I had become contact lens intolerant and was considering LASIK surgery when I saw the LASIK ad in the newspaper. The price sounded almost too good to be true. When I called to make an appointment, I was told they required full payment for LASIK up front before they would even schedule the consultation. This made me uncomfortable, but I went ahead and gave them my credit card information and booked an appointment.
The day of the consultation I didn't realize that the woman who was performing the exam wasn't an eye doctor. I learned later (after LASIK) that she was an optometrist. I knew nothing about what types of tests were required for LASIK. I just assumed she was a doctor and knew what she was doing.
Near the end of the consulation she explained that I did not qualify for the low price that was quoted in the ad due to my astigmatism. That's when the red flags started going up. I knew I didn't have astigmatism. I was just moderately nearsighted. The soft contact lenses that I wore didn't have any correction for astigmatism and I could see 'perfectly' with them. She told me that the price would be double what I paid. I was afraid at that point that they would not refund the money I had already paid, but I told her I couldn't afford the higher price and requested to cancel the whole thing. As soon as I asked to cancel, she quickly changed her story and said something along the lines of, "Well, since your astigmatism is so low, I suppose we can go ahead and do the procedure for the original price you paid."
I should have just followed my instincts and walked out the door and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau or state medical board to get my money back. But I didn't. I scheduled the surgery.
I met the LASIK surgeon just minutes before surgery. He never examined me. He never double-checked any of the tests or measurements performed by the optometrist. I doubt he spent more than a minute even looking at my chart.
I had several complications after LASIK, most of which never resolved. A few weeks after LASIK I requested my medical records. As I was reading my records I noticed that the optometrist had recorded that I had no astigmatism in one eye and .25 D in the other eye prior to LASIK. Later on I would learn that the laser that was used on me couldn't treat less than .5 D astigmatism. The LASIK center had tried to scam me into paying twice the quoted price.
The irony of this story is that LASIK actually induced a full diopter of astigmatism in my eye that had none prior to LASIK, and both eyes regressed about 30% of my original prescription with astigmatism in both eyes.
But worst of all, the incompetent optometrist mismeasured my pupils and didn't tell me I was not a good candidate for LASIK. I am permanently visually disabled by massive starbursts, halos, multiple images, and loss of contrast sensitivity in anything but bright sunlight with glasses or contacts. And my eyes are so dry they burn all the time and I have recurrent corneal erosions. I can't tolerate wind or ceiling fans. I wear hard contact lenses sometimes, but my eyes are so dry the contacts scratch and stick to my eyes. LASIK induced a huge curtain-like floater in one eye and smaller numerous floaters in both eyes. And I have a trace amount of haze (scarring) from inflammation in one eye. With all of these complications, my surgery was considered a success.
When you read my story you might think I chose a bad doctor, and I would agree. But some of the 'top' surgeons in the country will perform LASIK on patients who are contact lens intolerant and have large pupils. Even if you go to the 'best' surgeon in the country, it does not change the destructive nature of the surgery.
If I only knew then what I know now. Hindsight truly is 20/20.