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Epi-Lasik - 1 week later
South Park Blue Suit

After doing some digging around the net on the procedure, I really didn't come across too many references that did a good job of describing what I've been through during the past week, specifically what the recovery process felt like, and how it contrasted from friend's stories of traditional LASIK.

As a result, I wanted to give you a quick summary of my EPI-Lasik experience as it significantly differs from what my colleagues reported for traditional lasik, in that it requires a bit more short-term sacrifice for better long-term results (vision & dry-eyes/flap complication risks)

Still, there is an awesome table at:
that does a good job of characterizing the difference between procedures.

Regardless, I  wanted to add a bit more "color" to the descriptions & timelines for EPI-lasik.

Description on website:

Eye Pain after Surgery - Moderate to Severe - May last up to 72 hours

Functional Vision Recovery - Later (3 to 7 days)

Stable Refraction - 3 weeks to months

What I Experienced:

Surgery Itself: Eyes were numbed, they used a "clockwork orange"'esque device to keep my eye open (one eye at a time) for the procedure, scraped off some stuff up front, and had me look at a white light circle with a red flashing light in the middle that got progressively blurrier as the laser did its magic. The scraping part didn't hurt (as my eyes were numbed), nor did the flashing part. The cold liquid they squirted on to keep it lubricated was weird, but felt refreshing. I'd characterize the pain as a 2 on a scale of 1-10 (some discomfort), but it was kinda neat.

Vision following surgery: After surgery, I could tell that things were sharper in the operating room, but I immediately put on my sunglasses, could easily see my cab and make my way up to my apartment once I got home, but went to bed right away. I absolutely wasn't in a position to drive following the surgery, as my vision only seemed part-corrected. I woke up late due to some discomfort and watched some TV, but it was pretty blurry and I couldn't make out show titles/credits/etc.. Put in lots of drops (every 4 hours) both when I went to sleep, when I got up for some TV, and once again in the middle of the night.

Day 1 Post: Waking up, it felt like my vision was half-way there as things weren't sharp, but I noticed that images were sharp but surrounded by blurriness. My follow-up appointment was fine (think I hit 20/60, but they were mostly concerned if my eyes were healing OK). I didn't do anything all day (just watched some TV/Movies) and didn't feel much soreness until late in the day. Starting in the evening, my level of eye discomfort became a bit annoying, but I kept on putting in drops, and went to bed early. Having heard stories from friends about 20/15 vision the next day after traditiona lasik, I started having doubts, but confirmed the recovery pattern would be different from the doc and felt better about the procedure. Still, I had an urge all day to put on a pair of glasses as my vision felt like it was only half-fixed.

Day 2 Post: When I woke up, my vision felt sharper, but hadn't reached a comfortable driveable quality. My vision was good enough to get around, I went to a baseball game (clad in shades) and could make out jersey numbers, the outfield scoreboard (blurry), could follow action, but my eyes were sore enough that I didn't try to focus if not necessary and frequently asked my girlfriend about counts/strikes/etc. so I could keep my eyes shut. Still, on the evening of day 2, the bandage contacts were really aching, so I kept my eyes mostly closed, and heavily lubricated my eyes with artificial tears as the level of soreness pain made it hard to sleep.

Day 3 Post: I caught more baseball, but really couldn't see much as it didn't feel like things were improving much. With worse seats, I really didn't get a good sense for balls/strikes, and my ability to see the scoreboard in the outfield was about as bad as day 2, but luckily as the day went on, I didn't experience as much pain, just progressively blurrier vision.

Day 4 Post: When I woke up, my vision actually felt pretty sharp, I didn't experience much discomfort, and once the contacts came off at my AM appointment, I was allowed to read again. My eyes tested out at 20/25 at the doc's office, and I was cleared to drive, but my vision was still cloudy & hazy. I tried doing work, but I really wasn't able to stare at the screen for long periods without my vision getting pretty blurry. Overall, the level of discomfort experienced seem to disappear with the contacts off aside form some light soreness that day in one eye. I went for a quick around-the-block drive later that day, but realized that I wasn't seeing pedestrians clearly, couldn't make out street signs and license plates of cars around me, and wasn't comfortable.

Days 5-6 Post: With work piling up, I had to button down and start focusing more on my PC for longer periods of time. Still, I had to take frequent breaks from staring at my screen and my vision definitely got blurrier as the day went on. Although my vision was good enough to drive, I didn't feel comfortable behind the wheel (afraid that I'd miss a pedestrian) and couldn't see street signs until I was close to them and was only comfortable going along known routes.

Day 7 Post: Today was the first day that I'd argue that my eyesight actually seemed decent - at least in the morning. It was slightly blurry (got blurrier as the day progressed), and it definitely was light years away from being as clear as my vision was pre-surgery with glasses. Still, I felt more comfortable driving, could see most street signs & highway signs without issues, and felt for the first time that the vision wasn't a massive handicap from getting in a full productive day at work.

Prognosis so far:

I'm definitely not regretting the decision (vs. traditional lasik) as what I've been able to dig up seems to indicate that I'm now at a much lower risk for dry eyes, flap related complications, and should achieve better vision in a few weeks.  At this point, if my vision doesn't continue to improve, I'd be extremely unhappy, as my current vision isn't really workable, but given that it usually takes another 3+ weeks to reach stability, I'm pretty optimistic I'll get to something in the long term that makes it worthwhile.

I'll keep you posted on where things settle.

Epilogue (1 year later):

After about 3 weeks, the vision settled at about 15/20 - Yay. Aside from the monovision causing minor amounts of ghosting when driving at night (the eye for near-vision is blurry, the other is sharp, causing a blurred halo around a sharp item way off in the distance), I'm definitely happy with the outcome & results.

Otherwise, no dry eyes issues, and things are pretty stable.

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I kept reading that as "epic-LASIK". </p>

Every time I see an ad that proclaims somebody to be offering the most modern, best LASIK, I think, "I don't think I want surgery that will be described as obsolete in a few years."

(on a vaguely similar note, a deaf friend was very sad a few years ago when they changed the kind of surgery they did to implant electrodes for stimulating artificial hearing. You have an external DSP device that hooks up to the implant. The new style of surgery meant that they were unlikely to keep researching fancy new DSP hardware for her implant. Obsolete surgery...)

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