I know the fire service does not require 20/20 vision, thank God it doesn't. But, has anyone gotten laser eye surgery so they didn't have to wear contacts or glasses?
I'd be interested to know your thoughts and feedback on performance.
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12-07-2004, 04:20 PM #1
Anyone get laser eye surgery for the job?
12-07-2004, 04:59 PM #2
A guy on our shift had it done in August, his vision was horrible before, and now it's 20/15. We work 24/48's and he had the surgery done on the first day off and he returned to work for the next shift. You've gotta watch your exposure to smoke and those things though, until your eyes heal properly.*Old FH Forum SN: WFDjr1*
12-07-2004, 05:43 PM #3
20/15??? Wow! Hmm, very tempting. I may have the procedure done before the end of the year, been wearing glasses/contacts since 4th grade.
Thanks for the feedback.
12-07-2004, 05:48 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Now in Victoria, BC. I'm from beautiful Jasper Alberta in the heart of the Can. Rockies - will always be an Albertan at heart!
My sister had it done (she isn't a firefighter, she's a mom and work-from-home travel agent), was blind as a bat before (coke bottles in the old days, wore contacts for years) and she still has to wear glasses sometimes. I also believe that it doesn't last forever ... 10 years maybe.September 11th - Never Forget
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12-07-2004, 06:01 PM #5
I had it done in March of this year. It is by far, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever done. My vision was off the chart before. You know that giant E on the eye chart? That is 20/200 and I went beyond that so long ago, I don't even remember. My eyes are hypersensitive to anything coming near them, way worse than your normal self-defensive reactions. I was unable to get contacts because of this.
The surgery was $2,500 (I think) and I had it done at Diamond Vision in Glastonbury (shameless plug, great people, highly recommend them!). There is a free consultation where they evaluate if you are able to have the surgery and they explain all the different aspects and options. If you're ok for it, you setup a pre-op appointment where they do lots of testing and mapping of your eyes. Then it's surgery time. I swear to god, it took 15 minutes from when they strapped my head down to when I was getting up.
It as a nerve racking 15 minutes for me because of how hyper-sensitive my eyes were but your head is clamped down and your eyelids taped open. They will give you those little stress relief bean-bag balls so you can have something to do a death-grip on. Your eyes are also numbed so you don't feel a thing.
Vision will be blury and there will be some irritation when it is completed. How long it takes to go away varies by person. They say most people will have no irritation and the vision settled down to perfect after a day or two. In my case, the irritation was gone that night (6 hours after surgery) and I woke up in the morning with perfect 20/15 vision. I drove myself to the doc's for the post-op checkup and they confirmed everything was perfect! Now, nothing has changed, still perfect.
Until you have gone through life not being able to see squat without glasses, not being able to wear sunglasses, having everything fog up, etc, you can not possibly comprehend the feeling to wake up and out of the blue, see perfect. I was simply speechless.
I can use sunglasses, I can open my eyes underwater and see for the first time, I can watch TV in bed and fall asleep without having glasses stab me in the nose, I can go through temperature changes without fogging up, I can see with and SCBA mask on, I can use safety goggles, the list goes on.
I just can't say enough about it. Do yourself a favor and go for the evaluation. It is free.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
12-07-2004, 06:23 PM #6
Thank you for that detailed reply. Also, thanks for the referral. I wouldn't call it a plug at all, heck these are my eyes we're talking about! I want the best doctor in the country if I can afford it!
I may make an appointment soon and see how my eyes are. Thanks again!Local 2068
12-07-2004, 07:22 PM #7
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
- Milwaukee, WI, USA
I had eye surgery done about 8 years ago. This was before lasers. Due to my poor vision (20/200 unable to see the "big" E) I underwent what was called an ALK. Very similiar to the Lasik they have now. The only difference is that they used a machine to make the first cut and surgery and then fine tuned my vision using RK (radial keratotomy). I think I was 20/15 in one eye and at least 20/20 in the other when all said and done. Eight years later it has still been the best money I have ever spent.
12-07-2004, 07:23 PM #8
I thought about a lot in the past, and still do but since I have hit 30 things have changed a bit. I am 20/600, yes that is really blind, and I have been wearing glasses since the 3rd grade, and contacts since the 9th. My eyes have stabilized and I can't stand wearing glasses and fussing with contacts.
However, about the age of 40 or so everyone's eyes begin their road to deterioration. I have been told that I am a good candidate for the surgery, but I will probably still end up wearing glasses in a few years jsut due to aging, so why do it. I might as well just suck it up.
Just listen to everyone. When you talk to the Doc, ask him every question in the book. Also ask him for patients that have been satisfied AND not satisfied. A good surgeon should be willing to give you both. He should have statistics available for failures and their severity, as well as long standing issues the patients have suffered.
As you have said, these are your eyes. This is your livelihood, and it can taken away in a heartbeat if the surgery has issues."Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers
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12-07-2004, 07:43 PM #9
I also had it done ............here are some more ....
as a glasses wearer since 2nd grade you can get 'er done. Use the County flex saver deal to save up for them. I am always really touchy about my eyes and was nervous as you could imagine, but like the others...........I had mine done in jan of 03 and had ZERO problems..................ZIPP O .............now have 20/30 and 20/40 vision. By far the BEST thing I have done for myself, total cost 2500 samoleeans........
there are other threads out there I did not paste as you asked about surgery only.IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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12-07-2004, 09:50 PM #10
- