Heather had Lasik Eye Surgery in 2014 at Providence Eye & Laser Specialists in Charlotte NC. This is moved from our old blog, but we wanted to keep this up since we have heard it helped a lot of people! This is originally written in 2014.
We have been waiting a while to post this but we are really excited to share our experience now! On July 2nd 2014 Heather had Lasik Eye Surgery done at Providence Eye in Charlotte with Dr. Mozayeni. We are writing this post because when we first started seriously looking into the surgery in April 2014 we couldn’t find many blog posts with full experiences and could only find one photographer’s experience. The few blogs we did find were exceptionally helpful in helping us decide whether or not to go through with the surgery. We also had one local photographer we talked to about his successful experience with Lasik. We know this is a really long post that will be really boring for most of you, but it’s really just for the random people who are searching the web considering Lasik that happen to stumble upon it. We just wanted to return the favor since we loved reading other people’s blogs and to help out anyone else who might want info on Lasik in the future and hear someone’s personal experience. I know we read through every single word of every single blog post we found on the Internet when we first starting looking into Lasik!
The Beginning of the Lasik Eye Surgery
We have considered Lasik Eye surgery for quite a few years, we have thought about it ever since Heather turned 18. We did not get very serious about it until April 2014. Heather’s eye appointment was coming up and we needed new contacts and glasses. We started thinking about how much money we would save by not having to buy contacts and glasses every year and realized the surgery would basically pay its self off in about 5 years, not including all the stress of dealing with contacts or glasses. Heather also has a contact intolerance and it makes it incredibly hard on wedding days. It would take her 30 minutes every time we had to photograph a wedding to get the contacts in and most of the time it resulted in popped blood vessels and eye irritation for the rest of the day. So the majority of the time she just decided to wear glasses if it wasn’t a wedding day.
The first thing we did when we decided to get serious about Lasik was go to Google. That’s always a huge mistake. You are going to find every single horror story in the world. We even found a site that has stories we think were completely made up just because someone had a less than positive experience. One of the biggest things we learned during our research is that the cheapest is not better. This is your eyes you’re talking about, if your going to get this done DON’T cheap out on it. A lot of the reviews you see online where someone had a problem with the surgery was more than likely from an office that is offering Lasik at the cheapest prices possible and does not have the most experienced doctors performing the surgery. If you have a highly trained and experienced doctor that approves you to be a candidate for the surgery the chances of something going seriously going wrong are almost none. In our job vision is THE most important thing to us. It has to be perfect. So considering this surgery can be a really scary thing. But if you really do your research you’ll find out Lasik is actually VERY safe. Its actually safer than contacts believe it or not. You have a higher chance of getting an infection and going blind from putting contacts in and out every day than you do from getting Lasik. Go to Google and research how many serious problems people have had with contacts, its very surprising.
After researching EVERY single Lasik doctor in Charlotte. We decided on Dr. Mozayeni. It was the best decision ever! He’s the best and most experienced doctor in all of Charlotte, he’s even one of the best Lasik surgeons in the United States. He’s been selected as one of the best doctors in America 5 years in a row now. He’s done over 100,000 Lasik surgeries since 1995 and his success rate is amazing!
One of the most important things to look up while researching doctors is their online reviews. Dr. Mozayeni has 100s of reviews on Google and Facebook and we read literally almost every single one of them. He has the higher customer reviews than any other doctor we found in Charlotte.
You should also research what kind of technology your doctor will be using on you for your surgery. Dr. Mozayeni has the NEWEST technology you can get. His machine is 100% blade free. He just recently invested over a million dollars in the machine he has now. No one else within 100 miles of Charlotte uses this machine. The new machine is called WaveLight. There is so much I could say about it but just go to https://providenceeye.com to read up on it. It is an amazing machine. Be sure to look up both the WaveLight FS200 laser and the WaveLight Allegretto Eye-Q Laser.
The Consultation for the Lasik Eye Surgery
We headed to the consultation, which was completely free, to determine if Heather was a candidate in June. The hardest part about this is you can’t wear contacts for a week before the appointment, so she had to do a couple weddings with glasses, which wasn’t bad, but just know that if you like to wear contacts. It will change the shape of your eye so they won’t be able to get an accurate measurement.
They were so nice, we came in and a tech did a basic eye exam just like she normally would have done every year. He got all Heather’s measurements, asked what her past prescriptions were to make sure her vision was stable, and then did a “string test” which was putting a small string in my eye lid to make sure my eyes produced efficient tears. Then they dilated her eyes and gave her a movie to watch on an iPad about Lasik while they were dilating. Heather mostly had Walter watch the movie because she was SO nervous she wouldn’t be a candidate and would be stuck with glasses forever.
