Monday, March 12, 2012

Pre-Op Time: Having Visian ICL Surgery

The night before surgery, I drank as much water as I could and ate all the way up until midnight.  I typically eat right when I wake up and drink so much water throughout the day, that I was worried I'd be starving and super thirsty the day off my eye surgery (since you can't have food or drinks or gum or mints or really anything from midnight-on prior to surgery).  My nerves helped keep my hunger away.

I woke up feeling good, but still anxious.  I realized I was looking at everything a lot more intently to exam what I could see and what I couldn't....and sometimes the thought would cross my mind - what if something goes wrong and I can't see this every again.  Oh, I could've driven myself crazy with those thoughts.

I walked into Midwest Eye Center and they we ready for me right away (which is great because I hate to wait...and even more-so in this nervous situation).  My husband was left in the waiting room with a buzzer (kinda like the ones you get at Panera!) to tell him when I was going into surgery (so that he could watch).

The took me to have me sign some papers, and putting a bunch of drops in my eyes, checking my blood pressure, etc.  After, they had me sit in a pre-op waiting room.  It seemed like I was in there forever.  Probably about 30 minutes.  My eyes were dilating or whatnot during that time.

A few others were in the room with me.  They put these dot stickers on each person's forehead above the eye/s that they were getting done (I think most people were there for cataract surgery because I don't think ICL is all that common).  I was a little bored waiting there...no phone or magazines or anything to keep my mind off of the fact that they were about to perform surgery on my eyes! 

I was excited and scared and worried all at the same time....so many emotions! 

Finally, they called me back to the Surgery Area.  It was my turn...

The Days Leading Up To ICL Surgery

Since the YAG went well, I was honestly less nervous about the surgery (although still anxious to get it done).  Starting 3 days before the surgery, I had to use the 2 different eye drops (Nevanac & Vigamox) 3 times a day. 

Those little drops are expensive.  I called the eye doctor (where I was getting surgery) and asked for samples.  They had Nevanac sample and were able to give me that one.   (That saved me around $130!)  I had to buy the Vigamox, which was about $90.  (My insurance didn't cover much.)  Luckily I went to Kroger Pharmacy when they had a 'transfer prescription and get $25 for groceries', which was a little relief to the growing amount I was spending on "new eyes"!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was able to get the generic version of Pred Forte, (Prednisolone Acetate), which was only around $12 with my insurance (again, my insurance isn't that great).

No problems with the drops...just anxiety about the surgery.

Note:  Shake all the drops before you use them.  I don't think you should use them while wearing contacts, but consult your doctor.  Also, I think it's helpful to put your head back, place the drop in and then move your eye around (looking right to left and up & down) to help the drop fully penetrate the eye...but again, consult your doctor.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

YAG - Laser Before ICL

After the doctor checked over all my tests, I was deemed a good candidate for ICL.  I scheduled my YAG laser iridotomy appointment before I could talk myself out of the surgery.   The YAG was going to be scheduled 1 week before my surgery to allow time for it to heal.  (P.S - I'm getting both eyes done at the same time.)  The YAG laser is done to make a couple small openings in the colored part of the eye in order to allow fluids to get through to the lens. 

The nurse then told me I had to schedule a Physical within 30 days of my surgery and Pregnancy Test within 1 week of my surgery.  I've never had surgery before, so I had no idea you needed this before surgery.  (This kind of annoyed me, as I had a short time frame to get all these appointments in.) 

Back to the YAG - I had read some scary things about YAG - pain, side effects, etc, so I was super nervous going into that appointment.  Days before, I started really getting anxious.  I kept thinking I can't believe I'm paying all this money to put myself through this nervousness and what if something goes wrong and I can never see again.  I'm usually not an anxious or nervous person, so I'm not sure why I got myself all worked up about this.

The appoint takes about 1.5 hrs.  They take tests then do the laser part.  Ahh...I was so nervous.  Moreso about this than the actual surgery.  I explained to my doctor some of my fears.  He said that side effects are usually just the headache around the brow area (which is why they suggest taking an advil or something like that 30 minutes in advance of the appointment).  He described that sometimes it take 2 laser tries per eye and sometimes it can take 10.  (Luckily I only had about 2 in the right eye and about 4-5 in the left...I can certainly see where you'd have a much bigger headache if you had to have more than that.).  He also said that with Blue/Green eyes it's usually a lot easier and quicker than with brown or dark eyes. 

You just put your chin up on a machine and forehead forward (like some of the other machine's at the eye doctor).  The nurse helped hold my head and place.  They do one eye at a time, numbing the eye, then telling you to hold still and look at a certain spot.  The doctor shoots the laser (sounds worse then it was).  I don't know how to explain the feeling, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.  It was quick and felt like a little not-hurtful pinch.  Afterwards they flush your eyes out with sterile water and let you sit in the waiting area for a while.  My vision was very blurry at that point (as they said it would be) and I had a mini brow-ache and under eye ache. 

