I Need Your Help! My Search For Lasik As A Photographer

In Personal by Matt K68 Comments

Hey everyone. Since this is my personal blog I figured I’d go WAY personal today and ask for your help. I teach a lot of workshops throughout the year. And during those workshops I always joke that I’m in great company if my computer ever has troubles or I have health problems. Why? Because the majority of attendees at these workshops are IT Professionals or doctors 🙂 I’m kinda joking but not totally. It’s actually very true when every one goes around the room on the first night and introduces themselves. Anyway, on to my request.

The Back Story – My Eyes
See, I’ve been wearing contact lenses since I was 12 (I’m 40 now). I’m pretty nearsighted (-6 in one eye and -6.25 in the other with astigmatism in one eye). Life doesn’t exist for me without glasses or contacts. The entire world (unless it’s 2 feet in front of me) is horribly blurry. Well, back when I was 20 I was told I can’t wear my contacts very long during the day because my eyes don’t get enough oxygen and it could result in problems. They actually feel fairly comfortable (a little dry after a while but I think that’s the norm) but my eye doctors can always tell when I’ve been wearing them too much when I go for my exams. I also wear glasses when I’m not wearing my contacts. I hate them. I don’t want large glasses because I hate the way they look. Smaller glasses leave my peripheral vision blurry which is uncomfortable. Plus, I’m EXTREMELY active. I sweat a lot (see the post here for just how bad). I participate in sports and workouts where having glasses on just isn’t an option for me. I love to be outside in the water too. I spend my time off at the beach whenever possible. So glasses are a pain. I have to carry two pairs (sunglasses and regular). And contacts don’t work for me for long periods of time.

And for photography it’s a pain as well. I get up early for sunrise shoots and often am gone for the rest of the day. Putting my contacts in to help me shoot is essential. Looking through the camera with glasses just sucks. And I know I’ll need readers for close up stuff eventually (if I do get LASIK), but at least I’ll be able to take those off and still see the world. Right now, if I take my glasses off I can’t see crap.

My LASIK Story
My LASIK story is simple. I’ve been afraid of it ever since it came out. These are my eyes. My vision can be corrected with glasses or contacts. So I’ve always just been a big chicken when it comes to LASIK. That’s really it. No big story here – I’m just a wuss 😉

Where I Am Today
In the last 6 months I’ve been with enough people that have had LASIK and seen me battling with contacts/glasses, that I finally decided to look in to it more. I’ve gone for 3 consults so far and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Dr. #1) Perfect candidate for LASIK. LOVED the doctor! He was awesome! (and in to photography which doesn’t hurt) 🙂 ($$$ Most Expensive Dr.)

Dr. #2) Felt my cornea was too thin for LASIK – recommended PRK. Liked the doctor, and he was very helpful in explaining. ($$$ Least expensive)

Dr. #3) Perfect candidate for LASIK. Never got to meet the doctor which I didn’t care for, but really nice people overall. ($$$ Right in the middle)

First off. I’m not bargain hunting. Dr. 1 is the most expensive by over $1000 but I’d gladly pay it if they’re the right choice. These are my eyes after all. I’ve called Dr. 1 back and they’ve explained to me why they think I’m good for LASIK. I’ve called Dr. 2 back and they’ve explained to me why they’d prefer to do PRK. At this point, it’s a toss up as I know neither dr. better than the other. They both seem reputable and I don’t know which opinion to take. Dr. 3 is pretty much out of the running at this point since I never even met them.

Research Sucks!
So now I’ve done some web searching. I’ve found that research about this stuff on the web sucks! First off, you can’t find ANY info about specifics doctors. All you find is websites listing all of their credentials. Next, forums suck! I hate forums! Haven’t used them in many years and now I know why. There’s a bunch of trolls out there and nobody really helps you. Plus, if you think about common human nature. When things go right, we tend not to say anything. It’s only when things go bad, that you tend to post online and look for help. So any place I do come across online that talks about LASIK (or PRK) typically makes me want to run for the hills from the procedure and stick with my glasses and contacts. Now, most of these forums and message boards don’t have 100 people posting a day. They have 1 person posting every few days or week. And it’s typically the same people commenting on each post. So the bad stories seem much less prevalent when you consider it’s the same group of 7 people posting about this stuff.

LASIK or PRK?
So now I’m thoroughly confused. Everyone I know that has had LASIK is ecstatic with their results. They’re very happy customers. I don’t know one person who is not. If I never read anything online, I’d think it was perfect. But reading online has now scared me in to making no decision at all. I know 2 people that have had PRK and they seem less than enthused after 6 months. PRK seems to have a MUCH longer recovery time. Overall it seems safer than LASIK in the long run, but I really have no idea. I don’t know either doctor personally so it’s one opinion against another. It seems like I can’t go wrong with PRK, but that recovery time is really something that’s sticking with me. I’ve heard or read several stories where people’s eyesight still hasn’t stabilized after 2-3 months. In my job, that’s not really an option.

So that’s where I’m looking for your help. I really want to do this. Sure, life is possible with contacts and glasses for me. I know I should probably consider myself lucky. But life isn’t very comfortable with them. I can’t imagine I’m doing my eyes any good taking contacts on/off twice a day to avoid over use, but still wear them for my activities. To hear so many great stories about LASIK, it seems like I’m missing something if I don’t do it. Anyone out there had LASIK or PRK? I know there’s got to be some doctors reading this? Any thoughts? If you know anyone, please pass this along, I’d appreciate their thoughts too. Thanks everyone! 🙂

Comments

  1. Joe Hudspeth

    I can tell you that my son, who is 42 the end of this month had Lasik at 40 and loves it with no complications.

  2. Dennis Zito

    Hey Matt,

    I have a really good friend, Phil, who had really bad eyes since he was born. He had Lasik about two years ago and doing just fine and having a ball without his glasses! I’m going to send him your blog and ask him to give you his perspective on Laskic.