Then they called us back and Dr. Mozeyani saw Heather to do another exam of everything. He finished up and told her she was a perfect “text-book” candidate. We had lots of questions then about time to heal, the safety of the surgery, what the worst thing he’s every seen happen was, etc. He was so great and not rushing at all. He spent tons of time answering every little, and probably dumb, question we had and immediately calmed our fears. He let us know how contacts are less safe than Lasik and that the worst thing he has ever seen was some contrast loss in one eye but that happened once years ago on a blade machine. He confirmed that no one has ever gone blind or anything of the sort. We set up an appointment for early July when we had no weddings for the 4-week full healing time and left with all our information. He gave Heather a prescription for 2 eye drops, an anti-inflammatory to keep down swelling, and an antibiotic to prevent infection. Just know you will have to pay for these, whatever your normal medical insurance co-pay is for prescriptions. However, if you don’t have insurance that covers prescriptions, they give you a rebate to help pay for a lot of it. I was told to start these the night before and had full instructions that every doctor will give you. Don’t wear contacts for 2 weeks, make sure to eat before you come, don’t wear makeup that day, etc.
The morning of the surgery we woke up a little early so we could head out to get a big breakfast. We went to Cracker Barrel and ate a ton! The doctor offers you an optional Xanax when you get there so you need to have food on your stomach to take it. We have no idea why anyone wouldn’t want it, you’re going to be nervous so you should take it to help yourself relax!! They also give you a second Xanax before you leave so you can go home at sleep. They want you to take a 2-4 hour nap when you get home and it will help you go right to sleep!
When we arrived at the office we checked in and waited to be called back. Once called back they re-checked Heather’s prescription two times to make sure they had everything down right. They also retook her corneal maps to make sure they were exactly like they were at the consultation as well. They made sure everything was perfect before the surgery. They give you a really “cool” looking hat and booties to wear too, haha! After that the nurse cleaned off Heather’s eyes with betadine and added some drops into to her eyes before she left for the operating room. Once we got into the operating room Heather laid down on to the cushioned table so they could get everything prepped to start. One of the assistants positioned her head and then put about 4 numbing drops in each eye. He waited a little bit and then did that again. After that he told her to keep her eyes closed for a little bit as they moved her into the first machine. Dr. Mozayeni then put 2 more numbing drops in the right eye and then put what looked like a magnifying glass over her eye. There was a little bit of pressure as this set on the eye. He told her there would be a lot of pressure and to make sure to hold still for 10 seconds this would be the worst part. It really wasn’t bad, just a little bit of pressure on the eye. He said that the eye would go completely black and not to worry, but it never did for Heather. He was great and counted down from 10 so she knew exactly how long it had been. He removed the device & then had her close her eyes and repositioned her head. He then put 2 more drops in the left eye and did the same thing. Again it was just a little bit of pressure but no pain. He then had her close her eyes as he rotated her to the next machine. The first one was so quick, Heather had to ask him if that was really the worst, and she knew it would be a breeze then. He said the first machine had cut the flaps and the next would actually reshape her eye.
At the next machine he taped her eyelids open and put a device in to keep her eye open. He put 2 more numbing drops in the right eye as well. He had her look up at this green light surrounded by red lights. Then he told her to focus there even if she lost the green light. He then said it would get really blurry and according to Walter (who was watching on the screen in the other room), he took something that looked like tweezers and lifted up the flap he had just cut. Everything went completely blurry for her, like when you open your eyes under water and can’t see anything. For the right eye, her eye that was -1.25, the lasers took 4 seconds to finish. He counted this down again, which made her feel really at ease. Then he took some kind of liquid, kind of like when you are at the dentist and they rinse your teeth, and rinsed out her eye. Then he took something that looked like a small paint roller and rolled the flap into place. She said she didn’t feel anything during this, just heard a buzz, and smelled something like burning plastic. Although he assured her nothing was actually burning. Then he put in 2 numbing drops in the second eye, and repeated the process. This eye was the worse eye, -3.25, and it took 11 seconds to complete. He was very thorough though, he didn’t think the flap was perfect the second time so he re-rinsed and put it perfectly in place. He then had her close her eyes for a few seconds as they wheeled her out from under the machines. They put in her antibiotic & anti-inflammatory eye drops, along with she thinks some more numbing drops.
