Everything from cost, what to expect at every stage, and random stuff you never wanted to know about Lasik!
Before I get started, let me just say having my Lasik done on the Feast of St. Lucy (patron Saint of blindness) was one of the coolest Catholic things…EVER! Yes, I’m a rad-trad Catholic nerd and proud of it!
Also, if you are truly considering Lasik, I’m happy to talk to you about it and Dr. Jani. He was great (more on that below). Honesty check: there is a referral program, but I don’t care if you drop my name or not. This is about my experience and simply answering the tons and tons of questions I’ve received over the last couple weeks.
Honestly, I was tired of smudges and constant wiping. I was tired of fogged glasses every time I cooked or walked outside. I really couldn’t stand my frames constantly falling off my face or pushing my glasses back up the bridge of my nose every second. But, most important, I just wanted to be able to see.
Having only known glasses for my entire life, I got used to the morning blindness, shower blindness, swimming blindness, and every other instance of my life where I could not wear glasses. It was annoying! There were times—a lot of times—where I just wanted to open my eyes and be able to see. No fog, no sweat streaks, no smudges. Now, I can! It’s a miracle!
Dr. Jani and Vista Eye Specialists (VES)
4 out of 5 stars. Okay, that doesn’t sound like I’m 100% satisfied, but I am, so let me clarify…
Dr. Jani and Dee (the procedure nurse) are both 10 stars! They were fantastic, especially Dee. Dr. Jani took a ton of time at all my appointments to answer questions from both Andrew and I, make sure I was a-okay with everything, and clarify every part of the procedure and afterwards. I never felt rushed. He really did take the time to explain everything.
During the procedure Dr. Jani had constant communication. It was incredibly reassuring to have ongoing verbal cues: everything from “here’s what is happening;” to “now get ready for this;” and the continual “keep holding, keep holding, okay you’re done!”
Dee deserves huge props too. She was very calming before the procedure! Dee made sure to re-answer any questions, explain every step in detail, and literally held my hand before, during, and after. The woman is a rock!
So, why not 5 stars? Well, the office staff of VES could use a touch more training in terms of customer service. If you go with Dr. Jani, you’ll be super happy with his demeanor, abilities, etc. However, be prepared to wait…for a long time. His office is extremely busy, which indicates to me he’s very good at his job. BUT, that appointment time you scheduled is about 30-40 minutes before you actually go back. I’m an “on time” kind of gal, so this greatly perturbed me.
Also, there were a couple of instances of staff flubs: 1) staff didn’t schedule an appointment Dr. Jani requested (he worked me in anyway because he needed to check my eyes one last time before my procedure); 2) a prescription for my drops wasn’t called in (not a huge issue because I caught it well in advance of my procedure and sent a message requesting them); 3) the receptionist didn’t confirm an appointment (you get a recorded message for appointment confirmations, but it played before my message system picked up, so all I got was Dr. Jani’s phone number; I called and they didn’t seem to understand the issue. It took a few tries to get them to give me my appointment time, and then the receptionist hung up on me).
There it is: love Dee and Dr. Jani, but a few issues with staff and wait times. Other than that, I wish the procedure had been local, rather than driving to Richmond. It was a bit of work for Andrew to move court to drive me, but it all worked out.
Overall, I’d absolutely recommend Dr. Jani for anyone considering Lasik. Seriously, give me a call or email if you’re considering Lasik.
Before, During, and After the Procedure: What to Expect
Before is pretty simple. Expect a comprehensive eye exam with all the bells and whistles. Make sure you bring glasses (or contacts). Be prepared to read lots and lots of letters on walls. You’ll most likely have your eyes dilated. I prefer a driver when that happens, but that is me. You should also consider having another person present (I picked Andrew) to make sure you ask all your questions and keep tabs of any notes you have. You’ll sign a bunch of papers if you agree to Lasik, and it is helpful to have your 2nd read them over and help you find the line…because your eyes are dilated!
You will also get a fancy goggle and sunglass kit. Okay, it is not fancy, but it did just cost you $4,000, so don’t lose it! Practice wearing the goggles, and make sure you bring the sunglasses to your procedure.