    Take care,

    Dennis

  3. Dennis

    Matt, don’t wait any longer. I had LASIK done about ten years ago. I have never regretted it. I went from blurry vision to clear 20/20 eyesight overnight. It was amazing. The surgical techniques are even better now. It is safe and effective. And what a difference not having to struggle with glasses when you are looking through the viewfinder. LASIK for a photographer is pure magic!

  4. Amy Hollinger

    My vision is worse than yours and my best friend the eye doctor is always nagging at me to have LASIK. I just have kids in braces, etc., so I don’t have the money at the moment to have it done. I do understand your frustrations and fears. I’ve been in glasses and contacts since I was nine years old… almost thirty years! Let us know what you decide and how it goes!

  5. Beau Sorensen

    My wife got LASIK 6 years ago and has loved every second of it. She comments all the time about how she has been so happy with it and it was the best surgery ever. She recovered very quickly as well. She had astigmatism as well as being nearsighted. She wore soft contacts for about 10 years before she got it and glasses before that
    My good friend got LASIK 2 years back and has also loved it. He wore glasses for over 30 years before getting it. He’s also thought it was one of the best things he could do.
    I’d go with the MD who says you should get LASIK, especially since 2 have said you’re a great candidate for it. Best of luck!

  6. sugoto

    hi Matt,

    Email me and I will try to pass you as much info as I can. I am a physician and did a fair bit of research on this for my own eyes. Bottom line – these procedures are very safe. I would prefer LASIK over PRK. The issue with all these is lack of really long term meta analysis. Good luck.

    Sugoto

  7. Jens Lunecke

    Hi Mat, being a big fan of your Photography, Blog and TV showslike ” The Grid” , I thought, it could be useful for you to answer your question from my point of view. I am an ophthalmologist and eye-surgeon in Germany and a “part-time-photographer” in my sparetime. For me, the Surgery by Lasik is by far better and exact, and the sideeffects are considerably less. If the thickness of your Cornea allows Lasik, it would be a very good solution for your problem… Only thing is, that as the Presbyopia will come along with the years, you will need reading glasses in the future, while as a myopic person with 6 dpt. you will always be able to read things without glasses. Being aware of that, i would prefer Lasik ( this is generally spoken, as i dont know your exact medical dates etc.).

    Thanks for the very interesting Show last night on The Grid, in case you need further assistance, dont hesitate to contact me !

    1. Matt Kloskowski

      Thanks Jens! I’m entering in to this knowing that I’ll need readers for close up stuff. So that won’t be a surprise to me. Have you had it done?

      1. Jens Lunecke

        I am not myopic and therefor didnt do it for myself, but i have lots a
        patients who were treated eather with PRK and moreover with Lasik or
        Lasek. Just give me an email, so i can answer your questions
        personally…

  8. Alanna Johnson

    I am in the same boat you are, want Lasik, but have not done it yet, not that I am scared, it’s the money part. I too have done the research and as far as the success rate, I think it depends on the doctor. You get what you pay for. So the cheapy guy who has ads in the Sunday has a lesser success rate and you have to go back again for another surgery. I have many friends who have had it done and are still walking around happy, no repeat surgeries….I have decided who I want to do it. Dr. Ming Wang in Nashville. I have not found one bad review for him and it is as you say my eyes and my livelihood. So can’t afford to take a chance on a hack. So I am definitely going to do it, as soon as the money lands in my lap! Here is the link for the doctor…It would be worth a trip to Nashville (you could do a workshop to offset the trip!) and have them done correctly and successfully. http://drmingwang.com/

  9. triptikkah

    I’m the only sucker left in my family wearing glasses 😉 (I have other problems that would make LASIK pretty pointless)

    Both parents have had LASIK, no problems, though now require reading glasses (as expected, as they’re around 60 now).

    My brother had PRK a number of years back. Definitely a longer recovery period, but he was at 20/20 when they tested him at his one-week checkup, so it’s not all that horrible. Not fun, though.

  10. Patrick Magee

    No LASIK or PRK for me. I had cataracts in both eyes in my late 40’s. The replacement lens was a life-changing experience as I had horrible vision all my life until the surgery. Even with glasses I had been unable to make out the craters on the moon. Does your family have a history of developing cataracts? Does LASIK affect the ability to have cataract surgery at a later date?

  11. Glenn

    You and I met at Forneys red rock tour last November. I’m no troll. Believe me when I say this; LASIK changed my life. I had it 15 years ago when it was relatively new. My wife was like you and reluctant to do it for a long time but she saw how it affected me and did it too. It changed her life. The procedure takes seconds and the result is near immediate. Ok there is a milli-second of terror as you lay on the table and the laser descends but it’s over so fast you don’t have time to bolt.

    My recommendation is to go with the doctor you like and stay away from any of the “factories” that have multiple late night tv commercials, but do it.

    Things may have changed, but when I was looking into it PRK was more established than LASIK. A potential outcome of PRK was a starburst effect of lights at night (like oncoming headlights). That alone steered me away from old school PRK to the then newer LASIK. Now though I can’t imagine why anyone would recommend it.

    Btw I also had an astigmatism. Now every morning I can read the alarm clock when I wake up.

  12. Cassi Oh

    Matt, I’m VERY nearsighted also and I’ve been told that very nearsighted people are taking a big risk if they have LASIK. From what I’ve been told, it works wonderfully well on most people. The kicker here is HOW nearsighted you actually are. I’ve also heard that some docs don’t warn you of this complication with extremely nearsighted people. I’d check this out seriously before you decide to do it. I don’t know anything about PRK.

  13. micahdeb

    Hello Matt this response is from my sister who is an optometrist in brooklyn, ny through text message: “So LASIK versus prk. LASIK will cut a flap on the cornea, it’s a painless process. Mostly it just feels uncomfortable. After the surgery the vision will be almost immediately better, provided everything goes well and you are compliant with the protocol (drops and safety goggles).
    Prk shaves the cornea. It is painful (after anesthetic wears off) and recovery time is much longer, typically weeks or sometimes months.
    There are lots of factors to take into account with LASIK and prk. Thickness of cornea, amount of astigmatism, prescription, if it’s been stable over the years. But if a doctor told him his cornea was too thin, then prk is probably the way to go.