After sitting there for about 30 minutes, they test your pressure and that was it.  They tell you to go home and sleep and take more advil if necessary.  (You need a driver to take you home!)

My mom (aka my driver) and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home.  By the time we got there, my vision had begun clearing up.  They told me to take the Pred Forte prescription eye drops (I got the generic PrednisoLONE) 3 times a day for the next 3-4 days. I slept for about an hour that afternoon and woke up to my browache being gone and my vision totally cleared up.  (At this point, you still need glasses/contacts of course.)  I kept my contacts out and just for my glasses for the next couple days just for precautionary measures.  Although, they did say that you can wear your contacts up until the day of surgery.

So far, so good!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tests, Tests, & More Test... ICL Pre-Surgery Visit

I'm a bit late in posting...so I'll catch up with these next posts.

I went in for my Pre-Surgery / Make Sure I Qualify Appointment a couple weeks ago.  As I stressed in my last post, I was hesitant about the whole thing.  The appointment took about 1.5 hours of tests, measurements, and even a ultrasound (something like that) of my eyes.  It was the most thorough eye exam I've ever received. 

You receive all the regular tests you typically get during an eye exam, then extra tests to count cells, pressure, take measurements, etc.  The ultrasound was the most interesting.  I had to lay down on the 'surgery' roll-away cot.  They put lots of drops in my eyes to numb them and then held them open with some clear plastic thing (that went between my top & bottom eyelids).  It wasn't painful or annoying at all (surprisingly).

The nurses were great - explaining everything that they were doing so that I knew what was coming.  (Nothing worse then a doctor or nurse just moving you around without explaining what to expect.)  Once the plastic (I'm actually not sure the material) thing was in my eye, they poured sterile water on top (careful to try to catch any water before it ran down my face) and then had me hold still and look in certain directions while they took pictures with the ultrasound camera thing.  (I believe this was to get precise measurements of the eye to order the implantable contact lens.)

Then they dilate your eyes and do all those tests, as well as some kinda of camera shot for a cell count.

Nothing was uncomfortable and in fact, everyone was so informative and nice that I started feeling a little better about the whole thing.

One of the things I was unclear about is the VISION & STAAR are the same thing.  STAAR Surgical Company is the company name and Vision is the brand of the Implantable Contact Lens.  Just in case anyone else is confused. 

Apparently, unlike Cataract Surgery, there aren't a bunch of options for different brands of Contact Lenses for ICL. 

Okay, to wrap up, the nurse said that things looked really good when she ran preliminary numbers, but that Doctor Schneider would let me know within a few days if everything was okay for me to have the surgery.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Questioning ICL Surgery

So, now we’re at today.  The day before my first pre-surgery appointment.  I told my husband last night that I was having second thoughts again.  $7k, risk of infection or worse, etc.  He told me the benefits seem to still outweigh that.  This morning, I spent an additional couple hours looking up reviews.  I’ve found that the most helpful information has come from blogs (which is the reason I though I should write this).  I started getting worried about things I haven’t even thought of or knew could possibly happen – halos, blurriness, needing glasses after just a couple years, etc. 



I quickly called the doctor’s office and was told that the assistant surgeon would call me back to answer any questions.  She called me back within a couple hours (giving me enough time to write down all my questions). 



I thought I’d share some of my main questions and her answers (in case it helps someone else).  

(Let me quickly state that these are my interpretations of her answers and I am in no way trying to give doctor's answers or advice.)
  • Halos:  (I just learned recently that not everyone sees these around lights at night...well I always have.)  Apparently pretty uncommon as a side effect if you don't have an Astigmatism.  
  • Blurriness: Not completely unusual, but usually just because of the gel and drops they put in your eyes and goes away within a few hours.
  • Use of an IV of Drug like Valium:    (I'll preface by saying that I don't like to take any medicine that's not absolutely necessary and I hate Valium because it gave me the worst headache of my life when I got my wisdom teeth out.)  She said they'll put an small IV in place in case complications arise, but don't use it unless necessary - blood pressure drops etc. and they don't suggest anything like Valium.
  • Restrictions After Surgery:  (I had read that you are advised not to lift weights, wash your face, wash your hair, etc.)  She said that they suggest no heavy exercise for about 7-10 days.  Light weights are fine as long as you are straining.  They recommend not washing your face or hair for at least the first day.  After that, just no water directly to the eyes for a few days.
  • Vision Loss:  (I had heard of some people needing glasses within a few years after surgery.)  She said that certainly shouldn't happen.  If any loss of vision occurs, it would be years later usually about 15-20yrs.)
  • Follow Up Appointments:  (I travel a lot and wanted to make sure that I knew what to expect with follow up.)  She said to expect to have a follow up appt 1 day after surgery, then about 7-10 days later, then 1 month later.)
  • Both Eyes at the Same Time:  She said that they typically do surgery on both eyes on the same day.
  • Eye Drops:  (I had heard some people saying they were told to use eye drops for months after surgery.)  She said that they will prescribe prescription eye drops that should be used for the first 2-3 weeks after surgery.
She really stressed that many of the side effects from ICL that I brought up are very uncommon and that Doctor Schneider is the renown for his ICL surgery experience.  (I know, I know...so many doctors are 'renown' for something.)
I'll have to get better and further details on all of this during my pre-surgery appointment tomorrow. 
More to come...  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You're Telling Me I Have to Wear My Glasses for Two Weeks?

