I Need Your Help! My Search For Lasik As A Photographer

Hey everyone. Since this is my personal blog I figured I’d go WAY personal today and ask for your help. I teach a lot of workshops throughout the year. And during those workshops I always joke that I’m in great company if my computer ever has troubles or I have health problems. Why? Because the majority of attendees at these workshops are IT Professionals or doctors :-) I’m kinda joking but not totally. It’s actually very true when every one goes around the room on the first night and introduces themselves. Anyway, on to my request.

The Back Story – My Eyes
See, I’ve been wearing contact lenses since I was 12 (I’m 40 now). I’m pretty nearsighted (-6 in one eye and -6.25 in the other with astigmatism in one eye). Life doesn’t exist for me without glasses or contacts. The entire world (unless it’s 2 feet in front of me) is horribly blurry. Well, back when I was 20 I was told I can’t wear my contacts very long during the day because my eyes don’t get enough oxygen and it could result in problems. They actually feel fairly comfortable (a little dry after a while but I think that’s the norm) but my eye doctors can always tell when I’ve been wearing them too much when I go for my exams. I also wear glasses when I’m not wearing my contacts. I hate them. I don’t want large glasses because I hate the way they look. Smaller glasses leave my peripheral vision blurry which is uncomfortable. Plus, I’m EXTREMELY active. I sweat a lot (see the post here for just how bad). I participate in sports and workouts where having glasses on just isn’t an option for me. I love to be outside in the water too. I spend my time off at the beach whenever possible. So glasses are a pain. I have to carry two pairs (sunglasses and regular). And contacts don’t work for me for long periods of time.

And for photography it’s a pain as well. I get up early for sunrise shoots and often am gone for the rest of the day. Putting my contacts in to help me shoot is essential. Looking through the camera with glasses just sucks. And I know I’ll need readers for close up stuff eventually (if I do get LASIK), but at least I’ll be able to take those off and still see the world. Right now, if I take my glasses off I can’t see crap.

My LASIK Story
My LASIK story is simple. I’ve been afraid of it ever since it came out. These are my eyes. My vision can be corrected with glasses or contacts. So I’ve always just been a big chicken when it comes to LASIK. That’s really it. No big story here – I’m just a wuss ;)

Where I Am Today
In the last 6 months I’ve been with enough people that have had LASIK and seen me battling with contacts/glasses, that I finally decided to look in to it more. I’ve gone for 3 consults so far and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Dr. #1) Perfect candidate for LASIK. LOVED the doctor! He was awesome! (and in to photography which doesn’t hurt) :) ($$$ Most Expensive Dr.)

Dr. #2) Felt my cornea was too thin for LASIK – recommended PRK. Liked the doctor, and he was very helpful in explaining. ($$$ Least expensive)

Dr. #3) Perfect candidate for LASIK. Never got to meet the doctor which I didn’t care for, but really nice people overall. ($$$ Right in the middle)

First off. I’m not bargain hunting. Dr. 1 is the most expensive by over $1000 but I’d gladly pay it if they’re the right choice. These are my eyes after all. I’ve called Dr. 1 back and they’ve explained to me why they think I’m good for LASIK. I’ve called Dr. 2 back and they’ve explained to me why they’d prefer to do PRK. At this point, it’s a toss up as I know neither dr. better than the other. They both seem reputable and I don’t know which opinion to take. Dr. 3 is pretty much out of the running at this point since I never even met them.

Research Sucks!
So now I’ve done some web searching. I’ve found that research about this stuff on the web sucks! First off, you can’t find ANY info about specifics doctors. All you find is websites listing all of their credentials. Next, forums suck! I hate forums! Haven’t used them in many years and now I know why. There’s a bunch of trolls out there and nobody really helps you. Plus, if you think about common human nature. When things go right, we tend not to say anything. It’s only when things go bad, that you tend to post online and look for help. So any place I do come across online that talks about LASIK (or PRK) typically makes me want to run for the hills from the procedure and stick with my glasses and contacts. Now, most of these forums and message boards don’t have 100 people posting a day. They have 1 person posting every few days or week. And it’s typically the same people commenting on each post. So the bad stories seem much less prevalent when you consider it’s the same group of 7 people posting about this stuff.

So now I’m thoroughly confused. Everyone I know that has had LASIK is ecstatic with their results. They’re very happy customers. I don’t know one person who is not. If I never read anything online, I’d think it was perfect. But reading online has now scared me in to making no decision at all. I know 2 people that have had PRK and they seem less than enthused after 6 months. PRK seems to have a MUCH longer recovery time. Overall it seems safer than LASIK in the long run, but I really have no idea. I don’t know either doctor personally so it’s one opinion against another. It seems like I can’t go wrong with PRK, but that recovery time is really something that’s sticking with me. I’ve heard or read several stories where people’s eyesight still hasn’t stabilized after 2-3 months. In my job, that’s not really an option.