    Since he has such a high prescription, it’s possible he may still need glasses after either surgery. Meaning, that he may not achieve the results he desires. For a -6 to go to a -1 may be desirable to someone but a type a personality may want to need no correction after the surgery. The dr needs to discuss this and the realistic outcomes of the procedure. While it may decrease his prescription it may not achieve absolute desired results. But in my opinion LASIK is the way to go, because of the downtime associated with prk. He said he needs his eyes to work, and with prk he may be out of commission for a bit. But he needs to know that with either procedure he may still require correction. Now (and definitely in the future).”

    Best of luck.

    1. micahdeb

      sorry she wasn’t finished texting… “As far as cost I believe they run about the same. So it’s a matter of preference. But if he does get LASIK I recommend to do it with the femtosecond laser. It can either be done with a blade or a laser. Femtosecond makes a cleaner cut and is more precise.
      It’s with a microkeratome laser instead of a blade.”

  14. Matthew Buntyn

    I had LASIK done 6 or 7 years ago this coming October. The first doctor I went to was part of Duke University’s faculty, and he told me that I needed PRK because of the level of farsightedness and astigmatism in both eyes (my FeatherWates lenses were at least .25″ thick in the middle). He said LASIK technology wasn’t advanced enough at that time. I wasn’t willing to risk that level of surgery.

    Fast forward 3-4 months, and my GF convinced me to see the doctor that did a different procedure on her eyes. Turns out if I had went to him first, I could have been glasses-free for the summer.

    Both doctors told me that since the majority of people are near-sighted, that they can always correct a greater degree of near-sightedness than far-sightedness.

    The surgery is simple. I was in the doctor’s office for about 2 hrs start to finish. They gave me a valium for my nerves, and numbing drops for my eyes. I was only under the machine for 10-15 min total, and the majority of that was prepping the eyes for the laser. The only discomfort I felt was during the eye prep when they put this suction device over the eye, and it feels like someone is pushing their thumb in your eye. The worst part for me came that night. As your eyes are beginning to heal, it feels like having a bucket of sand rubbed in each eye. Get your surgery done as close to bedtime as possible.

    I had halos for a few months afterwards, and I do have an occasional dry eye problem, but nothing a few drops of Systane can’t handle. I do still have star-bursting, but that is more from not being a perfect 20/20. I can pass a 20/20 test, but it takes more work than when I wore glasses.

  15. nikkihuggins

    Hey Matt,

    I wore glasses since I was 9 yrs old (sucks) but had laser surgery done in 1998 as we were planning a world trip and I didn’t want to have to haul along bottles of saline, etc. I also had astigmatism in both eyes so contacts/glasses were extremely expensive.

    I’m in Alberta so went to the Gimbel Eye Centre (top place in Canada) in Calgary. I was a candidate for both options, PRK or LASIK but opted for PRK. I wasn’t concerned about the longer recovery time …. 2 days vs. 5 days. And I knew your chance for infection was higher with LASIK, so didn’t want to risk that. After about 5 days, I woke up and could suddenly see clearly, it was so amazing. I had both eyes done at once as well.

    I would say, make sure you go with the best doctor you can find (most reputable). There is so much more information nowadays compared to when I had it done (was still relatively new). But I definitely do not regret it. Good luck!!

    1. Cin

      Hi Nikki, do you remember which doctor did your PRK surgery? I’m in Calgary and looking at getting my eyes done as well. Thanks!

  16. wgchinn

    First off go back to your opthalmologist (not optomitrist) and check out the latest in disposable soft contact lenses. Determine if they will work for you as an option. (yes, they are still a pain the in ass, but…) While you are there have them verify the 2nd doctor’s warnings. Then, who would they recommend and what success rates have they seen from that practice. By the way a lot of the “success” is the equipment being used. When you see the lasik doctor check to see if this person will do the procedure. Lots of practices use a front assistant with charm. Ask the doctor what their 1st time success rates and redo rates are. If they are not proud of the rate then get out of there. (By the way, are you wearing hard contacts at the time you had the exam? It may effect the initial exam)

    Just don’t expect miracles in all situations with strange lights. Same with camera lenses with a high ISO.

    Otherwise:

    Expect your nearsightedness to improve with age w/o the procedure. I went from a -5.0 to -3.5 after turning 50. I am still a disposable soft contact lens user with astigmatism.

    SEE you in Vegas…

  17. Phil Klotzbach

    Hi Matt,

    I’m good friends with Dennis Zito, and he asked me to comment. I had very similar vision to yours (about -6 in both eyes with a mild astigmatism). Like you, I’m also very active, and had problems with wearing contacts. Wearing glasses while riding, running, etc., was super-annoying, especially when it was hot outside and I was sweating a lot!

    Anyway, my dad had gotten Lasik a few years before me and had good success with it, so I decided to give it a try. I had Lasik in February 2011 at LasikPlus in Denver, and I have had nothing but good things to say. My surgery was late Friday afternoon, and on Saturday morning, I woke up seeing better than 20-20 in both eyes. My wife and I actually did a 15-mile hike that day! I had virtually no side effects… dry eyes for a couple of days, but honestly, that’s pretty common when you’re in Colorado anyway.

    Now that I’m two years removed from the procedure, things have been going well. My left eye should get touched up at some point (my vision in that eye has deteriorated to 20-50). My right eye is still seeing 20-20. The freedom from having to wear glasses has been awesome!

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your choice.

    Phil

  18. Mike Donahue

    Hi Matt,

    I feel like I have to comment, having had similar circumstances as you. I had worn contacts/glasses since my teens. I’ve had a history of dry eyes as well, having been restricted to having contacts in for limited hours a day (and even having to go a year without at one point).