Confirm everything. Appointments, drops, prescriptions, procedure place and time. Get it all in writing. You are considering taking a laser to your eyes and signing papers whilst dilated. You’ll definitely want to review everything once you can read again and have a moment to slow down.
I haven’t worn contacts in about 20 years, so this wasn’t an issue for me, but I got the impression that contacts and Lasik are a bit different than just glasses. If you wear contacts, be sure to let them know and be crystal clear on when you should STOP wearing your contacts before your procedure.
Leading up to the exam, make sure you’ve purchased all your prescription eye drops and a butt-load of the OTC preservative free drops. Seriously, fill a small box truck with every ounce of eye drops you can find. You’ll need them. You’ll want them. You’ll put them every 5 feet in your house so you can easily get to them. You’ll run out before you know it and wish you had bought more. I’m not kidding…BUY…EVERY…BOX!
Cost was $4,000 for both eyes plus the alarming amount spent on eye drops. The eye exam was about $300, but that amount was taken out of my procedure cost. Both prescription drops were about $170 combined for each fill. I’m on my second fill, so that’s a total of $340 for prescriptions.
The OTC drops are about $11-15 per box of 30 vials, and you’ll need about a million boxes. Definitely use coupons. I found a bunch with coupons taped to them at Target. Also, all my boxes had additional coupons inside. I even found a good deal on Amazon and was able to get a couple of boxes for half-off.
Being totally honest, I did buy a couple of boxes with preservatives (same brand/type as the preservative free). I haven’t noticed any difference, but I do try to stick to the preservative free as much as possible. I also found it helpful to practice putting in drops for the week before my procedure. Before, I didn’t use drops often, and I didn’t want to have issues post-op.
You will also need a rather large bottle of an OTC headache medicine. Check with your doctor on what works best for you and won’t affect bleeding or post-op. Finally, tissues. Boxes and boxes of tissues. The drops will make your nose run like a leaky faucet. Trust me!
Procedure day is a very exciting day. I was told by Dr. Jani’s office staff there would be no option for Valium. This is not true. The procedure place will offer it to you. If you’re super nervous, take it. I didn’t need it, but I did take a shot of whiskey (yes, really!) about 2 hours before my procedure because the hour-long car ride to Richmond is what made me nervous.
What to bring to your procedure: you; your driver; your ID; super warm clothes; an extra jacket; your special kit of goggles and sun-shades (if you forget, Dr. Jani has extras there); and a vial of preservative free drops. In the car you’ll want a pillow and blanket…you’ll be sleeping all the way home.
At the procedure site: Dee is your best friend. From the moment you step in the door until the moment you leave she is there for whatever you need. Water, hand-holding, calm and thorough explanations of everything that is, will, and can happen to you—she is your gal!
They tell you to wear warm clothes because the procedure room is cold. Wear a parka and a ton of layers. Even though you’re only in there for about 10 minutes, it feels like it gets colder as Dr. Jani is working. Mostly, it is psychosomatic, but you will start to shiver about half way through and wish you’d worn your thickest ski pants. Lasers and shivering are not a good combo. Wear the parka!
During the procedure there is almost nothing you can do to screw it up. Relax. You don’t have to hold your eyes open, or guide the laser, or anything. You literally lie there while Dr. Jani zaps you. If he or Dee need you to do anything, which they won’t, they will tell you very calmly and specifically what they need. Seriously, the only thing I had to do was blink when told and not move.
Each eye takes about 30 seconds under the first laser and another minute or so under the second laser. It feels like a lot longer, but it is not.
WARNING: this is about to get over-the-top detailed. If you’re squeamish, scroll down to the “END OF WARNING!”
Before you go into the procedure room, Dee will flood your eyeballs with numbing drops. You’ll get more right before the procedure from Dr. Jani too. She’ll then ask if you’re ready and have you remove your glasses. If you’re fairly blind this is disconcerting to walk to the procedure room sans-glasses, but it is also fine because you don’t see the giant laser they are about to stick in your eye. Dee holds your hand the whole way and lets you know where all the walls are so you don’t hit anything. I still managed to knee-cap a table, but I’m clumsy regardless of eyesight. She’ll have you lay down on a big platform and prop your neck and knees up to make you comfortable and get you situated for the lasers.
