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Cyrak
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Hi!

 

I am seriously considering a career as a helicopter pilot. I have not made much progress so far, as I have not found a way to come up with the money, but other than that, there is nothing standing in my way. I have already passed a Second Class Medical, and my vision was not even an issue.

 

I have worn glasses since I was about 11 years old (I am 29 now). They tell me I am farsighted, with some astigmatism, and my prescription is fairly strong, I guess, since I have to have them made with high-index glass to avoid the "coke-bottle" look. However, without them, I can see just fine, far and near (up to about 10 inches away). I passed both my driver's exam and medical without them. All that happens when I don't wear them is that I eventually get a mild headache and eyestrain.

 

I have considered getting LASIK, not because I have trouble "seeing my alarm clock in the morning" or because I'm afraid I would be unable to function if I lost my glasses, but because I would like to be able to wear normal non-prescription sunglasses, stop spending half my life wiping off smudges, and stop looking for jobs based on vision insurance just so I can afford a new pair. I have had the initial exam, and they tell me I am a very good candidate for LASIK. I know several people personally (most of them veterinarians - I am a vet tech) who had LASIK quite a few years ago, and all of them are very happy with it. But these are my EYES we're talking about, and I don't exactly relish the idea of having any kind of surgery done to them - especially since my dream of flying depends on them. Even the potential of having something go wrong is daunting, and I am concerned about negative effects five or ten years down the road. If I truly had horrible vision without glasses, it might be an easier decision, but it would be easy to make things worse instead of better.

 

So here (finally), is my question: Have any of the pilots here had this done? How long ago? How bad was your vision before? How hard/long was the recovery? Have any of you heard of ANYONE regretting it later? Even years later? Any negatives at all?

 

I would appreciate any personal experiences, advice, or information you can offer. Thanks!

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...

 

So here (finally), is my question: Have any of the pilots here had this done? How long ago? How bad was your vision before? How hard/long was the recovery? Have any of you heard of ANYONE regretting it later? Even years later? Any negatives at all?

 

I would appreciate any personal experiences, advice, or information you can offer. Thanks!

 

 

I had it done prior to me starting training & there are things you should keep in mind:

 

LASIK or other forms are always improving - if you don't NEED it now, why not wait until you do when some of the procedures are improved? Is LASIK what you need, or is LASEK or RK better?

 

The surgery on me actually made my vision worse in one eye & will have to get it redone (not that much worse, though; I was still able pass Class II medical without glasses...), & it doesn't effect my ability to see aircraft far or near when flying.

 

My near vision is actually worse, & this is one of the many possible outcomes for this surgery - & I have a hard time trying to read maps in flight when I am looking down.

 

Your eyes get worse as you get older - so even though you may have LASIK now, by the time you retire or get older, you may need glasses again

 

 

As far as how bad my vision was - pretty bad. How long ago: 6 yrs. Recovery: Had to take meds every few hrs at 1st (& had to get up to take it), but by a few days later it was fine. You see 20/20 immediately, but for the 1st few days are covered with bandage of some sort or dark eyeglasses.

 

If you work in front of computers, DON'T go back to work right away - get the surgery done on Friday evening or Sat am, & take days off into the next week to give your eyes a chance to recover. Make sure the place you choose to do the surgery isn't some cheapy place - do some research on the office/DR, get references, & make sure they are offering the best procedures available - this is one area where you don't want to save a few bucks on with a cheap doctor....

Edited by klas
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Hi!

 

I am seriously considering a career as a helicopter pilot. I have not made much progress so far, as I

 

So here (finally), is my question: Have any of the pilots here had this done? How long ago? How bad was your vision before? How hard/long was the recovery? Have any of you heard of ANYONE regretting it later? Even years later? Any negatives at all?

 

I would appreciate any personal experiences, advice, or information you can offer. Thanks!

 

I have had my Lasik procedure done 5 years ago with no problems so far. I wanted to be an Army Warrant Flight Officer, and this was the only way I could have submitted my application package because my unaided sight. My vision was 20/200 which was pretty bad, all I could see was the big "E" on the chart and even that was fuzzy ha ha ha.