    I had thought awhile about Lasik, had even gone for a consultation previously without really following through with it. The combination of getting another eye infection due to the contacts, subsequently stepping on my glasses, breaking them in two and having to repair them with green masking tape, along with a friend of mine recently going through with Lasik and raving about it made me take the leap.

    I went for a consult, told I was a good candidate for Lasik. I was also recommended to think about PRK. My very circumstantial research and observation was that they pretty much told everyone that PRK is a good option to think about, but they definitely tell you, due to the think corneas, whether you really need it over Lasik.

    I opted for Lasik and definitely say that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made. I’m over 5 years in now with no side effects. I had a couple of days of dry eyes, but subsequent to that, nothing. The opposite is true really, having always had trouble with dry eyes, I never seem to have any issues now.

    The changes in lifestyle have been great. It’s great the first time heading on a trip (something that would affect you far more than me) and not having to worry about all of the hassle of contacts/solution/glasses. Sports are great without contacts. Swimming goes without saying.

    If you do opt for it. Let us know about that first morning, when you wake up and realize you can see that clock without having to reach for the glasses. Definitely a game changer!!

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

    Mike

  19. Michael

    I’ve been going through the same thought process. I’ve got an astigmatism and up until about 10 years ago I didn’t wear glasses. I’ve needed them for reading and computer work for about 10 years. A San Antonio radio stations talk radio personalities tout Z4-Lasik Surgery as being blade-less, fast, and wonderful. Their advertisements say that they are the official Lasik center of the San Antonio Talons and Spurs and even Miles Austin reps them. I’ve never used them but I do like the idea of not having a blade slice on my eye :o)

  20. John Havord

    Hi Matt,
    my wife had Lasik, about 3 years ago and it has been a total success story.
    We were lucky, as at the time my wife was working for a ophthalmology consultant (she’s a medical secretary), so took his advice regarding the technology and who to go to.
    Whilst she was quite nervous up to and during the procedure, everything was excellent, including the post operative checkups. I can still remember driving down from Belfast and Fiona being amazed at reading all the signs…. got a bit tedious after 10 miles or so 🙂
    If you’re really concerned, it is possible to get one eye done, at a time. Fiona did both, as her chat with the consultant, convinced her that the technology is very advanced and a very safe procedure.
    Going by my wife’s experience, I can tell you that this will change your life, for the better.
    Good luck with your decision and I’ll be seeing you……….. get it, ha, ha 🙂

  21. Jason Young

    Matt,

    I had nearly same eyesight as you -6.25 in one, and -6.5 in the other with astigmatism in the worst eye and wearing glasses since the 8th grade. I had lasik. I loved not having to use glasses or contacts. I would say, go with the Doctor you feel most comfortable with. I wouldn’t factor cost alone, but mostly I would factor the doctors skill/success rate higher than cost. I don’t think I would go to the doctor I didn’t actually meet. like you said, you only have one set of eyes, you need to feel comfortable with the doctor working on you, and know they have good success.

    If your cornea was too thin according to one doctor, I would double check with your desired doctor, and let him know about your concerns from the other doctor. You may need follow up treatment 1-2 or even 5 years down the road. If they are too thin, they may only be able to do one treatment now, and then in the future, you may have to wear glasses or contacts again. Also see if they charge for enhancements or if they are included.

    I sometimes find in lower light conditions, or if I am tired, my eye sight seems to be slightly worse than in the daytime. I had the occasional dry eye, but nothing major.

    Personally PRK is NOT for me… I just don’t like the idea…but that is purely personal.

    Also just a note, I was told over-correcting for nearsightedness isn’t as bad as over-correcting the astigmatism, and that can be really bad.

    Bottom line… I say check success rate first, then cost… You don’t want to save money , just to save money. You want to save money if all other things are equal…

  22. John Havord

    Forgot to mention. Even with this procedure, you will probably need reading glasses, when you get older. That, I’m told, is more to do with the muscles in your eye getting weak as you get older, rather than the lens of your eye.

  23. A.G. Photography

    Matt, I can’t see anything out of one eye..born with it/nerve damage, and because of that I can’t even wear contacts, or have any surgery on my other eye! No eye Dr was ever willing to take that chance. I too have two pairs…I tried transitions but they don’t work in the car at all. Hubby is like you, hates glasses, kid #3 broke his glasses tree times, and now they’re fixed with electrical tape! LOL…at $400 per pair…not really something you’d call “affordable”! He too would love to do Lasik, except that at the end of his re-search someone told him it doesn’t last long, and he’ll have to have it done again,…and again…and again. I would ask more questions about that part.

  24. Charles Putnam,

    Matt – here in Houston, Mann Eye Institute and Berkley Eye Center are the top places when it comes to eye surgery (yes – people come from out of town/state/country to see them). You might want to contact them to see who they recommend for you local in Florida.

  25. Gus Jackson

    Matt, I too was scared to death of Lasik. After having my glasses stolen on a plane (the second time they had been stolen) I decided that when I landed I was just going to go and get it done. I lived in the Los Angeles area at the time and there are 2 Lasik surgeons that seem to be very highly recommended. They do a ton of the athletes, CEO’s and most importantly to my research (other doctors). I also have a college roommate that has become a very highly regarded and specialized eye surgeon. After talking to him – and getting his recommendation – I took the plunge.

    I am not going to lie. The procedure was kind of freaky. That said – it was painless and other than freaky – not to bad. (freaky is the best word I could use – maybe not the best descriptor but an odd experience…)

    zero issues with recovery. I just used the drops as directed.

    I literally threw my glasses in a large glass donation container as I was leaving – a testament to the fact that I went in needing glasses and left with better than 20/20 vision. Amazing!! I had a bad stigmatism going in and they corrected it.

    It is a big decision and I had to just make my mind up and go. I went in after landing from that flight and had it done. My wife didn’t even know. I couldn’t sit around and think about it – try to sleep on it etc… Had to just do it.