But wait! Before the lasers, Dr. Jani again adds more numbing drops and talks you through him putting in the eye speculum. Okay, that’s a creepy word, and DON’T google it. It looks way worse than what it is. The most you feel is a gentle stretch on your eye lids. Then he’ll tape your other eye shut. I’m 100% certain the tape was the worst part of all of this. There is a lot of tape involved in this process.
The first laser cuts open your flap. It feels like a small elephant sitting on your eye ball. It doesn’t hurt. Promise. You really feel like your eye is being pushed on pretty hard. There is a small cup Dr. Jani places directly on your eye ball. It suctions down. That’s where the pressure comes from. When the laser turns on, everything will go dark for about 20 seconds. Don’t panic! The lights come back on really quickly, and everything is just as blurry as before your procedure. If you’re doing both eyes, you get to repeat this process.
Tape and speculum get removed. Again, tape is definitely the worst part!! Dee moves the platform to the second laser. You don’t even have to get up! This is where you start to feel colder and wish you had worn snow pants.
It is time for more tape, another speculum. Your operative eye gets the speculum and tape holding your eye lashes in place (WORST part!). Your other eye gets taped shut. There are some lights you’re supposed to focus on during this, but they are blurry. Just look in that general direction and follow Dr. Jani’s instructions (i.e. just lie there).
The slightly unnerving part of this laser is you do smell a slight burning odor for a few seconds at the beginning. Remember, you agreed to allow someone to put a laser in your eye. That burning smell is from what the laser is doing…burning your eyeball, but in a controlled and deliberate manner that will magically make you see.
After the laser shapes your cornea, Dr. Jani will move in to put your flap back in place, flood your eye with whatever magic liquid he uses, and make sure it all looks good. This, to me, was the coolest part. There is an eye squeegee! Okay, not sure what that is called, but it looks like a giant squeegee coming at your eye ball. You’ll see it moving along your eye, but you don’t feel anything. Really it is like standing behind a window with a giant squeegee cleaning in front of you. I kept laughing at the giant eyeball squeegee!
Again, both eyes means doing it twice. Tape removal (ARRRGGGHHH!), new tape and speculum put on other eye, slight burning smell, more tape removal (good gravy, enough with the tape!), and then magic fluid and giant squeegee.
In under 5 minutes you are done! Really, that’s it.
END OF WARNING!
After the procedure, Dee will help you up, and almost immediately you can see stuff on the other side of the room, albeit blurry. Your inclination is to look at everything, but Dee will keep reminding you to keep your eyes closed as she leads you to the post-op room.
The post-op room is very dark. Dee will stick her head in every few seconds to remind you to keep your eyes shut. Maybe that was just me because I was so intent on seeing the world. After a few minutes Dr. Jani will come in, give you the final run-down of what to do over the next 24 hours (sleep!), flood your eyes with more drops, and do a final check on your eyes before putting your sunglasses on, shaking your hand, and saying “see you tomorrow!”
Post-post-op: on your way out the door, everyone will congratulate you and remind you to sleep. The world is kind of fuzzy, but you can totally see! Not 20/20 yet, but YOU…CAN…SEE!
Outside is ridiculously bright, even with your ultra-cool plastic shades. Nestle down into the passenger seat, put in your drops if Dr. Jani told you to, and nap all the way home.
Home Care and Post-op
Once home, put in more drops, switch to your goggles, find the darkest room in the house, and nap some more. After an hour or so your eyes will start to burn a little. Put in more drops. Follow the instructions for the prescription drops.
For the first 6 hours post-op, when I wasn’t napping, my eyes bothered me a lot. They burned, itched, felt like a plank was sticking into my eyeball (great Biblical metaphor there!), and I was kind-of miserable.
Don’t try to watch TV or play on your phone. Don’t try to dig out the metaphorical plank in your eye. It will only make it worse. Keep putting in drops, resting in a dark room, and wait it out. It WILL go away in a few hours. Another shot (or three) of whiskey doesn’t hurt either. Hey, being honest! I also put a cool rag over my whole face. Not my eyes, mind you, but gently over my face. Not really doctor sanctioned, but it made me feel better.
