Community Athena's Adventures with Laser Eye Surgery


The Cooler Danchou
Advanced Member
Hello PokéBeach! As you may or may not have seen, I recently posted a status update to let the community know that I was undergoing laser eye surgery. There was a decent amount of interest in hearing how the procedure went, so I thought I'd go ahead and make a thread to discuss it a bit.

You're more than welcome to ask any questions if you have them!


I started wearing glasses when I was 7~8 years old (American 2nd grade). At first, it was just my left eye that had problems, but eventually my right eye caught up. As is standard for most people who need vision correction, my eyes continued to worsen as my body matured. By the time my vision was at its worst, I had one far-sighted eye (left), one near-sighted eye (right), and astigmatism in both eyes (very sever in the left, minor in the right).

I've been interested in laser eye surgery ever since I heard about it ages ago, but never really thought it would work for my eyes because of the astigmatism. However, technology is always advancing and this is now much less of an issue than it used to be.

Lead Up:

The clinic I chose to use offers free testing to see if your eyes are suitable for laser surgery. The free test is super simple; you do a few vision tests, they measure some things about your eyes and about your current prescription, ask you some medical questions, etc. It took about 20 minutes. At the end of the process, the doctor who was administering the "test" basically told me: "Yep, you're good. Your eyes are very likely suitable for laser surgery, though you'll need to take the full exam to figure out which methods would suit you best."

And so, we scheduled the full exam. This one was not free, but if we decided to go through with the surgery at the clinic, they would apply the costs of the full exam (€100) to the cost of the surgery itself.

The full exam was a lot more intense and involved. Many more eye tests, including some that required the use of a certain eye drop that dilated my pupils and basically messed up my vision for the next several hours. At the end of it all, we had a meeting with the surgeon itself to discuss which procedure would be best for me and how to go about the next steps.

This particular clinic offers three different types of laser eye surgery: LASIK, SMILE, and TransPRK. LASIK is the one most people are familiar with; SMILE is the newest type and TransPRK is the oldest. Each surgery is mostly different in how it affects your cornea, and as a result, some are better than others for certain people with certain eyes and certain vision correction needs. If you'd like to know more about the different types of surgeries, I suggest you check out Wikipedia or so.

For me, the surgeon recommended TransPRK. The reason he chose this surgery over the other types is because my corneas are so thin, especially on my worse (left) eye. Because of the thinness, the other surgeries would riskier, whereas TransPRK would be a safe bet. He also recommended an additional procedure, cross-linking, to help strengthen my left eye and make it less likely that the surgery would need to be performed again.

The downside to this procedure over the others is that TransPRK is the least comfortable for the patient. It has a longer recovery time with more eye discomfort in the meantime. The cross-linking would make recovery even longer for my left eye as well.

I agreed to the surgery and we were able to schedule it right away the following week. I was given some eyedrop medication to use in the few days proceeding the surgery, we paid the full cost of the procedure upfront (about €3,000 for both eyes, including the cross-linking of the left, and all of my medications) and otherwise we were good to go.

The Surgery Itself:

The clinic I chose has many locations all over my country (The Netherlands). Previously, we had been dealing with the local (Amsterdam) clinic, but this location is only used for smaller appointments and does not have surgery functionality. So, on the day of the surgery itself, my husband and I got up earlier and took the train to their main location in Utrecht.

After I arrived, I had a few other small tests to do, then I was given some medication (paracetamol for pain, valium to keep me calm during the procedure) and left with my husband to wait in the waiting room for the medication to settle in. After a half hour or so, an assistant took me in the back where I was given protective gear to keep the operating theatre sterile (gown, hair cap, shoe covers), then led to a deeper waiting room where my eyes were treated with another series of eye drops.

Once that was all done, was brought into the surgery room itself where I lied down on a bed underneath a big machine. The surgeon greeted me warmly and explained every step of the process as it was going on. My right eye was done first, the eyelid fixed open, and the eye thoroughly cleaned and rinsed with water. The laser process itself took maybe a minute. I just kept staring at a green light that kept getting larger and fuzzier. The weirdest part was smelling the scent of my own cornea being burnt away. Once the lasering was done, a special bandage contact lens was placed over my eye to protect it while the cornea heals.

The left eye was next, same opening procedure and same laser procedure, but afterward I also had the cross-linking to go through. My bed was moved underneath a different machine, and this time I stared at a different light, bigger and with many colours. It was actually pretty cool looking. Another contact lens over the left eye, and that was all.

Once both procedures were done, I was given a strong pair of sunglasses, my medications, and I was basically on my way.

Recovery Day 1:

By the time my husband and I got home, the anesthesia had worn off, and I was starting to feel that discomfort I was warned about. My eyes were incredibly light sensitive, and to top it off, I was still a bit loopy from the valium. I ended up sitting in the bathroom (darkest room of the house) with the door closed and all the lights off, and I was wearing my sunglasses, and it was still too bright. I had no appetite, and no ability to concentrate on practically anything.

The rest of my day was mostly measured by regular application of the various eye drop medications that I needed to use in the aftermath of the surgery. Thank god for my husband, who was able to keep everything straight for me. There was one drop I needed to take every hour, one I needed to take 6 times a day, and one I needed to take twice a day. I also had two kinds of pain medication, and a super powerful eye drop medication "just for emergencies" that I decided to save for before bed to make sure I could sleep.

