In search of a solution to my current situation I've run across these forums and the wealth of information provided here. I'm confident with the help here I will obtain a resolution, and hopefully someone with similar symptoms will find my story useful. Of course, as mentioned several times on these forums, similar symptoms can have vastly different origins, but just knowing someone is out there struggling with the same pain and making an effort to push through is incredibly comforting. It has renewed my spirits reading KS9's thread, and so I've resolved to drive my head down, grit my teeth, and keep trudging to a solution.
I'll describe my symptoms below, and I hope to get a reference for an optometrist in my area who specializes in treating complications in post-LASIK corneas. I'm sorry for such a long post, but all of it is relevant in some way. Most of this attempts to describe the symptoms and serves as much to my benefit as to any doctor. Formally putting it to paper helps me better understand it all.
I had lasik nearly exactly 4 years ago (+- 1 week, October 2013, stupidest decision of my life). I don't have access to my medical files here (at University in grad school)but I will be getting them in less than a week. Pre-Lasik Prescription: OD: -3.25, OS: -3.25. I don't know my prescription post lasik precisely. For the past several years I've been much more concerned with the dry eyes and the severe higher order aberrations. My eyesight in bright sunlight always seemed razor sharp until the past two or three months, and in every follow up visit with the LASIK monkeys (and in the subsequent years 2014/2015 other optometrists) I had better than 20/20 vision. That has changed a bit recently (2016/2017). More on that in a minute.
During the first year, the worst symptom was the dry eyes. Aberrations and night vision were always bad, but dry eyes was crippling. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open because they would get dry so easily, and it made it hard to read text. The steroid and antibacterial drops helped the first week post lasik, but once I stopped taking them it took a huge turn for the worst. During this whole period the LASIK surgeons refused to acknowledge any problem and validate my fears or feelings. The eye drops were horrible, I tried several given to me by the surgeon and purchased several others but they only seemed to offer relief for maybe 15 seconds to a minute. The fish oil helped tremendously though. I turned to consuming copious amounts of it, which made those first months very bearable and I was able to at least function at maybe 80% efficiency. I was very sensitive to humidity fluctuations, and while the dry eyes improved slowly over the first year they still hurt if I had my eyes open while laying down. After 1 year I could stop taking fish oil (though it still helped Id prefer no supplementation). For the next two years the dry eyes was only really painful during summer, and I still couldn't turn on a ceiling fan or read prolonged periods laying down on my bed. This summer is the first time in four years where my eyes have finally healed enough that these two things are no longer limiting. My tear film is still drastically reduced compared to pre-lasik levels, I really miss that feeling of taking off my glasses and reading a mathematics textbook and rubbing my wet eyes when I got tired. Strange I know. At this point the dry eyes are not a huge issues, if I could restore preLASIK comfort that would be great, but the much more significant problem now are these perpetual headaches.
I think the next two complications are linked (the severe higher order aberrations and headaches/eye strain):
I've had eye strain while reading the computer since the procedure. I've never liked to abuse my eyes so I've always used a Kindle DX and actual textbooks for reading as much as I could, but this became much more necessary post LASIK. I would get headaches driving home at first, but after I forced myself to stop trying to accomodate for starbursts and stuff they mostly went away. The aberrations improved over the first two years but they seemed to have stabilized until recently. I would get headaches when using computers for prolonged periods of time, and text in movies, even the FBI warnings in the beginning, show signs of halos and artifacting.
