View Full Version : Recent LASIK experience?

02-01-2010, 09:50 PM
I figured Visual Flight Rules was the correct place to put this post...:D

Has anyone out there had recent LASIK experience? Given that the procedure and technologies have changed/improved so much recently, it would have to be recent experience to be useful.

Specifically, what I'm interested in is:

(a) what the advice of opthamologists has been regarding whether or not it is the right time for pilots to get LASIK. Have the potential side effects probelmatic for pilots (e.g. night halos, etc.) been reduced to a reasonable levels? I last asked about four years ago and my doctor said "not yet."

(b) does the FAA require a wait period between getting LASIK and exercising airman privileges? If so, how long?

Any thoughts from those who have recently gone through the process? I'm getting close to the point where I hope to be doing LOTS of flying, so it would be nice to take care of it now if there is any significant wait period.

02-01-2010, 10:02 PM
Not recent, but had LASIK 9 years ago. Both eyes.
Proudly told the AME that I didn't need glasses to pass my eye test.
He then required me to take a field vision test, which I passed.
LASIK was new then, not sure they would require such validation now.
I had halos at night for a couple months which prevented me to comfortably fly at night.

Since then, I've had implants which have corrected my vision at night and daytime to far exceed my LASIK. Now 20-15, both eyes.

02-01-2010, 10:46 PM
Might be old data, but here's what the FAA has:


My brother got LASIK in november from Dr. Stahl here in Dayton and he is loving it. I watched the procedure. They used a laser to cut the flap and used a small micro-spatula looking tool to fold it back. The laser did it's work. The flap was folded back over and a tool that looked like a little mini rubber spatula was used to massage the flap back into the rest of the cornea. He had both eyes done and is very happy after almost 20 years of wearing glasses.

02-02-2010, 02:45 AM
...as I had mine done in '99 and can't comment on standdown periods etc as it was before I started flying.

I was (am??) very shortsighted (myopic) with a prescription of -5 (L) and -6 (R) with a minor astigmatism.

Beforehand I was curious (as opposed to concerned) about complications that I might experience, and 99.9% of his patients had had no issues. To be honest I was more concerned about having to continue wearing corrective lenses after spending the money.

Both eyes were done within an hour or so of each other, no pain during the procedure although judging my the way I was twitching my feet around there was some mild subconscious nervousness :)

My sight was tested 24 hours after the op and I had better than 20/20 vision. 10 years down track I have had absolutely no issues and still have 20/20 vision (however I hit 45 y/o this year so am expecting to get the usual reading glasses at some stage).

Final word...it's an amazing procedure and have had absolutely no regrets. I have had a number of friends go thru it as well and share the sentiment.

Go for it!!!!

02-02-2010, 04:51 AM
I'm scheduled to have the surgery this coming Friday, after years of putting it off due to the same concerns that have been expressed. After much research and considering several doctors, I made the commitment and am having the "wavefront" LASIK. I have moderately bad vision (-3.5 contact prescription in each eye) and have been led to believe that I should see 20/20 after the surgery. The doctor suggested that I not fly my plane for a week after the surgery, primarily I think due to her not being familiar w/ general aviation, and wanting to "play it safe" with respect to advising me.

Will post back my results.

Ken S.
G1 TD, O-540 (for sale)

Jon Clements
02-02-2010, 06:31 AM
I had both my eyes done approx two years ago. Side effect was Halos at night for approximately 3 months. Recently had my medical (first since Lasik) and scored 20/20. I was longsighted and fortunately my condition was treatable. I am now slightly shortsighted but measure 20/20. My position is likely to progressively return to a longsighted condition over an extended period of time (probably 10 to 20 years). Cost me AUD$4500.....best money I have ever spent.....cant recommend it highly enough....

02-02-2010, 08:39 AM
My youngest daughter had both eyes done about 5 years ago. She liked it so well that her mother and older sister both had it done the next year. No halos or any other problems. I'd suggest that you DON'T use the cheapest place you can find. The quality does vary a bit from doctor to doctor.

02-02-2010, 08:59 AM
I had the wave front lasik done last May. Total time for the procedure was less than 30 minutes.I was a -4.5 in both eyes. At the 1 month check up I was 20/15. I had the same night halo issue for a few months but to be honest I never noticed the day they disappeared. Best $2600 I ever spent. Now where did I put those readers...


02-02-2010, 10:28 AM
I had it done two years ago. After I was back to 20/20 I called the FAA because my Class III states Corrective Lenses required on it. They said put an old pair of glasses in my flight bag in case I get ramp checked and go flying. :D When I renew my medical next year that restriction will go away. I was pretty blind before. I did not even go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without putting my glasses on. Aside from some dryness occasionally I have had no issues whatsoever. Being a very active outdoorsman and in my 20's still it GREATLY improved my quality of life.

02-02-2010, 11:21 AM
has anyone had other types of vision correction?

I read a great article about 10 years ago that outlined 8 different types, and how they affected pilots ( in the COPA newpaper). Radial keratomy, lasik etc.

only a few were recommended for pilots. I have myopia at about -8.5 dioptres for each eye, which causes the AME to comment at my physical every time....but I have 20/20 or better with contacts..( on a good day!)

