Last year I got LASIK and wrote a Yelp review on my LasikPlus Center. Since then, a number of people have messaged me out of the blue because they saw my review and wanted to ask more questions about my experience. I figure if I jot down my experience in detail here, I can reference this post in the future.
My reasoning for getting LASIK
I graduated with my masters last May 2016 and had a Europe trip planned for May/June. I wasn’t scheduled to start my full time job until August so I started thinking about getting the LASIK procedure in July. I’ve needed glasses/contacts for most of my life (~15 years +) so waking up and putting on glasses or contacts was deeply ingrained into my daily routine. I always figured that I would get LASIK at some point but I seriously started considering it for a number of reasons. I hated wearing glasses because they felt heavy on my face and constantly slipped down my flat Asian nose. They gave me headaches after awhile and made it difficult for me to drive during the day and night due to glares on the lenses and not having sharp peripheral views. Contacts had been my go-to for years but my astigmatism had started making it difficult to focus on screens. I tried contacts that correct astigmatism for awhile but they were weighted lenses that made it difficult for my eyes to breathe after 5-6 hours of wear. Since my job (really, most jobs) was going to require me to stare at a computer screen for at least 8 hours a day, I felt that I needed to at least consider other options like LASIK. Also, since my eyesight had not changed in years and I am in my mid-20s, my regular eye doctor told me I would be a good candidate.
I went in for a free consultation at the Atlanta LasikPlus Vision Center on Galleria Pkwy. It was recommended that contact lenses are not worn for 3 days prior to the examination so I complied (though supposedly it is fine if that is not possible). After running some tests, the optometrist Dr. Anjali Patel determined that I was eligible for the procedure. I was given the option of getting LASIK done the same day (the ophthalmologist/surgeon Dr. Eugene Smith was in the office and performing the procedure that day) but I opted not to do so. I scheduled my procedure for 3 weeks later. It was recommended that contact lenses are not worn for 3-5 days prior to the surgery, and because I’m crazy careful, I complied and only wore glasses for the 5 days leading up to the procedure. My surgery was on a Thursday morning at 7:15am and headed home about 60-90 minutes later. Most of the time was spent going through paperwork and understanding post-operative care. The actual surgery took less than 15 minutes. After that, I went home and napped. The next day I had a 24 hour check up, and then a 2 week, 3 month and a 1 year check up (I haven’t had my 1 year check up yet though).
Why I went with LasikPlus
A multitude of reasons. After my free consultation at LasikPlus, I actually scheduled another free consultation at the Atlanta Joffe Medicenter. I wanted a second opinion and to see what other options/pricing/etc. is offered elsewhere. My LasikPlus experience was unexpectedly amazing (you can read more about it on the Yelp review) but my Joffe experience in terms of the people I interacted with was just fine in comparison. The main reason why I went with LasikPlus is that on the off-chance that I need a re-treatment in the future, there is a lifetime guarantee provided by LasikPlus. This guarantee means that if my eyes ‘go bad’ anytime in the future and I need LASIK again, I can get the procedure done again for ‘free’ (in quotes because LasikPlus is more expensive upfront because of the lifetime guarantee). Joffe does not provide this same guarantee. Instead, if a re-treatment is needed again after a year, the procedure cost is discounted (how much I cannot remember). I’ve been told that the chance of needing a re-treatment is somewhere around 10% though so it’s all about weighing the pros and cons and figuring out what’s important to you. Since I’m a worry wart, I felt more secure going with a lifetime guarantee. Also another note to consider, there are only 4 Joffe locations in the US while there are over 50 LasikPlus locations. In the event that I need a re-treatment but I have moved to another city that does not have a nearby Joffe center , I’d have to pay for the trip to Joffe on top of the discounted procedure price. FYI though, I only looked into LasikPlus and Joffe because these were the most popular and best reviewed centers in Atlanta based on my research. (Should also note that Jake’s brother successfully had his LASIK surgery done at LasikPlus and recommended the place to me.) There are a number of other options available though that might be worth looking into!
LASIK Procedure Options, Costs, and Discounts
Not all LASIK is the same. There are a variety of procedures available. The main two are LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). You can read more about the differences here as I’m by no means qualified to provide medical knowledge about anything to anyone. Really though, the doctor at your consultation is the one who can actually determine whether 1) you can even get LASIK based on the state of your eyes and 2) what procedure is best for you. I was recommended LASIK which is what I went with BUT EVEN THEN there are different LASIK options. I was quoted $1826.65 per eye or $3653.30 total with the “Wavelight Optimized LASIK” procedure and $1395 per eye or $2790 total with the “VISX Star S4” procedure. (Note that these prices are after a 15% discount for having insurance.) I honestly am not too sure what the exact differences are in these 2 procedures.. From what I gather, the more expensive one is the latest and greatest and has better technology. It also decreases the chance of experiencing night vision issues like glares or halos. Again, you have to weigh the pros and cons and figure out what you value. For me, I had no hesitations about paying for the best procedure possible because eyes are very very very important. Also, the price will vary from person to person as I believe costs take into account how bad your eyes are. Mine were -4 and -5 (nearsighted) with astigmatism. Don’t forget to ask for the insurance discount as well as a discount for paying in full if that is an option for you. There are payment plans available but I did not opt for that. In the end, I paid ~$3400 in total after the 15% insurance discount and a 5% discount for paying in full.
I hope this is obvious, but you need someone to drive you home. Although I could kind of see immediately after the procedure, there was no way I could have driven. All post-LASIK care instructions are provided by the staff both verbally and written. They spend time making sure you know what you’re supposed to do to take care of yourself. There are prescription and over-the-counter preservative free eyedrops that you need to have ready the day of so I picked them up a week beforehand. (Note that there is a coupon of some sort that LasikPlus provided me for a discount on one of the prescription eyedrops. Use it!!) The cost of all the eyedrops was something like $50? I used the prescription eyedrops as directed and the preservative free eyedrops as recommended and needed (which at times was every half hour to an hour). You’re supposed to be able to drive yourself to the 24 hour check up appointment but I really didn’t feel up to it so I had a friend drive me. I was fine to drive the following day though. As mentioned earlier, there are other post-operative appointments at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year. You need to schedule and go to all of these, otherwise your lifetime guarantee is void. For the first several nights, you need to wear protective eye shields that you tape onto your face while you sleep (provided by LasikPlus). This is to prevent rubbing your eyes. In fact, you’re not supposed to let anything touch your eyes as they’re healing over the next week or so. I didn’t wear any eye makeup for a week. When I showered, I even wore sunglasses to prevent water from accidentally getting in my eyes. In retrospect, maybe this was overkill. Whatever. My eyes were definitely very dry the first 2-3 weeks and I needed the preservative free eyedrops every couple hours for a good ~2 months or so. The dryness subsided though after 3 months and these days (10 months since the procedure) I only use eyedrops maybe 1-2 times a week. As for light sensitivity, my eyes were VERY sensitive to the light the first month (indoor fluorescent light was pretty irritating) but subsided after that. I’ve noticed that my eyes are currently more sensitive to light compared to before I got LASIK but I just turn down the screen brightness at work and wear sunglasses when it’s sunny outside. Not a problem at all.
What’s it like and did it hurt?
It didn’t hurt yay! Prior to the procedure, the doctors gave me numbing eyedrops that are painless and work almost immediately. (In fact, they use these drops during the free consultation.) Then they use a device to suction cup my eyeballs in place. Sounds scary but also reassuring that I wouldn’t be able to accidentally move my eyes around during the procedure. They sat me down at one machine and that was the beginning of the procedure. So yes, you are awake and aware of what’s going on the whole time. The first machine cut the flaps on my eyes (LASIK specific step). I was then led to a second machine which was freaky because my vision at that point was wonky. It kind of looked like I was underwater. The second machine actually does the laser correcting/shaping of the eyes. The freakiest part of that was smelling my eyeballs being burnt (probably not the most technical description but whatever). Obviously, I recommend trying to relax, but I certainly wasn’t able to. I’ve heard that some patients are given something for their anxiety but I’m not sure. Anyway, none of this physically hurt at all. When I went home, I took a long nap with my protective eye shields and woke up to some mild discomfort. It felt like there was sand in one of my eyes. I could certainly see but my vision wasn’t sharp. By the 24 hour check up though, I had almost perfect vision in both of my eyes and the discomfort went away over the next couple of days. You can read about the details of my check ups and freakouts on Yelp.
- I will say it was weird that the entire process seemed very commercialized to me, almost as if it’s no big deal. When I went in for my consultations, the doctors at each center confirmed that I was eligible for LASIK by enthusiastically congratulating me as if I won something. The staff talked about the procedure very casually like it’s not a big surgery. I guess since LASIK is elective and done so often that maybe it’s not a huge deal to them? Just thought I would point this out.
- I was definitely concerned that I would go blind. However, the doctors all reassured me that there’s pretty much no chance of this happening. The real worst case scenario is that LASIK doesn’t work and you’ll have to continue your life with glasses/contacts.
- Do your own research. Only you can know what’s best for you. Of course your doctor can weigh in on that as well, but you need to make the decision for yourself. Research the procedure online, check the credentials of the doctor and the clinic, look at what treatment options work for you, compare prices and guarantees/warranties, don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions during your consultation(s), shop around etc.
- If you decide to go to LasikPlus, drop my name as a referral! This doesn’t benefit you…but I’ll receive a gift card of some sort. If you don’t though, that’s cool too! I recommend this place regardless.
- Also, I have 20/20 and 20/15 (better than 20/20) vision and I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary of having the procedure done. Getting LASIK is life changing in the most subtle of ways. At first it’s really weird that you wake up in the morning and have perfect vision. It doesn’t take long though to adjust and forget that life wasn’t always as awesome as it is now. This was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I hope this post helps someone in their LASIK journey!