He had Heather sit up then and looked at each eye with a light and through a magnifying glass saying everything was great. She looked up and was able to see Walter and her mom in the other room. She couldn’t see perfectly but it was definitely better than without glasses. She felt great & thought the surgery was a breeze as everything felt great. They gave her the second Xanax and put the protective glasses on and sent them headed home. As soon as she got in the car everything didn’t feel so great anymore and the light really hurt her eyes. She also started feeling very, very tired. She said her eyes felt like when you get a lot of soap in them and were burning. Walter stopped and got her a Gatorade and she took some Tylenol (which is what the doctor said to take if this happened) and then slept most of the way home. As soon as she got home, she put in her eye drops & crawled into bed and slept for about 2.5 hours.
Once she woke up from the nap, she could see perfectly. It truly was a miracle!! She also felt much better the burning was gone. The left eye felt perfectly, while the right eye was kind of dry. It felt better with the eye drops she put in every 30 minutes though. When she woke up she found an awesome present from Walter on the kitchen counter, he had gotten her an Ulta gift card to get the Urban Decay Naked2 eye shadow set she had really been wanting as a “feel better” present. She was SO excited!! After dinner time, with her stylish eye protectors, she went out to get the eyeshadow, return something at Walmart, & take a trip to Krispy Kreme with Victoria (her sister-in-law) and her fiancé Rex. Needless to say at least one person in Walmart pointed and laughed, and the lady at the return counter asked what was wrong. She told her it was the new style haha! They then went home and went to bed early for the post-op appointment the next morning.
The Day After Lasik Eye Surgery
Everything is still going great the day after surgery. One of the things included in your price at Providence eye care is a day after visit (you also get a 1 month, 6 month, an 12 month visit included, along with any others you need for a year). So this morning we went to the visit and everything was amazing. Heather has 20/15 VISION!!! That’s even better than 20/20 vision!!! She is so excited about it! It’s amazing how fast the surgery worked and the Dr. said her vision will just keep getting better, it’s not even the best it will be yet. The only “problem” she’s having is dry eyes, but that is COMPLETELY normal. They gave her some extra strength gel eye drops to use at night and asked her to put in regular eye drops during the day every 15-20minues. One of the problems was because we run a fan in our room at night, we didn’t think to turn it off during the day yesterday or while we were sleeping at night. This made her eyes even dryer. So if you get it done be sure you turn the fan off where you sleep if you use one! You’ll also notice some halos around lights at night. For some people it’s worse than other but don’t worry because it will go away after the first 1-3months.
THE NEXT 2 MONTHS
The next couple months did not go as great, this is to help everyone who goes through the same thing Heather did, so you hopefully don’t panic as much as she did. She couldn’t find any information on what happened the next few months except horror stories, it made it so much worse, so hopefully my account helps someone! Even though it’s completely normal to panic when scary things happen, no matter how much the doctor tells you it’s normal. Hopefully you won’t have a breakdown like she did one day!
The next morning Heather had a MAJOR panic. She woke up and her right eye was completely blurry, worse than before surgery blurry. She put in eye drops and it cleared up some. It was the 4th of July with the family so she tried to just forget it was happening and go on with the day putting in lots of eye drops. It wasn’t feeling any more dry or worse at the time so she hoped it was just a temporary thing.
The next day it had become blurry in both eyes now, she was trying not to worry too much since it was 4th of July weekend and didn’t want to bother the doctor. It was her niece’s first birthday and she was trying not to panic too much, but Walter noticed how worried she was so he had her call on the way to the party. Dr. Engle who had also examined her at the first day checkup and had originally noticed her dry eye, told her that this was normal her eye was just really dry, and he was surprised it took so long to show up since it had looked so dry at the appointment. He had her get much thicker eye drops called Celluvisc, which is a gel like eye drop. She started putting them in and they did help the discomfort but didn’t show any change in her vision. She called back on Sunday, of course still worried, and he said to put them in every hour, and to come in Monday for him to look over. By Monday the blurriness was getting better and he said everything looked great, just some major dryness especially in her right eye and to keep up the Celluvisc and other eye drops. She continued rotating between the two every 30 minutes. Each eye kept rotating the severity of blurriness but after about a week the blurriness had subsided and just the dry discomfort continued. Which was a relief after a few breakdowns that this was the worst decision ever and that she was going to go blind. Wouldn’t everyone have at least one of those in that moment though?
She went to another appointment a week later to check in, and they said the dryness was looking better. After the blurriness was getting better, she tried pulling back on the eye drops to every hour and every 2 hours like the instructions the doctor gave her said. She was about to finally be at every 4 hours when they went up on Pennsylvania for a wedding and then to DC to visit our friend Tom. She was doing really well that week and we thought that she was starting to get better.
