LASIK, Is It Right For You?

I’ve been wearing glasses since 9th grade. I was starting to squint to look at the numbers on the chalk board in my Algebra class and I was getting a headache, which was different from the normal migraine pain I was suffering from pretty regularly. It turned out that my eyes decided that they needed extra pair of lenses on top of them to function normally. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning, but of course with aging, staring at computer screen all day, and other bad habits, I’m pretty much useless without my glasses now.

Most of my friends wear contacts and glasses. Some are legally blind including my best friend. Quite a few number of them got LASIK procedures done after getting sick and tired of glasses and contacts. They’re happy with their results and I haven’t heard a single person I know that regretted or had unsatisfying outcome due to LASIK. I really haven’t put much thought into getting this procedure done to my own eyes until very recently. Although I have disposable contact lenses, I only use it a few times a month due to my chronic dryness. Since I wear my glasses every day for over 17-18 hours a day, I feel like my face is changing and I hate this permanent dent on the side of my nose where my glasses is resting.

So with a sudden eagerness, I got a couple of free consultations with top LASIK surgeons in my area the last couple of weeks. I had 3 main concerns regarding this process.

1. Cost – After all, this is a personal finance blog. If I don’t worry about the money that will be spent, then I didn’t learn anything at all this year. I thought I would get price quotes from a few different places and find out exactly what’s included. Then designate $2,500.00 for flexible spending account for 2014 and pay the rest with $1,700.00 in my Scottrade account that was sitting there because of my indecisiveness and get my surgery done in January. If I’m assuming that total cost wouldn’t be more than $4,200.00. If the price is more than $4,200.00, I still have a couple of months to save a little more. I felt pretty comfortable about the money situation going into this. If I didn’t feel comfortable, I probably wouldn’t have even made the appointments.

2. Surgeon – This is regarding my eyes, which I think is pretty valuable, so I needed a good quality and reputable surgeon with tons of successful LASIK experience. It’d be a bonus if the surgeon was friendly and had good bedside manner, but I’d rather have a rude one with great skills than a nice one with sloppy skills.

3. Staff – While researching about LASIK, surgeons, and reading peoples’ reviews, I realized that most of the interactions are with the staff members at the office. You also have to think about pre-op and post-op appointments. The surgeon only sees you for 10-15 minutes and the rest of the time, you have to deal with the staff. If they’re not accommodating, not understanding, not knowledgeable, not flexible, not friendly, you might waste time and have difficult experience.

I felt pretty good about the choices of the surgeons and the offices I made after the research. I didn’t know there would be a curve ball though. At my first consultation, the doctor said everything seemed fine except the cornea mapping result. The doctor wanted to prescribe an eye drop I can use to moisten my eyes and get another cornea test in 2 weeks. She said it can be due to my chronic dryness, so I didn’t think much of it.

I went for my second consultation. This was something I really didn’t expect. The doctor said that my eye sights aren’t stable enough and since it’s been getting bad every year in the range that’s outside of their comfort zone, they don’t recommend it. If that was the only problem, I could potentially come back after my eye sights get steady, but my stupid cornea’s the bigger problem. She said from the cornea mapping that the frontal picture looks good, but the back is not symmetrical enough. I told her about what the previous doctor said about my dryness that could’ve affected it. She didn’t think so. She said my dryness isn’t that severe and I’m probably just born with asymmetrical cornea. I was really disappointed. I asked her if there’s any other procedure in the future that I can get to improve my vision. She looked at my chart again and said that there is an implant procedure for people that can’t to traditional LASIK or PRK, but my cornea isn’t thick enough to even do that. The thought that I would not be a candidate for this procedure never entered my mind, so I was shocked. She said every office has different equipment and interpret the test results differently, but she said her office was very conservative in assessing the LASIK candidate and very firm with their decision.

