over time it should get more and more clear.
Day 7 – 1 week check up: Check up was very quick just reading the eye charts to see up to which row I was able to read up to. Left eye was still probably a bit better (honestly no clue if my guesses on the letters are even correct most of the time), but the doctor said my right eye had improved since the 1 day check. And that both eyes were pretty close to 20/20 – I was too happy to hear this to really ask for the actual prescription since I figured they are still expecting changes/improvements as they are refraining from really telling me either. Consistent lubricating drops were recommended.
I went back to work on post surgery Day 5 and while at home I’m completely fine without sunglasses, it did feel extremely bright at work given the fluorescent office lighitng, glass windows, and computer screens. However, I did find that this feeling faded as each day passed.
Day 30 – 1 month check up: Check up again was quite quick just reading the eye chart and quick peek at my eyes to check the flap was intact properly. I’m told my prescription for both eyes was 0.25. Basically very close to 20/20 but not exactly perfect. I personally wanted completely perfect just in case of any regression, but 0.25 is pretty darn close and who knows maybe it will get slightly better over time.
The dryness of my eye and sensitivity towards light (mostly computer screens) faded over the weeks as did the redness/bruising in the white part of my eye. It’s only occasionally slightly dry when I’m working and at those times I’ll put in some eyedrops as recommended. I started from having to put eye drops in every hour or other hour, to now just a few times a day when it feels bothersome. Don’t really have any issues with vision, only sometimes at work when my eyes feel tired or dry do things get a bit blurry – which is only noticeable when you’re trying to read small text/numbers not objects. No issues with driving at night either, and no halos.