Up until six months ago though, I would have to use a computer for extended periods to get headaches, and I would get relief when I gave myself a break. Starting in March, I now have a perpetual headache everyday, and this arises when reading anything now, even the Kindle or physical textbooks. And nothing I do helps. As a general rule, Ive completely limited all digital screen contact for the past three months. No TV or movies and very occasional leisure internet surfing (maybe two hours every five days). I don't use a smartphone (I bought my first one just two weeks ago), and I very very rarely use my iPad now. Even taking several days completely screen free hasn't helped. It is particularly bad at night and in the morning, and spikes precipitously when reading from a screen. The pain seems to subside during the day but I realized the past four weeks that this has more to do with my focus on problems than anything else. My pathetic attempts to solve interesting problems distracts me enough that the pain doesn't seem as bad, but once I'm done the pain is still there. My life right now revolves around reading and writing, and this has become utterly crippling. I'm a PhD in Mathematics, and my performance on one of my really important tests this September was just terrible because this whole summer I couldn't manage to get any quality work done. I remember talking with my mother about it, and I told her I felt like I was somehow getting stupider. I had this endless headache, so I couldn't focus on anything, and it gets worse when I actively read or stare at paper. I have to read text several times before I register the concepts presented, and the number of threads I can run in my head, and in particular the length i can carry a single thread has been drastically reduced. It's one of the scariest feelings of my life. After reading KS9's thread I looked up the symptoms of convergence insufficiency, astigmatism, and binocular vision dysfunction, and they all closely match the description I told my mom. I have difficulty concentrating, my attention span feels short, I have trouble keeping my place while reading, and I have trouble remembering what was read (i.e. registering concepts). I'm certain this is related to my vision. It immediately spikes everytime I read a monitor, and it hurts more when reading text carefully and solving problems intensely than when just idling about.
I know my night time aberrations are severe, I don't remember the actual scores I obtained after lasik, but I'll post it after I get those records. I know my spherical aberrations, coma, and trefoil scores were all significant. I used to always go running at night, and with contacts I had very sharp night vision. I never once consciously noticed an aberration, and in fact I absolutely loved nighttime exercise. Now if I'm cycling to school I worry about leaving too late because in the dark I loose virtually all contrast of the asphalt. On my next day follow up after the surgery I remember my brother driving me to office at 6 in the morning and being so worried as night lights were smearing all over my vision. Glare really distorts my night vision. What's weird is that I don't really see bad artifacts while reading a monitor up close, but I know for certain that just because I don't consciously see them that they aren't forcing my brain to work harder as it perhaps tries to reconcile smeared images and multiple focal points or something.
Also, the past three months my distance vision is faltering a bit, especially at night. I can't recognize people's faces who are further than 30 feet away in a twilight plaza (not nighttime). It looks to me like the aberrations are now worse all the time and that is the underlying cause, but it may be due to myopia I suppose. During the day I can see that my distance vision is impaired but I can't tell how much. Last December I believe I measured off by .25(can't remember + or - but will verify) in both eyes at the optometrist. Back then I didn't notice any decrease in distance vision.
I don't have any sensitivity to light. At least, none that I'm aware of. If I spend the entire day outside I actually feel better since I'm not reading or focusing on anything close up. The headache never completely subsides though
After reading a couple of similar threads here, it seems the recommended course of action is as follows???:
Find an optometrist who specializes in Post-RS corneas (I'm hoping finding a high quality doctor in southern california shouldn't be a problem)
Have him do two types of refractions. A manifest with lots of fogging to prevent accomodation, and a deep cycloplegic.
Have him do a binocular/accomadative assessment.
Have him do a tear test maybe to determine how bad the dry eyes are? (I haven't had one done since the surgery).
Have him use an aberrometer to see my scores for aberrations are.
After this is done we can determine whether this is mostly a binocular or monocular refractive error issue (meaning simple diopter/astigmatism/prism correction or vision exercises) and could be corrected with spectacles. If the spectacles doesn't correct the issue, then they will need to consult about RGP. This is where my fear spikes
From reading on the internet, it seems like a consultation from such a specialist regarding RGP's would be extremely expensive. Of course I suppose I have no one to thank but myself for making such a boneheaded decision to purchase LASIK in the first place. Is there a general dollar amount range it will likely cost? Scleral contacts sound so promising, just the thought of my headaches, night time aberrations, and dry eyes finally subsiding made me so happy, almost emotional. I've been told by multiple optometrists that these complications were all permanent, which is why I had resigned myself to this current condition. The only reason why I read into all these things now is because the pain/distraction is debilitating now. I can't effectively work around it anymore. But if just the consultation for fitting RGP's cost 5000, I'm utterly screwed. Being a grad student I live pretty much month to month and I'd hate to eat up so much savings. Perhaps there is financing I suppose? I'm starting to think I may try to obtain a refund from the surgeons who performed the surgery. The strange thing is that of the 10 people I asked about LASIK, all but one said it was the greatest thing they ever did. That is the last time I ever let someone operate on me without being properly informed of all the complications and research.