Monday, July 12, 2010

Special Eye 5 week Update

The vision is normalizing.  Five weeks after quick but mentally traumatic LASIK eye surgery, things seem to be improving according to the doc.  The thought of the surgery isn't as raw, and my left eye double-vision seems to have finally disappeared. I can go outside without sunglasses for small amounts of time. (Actually, it's about 6 weeks now, by the time I got around to writing this, but I've been composing this in my head for a while. Yeah, it's still a bit rough and could be organized better, but it's good enough for gov't work.)

I used the anti-inflammatory eye drops for 2 weeks, the anti-biotic eye drops for 1 week and occasional use.  I'm still using a variety of tear-mimic, saline, or re-wetting (dry eye combating) drops every day, but not as often as I was at even 4 weeks. Here's what I've learned.
  • Pred Forte, the anti-inflammatory, leaves white residue on the eyelashes that can reflect light into the eyes, making it look like there are weird visual effects.  But those go away after cleaning the eyelashes, thankfully, although I touched my eyelashes as little as possible the first week. My eye doc says that it's better to wean off it than go cold turkey.  I used this 4X/day for the first week and 2X/day the second week, and once in a while if my eyes seem itchy.
  • Anti-biotic eyedrops sting and burn.  I've had 2 or 3 brands and they all do.  Best way to deal with them is to put in some other drop first, blink that out of the way for a minute or so, then put in the anti-biotic drop.  I used these 4X/day for the first week and whenever I got paranoid that I'd damaged or otherwise touched my eye like when I hit my eyeball with a ziplock bag last week.
  • Blink makes a sample container that is annoyingly hard to squeeze. It's too squat to get a good squeeze on it.  The drops will wet the eyes like tears, but the effect is short term and not worth the struggle.
  • The Dollar Store eye drops work just as well as Blink and are easier to use and cheaper.
  • The "individual use" containers have about 5-8 drops per eye in them, which is usually too many.  I mostly use one or two drops per eye at a time.  These can be smuggled easily onto airplanes, but I otherwise recommend larger bottles.  (To avoid contaminating larger bottles, don't touch the tip to anything but the lid, but if you do, squeeze out a drop or two to clean out the tip before allowing the bottle to expand and suck in again.)
  • All varieties of "natural tear" or just plain preserved saline drops are good for rinsing eyes during or after showering. I had an old half-full bottle of saline that I plopped in the shower next to the shampoo just in case I got soapy or icky water in my eyes. (Do not put Lasiked eyes under shower water.  If you just get a little in from dripping or your wet face, it's ok, but I flushed mine with saline anyway, just to be safe.)
  • GenTeal makes re-wetting drops that seem to offer the best healing, and I give them credit for getting rid of the double vision.  But they are very strange to use.  Vision will be jacked up for about 10-15 minutes after using these drops, with fine/near vision not working great at all, but for the 2-3 hours after that, it's better than ever.  Then, my eyes started to feel sticky. This could only be relieved by more drops (either GenTeal or natural-tears type) but the stickiness is getting less as time goes on.  So if you need to drive 15 minutes home, use the saline/tears kind.  If you need to drive to San Diego, put in the GenTeal and wait 15 minutes.  (Fun fact: GenTeal is made by Novartis, who bought out the Necco Factory, of conversation hearts fame, a block from where I used to live then work. )
  • I have used Systane in the past for re-wetting, but not since the Lasik, so I can't say if it's better or worse than GenTeal, but GenTeal "feels" like it's working better so I stocked up on that. (I got mild-moderate and moderate-severe strengths both.)
Still on most days I think "oh, my contacts are starting to dry out, I should take them out before bed."   This was constant for the first month and only just started to become an intermittent thought. It was what triggered me to write this tonight, though.

I've been trying to exercise my eyes with the bead-on-a-string exercises and looking at Magic Eye images.   These practice control of focal distance.  My close vision is working better but I really can't focus at armpit distance yet, and that close, my left eye still gets a grey hole in the center.  I'm hoping if I exercise my peepers, it'll keep the muscles strong.  I keep pulling my reading back from my eyes because my muscle memory is to read with things 8" from my face, but I can see clearly to several feet away, so I keep moving books or computer screens and things close then away, just to make sure I practice using the various distances.

My eye appointment early last week (~1 month at 5 weeks due to holiday) showed my left eye vision correction improved without having the double vision in the way.  My vision is testing around 20/20.  My corneas and lenses look healthy and are mostly healed.  I can rub my eyes now if i need to but have only done it once.  Whenever I catch myself about to rub them, I just put in more eyedrops and the desire to rub goes away.  I noticed today at LACMA, when wandering through the 12' high rusted steel "ribbon" rooms, that I do get some aura still around bright lights when it's dark - the light coming over the top edge really came over the edge - but it's not as intense as the first week.  Your mileage may vary.


West/CJ said...

I have to give you credit, E. You are far braver than I am. I could never go through this. I'll stick with my glasses for all eternity if necessary.

CrankyOtter said...

It wasn't bravery as such. I realized that if I wanted to continue to wear stylish glasses and contacts, it could run me $600+ a year for the rest of my life. So lasik costs about 10 years of glasses and if I want the benefit, I should do it sooner rather than later. I have spare money this year that I didn't want to lose in some future stock market. My glasses were getting banged up and I was running out of contacts. I had to make a choice, so back in November, I set aside the max money in my MSRA account.

And would have lost half of it if I didn't do the surgery. Then I realized that doing it before rafting (july31) would be preferred as I didn't want to lose my only glasses in the river, if they lived that long to start with. One needs 4 weeks of healing before rough activity which put me at my friend's wedding. I figured I should not be in prime healing mode for that either which pushed it to aproximately 2 weeks after I interviewed the last 2 surgeons.

So I took a deep breath, went to the doc that took lots of measurements and was willing to work on price (low low price of $4600...) and just did it. I think part of the trauma I experienced was due to the fact that I hadn't really convinced myself it was a good idea at the time. Since then I've been mentally squealing quite a lot.

It does jack up the near vision somewhat. I'm hoping I can prevent total degradation by doing eye exercises to avoid needing reading glasses. But it's pretty cool to see the leaves in the trees, and the shadows in my room when I wake up in the middle of the night.