Under the Laser

Yesterday I went “under the laser” to correct my screwed up vision. Dr. Tony Pham over at Omaha Eye & Laser Institute must have done one hell of a job because I could read the 20/15 line this morning with no glasses or contacts.

They’re pretty clear about the risks from the first consultation until the day of surgery. I could go blind or still have to wear corrective lenses, although the risks for those are pretty small. Moments before I was admitted, they presented me with one more form to sign. Once again, it lays out every possible risk, but there was more. At the bottom of the form, there’s this line:

I understand the information presented and am willing to accept the fact that I may need glasses or contact lenses or further surgery following LASIK to achieve my best possible level of vision.

Then there’s two blank lines underneath it. The instructions say:

To assure that you have understood the information presented, please copy the following statement in your own handwriting:

So I had to write out that line, then sign the form. My wife and I disagree on the meaning of this exercise. She thinks it’s a legal issue and the fact that I had written that line means more than a simple signature. I think from a legal point of view, a signature at the bottom of the form holds as much weight as the recopying. The recopying, in my view, is the last ditch effort to manage my expectations in case I still have to wear corrective lenses. Neither of us are attorneys, however.

I showed up around 3:00 PM for my surgery and was on my way home around 4:15. First, they took my vital signs (148 over 95 but I don’t know what that means). Then they gave me a Valium and a pain killer. I sat in a recliner for about 30 minutes waiting my turn. I could hear the laser working on other people while I waited. Everyone who went into the laser room came out smiling.

Once in the laser room, I got on some sort of table between two pretty big machines. They loaded my eyes up with anesthetic drops and we were off and rolling. The first laser cut a flap in my eye. Then they put what they called a pressure ring on my eye. It was a lot of pressure on my eyeball, but it wasn’t painful. They positioned me under the second laser which reshaped my eye. This laser makes a lot of noise and produces a smell that was reminiscent of having a cavity filled at the dentists office. When I was moved out from under the second laser, I could “see” the doctor putting the flap back. Actually it was blobs of dark moving around. Once the flap was back, I could see the ceiling and at that point I knew it worked. They did the same thing to left eye and that was it.

I wasn’t nervous before surgery. I wasn’t even nervous walking into the operatory, although the Valium may have had something to do with it. On the table, my hands were folded on my stomach. A few minutes into the procedure, I noticed that my hands had a death grip on each other. I consciously relaxed and a few minutes later I noticed the death grip was back. It was a little disconcerting having all that activity that close to my eyeball.

All-in-all, it was a very pleasant experience and I’m glad I did it.

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13 thoughts on “Under the Laser

  1. Glad it worked out well. But, that’s scary stuff. Of course the success rate has climbed dramatically since the procedure was first introduced. Nonetheless…brrr…

  2. Hi Dick,

    Contgrates. I had undergone similar experience 3 years back. I was quite nervous at that time, though after the operation, I get relaxed very quickly. Till now, I haven’t experienced any major problems. Wish you the very best.


  3. Thanks for sharing that Dick.

    As a long-time myopic spectacle wearer, I have recently started to consider
    this surgery. I dabbled with lenses but to be honest couldn’t really get
    organised enough to cope with the “maintenance” – having too much beer &
    falling asleep with them in accounted for at least two sets :)

    So it’s good to see that your experience was a positive one.

    Maybe I’ll pluck up the courage yet!

  4. Congrats — please do a follow-up to let us know if other problems, e.g. “starring” when seeing headlights of oncoming cars, etc.

  5. Dick, glad that the eye procedure went well. My brother and other friends have all had great experience with it. Too, bad it doesn’t last for a lifetime though. However, the 148/95 blood pressure is much more serious than your eyesight problem. Go to a doctor and get advise, soon!

  6. Good work Roger… I was going to quip about the BP as well. Cool to hear an insider’s perspective on LASIK. I always hear the radio commercials — “Tired of not being able to see the clock in the morning??” — but never much about the procedure.

    My guess is writing out the sentence has no additional legal ramifications. Mostly expectation management I presume.


  7. Hi DK:

    Glad to hear about the positive results. Others are correct that your BP is too high, although nerves may have contributed to that reading. I had a high BP reading in law school and modified my diet a bit to bring it down.

    While not giving you legal advice here, my gut feeling as an attorney is that re-writing the sentence has no legal significance and, as you noted, likely is simple reinforcement of lowered expectations.

    See you on the golf course with your new eyes. Now you have no more “glasses” excuses for poor play. Perhaps you can blame it on elevated blood pressure.


  8. I had it done about 8-9 years ago and I’m still seeing 20/20. As a techno-geek, I was fascinated by the whole procedure. My favorite part of this is that I no longer have to worry about my glasses getting wet when it rains.

    One warning: beware of ANY procedure where the first time you meet the surgeon is when you’re lying on the operating table. That’s what happens at the cut-rate places (pun intended).


  9. Thanks for the comments. Regarding my high BP, I shan’t be going to a doctor. I don’t need to pay someone $$ to tell me I’m a fatass. That’s why I play golf with DA.

    Re cut rate places: A friend of mine told me he was going to an opthalmologist who officed in a semi-trailer parked outside of a local seafood restaurant. For USD400 per eye, he could get LASIK, as long as he qualified. I assumed that when he went to his consultation that he wouldn’t “qualify” and that most people didn’t. He did, however, and he had the procedure done on both eyes. He’s at least as happy with his outcome as I am with mine.

    I don’t care if semi-trailer doctor has done 10,000 of these with 100% success, I’m still not going to him. If he’s that good, why doesn’t he pony up the dough for an office with a foundation instead of wheels? There’s something very untoward about that situation and I’ll have nothing to do with it. Even my doctor offered me various plans at different prices. Which one did I choose? The most expensive one, that’s which. I probably overpaid, but I’d do it again. There are somethings in life that merit buying the absolute best (most expensive=best in case you weren’t aware). Eye surgery, vasectomy, and breast augmentation are three in the medical arena. Go to the free clinic for that discrete shot of penicillin, but not for your wife’s boob job.

    Other products where anything less than top of the line is not an option: pillows, vacuum cleaners, and foosball tables.

  10. So if K-Mart has a blue-light special on LASIK, I should probably ignore it?

    Dick, I would add computer monitors to your list. Well, absolute top of the line isn’t necessary, but if you’re going to buy something that you look at 6-7 hours per day, don’t scrimp.

  11. DK:

    I talked with the same guy who did the “parking lot laser”, and he remained content with the results. Of course, he typed his email using a braille adapter. (Kidding.)

    J Walk: K-Mart is not the place for a discount eye surgery. Go to Wal-Mart, where vision isn’t an issue for their low, low prices.

    DK: Do you have experience with all procedures for which you say a person should pay top dollar? Please, do tell.


  12. I don’t know whether or not this is the same everywhere as regarding signing wavers; and I am not an attorney. But in Oregon, signed wavers are not worth the paper they’re written on as it is a legal impossiblility to sign away a potential future liability. Attorneys here want every possibility to shuck anyone that may be a ‘potential future’ forty percenter…

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