In June 2012 I had FemtoLASIK surgery done at the TRSC Lasik Center in Bangkok. I am in no way affiliated with them at all, but an extremely satisfied customer. I’m sure I could have done it on the cheap somewhere local but considering it’s my eyes, I wanted the best there was. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve worn glasses since I was 6 and contacts since I was 13 years old. I’m about -5.5 near-sided and could barely read without a book right in my face. The main reason I put off getting LASIK for so long wasn’t the potential risks but the cost. After saving for several years though I finally decided to go through with it and paid 107,500b for both eyes and it was worth every baht.
On the day of surgery I had to get a blood test done at BNH Hospital to prove I didn’t have HIV and went through an extensive eye exam for a couple hours. It was nothing I haven’t done before at a standard eye exam but it was certainly more thorough. They sat me down at a computer with coffee and crackers and I watched an hour video disclosing all the horrible things that could possibly happen to you after surgery. Some of them are truly terrifying but the part I appreciated was that they gave you their clinic’s statistics which was near perfect results. I asked my Dr. how many patients she has performed surgery on and she said over 10,000. I’m not sure if that would double to be 20,000 eye balls or not but either way, it was comforting to know she had a ton of experience. The customer service of this place is extremely good too. After each procedure and appointment they have you put a card in a box to rate their customer service which I think is annoyingly unnecessary but whatever… They also have a free coffee machine and snacks. The staff, including the door man, are trained extremely well. The other thing that was comforting about this place was that there were so many other people going through the same process I was. Like a restaurant, if it’s full, it must be good right?
As they started the surgery late afternoon I was pretty tense. I don’t think the valium they gave me did anything. They started by giving me numbing drops. After about 20 minutes I couldn’t feel anything when they touched the eye. Then they escorted me into the surgery room to a table where they make the initial laser cut of the flap. This was probably the scariest part for me and I’m cringing even as I type now. Even though the cut is a laser, they still have to remove the flap by hand and everything goes very blurry. After that was completed (10 min?) they had me get up and move to another table. I was not prepared for this and rather annoyed that I had to get up in my current state but they practically carried me to the next table where the laser would do the correction. They position you under the laser and then it touches your eyeball. For about 30 seconds or less all you see is what I would describe as being in a dark room and watching a laser show. It’s completely painless but it’s not exactly comfortable either. I’m not sure of the timeline but I think I was in there for about 20 minutes before I was moved to recovery.
Almost as fast I was in, I was escorted out to a taxi and on my way home with plastic guards over my eyes. They gave me valium to take at home and said to go straight to sleep. I have never responded well to any kind of sleep medication and as usual I couldn’t fall right to sleep, but I soon understood why they are so firm about going to sleep and doing the surgery late in the day. The numbing drops in my eye began to wear off a few hours later and the discomfort was so bad I actually told my wife, “I’m not sure this was worth it!” Seems funny now but at the time I was miserable. It felt like I had stuck my head into a pile of sand with my eyes open. I finally got to sleep after midnight and slept 6 hours. When I woke up, I was significantly better but it was still a little uncomfortable. Things got exponentially better throughout the day. I’ve asked a few friends and I’m the only one who had this miserable experience. Even the Dr. was surprised when I went in the next day when I described how bad it was. She probably thinks I’m just a wuss, and maybe I am. 🙂
The halos at night were worse with yellow street lights then with white lights. A week later I drove through the night from Bangkok to Ubon without any trouble but occasionally things would fog up a bit and I’d blink several times and they’d go back to normal. For the first month I got dry eyes pretty easily but only when I was in air conditioning. 2 months later I still have a tiny bit of halos at night but its hardly noticeable. I get dry eyes once in a great while but I still have another couple months of potential recovery. Even if nothing improved further I would still be extremely happy.
As I was going through the surgery and thinking through my fear, I kept reminding myself how much I’d appreciate it later. I was made fun of relentlessly in elementary school for such large glasses. I couldn’t play sports until I learned to wear contacts which was a painful 2 year adjustment. I’ve always had to wake up earlier then everyone else I’m traveling with so that my eyes can wake up and adjust in order to put contacts in. I love swimming and snorkeling and contacts and glasses were always a pain with that. I sweat a lot and it bothered my contacts. For decades I haven’t been able to wake up and see the clock which seems like a minor detail until now. All of this is gone now and I can actually see clearer then before with 20/12.5 vision. Anyone who hasn’t worn contacts and lived an active lifestyle has no idea what an improvement to the quality of life LASIK is. I would have gladly saved and paid far more for this. My only regret is that I chose to wait so long to do it and that I did it while my son is a toddler. I don’t think I’ve ever been kicked, poked or smacked in the face more then the last couple months. 🙂