A little over two years ago I had my eyes lasered and it really made a difference. I was 5.5 diopters nearsighted – which means that if I didn’t know where my glasses were – I had a hard time finding them. So – being nearly blind without glasses I decided to get my eyes fixed.
The first thing was to decided where so I left a message on Craigslist and several people recommended Dr. Ella Faktorovich at Pacific Vision Institute. I went over there for a consultation and she was brilliant. I had a lot of reservations about it and beening a geek – I wanted to know every detail of how it worked. Since this was in San Francisco – I wanted to know what would happen if there was an earthquake during the procedure – and she had an answer for that too – the laser would instantly shut off if there was a tracking error.
Since I was 47 at the time I was already having vision problems focusing a different distances. If not for the fact that I was already nearsighted – I would have needed reading glasses. As you get older you lose the range of vision that you would have if you were younger. And – I learned that if I had both eyes corrected to distance vision that I would lose my superior near vision and would have to put glasses on to read.
She suggested an interesting solution though. What she suggested was to leave one eye slghtly nearsighted so that I would have a “driving eye” and a “reading eye”. Some people’s brains can handle it – some can’t. But – she wanted to try it since I was a tech and my near vision was something that was important to me.
She sent me to another eye doctor that does contact lenses and had me fitted to contacts that simulated the way my eyes would be corrected. The split vision would out very well – so well in fact that instead if a 1.5 diopter split I asked for two diopters.
I had the actual procedure done on my 47th birthday. I was given some valium to get me all doped up to where I didn’t care about anything. She also put a numbing agent and antibiotic drops in my eyes. The numbing agent was a little stinggy at first but that passed after a few seconds. 30 minutes later I was taken to the room where the procedure was to take place.
Getting your eyes lasered is an interesting process. Perhaps most people would be more comfortable not knowing exactly what they do – but not me. Basically they slice off the front of your eye – peal it back – and then they laser off the flay surface to reshape the eye the way it needs to be. The front flap is then replaced and grows back together. The entire provedure takes abut 10 minutes for both eyes.
As a patient it was very easy. It’s more comfortable than getting your teeth cleaned. But teeth cleaning is something I understand. I laid down on my back on the table under the device. I remember Ella was looking through what appeared to be a microscpoe into my eyes. My eyelids were taped open – but there was drops being applied to keep my eyes moist. I had the sensation that I could blink – but actually couldn’t. That was something I had been worried about – not being able to blink – but not a problem.
What I say was a ring of white lights (white LEDs) and a green dot on the middle. My job was to heep focused on the green dot. lla explained every step of the procedure as she was doing it. She said that the green dot was going to disappear and that I might feel a little pressure. This is where the instrument came in contact with my eye and made the cut to separate the front of my eye. She then folded it back exposing the surface. Of course – if you don’t know what’s happening – all you feel is a little pressure. You never feel anything being cut.
With the eye now having a flat surface the green dot looked like it was as big as a dime. I heard the machine making a pulsing noise as the laser shaved off tiny layers of tissue. You can’t see the laser that actually does the cutting – but I did notice a secind red traching laser that it used to guide the cutting laser. The tracking system keeps the laser on target even if you move your eye during the procedure. That only lasted mayv=be 30 seconds. Then the flap was replaced and the green dot was again a green dot.
The procedure was repeated for the other eye. It was all very comfortable – especially with the valium which makes everything ok. Aren’t drugs wonderful. After 10 minutes the procedure was over.
I got up and although I was supposed to keep my eyes closed for the most part – I took a peek – and my vision was mostly clear. Sort of like looking through the windshield during rain though. I was taken t a room where I laid down to way for a friend to give me a ride home. I fell asleep while waiting.
30 minutes later my ride came. I was led to the car but I did take some small peeks to see my way in. You’re supposed to keep your eyes shut for 4 hours after the procedure. They recommend a nap. And the Valium helps with that. I went home to bed. About 4 hours later – I woke up.
I could already see the difference. I had to put a lot of drops in my eyes. I used antibiotic drops, antiinflamatories – and general drops to keep my eyes moist. So – every hour it was eyedrops. Even worked on the computer and experimented with getting used to having the near eye and the far eye. Then I went to bed early.
The next morning I woke up and I could see all the way across the street without glasses. There was a flag in the window on the other side of the street and I could not only see the stars – but the points on the stars. It was amazing.
As someone who has warn glasses all my life and not had contacts the idea of not having glasses on was very disturbing. Especially getting in my car and driving. I had a pair of sunglasses that came with the procedure and putting those on made my face feel normal again. I’m someone who actually likes to have glasses on and not having them on was almost like being outside naked. But in time I got used to it.
Most people can’t handle a 2 diopter split though. I’m rather unusual. I think the difference is that I understand the technology and I don’t try to make both eyes see normal. I understand that things aren’t always going to appear perfect under all circumstances. I also think that my right eye is a little “lazy” and that because my left eye is so dominant that everything looks clear at a distace. Looking at things near take a little more effort – but I can read without glasses when others my age can’t.
When I drive I have driving glasses. They correct my right eye back to normal and provide some shading in the sun. I also wear the hiking. I also have some 1.25 diopter reading glasses from wallgreens ($15 for 2 pair) and some 3 diopter glasses for close work. I also had some custom glasses made for computer distance. So – I’m not glasses free. But at my age that’s is to be expected.
It’s been a big improvement. I can go swimming and check out the women. I don’t have glasses falling off or getting steamed up and not blind without them. I can see very well without being so nearsighted. There is a downside in that I have lost my super close vision – but I can put glasses on to get that back.
So – if you are in the Bay Area – or if you aren’t it’sworth flying here to have it done – Dr. Factorivich is the best. She’s considered a leader in her field and a lot of celebrities go to her to get their eyes done. She’s not cheap – $3500 – $5000 – but at the time I had the money and decided I wanted the best. And – I’m happy the way it turned out. I got the extra attention I needed to calculated the best diopter split for me.
Besides – Dr. Faktorovich is a babe. I told her the most painful part of the procedure was finding out she was already married. But – she is just the best in every way from doing it right to assuring you that you won’t be blind after it’s all over.