I supppose someday it will be my only option, for now I'm chicken, and need the $2500 for avgas!!!!! :)

02-02-2010, 01:48 PM
I had PRK about 12 years ago to correct lifelong nearsightedness. It was very painful for about a day. Other than that, I can recommend it without any hesitation. I just passed my Class II medical, and would have been Classs I if I had needed it. The procedure was without a doubt the single most life-improving thing I have ever spent money for. Go for it.


02-02-2010, 01:54 PM
Since then, I've had implants which have corrected my vision at night and daytime to far exceed my LASIK. Now 20-15, both eyes.

Dan, Can you provide more detail about the implants you received? Thanks!

02-02-2010, 02:37 PM
I had Lasik about two years ago when I was in my mid 40's. The proceedure went well and I was happy with the outcome for my near sighted vision. Unfortunately my close up vision has been getting worst every since then. The doctor warned me that it would happen but said it would anyway because of my age. I don't think it would have happened as fast but who knows. Now I wear readers all the time I'm in the shop working on the airplane. Prior to then I could read the fine print on pill bottles with no problem. I had big starburst with headlights when driving at night initially. That's never total gone away but isn't that bad. I certainly didn't have them prior to Lasik. So generally speaking I'm glad I did it but beware of what you can expect depending on your age. For the medical I simply took a note from the eye doctor at my next regular flight medical exam. The Lasik doctor will give you a card to carry until you have the eye glass restriction removed from your drivers license.

Greg Arehart
02-02-2010, 03:58 PM
OK, I know there are a lot of success stories out there, so here's my "tail of the distribution curve" story. I underwent RK (radial keratotomy) in 1994 (age 41), just before the lasik stuff was on the market. Before surgery I was significantly nearsighted. I had good vision for a few years, but gradually went further and further farsighted. 3 years after surgery, I required glasses again (but the other direction this time). I think what happened is that the RK made me farsighted initially, but I was able to correct until my lenses started to crystallize in my mid-40s (which is why most folks need reading glasses), at which time I could no longer make the correction with my eyes internally. A few years later, I had plastic lens implants for cataracts (very common surgery these days), and as part of that surgery, they are able to add corrections to the implants (kind of like internal contact lenses). It still did not bring me to 20/20. Although I can function reasonably well without glasses, I still require them to fly, and its generally easier to wear them for most things than not wear them. I still have halos from the RK (which is also common) and my eyes change between morning and evening, so no prescription really makes things as good as they should be.

It wasn't lasik, but was a not pleasant result. More...

My younger brother had lasik about 10 years ago (mid 40s) and required several corrections before they got it right (different doctor than me). At this point, he seems pretty good with it.

My son also had lasik at 21 (again, different doctor) and, after some initial complications, so far can see well, but I (and he) believe that it is primarily because he is young and his lenses are flexible. His corneas are not quite right.

Maybe it's something genetic, but if I had any of this to do over, I would not do it. Somebody has to be on the edge of the curve (the 1% who are worse off than when they started) and, unfortunately, this time it was me. Fortunately, they are still able to reasonably correct my vision with glasses (I cannot wear contacts because of the surgery). Nor do I mean this to be a whine because it was my choice at the time and I'm willing to live with that choice. I just encourage anyone considering this sort of thing to think long and hard about it and make sure that you are willing to live with the result.


02-02-2010, 04:34 PM
If you are having difficulties reading before the surgery it will really be noticeable after. I could always take my glasses off or my contacts out and hold reading material close enough to see and read it. After lasik, that does not work anymore. That is my only issue with the surgery and I just make sure I have readers... now where are they...


02-02-2010, 05:21 PM
I, too, was concerned about being one of the 1% that had terrible results. I waited, read up, and took the plunge in April of '08. The first couple of days and nights after the procedure (both eyes) were a bit rough; it felt like sandpaper across the eyes with the "bandaid" contact lens. I turned the corner at the five day mark with minimum to no pain as long as I kept the drops flowing, and by the time they took the contacts off and sent me home, I was pretty much pain free w/ 20/20 in both eyes. When I did my six month check, I was at 20/15 and got the same results at the one year mark in April of '09.
I recommend doing everything post-procedure the doc tells you to do. Put UV blocking sunglasses on EVERY time you go outside. Just like a sunburn, UV negatively affects the tissue, but even more so when its healing. With something as important as your vision, and with the sensitivity of eyes to begin with, wear the sunglasses. I also was religious in putting the steroids in as required until the prescription ended, and I made sure I hit every follow up appointment.
For now, books, papers and screens at a normal distance are still crystal clear and I don't have halo or glare problems. However, I am 45, so regular age issues will start hitting and reading glasses will be the norm within the next few years. Still, I wouldn't trade the new vision for anything, as I was in glasses and contacts for over 35 years.
Each individual has to weigh the risk after getting informed and make a personal decision on what he or she is going to do. We're all pretty use to that in this forum. Best of luck.


