My Lasik Experience!
Before I officially start sharing more all about my experience with getting Lasik, I wanted to quick say one thing to preface the story for anyone that might be nervous to read on. I'm not going to include all of the specific eye details from the procedure here; just in case anyone doesn't like eye things.
I myself am super squeamish when it comes to anything medically-related. I literally get light headed and feel so sick when someone tells me about anything and I pass out every time I get my blood drawn, so I'm not putting any of the gory details, but I promise to address all of the main parts and big questions! I'll also link some of the differences between the two kinds of Lasik procedures that I chose from, so if you do want to see the gory details, you can look on those sites which will probably be more accurate than I'd describe anyway! Win-win.
So now that that's out of the way...
I've already put this out there on instagram, so you might know by now, but for those who missed it or don't already know, I've been wearing glasses since 6th grade and contacts since 7th or 8th. My parents decided that I should wear glasses for a year first to see if I ended up liking them better before making the investment on both at the same time. Probably a smart move since I was devastated when I had to get glasses, so I insisted on a pair of Kate Spade ones because I thought that would make me more cool (lol who notices glasses brands, no one? great). I honestly think I told my dad the same thing about my first pair of glasses that I told Will about my engagement ring: it's worth whatever we spend on them since I have to wear it every single day for the rest of my life (yes, I'm dramatic, but yes it also worked... both times).
Check out this picture of my first pair of glasses, ever!
Anyway, I've been wearing glasses or contacts for more of my life than not and I honestly can't remember a time that I could ever see without some sort of assistance. My dad got Lasik probably 15-20 years ago now, and honestly ever since I've understood really what that meant, I've wanted to do it. He also wore glasses/contacts his entire life (thanks for those genes, Mark) and after his procedure the only thing I remember is him constantly saying how life-changing it was.
I remember every year in college going back to my eye doctor and having to get a new/stronger prescription and every year asking if I leveled out enough yet to start thinking about Lasik. Finally, when I was about 24 or 25 (basically the normal time) my eyes started to level out and with each year I only had to make small tweaks to my prescription: aka, time to start considering Lasik.
After college, I traveled and worked for my sorority. I moved to Tennessee and was having fun traveling before coming back to Baltimore more permanently. All that to say I was absolutely not building a savings and could in no way afford Lasik. There are financing options available (they are different at every doctor/practice), but I was also in so much student loan debt and had just had to buy a new car that I couldn't imagine spending that much money again any time soon.
So when I finally started working for my current company and had a full time job with actual benefits, I knew right away that I was going to contribute as much as possible to my HSA while I was young and while I could still afford to live without literally living paycheck to paycheck. + That's exactly what I did.
For the last 3.5 years I've been contributing $41 per week to my HSA (we get paid weekly and I was living at home, still, when I set this up, so not having to pay rent and normalizing not having that $41 in my paycheck from the beginning was a huge help). I forgot all about my HSA for a little while because in the beginning I was checking it every few months and it didn't seem like I was making progress. Then, I moved out and had rent to pay. Then I quit my second part-time job at the mall because I couldn't do both. Then Will and I bought a house and got engaged. Then his car died and we need to buy a new one. Then COVID hit and my additional source of income from weddings disappeared. Life just kept happening and getting in the way with additional expenses that I couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars on a truly optional procedure.
Finally, we got a notice that our HSA contributions from our employer were changing this year. They were going to contribute weekly or monthly or something instead of bi-annually. It didn't mean a difference in total amounts, I just remember getting an email notice, so I decided to check my balance. I was SHOCKED and had enough $ saved to finally go for it!
Traditional Lasik can cost anywhere from $4,000-$6,000, but most ophthalmologist's offer some sort of savings depending on the time of year. Could be seasonal savings, could be holiday specials for certain procedures, a code on the radio for a referral/advertisement, etc. I feel like I hear them all the time. Regardless, there are a few different types of Lasik (here's where I'll link the main differences between Lasik, PRK and SMILE)
I got the SMILE procedure done. Basically, it's the newest in technology, the most minimally invasive between the 3, and has the quickest recovery time; only 24 hours (crazy)!!!!!
Your doctor will have to check to see which you're a good candidate for and not all doctors perform the SMILE procedure, so this will differ between patients. The SMILE procedure at Dr. Sonny Goel's office (where I had mine done) costs $6,000, typically, but I did get mine off a referral for $1,500 off, so I paid $4,500 for both eyes total. That was one of the biggest questions I've gotten, so wanted to be super honest/up front about that first. In total, with the costs of the medicated and non-medicated drops for after surgery, I paid about $4,585. This total includes your initial consultation appointment (nothing due at that time), the procedure itself for both eyes (paid at that visit), a follow up appointment within the next 3-ish days after your procedure, and a 2 month check up appointment. This also includes one corrective surgery, if needed, down the line, however, Dr. Goel says that less than 3% of patients need a correction, as long as they're a good candidate, initially, they take all of the after care seriously and they've waited until their eyes have leveled out prior to coming in. That was another super frequently asked question I got, about the possibility of a correction later, but I found it really comforting to know that less than 3% of people will ever need that.
There are a few different appointments that you go to through the entirety of the process. The initial consultation (which is basically just a standard eye exam with one or two extra machines that take photos of different views of your eyes). They told me to plan on being in the office for 90 minutes for that, but it really only took about an hour. The second is the actual procedure which (again shocked me) ONLY TAKES 15 MINUTES FOR BOTH EYES! Like what.....