 

So I did some research and found the best clinic and interviewed the doctor about the procedure and what I had to expect. Before I had the procedure done the staff had offered to give me a valium but I declined due to the fact that I was still in the military and I didn't have authorization to have this surgery done and the valium could have been traced if I took a drug test. If they offer the pill, take it! They put local local pain killers on my eye balls, but I still felt the blade slicing my Cornea! That was a bit unpleasant. As soon as the surgery was done my vision had already improved, I could tell what time it was on the wall clock! Soon after they applied topical steroids to my eyes, and that had to be the most painful part of Lasik, my eyes literally felt like they were on fire!

 

The first week after the surgery was very uncomfortable (I had to take a week of leave). My eyes were always dry so I had to constantly apply re-wetting drops (about twice an hour) and apply topical steroids in the morning as far as i can remember. While in bed I had to tape these silly looking clear lenses over my eyes to prevent any accidental contact with my eyes while I slept. After all of that it took 6 months for minor visual imperfections to go away (mainly halos around lights at night) and the "desert eye" feeling to taper off.

 

I'm glad I had the procedure done, and have no regrets. The doctor over corrected my vision so I could see 20/20 but my close up vision (short sight?) has degraded a bit but I'm not complaining. I paid a large penny but I wanted the best for my eyes. There are many things you have to consider like having the procedure redone if your vision isn't what it should be. Find a good doctor and talk to him, all Lasik clinics will (or should) take the time to talk to you. there's also information all over the internet so start researching and avoid those clinics offering a "Two for One Sale!".

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I have the same type of vision as you. VERY VERY high astigmatism... Got LASIK last year. Have a class 2 w/ no restrictions. Best decision I have ever made.

 

Same here I had an astigmatism in my right eye, and it's pretty much been taken care of. The only time I can tell the difference is if I cover my left eye then my sight is ever so slightly fuzzy, it's barely even noticeable.

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I liked IceWater’s explaination--a more real-world view of the process. This might get long, but I’ll explain my process to give you (and everyone) a better idea of what to expect because I definitely went into this thing disillusioned.

 

I had my surgery almost exactly 3 months ago and everything I had heard was just how easy it was. How you would literally leave the clinic with perfect vision. Well, that is not the case.

 

After talking with the eye surgeon and telling him my reasons for having the surgery done (a Warrant Packet as well) he decided to use a slightly different procedure than the traditional LASEK (cutting the corneal flap, reshaping the cornea with the laser, and putting the flap back in place). I had EPI-LASIK. He said the military actually preferred that procedure (don’t know if that is the case or not) because instead of cutting the flap, they SCRAPE away the cells on the corneal surface, reshape the cornea with the laser, and then you have to wait for those cells to grow back. The eye surgeon said it was “technically” the better procedure because they don’t disrupt the integrity of the cornea (cutting the corneal flap) but the reason most people get the traditional LASEK is because it is much more patient friendly. The surgeon explained that with EPI-LASIK “some people experience extreme discomfort with this procedure” and then goes on to say that it is “short term pain for long term gain”. I guess ignorance really is bliss sometimes because I’m glad I didn’t know what I was getting into...

 

And like IceWater said, take the little yellow pill. I wish I had taken two…

 

Here’s my experience and I hope it helps others know what to expect.

 

First, I was a 100% contact wearer. But you can’t wear your soft contacts for at least two weeks before the surgery and hard contacts for at least a month (be sure you have a good pair of glasses, with an updated prescription before you start all of this).

 

Second, now at the eye surgeon, they recheck your vision and run some other tests to verify everything. After they get the updated readings you are ready for your surgery. They lay you down under this machine. They then tape your eyes open (so you can’t blink). Then the surgeon took what looked like an electric tooth brush with spinning bristles, presses pretty firmly on my eye to “scrape” off those cells on the corneal surface (I’m sure it was probably mostly mental, but boy was that uncomfortable). Then you just look at a little red dot for about a minute. You hear a bunch of clicking/snapping and smell burning hair. Then it’s rinse and repeat with the other eye.

 

While I was at the clinic, the person that drove me up there went off to fill prescriptions of Perkocet (sp?) and sleeping pills. Luckily the receptionist told me exactly what to expect and said, “trust me, I had that same procedure done and all you are going to want to do is sleep the next couple of days”. Once out of surgery and ready to head home, she wouldn’t let me leave without taking more pain meds first. Again she said, “trust me, you don’t want a gap in the pain medicine coverage”. Long story, longer, SHE WAS EXACTLY RIGHT ON!!!

