Today I had my consultation appointment for refractive surgery at my local university hospital, where I learned what my options are for correcting my terrible vision.
First the assistant tested my vision and asked if I needed a new glasses prescription at the appointment today. Since's it's been a year since my last exam, I said yes. The assistant said my prescription hadn't changed in the last year (he compared it to my old prescription I brought in)--yay! My current prescription is:
Right: -6.50 (sphere), +1.5 (cylinder)
Left: -11.00 (sphere), +.25 (cylinder)
My eyes have always had very different prescriptions, with the left being way worse, even though the cataract is in my right eye. I think that it's uncommon to have such different vision in both eyes, but I'm not sure.
At this appointment they did a bunch of tests in different rooms, where different people took measurements of my cornea and other parts of my eyes, dilated my eyes, rechecked my prescription after dilation, and then I met with the ophthalmologist who will be doing my surgeries. Our visit was short and sweet. She said I am a candidate for PRK (photorefractive keratectomy - like LASIK with without the flap) in my right eye and probably Visian ICL (implantable collamer lens or sometimes called implantable contact lens) in my left eye. She said "probably" because they would need to do one more test to make sure the chamber between my cornea and natural lens was big enough for the Visian ICL to fit. I asked about clear lens exchange for my right eye, since that's what another ophthalmologist had recommended at my last consultation 7-8 years ago, but she said she would not perform that procedure on a 30 year old since I would lose my ability to "accommodate" and no longer be able to see close up. Everyone needs reading glasses by age 40-50, so I still have 10-20 years left to read without glasses and I would not want to lose that!
The ophthalmologist then told me that since the surgeries take place at different locations (Visian ICL at the hospital and PRK at the laser center), she would perform PRK first and then ICL a couple of months later. She then sent me to talk to the refractive counselor who could answer any other questions I had and discuss payment and scheduling.
The counselor was very knowledgeable and nice, and let me know that she had also had PRK at this center! Honestly, before this appointment I had researched lasik, CLE, and ICL but hadn't read much about PRK. I asked her a bunch of questions about possible complications, the healing process, etc. The counselor reassured me that the procedure was very conservative with a lower complication rate than lasik, and could be repeated if revisions were necessary. She also put my mind at ease when she said that this center (which is actually part of the local university hospital) and my surgeon are very conservative and only approve about half of the people who have consultations. I like that they seem driven by the latest research and helping people see, rather than making a lot of money by doing hundreds of procedures a day.
We scheduled a follow-up appointment for early November where they will double-check every measurement to make sure the laser is perfectly calibrated for PRK in my right eye, and measure the space in my left eye to make sure there is enough space for the ICL. We scheduled PRK for mid-December when I'll have a couple of weeks off work to heal, and will schedule the ICL surgery after I have PRK.
When I got home I spent some time reading about my ophthalmologist. She's an MD with over 10 years of experience, who specializes in corneal, cataract, and refractive surgeries. She completed a fellowship after her medical degree in these specializations, and has great reviews online. I have thought about having another consultation at another center to compare options and prices, but feel confident with this surgeon and center.