    Anyway Matt – obviously an important decision – but, man is it great. I wish you the best and totally think you should go for it – the money aspect – seriously – just go with whomever you are most comfortable and somebody with the latest equipment and a long list of “eyes” completed. We will all buy more books!!

    Best,

    Jackson

  26. Mark Adams

    Thanks for this valuable thread. Does anyone have experience or knowledge of LASIK with respect to high altitudes, say >6000m or 20,000 feet ?

  27. Peter Nord

    Let’s talk wuss here. What the hardest you’ve ever been hit in karate? I know the wuss feeling. Then I had open heart surgery. So now I need my cataracts fixed. After all I’ve been through, that I’ll be kind and not mention here, what’s a few minutes with a laser beam. A physician friend just had his fixed and now even reads without glasses as well.

    Since you are reaching out for reassurance, try this. Tell your doc your travel schedule. Ask him if he could fix up a visit to some major eye centers that your travels may take you to. Perhaps further professional advice will give you more confidence. Can’t hurt.

  28. Dianne A

    Hi Matt, I had LASIK about 13 years ago (I’m older than you!!) — one of the best decisions I’ve made. I was very very nearsighted in one eye and just nearsighted in the other and had worn glasses since about age 10 – the lenses were getting thicker every few years. I researched LASIK for about 5 years before making the plunge. I even went to the Mayo Clinic for a consultation after they started doing LASIK. I found an ophthalmologist that I really trusted – from personal referrals and her professional training which included Mayo. I decided that if the Mayo Clinic is doing LASIK, the procedure is definitely mainstream. You need to be in the hands of a physician who does many of these each week and who has the staff and equipment to do a properly measured analysis of your eyes before they recommend doing the procedure. What did your 3 consultations involve? Did they do a full measurement of the eye or did they just do a cursory exam?
    Bottom line advice from me – go to an ophthalmologist who is or could become your primary eye doctor and who does multiple LASIKs every week. Do not go to a LASIK “store”. You need to know that this person will be there to follow your eyes and do whatever “enhancement” work might need doing. Enhancement is what they call it when the first surgery doesn’t quite hit the mark! It happens, although not very often if the correct prep measurements and analysis has been done.
    Finding that person is like finding another other trusted professional – network and then do your personal due diligence to gain confidence in their ability.
    As you get older, you will need reading glasses because of presbyopia (“old eyes”). that has nothing to do with LASIK. I’ve been monitoring the research on fixes for presbyopia and nothing is ready for “prime time” yet. In the meantime, I’ve developed cataracts. It may be a blessing in disguise for a photographer.
    I’m now scheduled for cataract surgery; my vision has deteriorated just enough to drive me absolutely friggin’ nuts (as a photographer and a Type A person), so the same ophthalmologist is doing that procedure. I have absolute confidence in her ability as a surgeon and I know that in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with one or the other implant, that she will be there to make corrections – even though I am the one taking a small risk with my only two eyes.
    I have two friends who had PRK early on – at least 25 years ago before LASIK was really an option. They are pleased with the results, but they really had no options. I personally would choose LASIK over PRK if my doctor felt I was a good candidate for the reasons others have already mentioned.
    I’m absolutely sure that doing the LASIK was the right thing for me and I wish I had done it sooner.
    Good luck!

  29. Charlie Larzalere

    Hi Matt, I had LASIK done about 8 years ago and highly recommend it. Considering the success rate of the procedure, which has only gotten better since I had it done, it really is safe – and the failures don’t cause blindness. My brother-in-law had PRK years ago and would see “stars” in lights while driving at night due to the incisions. Based on that and the advances in equipment for LASIK, it was a much easier decision – my doctor was certified to do both.

    The problem I have with LASIK is that my eyes water more in the morning and I think I blink more to clear it. That’s because I had my tear ducts plugged to keep my eyes moist as I heard that dry eyes was one post procedure side effect.

    The machines are set so that the slightest movement of your eye while operating immediately stops the laser. It really is better than contacts or glasses. I can go swimming now and actually see things when I surface. That to me makes it all worthwhile. Imagine playing with your kids in the water and being able to see them with 20/20 vision. –Good luck!

  30. Michelle Hedstrom

    I had PRK right after Photoshop World Vegas last year. I was a perfect candidate for LASIK too. I also had astigmatisms in BOTH eyes. I think my eyesight was -3.75 in one, and -4.25 in the other. The one reason I went with PRK as opposed to LASIK – with LASIK they basically create an “eye flap”, do the procedure, then put that flap back. It never fully heals. Ever. PRK is directly on the eye which is why it takes longer to heal. Most people don’t have issues with that flap moving (even though it can), but since at the time I was doing karate a lot, I opted for PRK, but I also know 5 people I train with who had LASIK with no problems. That’s just how I get. Also with PRK they can go in and do fixes if your eyesight changes with no issues. With LASIK the doctor I had said they can only do fixes up to 2 times because of that flap.

    The procedure wasn’t that bad. They give you some relaxing pill which settles you down, the laser is literally on for like 25 seconds per eye, and then you go to recovery. The most annoying part was they “scrub” your eye before they do the laser which didn’t hurt, but was uncomfortable.

    The recovery time is pretty disgusting. For 2 days afterwards my eyes felt like they were on fire (thanks Vicodin), and then it literally took me several days after that before I could see my laptop screen, even with the resolution bumped up. I think my first shoot was about 3-4 weeks after the PRK. My vision hadn’t stabilized completely yet, but was good enough to do that without problems. Looking through the camera lens actually helped my vision believe it or not. My eyes were extremely dry for 4 months, and then suddenly everything stabilized, the dryness went away, and I’m at 20/20 now. I’d say it was about 2-3 months before that happened, and my doctor told me healing would be going on up to 6 months total.

    Am I glad I did it? Yes. At the time I wasn’t, but that’s what happens with PRK.