It had been 4 weeks since the surgery and the instructions said she could move to the much cheaper preservative vials of eye drops instead of the preservative free. TERRIBLE choice. Stick with the preservative free the whole time. It turns out most people have an allergy or intolerance to preservative eye drops, which Heather did. It was a gradual downhill turn, and we didn’t realize what happened for almost 2 weeks. It turns out if you over use preservative eye drops, your eyes become dependent, and then you need them even more. At that point Heather was back to using them every hour or more, along with the Celluvisc.
On the way up to Pennsylvania again, we decided to stop and get some preservative free eye drops again to try. It got a little better but still was far from perfect. Heather’s eyes would be so red, blood vessels all burst, and burning from the dry eyes, especially the right eye. She was miserable, and had no clue what dry eye would entail in the beginning. She bought an eye patch to sleep in at night in case her eyes were not fully closing and some nighttime gel for her eyes that is much thicker. This helped a lot but it still was bad.
A couple weeks later she called the doctor again to see what could be done again. He confirmed the intolerance to the preservative eye drops and told her it was good she went back to preservative free. He also put a punctual plug in her right eye so that tears and eye drops would not drain out as fast. He said the first 3 months are the hardest, it’s normal, and once you get through this hump it was a breeze. He said it didn’t look like I had permanent dryness, which was hard to believe still. This actually seemed to help out a lot, it wasn’t quite as bloodshot or hurting quite as bad, things were looking up a lot. It was far from perfect but almost there.
A couple weeks later, we flew up to Vermont for a wedding. The sent her back downhill fast. Apparently an airplane has as little humidity as the Sahara desert. She knew it would be bad going in and brought her eye-patch she sleeps in and put in nighttime gel and tried to sleep most of the time. It was a long layover in New York, and it definitely didn’t help her eyes. Vermont had very little humidity as well compared to home in NC. By the time she got home she was miserable again. She thought maybe the plug had even fallen out since it had gotten as bad, if not worse than before.
That Monday she called into the doctor because her whole eye was completely red, all the blood vessels popped, and killing her. She thought she might have an infection. The doctor said everything looked fine just really dry again. He put a plug in her right eye as well, and suggested her try Systane eye drops, she had been using Refresh until this point. He said they were a little thicker and might help. She went and got some and started using those and stopped the Celluvisc since these were a little thicker in general. That was great as it was because the Celluvisc made her eyelashes crust shut and was very annoying to use constantly and gross.
The next week they headed to their annual Disney trip. That’s when everything starting getting SO much better. We don’t know if it was the Florida humidity, the plugs, or the Systane, but it was finally getting better. Better than it had at any point. There weren’t any popped blood vessels almost any of the days, the burning was feeling better, and there hadn’t been any blurriness.
AFTER THE HARD TIME
Heather had her 3-month checkup soon after this and they said her eyes looked great, the dryness wasn’t really there. The halos have disappeared too. They encouraged her to keep using her eye drops some, she went from every hour, to every few hours, to 4 times a day now. They said it was a good idea to continue until at least 6 months when her eyes should be fully healed. She had finally made it over the hump, she really didn’t have permanent dryness, and it really was normal. In the middle of it she was so frustrated and so scared. She never truly regretted it though; it never was as bad as contacts every day. Now she definitely has days that have some dryness, but it’s like her good days were in those months, never like one of her bad days. We even flew to Cancun for a wedding in October and it made it a little dry but didn’t have her relapse like before.
It was quite a roller coaster ride but I could have never made it through without the BEST doctors around. They answered my silly frantic phone calls, gave me things that helped, and pulled me through the hump. I am so SO grateful for them. This was the best decision I ever made, yes it was hard at times for sure, but to go swimming without contacts, to pick out cute non-prescription sunglasses, and to wake up in the middle of the night and see, nothing can beat that!
Just remember going in, it’s surgery. REAL surgery. Every surgery takes time to heal. It will not be fun healing, it never is. I didn’t realize this no matter how many times I was told. I was told dryness for 2-3 months, 6 months for healing. That’s exactly what it was. I still had a harder case than some, but everyone will have some healing time. Don’t let it discourage you from getting the surgery though. What’s 2-3 months of some discomfort to being able to see forever?
We are so glad Heather had the surgery done, it really is amazing to have to use glasses in the morning and by afternoon being able to see PERFECTLY. Not having to wear glasses and put contacts in is unbelievable!
5 YEAR UPDATE!
It has been five years now since Heather had her surgery and WOW has it been worth it! She just had her eye appointment and her vision was still perfect at 20/15 in both eyes! Heather still uses eye drops at night and uses them occasionally at other times just to keep her eyes from getting too dry. No major problems at all though and vision is great!
We’ll post more updates as time goes on!