I'm not going to lie. It was a really awful day. Thankfully, the super powerful eye drops basically numbed my eyes completely, so I was able to get to sleep decently well.

Recovery Day 2 + First Follow Up Appointment:

The various material that I was given to read about the procedure had said that day 2 is usually the worst day for patients. After the hell that was day 1, I was ready for the worst.

Thankfully, it wasn't actually that bad. Definitely an improvement over the previous day, though I was still very light sensitive. I had a bit of an appetite, and I was able to concentrate good enough to listen to an audiobook. I was still wearing my sunglasses inside, but I was able to stay in the dark bedroom instead of needing to shut myself away in the bathroom.

The hardest part of the day was going to my 24 hour follow up appointment. Which meant going outside. In the middle of the day. On a bright sunny day. I had wonderful timing with my surgery.

Once again, hubby to the rescue! He was able to lead me to the tram to take me to the Amsterdam clinic location. By the time we got there, my eyes had adjusted to the light a bit to the point where I could even open my eyes a little bit (under the sunglasses, and so long as I wasn't in direct sunlight).

I was admittedly relieved to hear that my experience was normal, and he examined my eyes and proclaimed that everything seemed to be going just perfectly. Hurray!

Recovery Day 3 onward + More Follow Ups:

Each day got better and better. By day 3, I was able to use my phone a bit, and by day 4, I wasn't dreading going outside for my next follow up very much.

You may have noticed that I haven't actually mentioned how my vision improved during this time period, and that's mostly because I honestly couldn't tell. My eyes were so light sensitive that it was hard to look at almost anything. Being able to read on my phone that Thursday was really the first time I'd actually used my eyes for much of anything that requires any kind of focus.

Day 4 (Friday) was the day they planned to remove my bandage contact lenses. When I went to my first follow up, the doctor wasn't sure if they would be able to remove the one on the left (since the cross-linking requires more healing), but when I actually arrived on D4 and had my eyes examined again, it was good enough to remove after all! So, both contacts were removed and I was a happy camper. My medication also changed slightly as a result of the contacts being gone.

Since then, I've slowly been recovering my eyesight and normality. By Friday I was allowed to use a PC again, though it was a bit too fuzzy and annoying for me to want to use much. By Monday, I had more or less resumed normally activity, though spending significantly less time at the PC, as expected.

I had another follow up a week after the surgery to test and see how my vision was improving. The good news is that it was actually improving faster than expected! The doctor only really expected me to be able to read the fourth line of the vision chart comfortably with both eyes; instead, I was able to read the sixth.

For now, my vision is still slowly improving. My right eye is team-carrying at the moment, and, when it's at its best, currently has about as good of vision as it used to with my glasses on. Because my corneas are still bumpy and healing, my vision does vary throughout the day, so sometimes things get kind of foggy or fuzzy like I can't focus properly.

The left eye still has a lot time to go. In general, its vision is better than it was without glasses previously, but still very blurry and fuzzy basically always. Because of the cross-linking, this eye will take noticeably longer time to heal.

Overall, my eyes should be completely healed and my vision optimal within a few weeks, though I can already see well enough to continue my normal life. Hell, I typed up this huge ass post, didn't I? :p I'm down to only two eye drops now, and less frequent applications, but I'll be using those for another couple months still.

tl;dr - Athena had laser eye surgery.
I'm glad to see it all went well! :D Will you have to continue to use glasses or contacts, or did it completely eradicate the need for them?
I'm glad to see it all went well! :D Will you have to continue to use glasses or contacts, or did it completely eradicate the need for them?

The surgery should fix my vision to 20/20 so I have no further need for glasses or contacts. I have not worn my glasses since the morning I went in for the surgery.

Of course, laser eye surgery is long-term but not necessarily permanent permanent 20/20 correction. Like most other parts of our bodies, eyes do degenerate with age. I will likely still need old lady reading glasses or something within a few decades.
This has been an interesting read. Hopefully by the time I choose to get the procedure done they'll have better pain killers and relaxants because that sounds like a bit of a harrowing experience that I do not want to be awake through.

How long was it until you felt fully comfortable with your eyes?
This has been an interesting read. Hopefully by the time I choose to get the procedure done they'll have better pain killers and relaxants because that sounds like a bit of a harrowing experience that I do not want to be awake through.

How long was it until you felt fully comfortable with your eyes?

You do need to be awake for it, but they give you drugs to help you relax. The procedure itself isn't painful at all, just a bit weird.

It's also worth noting that specifically having a Trans PRK procedure, and also the cross-linking on top of it, is the most "unpleasant" (surgeon's words) procedure for the patient. Newer technology, such as LASIK or SMILE, is much more comfortable, and faster healing as well. It was only because of my exceptionally weird/shitty eyes that I needed to have the more complicated procedure, and I still feel it was definitely worth it.

The "comfortable" question is kind of difficult to answer. If you mean in terms of actual comfort/discomfort in my eyes, I'd say they were feeling about normal with no pain or discomfort within a week. In terms of my vision, it's still not 100% (right eye is and has been for a while, but left eye is still a bit blurry), but I've been able to see well enough to resume my normal life without complaints since about when I posted this thread.

Hopefully that helps clear things up a bit!