 

I probably had three of the most painful days of my life. And what’s worse, you can’t see anything smaller than a car for about three days until those cells start to grow back over your cornea. And even then, it starts out fuzzy. So there I am, drugged up, can’t see, wearing those goofy goggles 24 hours-a-day, so I just have to lay around for 3-4 days. I couldn’t even get caught up on my movies or TV viewing--just had to lay there and listen to the radio. But then things started to come around and at my first follow-up appointment, I was seeing 20/20. But while I could see 20/20 on the eye chart, I was having a very hard time reading for a week or two. My vision fluctuated a lot for about the first month, literally good days (glad you had the surgery) and bad days (what the hell did I just do to myself). The doctor said it would take about 3 months for those cells to get settled down and back to their pre-surgery state. But by two months I was seeing 20/15 and that is where it stands today. It is great. But like IceWater said, I do still wake up some mornings with that “desert eye” but that is also getting better every day. And also like IceWater said, the first month, I had to put 2-3 different medicating drops in my eye 4-times a day and not to mention putting the rewetting drops in my eyes a couple of times an hour for the first 2 months. I got VERY sick-and-tired of having to put drops in my eyes.

 

But all that being said, now I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and have no regrets what-so-ever. I’m glad I had it done. Like I said, I was just surprised by how involved the procedure actually ended up being in the end. It is not as simple as they make it sound.

 

Also, something else that surprised me was some of the “hidden costs” I think anyone considering the procedure should know about. I absolutely agree with Klass. Don’t try to save a few bucks here. Go with a solid reputation. But here’s exactly how much it cost me in the end.

 

New Glasses Prescription Fill $80.00

Pre/Post Op Follow-ups $648.00

LASEK Surgery $3,400.00

Initial Prescriptions (Perkaset and Lunesta) $50.00

Gas Money to Portland $25.00

Re-wetting Drops $20.00

Re-wetting Drops $18.00

Follow-up Pain Medicine Prescription $13.00

Re-wetting Drops $18.00

Restasis Prescription $117.00

Reading Glasses $18.00

Flarex Prescription Refill $32.00

Total Cost $4,439.00

 

(Not to mention all of the TIME, either off of work, at the pharmacist, or at follow-up eye appointments)

 

You may or may not need everything I listed above. For example, I didn’t “need” reading glasses but my eye doctor said it would be a good way to protect my “investment”. He said just about the worse things anyone can do for their eyes is a lot of reading/computer work (reading really strains the eyes). He said it would be a good idea to use reading glasses even though I don’t need them because it will slow the deterioration in eye sight that everyone experiences overtime.

 

Anyway, sorry this got so long but I hope the info helps those considering it.

 

-V5

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Had it done summer of 2000 in Toronto. I was 20/550 with astigmatism in each eye. Back then it was about $5000 in St. Louis, and I had it done for less than $2500 in Canada WITH airfare, three nights in a hotel, meals, etc. Had a fun little vacation and was back flying less than three days later.

 

Go to www.lasikmd.ca Their are a ton of LASIK places all over Canada. I see you're in Seattle. My wife and I are coming there later this year. Then we'll drive over the border to Vancouver so she can have the surgery at a fraction of the cost in the US. I think it's $320/eye now. Plus I can use my HSA/FSA pretaxed money for it and then deduct the mileage or airfare as a medical expense. Neat trick for a vacation, huh?

 

Don't get scared off with Canada. It's not like all the experimental surgeries that are legal in Mexico. LASIK was invented in Canada, the machines are build and certified there, and all of the most experienced surgeons are there. My guy had done over 20,000 eyes. Apparently the FDA takes forever to certify the machinery, so usually the US gets the machines that are already out-of-date. Plus, usually the machines are owned by a group of doctors and each gets it for one or two days a week. Call around to your local LASIK places.....I bet one does surgeries only on Tuesdays, another only Wednesdays & Thursdays, etc. It's just like those portable MRI and CAT scan machines in the semi trailers that float around.