Finally in early 2012, it came time to order new contacts.  I also thought I should go ahead and get new glasses (mine are a few prescriptions old, have a crack down the left lens and are just beat up).  My husband asked me if I was still considering ICL.  I was contemplating it, but jeez, $7k could be a down-payment on a house (or part of one anyways).  He convinced me that it was worth it and that now is a good time to go through with the surgery (no kids, we own our own business for we make our own schedule, etc).  I did a ton of research, found some helpful reviews, etc.


So, I called up Midwest Eye Center and said "I'm ready to have the surgery - can I schedule a date" excited and wanting to just get it done.


I had no idea about the ENTIRE ICL surgery process.  They described to me that I couldn't wear my contacts for 2 weeks prior to the first pre-surgery appointment.  WHAT?!  I had a minor freak out.  (Remember, the condition of my glasses I described above.)  Oh, and there were many appointments that are associated with this surgery.  I called my husband with a minor panic attack.  He told me to just suck it up and wear my beat up glasses.  

I called back and scheduled the first appointment, took out my contacts, and put on my glasses.  Oh my, I was a sight for sure.  They were crooked on my face (no matter what I did to try to fix them) but I got use to the crack and just laughed at myself.  My husband even tried to fill in the parts where the paint (or whatever it is) had fallen off with a sharpie...then quickly concluded it didn't look any better.  Oh well.  I got use to it.   

Although, my nose was ready to lose the glasses – deep red marks where the glasses were cutting into my nose.  I just was not use to wearing them for more than a minute (to get from the bathroom to my bed).  

I did wear my contacts for about 1-2 hours on some days, during that 2 weeks.  I was told this would be fine.

My Background with Nearsightedness

I've had terrible vision since I can remember.  In 3rd grade I got my first pair of glass - big pink ones nonetheless.  (I'll try to scrape up a picture.)  I played a lot of sports - had rec-specs for soccer (I mean, Chris Sabo had them!) and finally Hard (Gas Permeable) Contacts for swimming.  Hard contacts - what a pain.  It took me 15 minutes to put them.  I don't miss those.  


Finally,  I got soft contacts.  Much, much better, but still I've always experienced the same irritability that others face - dry eyes, stuff getting in them, itchy, red eyes, ...and don't get me started on trying to take the things out to clean off something and not ruin my makeup.


I travel a lot, and it's such a pain to have to deal with contacts on overnight flights - taking them out and putting on glasses on a plane -ugh.  I also encountered a very terrifying experience when traveling (which I'm not going to go into), but one of my contacts fell out and it made me realize how anything to correct my vision would be worth it.


Fast forward many years...I went to a Lasik Plus to get the pre-screening done to see if I was a candidate.  My eye depth (corneal thickness...or whatever you call it) was actually really good for my vision.  But, my myopia (very high nearsightedness, -9.5 in contacts) + dry eyes + a type of Scleraderma (localized morphea) that I have, meant I was rejected.   They suggested ICL and gave me the name of two places they'd recommend.  I jotted down the info and went home feeling quite defeated.  I did shed a few tears as the dream of seeing without contacts seemed to diminish (which I'm sure many of you with terrible vision can understand).


A few month later, I went to the eye doctor - a very thorough doctor.  I decided to start asking him questions about Lasik & ICL, etc since he was full of great information.  He said he wouldn't recommend Lasik for me, but ICL would be a good option.  He gave me the same name of the doctor that Lasik Plus had given me.  I saw it as a sign and started to research the doctor (Dr. David Schneider).



In early 2011, I called up the doctor's office (Midwest Eye Center in Cincinnati) and made an appointment to see if I was a candidate.  They were great, thorough and all signs pointed to me being able to have the surgery....BUT the price-whoa! ($7,000 and I still had to find a way to pay for my wedding that year).  So I held off, but it was always in the back of my mind.