    I went to https://www.spivack.com/

  31. Cris Da Rocha

    Matt, did LASIK about 5 years ago. Great!! Specially because I never could use contacts!

    A couple of years later one of the eyes (luckily the left one) had some myopia back, but very little (no need for glasses).

    Yes, I have refraction problems in the night (like starburst traffic lights) but nothing major! Nothing that makes me regret the surgery.

    On the other hand I totally understand your fear. I was there too!

    On the doctors. The one use trust! Price doesn’t matter, after all these are your EYES!

  32. Mike Early

    Matt, I did lasik in the early 90’s and have been extremely happy every since. My vision was bad enough prior to the surgery that I could not see the the top line of the chart to tell them which way the “E” was pointing. I’m not quite as active as I used to be now that I am 69 but I still enjoy the fact that I can do my photography (or play golf) in inclement weather and not have to be constantly drying my glasses. Not to mention that now I get to have my wife wonder why in the world I have so many pairs of sunglasses — one for each car, one for the house, one in my camera bag, one in the … oh well you probably get the idea.

    If I were you I would get one more opinion from a Dr that does both lasik and prk and see what they recommend — that would give you a 2 to 1 decision and you would be good to go.

  33. Brian W. Downs

    Matt,
    Had Lasik about 5 years ago. Swear up and down that it was the best money I’ve ever spent. Slightly beats out paying someone to install the hardwood floors, but I digress. The procedure is straightforward and quick. It is also much better than it was a decade ago.

    My father in law is an eye doctor, which naturally makes me an expert on this, but the procedure I had was pretty automated. They did a 3D scan of the eyes and created a custom map for it. When you go in they give you a pain killer, slit a flap for the cornea, ran the program (15 seconds per eye), closed the flap, and sent me home. A few follow-ups happened afterwards. Including one the next day. The results were obvious the next morning and I drove 2.5 hrs that next day without any issue.

    Be warned your eyes will be super sensitive to light for the first 6 months, and slightly sensitive for the next 2 years. The first two weeks after surgery I sat in my office with the lights off and sunglasses on to be able to look at the computer screen. Halo’s occurred while driving at night, but those have faded over time and are no longer an issue.

    FYI the place I went was in the process of being bought out by TLC.

  34. Jim Begley

    Give our good ole buddy Dr. Chuck Barnes a call. He has seen it all. Let me know if you don’t have his number.
    Jim

  35. Dave

    You’ve waited this long for a reason. Trust your gut and put up with the specs. I’ve read of 95 percent success rates and I’ve chickened out becuase I didn’t want to wind up like our friend Bubbles here.

  36. Johan Schmidt

    Matt, I’ve been looking at this since the early 80’s and continually spoken to my specialist over the years as techniques change / improve. Seems as if your eye is round like a soccer ball, you’re a good candidate because the cornea is consistent thickness, whereas if your eye is more like a rugby ball, then stay away – the lens often distorts and the surface becomes irregular like plastic left in the sun – then it’s virtually impossible to fit any lens on that as well as specs.

  37. Jason Difuccia

    Matt, I can relate. My eyes used to be terrible (-8 in both), so I was tied to glasses and contacts too. And my work involved loads of travel, plus driving ATVs and off-road vehicles in super-dusty conditions from morning to sunset for photography. I finally mustered the courage to have the lasik done, and it really IS the best money I’ve ever spent. 5 years later, I’m loving my 20/20 vision, no dust or long-day fatigue to slow me down.

  38. guti2068

    For some people like myself and friends I know, it may start to wear off around 8 to 10 years. I wear glasses again but is not anywhere near as bad as it was before. Just need some slight sharpness to see things that are far.

  39. Hank Tank

    See Dr Tayfor in Windsor Ontario world renowned expert !!! Pioneer in this field !!!

  40. Robert Burk

    Matt, I had Lasik in 2002 to correct -10+ in both eyes and have not regretted it. A few things:

    (1) My experience with the “quick back to work the next day” recovery that is touted was not at all like that. I would say that it was at least a week before I even started to feel like I was recovered. I could see sharply right afterwards, but there was periods of cloudiness and weird artifacts for at least a week and sporadically for month or so.

    (2) My doctor suggested that instead of taking me to 20/20, he shoot for 20/30 instead. The reason was that since I was 52 at the time, I would soon need reading glasses (Lasik for your distance vision does not prevent the age-related necessary correction for close vision) and by leaving me just slightly near-sighted, I would not likely need reading glasses (I wore bifocals before the Lasik). He was right. Now at 63 I still see at 20/30 and don’t need reading glasses. I would make that tradeoff any day.

    (3) The only downside that I have found is that if cataract surgery is required after Lasik (me last year), the optical measurements for the replacement lens does not have the same accuracy as they would if Lasik hadn’t been done previously (in my case I wasn’t affected negatively).

    Rob

  41. Ven McAndrew

    Matt … I’m personal friends with several Ophthalmologists at Great Lakes Eye Care in St. Joseph Michigan. They are one of the largest practices in the Mid West and have done a thousands of these. All are top notch surgeons. Talk with Dr. David Cooke or Dr. David Brown if you have questions or want a closer referral.

  42. Mark

    There is a third option for you to consider. There is no surgery involved, and if it doesn’t work out for you, everything is reversible. Recently, my mom has started wearing these contacts all night that reshape her eyes giving her sharp vision all day. This particular thing is called Ortho K. She absolutely loves them, but it was a quite a thing to get used to at first. You’ve got to REALLY want to take this route as it does require some patience. So if you decide not to do surgery (and as a glasses wearer myself, I can totally understand), there is something you can do as an alternative.