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Thanks, guys! This is exactly what I wanted - honest and detailed experiences of what it is really like to have it done. I do have a few questions, though - for those of you who said your vision is "worse" in one or both eyes, or that your near vision is "degraded" - could you go into a little more detail? How much worse? Is it actually fuzzy, or do you just get eyestrain? How is it different from how bad your eyes were before the surgery? And is "near" like 10 inches, or 3 feet? Were you nearsighted or farsighted before? Astigmatism? What do you mean by "overcorrected"? Is it necessary to sacrifice near vision to improve your far vision? Sorry for so many questions, but one can never have too much information, especially when it involves something this important. Thank you all so much for you input - I would love anyone else's experiences as well!

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Got it 6 yrs ago, really happy I did. I did not find the recovery to be that unpleasant. I would recommend it to anyone. Don't worry about waiting for the technology to improve, a lot of people don't realize it but corrective eye surgery has been done for over 20 years. Just spend the extra bucks and go to a highly reputable place and do your research.

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I had it done also. About 10 years ago.

 

It was the best thing I have ever done. I had the regular lasik I guess where they cut the flap instead of scraping the cells off. Was painless, finished fast, the worst part about the whole procedure was all the drops you have to put in your eye afterwards. I really dont remember much of the procedure. But its definately reccomended in my book.

 

My vision has deteriorated slightly in one eye, but thats probably just from age. I spend alot of time on computers as well. My vision now is noticable to me that its not perfect, but I never wear the glasses. They dont make contacts for me since its so weak.

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I got mine about 3-4 years ago and it is GREAT! My vision was pretty bad and now it is 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 (better than perfect) in the other. I have no regrets and the recovery was VERY easy. I had no discomfort, NONE and the only inconvenience was applying drops for a week or so. I went 4 wheeling the very next day and wore my dirt bike goggles but my vision was perfect the day after surgery!

Its awesome. I was also really worried about the whole "but its my eyes!" thing. i got over it, did it and never looked back!

DO IT

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I just got mine done about two weeks ago. I went with PRK, which, after some research, I thought was the better option. And, the military prefers it. But, I have had a good experience with it and I definitely recommend it, especially after fighting with glasses for 15 years.

 

But, bottom line, do your homework, ask questions (like you've already been doing), and make an informed decision before you commit.

 

Cheers

 

:lol:

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  • 2 months later...

I have looked into a lot of opinions and scientific studies on LASIK, etc, since posting this topic, and I found many conflicting views. They just recently released research that followed up on people who had the surgery 10 years ago, and their finding was that most still had 20/25 or better. They don't mention any long-term negative effects, though, and another thing I don't hear mentioned is the integrity of the cornea. Several studies found that the cornea, which in most LASIK surgeries, they cut into a "flap" to do the procedure, never fully heals, and is vulnerable to come apart later due to rubbing your eyes, or an impact from a fall or contact sports. This is because of the anatomy of the cornea - think of it like a Jello mold - if you cut the top off with a sharp knife, when you stick it back on, there is somewhat of a "vacuum" affect, and especially if you moisten it, it will stay in place. However, if you push on it with any force, eventually, it will come off. The cornea has a slightly better ability to heal than this, but you get the picture. This is not a problem in the forms of LASIK where they "wear away" the surface of the cornea, and it eventually grows back, but in these procedures, there can be much higher risk of infection and obviously, the scarring is much worse, which can affect visual clarity.

 

I am not an expert on all of this, by any means - I am just passing on what I gathered from my research online and from people I talked to. My advice to anyone considering the surgery is to do the same research I did, and talk to an eye doctor who DOES NOT do this procedure, so you can get an unbiased professional opinion. Ask about all the risks, such as the ones I mentioned above, and if you are not satisfied with the answers, then don't do it. If, however, you have rather poor eyesight to start with, and the improvement in vision would be worth the possible side effects, then you will most likely be one of the millions of people who are very happy with the results. Good luck!

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One of my old friends had it done about 10 years ago and he still swears by it. He'd worn contacts and glasses since he was a child. The first week his vision was a little blurred but after that no problems. I suppose it depends upon the physician doing the work but judging the experiences of a few peolple who've had the procedure it seems a viable option and one definitely worth considering. Good luck. :)

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