I know the other place acted like this wasn’t a big problem and I am going to go to a couple of other surgeons and see what they say, but still. To have at least one surgeon say I should not get this procedure done at all is pretty unsettling. I’m not a risk taker and I’m certainly not going to gamble with my eye sights. I probably won’t be getting a LASIK even after going through with all my consultations and they give me the green light, which sucks totally!!!!! Even before going to the consultation, I was imagining my life without contacts and glasses in clear and crisp picture. Well, I guess I’ll still use my flex account to get a new pair of glasses and contacts.

How’s your eye sight? Did you get LASIK or thinking about getting it? How was your experience?

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13 thoughts on “LASIK, Is It Right For You?

  1. Great write up! I’ve been debating this back and forth, but I think I’m going to stick with glasses & contacts. Just the idea of taking a risk on an elective surgery gives me a lot of hesitation.

    • I was hesitant about it for along time too, but I’m just so sick of glasses and contacts. But you have to be very sure and confident as well as the medical staff you’re dealing with before you go ahead with it.

  2. I do wear glasses and actually LOVE them. They make me feel ‘smart’ and make my face look better. Do get more consults and see more doctors. And, if it’s a viable procedure, go for it. It’s not a very difficult to go through procedure and, if it will solve your issues, that’s great. Keeping our fingers crossed 😉

    • I look very different with my glasses on than without. Some people don’t even recognize me. My face without the glasses is much better but most of the time, I go with glasses so it’s not good. We’ll see how everything goes and how I feel about it. Will definitely let you know once I make my final decision.

  3. Bummer about one of the doc’s diagnosis, but I agree that since it’s your eyes, you’d want a prudent doc. I still wear glasses and still get skittish about LASIK. I think it would be beneficial, but I’ve heard of one bad story (though it was well over 10 years ago), and it’s enough to make me not get it yet. Hope your eye sight gets steadier so you’re able to get it someday. :/

    • If I don’t have problem wearing contacts, I probably never would have considered LASIK. But since I mostly wear glasses that keeps sliding down and even the light ones feel heavy wearing for a long time everyday, I want LASIK. I’ll see a few more doctors and see how they feel about it and if that chages my mind. Thanks for your concern as always.

  4. I was considering LASIK a few years ago when I thought I was going to get a redundancy payout (which didn’t happen in the end). I’m really squeamish and the thought of my eyes being clamped open and having to hold still for a while really scares me! But I’d probably go through it if I had the money and the tests came back ok. I wear contacts at the moment and glasses sometimes but it’s a pain to be honest. I could do without the monthly contact lens costs too! I’d be interested to see what happens during your other consultations – keep us posted!

    • It is a pain. I think I’m leaning towards not getting it done. Even when all the doctors say I’m the perfect candidate, there’s a long list of risks I need to consider. I don’t want to start as a risky candidate.

  5. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 6, contacts since I was 18. Hated glasses, loved my contacts. In the past year, my work environment has seriously impacted my ability to wear contacts, and I’ve been unhappily wearing my glasses during the work week.

    I’ve never been a fan of doing elective surgery on something so vital as my vision, but I was ready to take the plunge, and did the same as you. Estimates were between $3,900 – $4,500. The larger business in my area had an excellent staff and doctor, but I didn’t care for the heavy sales tactics. The very next day, I had my annual eye exam, and when I mentioned that I had done a Lasik consult, my Dr showed me that one of my cornea’s were “borderline” in terms of thickness. He was surprised that the other company was so willing to proceed.

    That pretty much made up my mind. My Dr advised me that there are some new procedures being tested right now, similar to what is done for cataract surgery, but it’s probably 5 years down the line. In the end, getting confirmation that this is a work-related issue is all I need to know. When I’m not at work, I wear my contacts all day w/o a single problem, so I guess I was looking for a long-term solution to what is a short-term problem. I hope to be FI in the next 3-5 years, but I’ve decided that sometime next year, I’ll ask my boss to let me work from home at least part of the week. At this point, my total health depends on it!

    • Doctors who perform LASIK and who don’t have opposite agenda. So an optometrist would not want their patients getting LASIK. So it’s up to individual’s comfort level, research, and their desire. I think I’ll probably skip the LASIK and try to find a more comfortable contact lense.

  6. Pingback: Tying Lose Ends | Michelle's Finance Journal

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