  43. Luis Morales

    Matt, I had LASIK about 12 years ago when I was 40. It was the best thing I ever did for my eyes. What a difference it made. No more glasses. I was nearsighted like you but not nearly as bad from what you describe. I was also very apprehensive after all these are my eyes. So a friend of mine and his wife had it done within a months of each other. I to,d myself I would give them a year to sea how it worked out for them. It worked perfectly for both of them and they had no related issues. So I had their Dr do mine after all he did a great LASIK job on them and had a year more of experience to boot. Unfortunately as others have mentioned and you know, it doesn’t last forever. Age always catches up to us. I started wearing reading glasses a couple of years ago. That’s not as bad as weari g them all the time and hasn’t affected my photography although I do have a tendency to over sharpen.. 😉 for recovery plan to have the surgery on a thu or Fri and take the weekend to rest and recover. Yeah I know they say you can go back to work the next day but these are your eyes, one of the most valuable tools of “your” trade so give them some extra time to heal. FYI the surgery affects everyone differently. For me years later my eyes will tear up one in a while. ( People just think I’m a sensitive guy.) others have some issues driving at night. Some have really dry eyes and have to use drops often. If you want the name of my Dr. Let me know. I’m in East Brunswick, NJ, next to your home town. You met my wife and I last year at the Dunellon Photowalk. We’re the couple that flew down from Jersey to attend your Photowalk.

  44. Jim Covello

    I’m 46 and nearsighted also (although it seems not as much as you) and wear glasses. Yes, they are a bit of a pain. That is one reason why I like big eyepieces/viewfinders (D700/D800 vs D600). I was thrilled to finally leave the D200 behind for just that reason. Something to consider. I recently got progressive lenses because I could not see anything ON THE CAMERA itself with my glasses on, especially if it was at all dark. I suspect that you don’t like shooting with the sun up high in the sky, so I’d think about that. Image review & live view become worthless if you can’t focus that close…which I couldn’t. (I don’t have a hoodman loupe; I suspect that its eyepiece helps.) Progressives have some disadvantages, but at least I can see the mountain and see the camera both. If you correct both eyes, you’ll be putting readers on & off which might drive you crazy, too. Something to think about.

    Besides that, while not a doctor I am an engineer…cutting the eye when not absolutely necessary does not seem like a wise plan.

  45. John_Skinner

    I will leave you with this.

    Dr. Tayfour here in Windsor is the very best. He was the first guy in North America to do LASIK in 1993 before it was even available in the USA. Just Google him. If anyone knows if and what you’re options are, he does. I read an article that he’d done over 65,000 surgeries just 3 weeks ago in our local paper. And I know you said your not bargain hunting, but the US Dollar is about 9 cents over the Canadian Dollar.

    I know about 30 people that have gone and had it done here.. And being a glasses guy myself.. I hear about it all the time. Best of luck.

  46. Mechelle

    I have a slightly different story – Had to have cataracts removed at age 43, no health problems so they don’t know why I had them so early. I had multi-focal lenses implanted and my vision is 20/20 or better – near & far – that was 4 years ago. My eye Dr is semi-local for you so you might want to check him out Dr Tyson at Cape Coral Eye center – he is young, has the best current technology for all types of eye surgery. I’d say it was at least worth a call or consultation!

  47. Katie @ Domestiphobia

    My husband, who’s in the military, got PRK when he was 30 instead of LASIK because that’s what the military wanted him to get. Apparently with LASIK, they’re worried about the “flap” popping open at inopportune times, which I guess is an actual (though not common) possibility. If you ask me, *any* time for an eye flap to pop open would be inopportune. That’s why PRK has a longer recovery time – it’s not just a thin slice that has to heal. I kept him hopped up on Percocet for 2-3 days and after that, he was good to go. He had some problems with light sensitivity for about a month after the surgery and still has some issues with headlight flares at night. Other than that, he loves it.

    All of that said, I would probably go with LASIK when I finally decide to spend the $$. I’m tired of contacts as well, but I think because LASIK is more common, it just seems less scary…

  48. paul in kirkland

    I went through the process of getting LASIK, and up until the pre-op appointment, that’s what I thought I was going to get. At that appointment, I was told that my cornea was too thin for LASIK, and I needed to get PRK instead. I hadn’t really researched it in advance, and mentally I was ready to go, so I said OK.

    Basically, with LASIK they cut your cornea, move the flap out of the way, and use a laser to reshape things. With PRK, they used brush-like instrument directly on the cornea and shape things that way (gross oversimplification).

    It’s like if you pop a blister, versus tear it off. If you leave the skin there it tends to heal faster. PRK is like leaving it “raw” and exposed.

    Instead of taking drops for like a week with LASIK, I had to take them for three months with PRK. It was a tapering thing, where you take fewer drops over time.

    I wish I could tell you it’s nothing to worry about, but in my case it took nearly the entire three months for my eyes to stabilize. Up until that point I was wondering what the heck I’d gotten myself into. As I look back, I’m definitely satisfied with the result (it’s been six years, and my eyesight is still perfect), but I can definitely understand your concern.

    Obviously I’m only one case, so take it for what it’s worth. I hope everything works out!

    paul

  49. Kevin Novak

    I had LASIK done over 15 years ago and I have been thrilled and amazed ever since. I am a photographer, I had a 31-year law enforcement career, I was very active, and I’ve been a beach bum all my life. It truly changed my life. I was never satisfied with contacts and glasses were a pain, with them getting full of sweat and sliding off and whatnot.

    I had researched previous surgical methods of vision correction but I was not a good candidate for any of them. As soon as I learned i was a good candidate for LASIK I had it done immediately.
    Don’t hesitate. You’ll be so happy.

  50. m35g35

    Here is my 2 cents. First I was an early candidate for epi Lasik. The name has changed these days as I did the procedure in 2002. The difference is the doctor cuts a thinner layer of the cornea back. This takes time to heal, if I remember right about a few months, however, after a few days you are on your way. My eye sight was the same as yours, so I couldn’t wait. So, some 11 years later I don’t regret doing the procedure. That said, I have experience dry eye (very painful when sleeping) and is a side affect of the procedure. Not all will experience dry eye, you might want to ask the doctor about it. The other thing is the doctor is limited to “operating” on your eye 3 times, according to the Doctor who performed my procedure. I had a touch up about 4 years ago. The doctor has set my vision as 20/15 in one eye and 20/30 in the other. I really don’t like it, however, at my age it was highly recommended. I wish both eyes where at 20/15 instead. Either way leaving contacts behind was great. Glasses are still part of my life, reading and sunglasses. Good luck on with your decision.

