- April 22nd, 2010
The day after I arrived in Bangkok I went into the LASIK clinic for my preliminary examination. This involved a basic test of my need for visual correction, measurement of cornea thickness, eye pressure, pupil size and the like, and testing for various conditions such as glaucoma. My correction factor was about -3.5 with astigmatism around -1.25, similar on both eyes but a little less on the right eye. My left eye is dominant, which they also measured.
After all the tests and measurements I was given the choice to elect for "monovision", which is basically keeping the non-dominant eye at needing a correction of -1.0 or so, to improve ability to read up close. I tried this with adjusted glasses, and found it was absolutely not something for me. Especially since I can read just fine up close with normal correction glasses.
At the end of the preliminary test I was given eye drops which dilated my pupil to measure the maximum size of it. My pupils enlarge to about 7 mm, which is well within the parameters of the LASIK process.
With everything measured and in order I discussed the various LASIK options with my surgeon. The recommendation I got was to go with one of the two most expensive options due to my complex correction requirement. Since the price difference was less than one set of glasses would cost me, I settled for the high end option as that will retain night vision better and is also likely to produce fewer visual artefacts such as glare, halo and starburst effects.
The preliminary examination took about 3 hours and was finished around noon. A time for the procedure was set at 16:00 (that's 4 pm) and off I went to get a HIV test done. A short, brisk walk in the 100F weather took me to the Bangkok Christian Hospital where the test was completed within an hour for 600 TBH. Had lunch and checked out some shopping areas while waiting for the appointment time, and then went back to the clinic.
At 1600 hours a final set of quick tests to ensure the various compounds used in testing were out of my eyes were done, and I was taken into the surgery area. This involved cleaning, changing shoes and putting a hospital gown over my clothes. Nothing major at all, really. I was given an MP3 player with an instruction soundtrack to listen to while the numbing drops were applied and allowed to take effect. The whole experience was very professional and well managed, and I was well taken care of the whole time. It took about 15 minutes before the drops had achieved the desired effect and I was led into the operation room. I could see fine, but things were a bit blurry since the eye drops had numbed down the responses in my eyes.
In the operating room I was placed on my back on a hard bed with a holder for my head. An uncomfortably bright light was placed overhead, with a green dot in the middle of it. I was asked to look at the dot, which was harder than it sounds - my eye was not happy obeying my instructions - but it was certainly doable with some concentration. The doctor talked me through every stage as it happened, and it was never anything more than a little uncomfortable.
First the flap on the cornea was cut with a microkeratome blade. Left eye first, and the experience was ... strange. Not really uncomfortable, and there was no pain at all, but it was weird to feel a pressure on the eye and then, when the flap was lifted, to see everything become very blurry. The ring of white LED lights became a near-solid mass of light, and the green dot smeared out. When the flap was good on the left eye they did one on the right eye, same procedure.
With both flaps created and pronounced "very good" it was time for the actual laser. My placement on the bed wasn't perfect, and it was hard holding my head steady, but some help from the doctor fixed that. I was told to once again focus on the green light, which would change to green, and just sit still.
My eyes filled with fiery light, looking very much like aurora borealis on top of my eyes. Nothing painful, or even uncomfortable, just very different from anything I've ever seen. I smelled something sharply burning, and realized it was my eyes. After a few seconds it stopped, the doctor checked some values, and they started again. Within 30 seconds, the eye was finished. Some rinsing and careful replacement of the flap, and the same procedure was repeated on the other eye. And then, just like that, the doctor announced I was finished and could sit up.
My vision was very blurry, but I could see well enough to navigate out. I sat down to rest a few minutes, and then my eyes were under the microscope. The doctor declared the eye to be smooth and nice, no wrinkles or aberrations. I had eye shields taped over my eyes, and sent off to the hotel in a taxi to sleep.
The next morning I headed back in for the first day examination. They took off the eye shields, my vision was tested and found to be around 20/20 or a bit better at a distance, but rather lousy close up due to the cloudiness remaining after the laser. The eye and flap were carefully examined and found good.