The first time you see yourself in the mirror without glasses is truly weird. Not just because you don’t recognize yourself, but also because it kind-of looks like you got in a fight and were punched in the eyeball repeatedly. Your eyes will be bright red. I mean BRIGHT RED! Just about every blood vessel in your eye burst. You’ll also have dark circles under your eyes from being tired. So, punched in the eyeball…repeatedly!
The sleeping goggles are truly uncomfortable. They rank right up there with the blasted tape as worst part of Lasik. Wear them anyway and keep telling yourself that they are fancy $4,000 goggles.
The Next Day
Today is your first follow-up. You can totally see! It will be a bit fuzzy here and there, but you can see…without glasses! I chose to have someone drive me to my follow up. Personally, I think this was a great choice. First, because you’re waiting for a bloody long time and have someone to talk to. Second, because the world is way brighter than you remember and you immediately get a headache.
Dr. Jani will check your vision. Mine was 20/20 in my right eye and 20/25 in my left. He’ll remind you that your vision will change and stabilize over the next couple weeks. He’s not lying! Truth is my eyes got fuzzier when I over-did it. Relax, stop trying to do computer work, especially during the first week. Be prepared to be totally bored!
Drown your eyeballs in drops! I got these little white stringy things in my eyes, mostly toward the corners, for a couple days after surgery. Dr. Jani asked me about allergies, of which I have a ton, and told me to use more drops (about every half-hour) to keep them at bay. It worked!
Also, take naps, lots and lots of naps! Don’t overdo it with screen time. And, wear your shades, even indoors. Andrew let me keep the lights off the first week. That really helped.
But Can I See?
Yes, I could absolutely see the next day. I could see fine about an hour or so after the procedure, but it was definitely non-fuzzy the next day. Your eyes will adjust over the next couple weeks. The most disconcerting thing is they go fuzzy for about a few seconds after drops, but quickly clear up.
Also, my near vision has taken longer than I’d like to stabilize. I can see fine reading, but it does put a strain on my eyes, hence the butt-load of headache medicine I mentioned earlier. I get particularly dizzy if I try to read something, then quickly look up. If I close my eyes for a few seconds, that helps me focus on the far-away object (and vice-a-versa for transitioning from far-away to close). Every day gets better, so I’m not worried. Again, Feast of St. Lucy!! She’s totally got my back, plus Dr. Jani and Dee did a great job.
The World Post-Lasik
I could see with glasses, but I never realized how often I had smudged glasses until after Lasik. The world is super bright, almost shiny. Colors seem deeper. It really is a sensory overload the first couple weeks. You’ll want your shades on as much as possible!
Indoors can be super bright too. Our Church is basically all marble and gold. Mass the first weekend post-op was a bit like sitting inside the sun. I kept my eyes closed anytime I wasn’t wearing shades.
Yes, you will get a few dozen people asking if you got in a fight. Once they find out you had Lasik, every single person will ask you a million questions and if you liked it!
I LOVE it! I’d recommend Lasik and Dr. Jani to anyone looking for a change. However, be totally prepared and know it will take a couple of weeks to get situated.
Last Minute Tips
- Buy ALL the drops! Use ALL the drops!
- You don’t have enough eye drops…BUY MORE! Use them about every half-hour!
- Wear a parka and snow pants to your Lasik procedure.
- Don’t even remotely try to watch TV or use a phone the first day.
- Set all your screens to their darkest mode and turn off all the lights.
- The world is an assault of brightness and colors…pace yourself and take many, many eye breaks!
- If you’re married to a nerd, be prepared for an onslaught of pirate jokes.
- Dust will bother you way worse than you realize.
- Don’t put up a glittery Christmas tree unless you’re wearing protective goggles.
- Try to avoid letting your cat smack you in the face with their tail.
- Get all your vision-intensive projects out of the way BEFORE your procedure. You’re not going to be up for a ton of reading, etc. for a couple of weeks.
- NEVER EVER google “eye speculum!”
- Don’t watch Lasik videos online. It looks way worse than it is.
- Remember: giant eye squeegee!