02-02-2010, 07:36 PM
I had Lasik two years ago and couldn't be happier with the results. I paid the big bucks and had the complete laser process, after all these were my eyes. I followed the pre-treatment guidelines religiously as well as the post. As already mentioned, you'll wear good quality sunglasses without fail for a month when outdoors. I have never had a halo or complaint about this surgery. I too am over 40 and was already wearing readers with my contacts, so it was no big deal to use them following.

Had my Third Class a few months ago and had to have a complete eye exam with an endorsement to satisfy my doctor. Flew through it with no problems. Being glasses free and not losing a contact during flight is spectacular!

02-02-2010, 08:39 PM
Dan, Can you provide more detail about the implants you received? Thanks!

I developed cataracts in boths eyes. Not due to LASIK.
Part of this was due to my blue eyes, family history and my sunlight exposure running 50-100 mile ultramarathons.
I was very satisfied with my LASIK. Regarding the implants, the LASIK created a minor issue in that it reshapes the cornea. This makes it a bit more difficult to ideally lock in the right correction for the implants.
My doctor is one of the best in the business and actually was one of the doctors who developed the implant technique. Dr James Gills of Tarpon Springs Florida at the St Lukes Clinic. I had one lens corrected for intermediate range, the 2nd for distance.
This provided me with a good balance in overall range. Now, they have crystal lens which cover the complete range. Your eye is trained to morph the shape of the lens. These were a bit more expensive than I was willing to commit. I do not need correction for near or distance.
Prior to the implants, I needed reading glasses.
The implants are supposed to be good forever. In fact, if the lens gets clouded over time, they laser polish it.
BTW, I'm 57 years old.

02-02-2010, 10:24 PM
I had iLasik performed in August right after Oshkosh. I should have done it a LONG time ago. Like all medical procedures, it has gotten better as tiem goes on. The way it was explained to me (by a optometrist that was at OSH, not by the doctor who did mine) is that they used to cut the flap on your eye with a blade, then reshape with a laser. Now they use a laser to cut the flap, and a laser to reshape the cornea. So there is no blade what so ever. This is the "iLasik",different from "lasik". Difference is more comfort, shorter healing process, and more forgiving of eye movement during cutting.
My experience was A1. Procedure took about 10 minutes, and then doc looked into my eyes with an expensive looking something or other, and said good to go, wear these silly goggles and come back tomorrow. Vision was sharp, but foggy. Went home, told the wife doc said take it easy, and napped on the couch until bedtime. Woke up and went to see the doc, still good. Check ups here and there for a few weeks, and all's well. 20/20 right eye, 20/15 left eye. I can see S#@$ I didn't even know was there. Amazing.

02-03-2010, 12:02 PM
I had wavefront ilasik done a couple of years ago (at 40) and the results are generally good, but be sure you know what you're potentially getting yourself into.

I had worn contacts for 25 years (3.75) and could see very well with them, but wanted freedom from needing them all the time. I can now see very well, but do notice that my night vision isn't as good as it used to be. Some halos and starbursts still after a couple of years. The doctor also elected to undercorrect my right eye just a little bit to give me a few more years before needing reading glasses. This is probably the reason I notice more fuzziness at night/at the movies too. I have a prescription to get glasses to help this, but haven't gotten around to getting them yet.
Also, because of an accident where a pilot had one eye corrected for near and another for far vision, the FAA doesn't want you losing your stereo vision and I'd recommend getting both eyes corrected to the same degree, and then just rely on readers when you get to that point. (I'm getting close) I hope my right eye will pass the distance vision test at my next medical!

Overall, I can say that my vision is actually a bit sharper during the daytime but at night is it worse than with contacts.

I was surprised at how dry the surgery made my eyes for the first year. It is better now, and not as bad at the end of the day with contacts, so I'd say overall that isn't an issue anymore. If you have dry eyes now, be careful with lasik. I know of someone else who probably wasn't a good candidate and got lasik anyway and this is a major pain for them.

I also was surprised at how sensitive my eyes were to light (who turned up the sun?) even 6 months after the surgery. This is an uncommon side effect that happens as the cut heals. Now, not really a problem but I feel I need sunglasses more than I used to.

Choose your doctor carefully (get a recommendation from another opthalmologist, not from the newspaper/radio ads!) and don't let them push you to get the procedure if you're not really a good candidate.

02-03-2010, 04:35 PM
Moderators, please pull this to a new thread if appropriate.

I'm very interested in the clear lens implants ('off-label' cataract surgery) that are variable focus. Anyone on here that's had it done, or does the surgery? I gave up contacts about 12 years ago at the presbyopia moment, figuring that the most convenient place to carry glasses would be on my nose.

If I can get truly normal vision again, I'll seriously consider offering up the plastic. :-)


Low Pass
02-03-2010, 06:20 PM
PRK about 4 years ago. -3.25 each eye. Excellent results. Hurt like h*ll the first couple of days but have 20-15 in each eye at distance since about 1 month after the procedure. Close up is gone but primarily due to hitting 40. Well worth the $3,500 or so. Now, I hardly remember the 30+ yrs of glasses and contacts!

My logic was that if the US Navy accepted for pilots, it (PRK) was good enough for me.