So that’s where I’m looking for your help. I really want to do this. Sure, life is possible with contacts and glasses for me. I know I should probably consider myself lucky. But life isn’t very comfortable with them. I can’t imagine I’m doing my eyes any good taking contacts on/off twice a day to avoid over use, but still wear them for my activities. To hear so many great stories about LASIK, it seems like I’m missing something if I don’t do it. Anyone out there had LASIK or PRK? I know there’s got to be some doctors reading this? Any thoughts? If you know anyone, please pass this along, I’d appreciate their thoughts too. Thanks everyone! :)

  • Eric Schurr

    Matt, I had PRK in 1996 for the same reasons you state: i wore contacts (hard and soft) for many years and then two separate doctors told me i was starving my eyes of oxygen and i was ruining my eyes. I wore glasses for a few years but that was a real drag. I had PRK because i wasn’t a candidate for LASIK (i don’t remember why). Having my eyes fixed was one of the best decisions of my life. I have so much more freedom and I totally love it. I even had a “tune up” about ten years ago. The recovery is a bit of a drag, but it’s totally worth it. I drove a car and played golf about three days later. It was uncomfortable to look at a monitor or TV for about a week, but after that I was fine. My vision was very acceptable within a few weeks of surgery and it improved over time.

    i can’t speak to LASIK vs. PRK but i do know my doctor said that they are both valuable and one is not “better” than another, it’s just that some people are not candidates for some procedures.

    i never want to wear glasses or contacts again.

    BTW, i’m a rare case but I’m 55 and don’t need reading glasses. My doctor says i likely never will.

  • Bp

    If you are in NYC go see Dr Frank Accardi near Park. He’s fantastic and will give you the best advice.Issue is when you hit 40 your eyes change in shape frequently and some laser surgery is only a temporary fix. So instead of reaching out on the blog get off your butt and go see a doctor and get a proper eye exam from a professional.

  • mcrvickers

    To say that I am a very happy customer after my LASIK is an understatement. It was the BEST thing I’ve ever done for myself. I too was extremely nearsighted and I always joked that I was practically blind AND I had an astigma. Like you I was very active and hated glasses. I was super scared and picky about who I’d let touch my eyes. After much research, I found a Dr who did LASIK on professional athletes, like the SD Chargers. So I thought, if they trust this guy with their eyes..then I guess I can too! Lol. So I went to Dr Yaghouti at Global Laser Vision in San Diego. The pre-procedure was awesome. They have me an anti anxiety pill that worked sooo well that you probably could have told me the world was ending and I would have been ok with it! Then they take you back and the Dr talks you through everything. After a few minutes it was DONE! I stood up…AND I COULD SEEEEEE!!! BEST THING EVER!!!! The Chargers were good at one thing, trusting this Dr with their eyes because he is amazing! :) I hope this helps! Good luck to you and can’t to hear an update after you get it done! You will be amazed! :)

  • Jamie in Katy

    I spoke to a surgical nurse who works for one of the largest ophthalmology practices in Houston. Her hands down advice was PRK given your comment by doctor 2 (thin cornea). High selling points, no flap so less chance of problems, great for people with thin corneas, better vision overall after procedure. Their office only performs PRK surgery on Friday so that the weekend is open for healing. PRK involves a longer recovery and it is a bit more painful, but in the long run, the better option given your comments. She added that with the pain meds they give you for healing, it wasn’t that bad. Her daughter (22) went from 20/600 to 20/15. She was convinced PRK would be your best bet.

    Hope this is helpful and not more confusion on the subject. Best of luck!

    p.s. I had Lasik about four years ago and I still have to have readers, and driving glasses for night time driving. Both are frustrating, the readers are esp. aggravating with my photography. PRK wasn’t discussed, now I’m wishing I’d gone that route.

  • Roger de la Harpe

    Hi Matt. My love affair with contacts came to an end in 2000 when we were shooting pix in very dusty conditions for book we were doing on Africa’s big cats. I got dust between the lenses and my eyes and the resulting grinding past had me in agony for days.

    I met with a very clever ophthalmologist who recommended LASIK. We considered correcting one eye for distance vision and the other for close (reading etc) but after trying it (you walk around for a few days with only one contact lens in) decided to do both for distance. This means I have to use glasses for reading which is not too much of a pain. Shooting now is an absolute joy without having to deal with glasses or contacts.

    Twelve years later I’m still thrilled! Alas, can’t comment on PRK.

    Hope this helps


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  • FYMD

    Hi Matt,

    I am a photography enthusiast and a cornea and refractive surgery specialist practicing in San Diego for 15 years. I have done well over 75,000 Lasik and PRk procedures. Drop me a line at fymd@globallaservision.com and I’d be happy to answer all your questions re thin corneas, the implications of having Lasik or PRK on patients with thin corneas, and all the factors to consider when picking out a surgeon in your area of residence (Florida?) to do your procedure. Have a wonderful weekend.