They do examine your eyes again (Dr. Goel said he's a check it twice, cut it once kind of guy.....LOL) so they'll do the exam again, prep the laser, and then literally the laser is only on each eye for about 25 seconds and then Dr. Goel works his magic in-between (aka the stuff I said I wouldn't get into) and in total you're done in 15 minutes.
Q: Did it hurt/could you feel anything?
A: NO! It's so insane (sorry if this effects anyone who doesn't like eyes...) but wanted to explain: they use numbing drops in your eyes throughout the time you're having the procedure done, which is A SUPER WEIRD FEELING, but you don't feel anything at all. It's definitely weird on the first eye to get used to because you are awake and can literally see what is happening/ what the Dr. is doing, but you can not feel a single thing. It's almost like you have windshield wipers on your eyes or something - it's very very strange, but absolutely no pain at all.
Before the procedure, Dr. Goel told me the only thing I would feel is a slight pressure when the laser was actually turned on to my eye, and that it would basically feel like putting in a contact (something I was obviously very used to) but honestly I didn't even feel the pressure at all. Or maybe I braced myself for it too much that I was expecting to feel more and just didn't - I don't know but I literally felt nothing.
The scariest part of the procedure (again, specifically with SMILE, I don't know if the other lasers do this or if it's just that one) is that it gives the Dr. cues and like.. talks? so it did psych me out a little the first time. It's nothing crazy, I was just in a heightened state of anxiety/nerves so it was a little freaky when the machine would say "safe distance" or "laser ready" I just got a little more nervous, but then Dr. Goel would talk to me the whole time, give timing estimates (i.e. good job, only 10 seconds left, halfway through, etc. etc.) so that was really calming and reassuring.
You can also put on whatever music you want over bluetooth! I actually forgot to put something on (LOL) so it was basically just soothing spa music playing, but it went by SO quick idk if it even would have been worth it to try and screw around with the music.
Once you're done, that's it! When you first get done with the procedure (specifically with SMILE), you can see 50% better immediately when you open your eyes. 50%!!!! You can't drive after because they do give you an anti-anxiety pill in case you need it and you also can't see and aren't supposed to be looking at light/in the sun, so you'll need someone to drive you home, but still it's so incredible that already the change is that instant.
They recommend that you just got home immediately and sleep afterwards because keeping your eyes closed helps them to heal faster. So literally just go home and take a nap.
I slept for about 3 hours and when I woke up it was still a little foggy, but I could see! It's kind of like literally being in fog or if you got vasaline in your eye or something. You can see but it seems like you're in a cloud. This was like that until the next day, but cleared up quick. I wore sunglasses the entire evening until I went to sleep, just because I was being super careful about everything, but you don't have to.
I will say: I did feel pain when I was trying to go to sleep for about 15-20 minutes after I got home. I'm not sure why, and I asked the doctor about it and he said it was fine/normal, but maybe it was the numbing drops wearing off or something but when I laid down in my bed and closed by eyes my eyes almost felt like they were rolling all the way around and like not attached to my head (lol idk...). It was painful because they felt like they were twitching quickly and I couldn't hold them still, but I know they weren't actually moving. The pain was totally bearable it wasn't anything crazy and it literally went away in 15 ish minutes as soon as I fell asleep and never happened again, but wanted to throw that out there.
I had my procedure done at 3pm on a Friday, and Dr. Goel was thoughtful enough to call me that evening to check in. He called around 7:30 or 8pm and asked how I was doing/feeling/ answer any questions that came up and was great. Then I saw him again for my follow up that next Monday morning.
Other recommendations for after the procedure/aftercare:
- when you get home, take a nap.
- put your eye drops in immediately when you wake up
- no screens for 24 hours (cell phones/laptops) you can technically watch TV that night (I think) but I didn't watch for 24 hours and I didn't use my phone for about 36.
With SMILE, you're seeing 90% better 24 hours after the procedure, so you can basically be back to normal right away with very little down time. After 24 hours you can drive, go back to work (on the computer, yes), wear make up, go swimming, everything. It's insane.
For the eye drops, you'll get 3 different ones; 1 is a steroid, 1 is an antibiotic, and one is just non-prescription liquid tears, basically. The steroid/antibiotic you'll use for 7 days following the procedure 4x per day. The basic eye drops they recommend you put in once every hour to keep your eyes super wet (helps with healing time) and you'll for this for 3 months.
I have definitely noticed that my eyes were drier in the first few weeks, so you'll want to put those in and they help a lot. Even still, it's been about a month and half-ish now and my eyes are all good usually during the day, but at night and in the morning they are still a bit dry from time to time.
Q: Is it so weird not having to put contact in the morning?
A: Yes... BUT the thing that I've had the toughest time adjusting to is actually when I go to sleep at night! LOL!!! I don't know why but something about going to sleep and being able to see makes me think there's something wrong so I always want to like take my contacts out when I notice I can see and then I'm like no wait this is normal now. So yeah... not having to put contacts in the morning is amazing, but it wasn't the biggest adjustment overall.
All in all, my dad was right. This was the best investment EVER and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone considering. I can't recommend Dr. Goel enough, he and his entire team were/are incredible and literally without hesitation I would go back to him again.
The only thing I regret is that I could have done this sooner.
If you have more questions about the experience or want me to expand on any part, please feel free to reach out and I'm happy to tell you more!
Thanks for reading!!!
Enjoy this photo of all of the colorful glasses I've had through the years and that I'll never have to wear again :)