  51. Eric Schurr

    Matt, I had PRK in 1996 for the same reasons you state: i wore contacts (hard and soft) for many years and then two separate doctors told me i was starving my eyes of oxygen and i was ruining my eyes. I wore glasses for a few years but that was a real drag. I had PRK because i wasn’t a candidate for LASIK (i don’t remember why). Having my eyes fixed was one of the best decisions of my life. I have so much more freedom and I totally love it. I even had a “tune up” about ten years ago. The recovery is a bit of a drag, but it’s totally worth it. I drove a car and played golf about three days later. It was uncomfortable to look at a monitor or TV for about a week, but after that I was fine. My vision was very acceptable within a few weeks of surgery and it improved over time.

    i can’t speak to LASIK vs. PRK but i do know my doctor said that they are both valuable and one is not “better” than another, it’s just that some people are not candidates for some procedures.

    i never want to wear glasses or contacts again.

    BTW, i’m a rare case but I’m 55 and don’t need reading glasses. My doctor says i likely never will.

  52. Bp

    Matt,
    If you are in NYC go see Dr Frank Accardi near Park. He’s fantastic and will give you the best advice.Issue is when you hit 40 your eyes change in shape frequently and some laser surgery is only a temporary fix. So instead of reaching out on the blog get off your butt and go see a doctor and get a proper eye exam from a professional.

  53. mcrvickers

    Matt,
    To say that I am a very happy customer after my LASIK is an understatement. It was the BEST thing I’ve ever done for myself. I too was extremely nearsighted and I always joked that I was practically blind AND I had an astigma. Like you I was very active and hated glasses. I was super scared and picky about who I’d let touch my eyes. After much research, I found a Dr who did LASIK on professional athletes, like the SD Chargers. So I thought, if they trust this guy with their eyes..then I guess I can too! Lol. So I went to Dr Yaghouti at Global Laser Vision in San Diego. The pre-procedure was awesome. They have me an anti anxiety pill that worked sooo well that you probably could have told me the world was ending and I would have been ok with it! Then they take you back and the Dr talks you through everything. After a few minutes it was DONE! I stood up…AND I COULD SEEEEEE!!! BEST THING EVER!!!! The Chargers were good at one thing, trusting this Dr with their eyes because he is amazing! 🙂 I hope this helps! Good luck to you and can’t to hear an update after you get it done! You will be amazed! 🙂

  54. Jamie in Katy

    I spoke to a surgical nurse who works for one of the largest ophthalmology practices in Houston. Her hands down advice was PRK given your comment by doctor 2 (thin cornea). High selling points, no flap so less chance of problems, great for people with thin corneas, better vision overall after procedure. Their office only performs PRK surgery on Friday so that the weekend is open for healing. PRK involves a longer recovery and it is a bit more painful, but in the long run, the better option given your comments. She added that with the pain meds they give you for healing, it wasn’t that bad. Her daughter (22) went from 20/600 to 20/15. She was convinced PRK would be your best bet.

    Hope this is helpful and not more confusion on the subject. Best of luck!

    p.s. I had Lasik about four years ago and I still have to have readers, and driving glasses for night time driving. Both are frustrating, the readers are esp. aggravating with my photography. PRK wasn’t discussed, now I’m wishing I’d gone that route.

  55. Roger de la Harpe

    Hi Matt. My love affair with contacts came to an end in 2000 when we were shooting pix in very dusty conditions for book we were doing on Africa’s big cats. I got dust between the lenses and my eyes and the resulting grinding past had me in agony for days.

    I met with a very clever ophthalmologist who recommended LASIK. We considered correcting one eye for distance vision and the other for close (reading etc) but after trying it (you walk around for a few days with only one contact lens in) decided to do both for distance. This means I have to use glasses for reading which is not too much of a pain. Shooting now is an absolute joy without having to deal with glasses or contacts.

    Twelve years later I’m still thrilled! Alas, can’t comment on PRK.

    Hope this helps

    Roger

  56. Pingback: The Outcome Of My LASIK Decision | Matt Kloskowski

  57. FYMD

    Hi Matt,

    I am a photography enthusiast and a cornea and refractive surgery specialist practicing in San Diego for 15 years. I have done well over 75,000 Lasik and PRk procedures. Drop me a line at fymd@globallaservision.com and I’d be happy to answer all your questions re thin corneas, the implications of having Lasik or PRK on patients with thin corneas, and all the factors to consider when picking out a surgeon in your area of residence (Florida?) to do your procedure. Have a wonderful weekend.

  58. Edward

    Well, it’s been a while. Did you ever have LASIK? I am curious as I too am confused.

  59. Edward

    Interesting! I said the heck with it. Not worth the risk. These are my eyes and seeing a stat 1 in 5 made me say no thank you. I am only -1.75 so not that bad. Thanks for letting me know.

  60. Dr. Tom

    Hi Matt,

    I ran across your blog when researching different experiences people are having with LASIK and other vision correction procedures.

    I completely understand your confusion and apprehension, as it is something we see all the time with some of our patients. As a doctor, it is something I like to keep an eye on (no pun intended)!

    Here is a post we recently added to our blog that discusses LASIK for young adults, as well as PRK: http://www.woolfsoneye.com/lasik-for-young-adults-is-it-the-best-alternative/

    If you have any questions please reach out. Enjoyed your post!

  61. Pingback: The Worst Advice When Buying New Photo Gear - MATT KLOSKOWSKI

  62. Max

    I am photographer and I am wondering if you decided to proceed with lasik. If you decided to proceed what do you think about the results? Thanks

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