My Experience Getting LASIK Eye Surgery as a Person with Diabetes
As a person with diabetes, annual visits to your eye doctor are critical to catching the earliest stages of diabetes-related eye conditions. Learn more:
I was fortunate enough to qualify for LASIK eye surgery in 2010 when I was 25 years old. I did not have health insurance at the time, which means I paid approximately $5,000 total for the treatment of both eyes. (Be sure to read: Can people with diabetes get LASIK eye surgery? to learn the basics of qualifying and what to expect.)
For me, LASIK was an effort to simplify my daily healthcare regimen as a person with a high-maintenance disease like type 1 diabetes. I had been wearing contacts since high school.
Dr. Julie Larson from Vermont Eye Laser in South Burlington, V.T. performed my surgery.
At the time of my surgery, my A1c was in the high 6s and had been somewhere between 6.7 to 7.3 percent for the years before surgery. I had no signs of retinopathy or other eye concerns.
I wasn’t especially nervous about the surgery—I trusted that Dr. Larson would work her magic and knew I was in good hands! However, I gladly took to valium she prescribes to most of her patients to help ensure I was relaxed throughout the surgery—because you are wide awake while a gentle device holds your eyelid open and holds your head still. Regardless of how willing and excited I was to receive this surgery, one can never tell how you might feel during the actual moment of surgery!
The surgery itself was a piece of cake
Personally, it was a piece of cake. The surgery itself was about 10 minutes long and my friend, Steve, watched the whole entire process on a monitor in the observation room. (He said it was pretty awesome to witness!)
Immediately after surgery, both my head and my eyes were in manageable pain. With a not-so-sexy pair of medical sunglasses provided by the clinic, I remember desperately wanting to keep my eyes closed as Steve guided me carefully to the car.
As directed by my surgeon, I immediately took a very intense two-hour nap. And just as I was warned, my eyes were in a great deal of pain when I woke up from that first nap. I did not want to open my eyes or be awake. I remember getting some water, checking my blood sugar and going immediately back to bed.
After that second nap, however, I woke up without any significant pain. My eyes stung a little, but considering I’d had surgery maybe seven hours ago, my lack of pain was pretty remarkable.
After that second nap, I distinctly remember walking over to my apartment window and looking at the trees. I was shocked at how much detail I could see in the leaves—on the very same day of my surgery. I could see every individual leaf!
- Before surgery: My vision was 20/40 in one eye and 20/60 in the other.
- After surgery: My vision was 20/10 in one eye and 20/20 in the other.
I don’t recall my blood sugar being especially affected by the weeks of taking steroidal eye drops. Mostly, I just remember the wonderful freedom of being able to see so clearly without contacts or glasses.
12 Years Later…
My vision hasn’t changed since my surgery nearly 12 years ago. And fortunately, my blood sugar management has kept my A1c between 5.7 to 6.3 percent over the last eight years thanks to more knowledge, better insulin and better blood glucose monitoring technology. Staying on track with my blood sugar management goals helps to ensure that my surgery continues to be effective!
The only “side-effect” I’ve experienced since surgery is a common one: my eyes are a bit more sensitive to sunlight. Fortunately, that’s nothing a $20 pair of stylish (oh-so-sexy) sunglasses can’t fix.
Getting LASIK surgery was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health! If you’re a candidate, whether you live with a form of diabetes or not, I highly recommend it.