I had LASIK eye surgery performed on both my eyes over a year ago in April of 2017. Immediately afterwards, I felt I had made a huge mistake. I was left undercorrected in both eyes, but despite this, my visual outcome otherwise seemed okay (some halos and starbursts at night that mostly cleared up over the next few months). My pre-LASIK prescription was -8.50 in each eye. Post-LASIK I am -0.75 in the left eye and -1.00 in the right eye. I did not opt for a second procedure to address the undercorrection.
At the start of June, six weeks after the procedure, I started to develop SEVERE dry eyes. I was waking up in the middle of the night with my eyes glued to the back of my eyelids. I used drops constantly and ointment at night. Over the next two months or so, my symptoms improved quite rapidly and by August I was able to sleep through the night unaided and could get through the day only using drops in the morning when I woke. My eyes were still noticeably dry, particularly on waking, but not so dry that my quality of life was seriously impaired as it was in the beginning. For the remaining summer months, I forgot about these issues and moved on with my life, feeling that I had dodged a bullet and further improvement lay waiting for me.
However, by October/November, my eyes were feeling dry and irritated again, and sleeping unaided was impossible as I was waking up with my eyes glued to my eyelids again. As winter progressed my eyes got dryer. It seemed impossible that my eyes felt otherwise decent enough during the summer but were absolute hell during the winter (I live near Toronto). I struggled through this difficult time, using drops and ointment, and clinging desperately to the notion that my body was healing and things would be better next winter.
As I write this during the summer, the dry eye symptoms are hardly an issue. However, a few months ago and one year post-LASIK, I’m dealing with additional complications with my vision that are wearing on me. I've started developing a chronic tension in my left eye. This tension is usually felt most prominently on the lower right portion of my left eye and inside the eye itself (it’s hard to accurately describe these symptoms). At first it was minor and, while annoying, had little impact on my quality of life. As the weeks progressed, the tension would fluctuate, at times manifesting in a headache and general tension/discomfort in my left eye and the surrounding area (including the brow/forehead). Sometimes this tension would migrate all the way to the back of my neck. This level of tension became more problematic and was definitely impacting my quality of life.
At times, the tension can become so bad that it feels like an enormous pressure or migraine boring into the center of my eyeball. This sensation feels impossible to ignore and I often just want to close my eyes and do nothing when it emerges. It is quite distressing. At its best, the tension is so minimal that it hardly seems worth dealing with. At its worst, it’s all I can think about. The notion of living the rest of my life with my left eye periodically reduced to this level of discomfort doesn’t sit well with me. I also have the faint notion that this is slowly getting worse.
I’ve tried to perform small experiments to better understand and isolate the factors that are contributing to this tension. A few things I’ve noticed:
- upon waking, there is no tension for the first few minutes of the day, then it slowly ‘fades in’
- taking off my glasses causes a small but noticeable worsening of the tension; putting them back on alleviates this
- working on a computer seems to exacerbate the symptoms somewhat, but avoiding computer/screens does not entirely get rid of the symptoms either
- the tension is ALWAYS there in some form, though I might have to consciously focus on the symptoms to recognize their presence because they’re so minimal
- the symptoms fluctuate, as mentioned, but about 90% of the time since these symptoms emerged I would say they have been minimal and not hugely problematic
- occasionally I will have a string of bad days where the tension is noticeably worse; this is when the horrible tension and migraine-like symptoms I described will also emerge
I did visit with my optometrist regarding the tension I was experiencing. She mentioned she also worked at a local LASIK clinic on weekends. She gave some standard boilerplate recommendations and eye exercises to try, but seemed to beat around the bush with regards to how LASIK might have contributed to this situation. It's frustrating, but since discovering this website my predicament makes a lot more sense.
I also have some small visual issues that aren’t hugely problematic but are still annoying. I get some haloing in my right eye when lights are dim. I absolutely hate watching TV or being on a computer screen at night with no other light source. I can drive fine at night time as the halos aren’t huge, but obviously it’s undesirable. Often, I can ‘feel’ the halos as a kind of constant irritation in my right eye, which is often more bothersome than the actual visual symptoms of the halos (this is especially true with computer work). I also notice a loss of contrast sensitivity in my right eye. Reading text while switching between my right eye and left eye really exposes the loss of crispness in my right eye when looking at certain things, especially text. I can still read well enough with my right eye, so in practice it’s more bothersome than problematic.
My left eye has some slight ghosting or smearing downwards, and this seems to have emerged only recently (within the last few months). I’m still trying to understand all of this, but my impression is that the haloing and ghosting in my right and left eye, respectively, are likely caused by the pupil dilating beyond the corneal zone treated by the laser (effectively allowing in light from two different prescriptions). These symptoms are not present during the day or when I shine a lamp toward my face to purposely constrict my pupils. Of course, all these visual symptoms fluctuate day by day and are worsened when my eyes are dry or tired.
I’ve read through several pages of posts on this forum trying to better understand my predicament. Presently, the tension in my left eye is my biggest worry. Based on what I’ve read, I could be experiencing some sort of binocularity issue with my eyes with regards to the tension. I really appreciated Dr. Hartzok’s description in one thread of what an in-depth refraction from a competent eye specialist involves versus an auto-refractor. This shed a lot of insight into the visual system and potential complications with it. My impression is that I should find a knowledgeable and skilled eye care professional who can do a proper and detailed refraction of my eyes in order to isolate any issues. Does this sound about right?
I’m currently in the process of retrieving my medical records from the LASIK clinic that performed this procedure. I should have those within a week or two.
A few questions that come to mind:
Why might this tension emerge only after a year? My prescription has been steady since having had LASIK as far as I know. I never had any problem whatsoever with tension in the first year. Is it anyone’s guess?
Of course – *channeling Forrest Gump* – LASIK is like a box of chocolates….
Could this issue ever resolve itself on its own? Could my eyes adapt? I tend to think that post-LASIK issues rarely improve spontaneously but, if anything, might deteriorate further.
I’ve posted a lot of information here. Some of it is probably superfluous but I wanted to give a detailed account of my experience post-LASIK. I really appreciate anyone taking the time and recommending a prudent course of action to address my issues. I realize post-LASIK care can be expensive, but I was fortunate enough to receive a refund from the clinic I visited and I’m ready and eager to move forward in returning some normalcy to my life.
Thank you for taking the time.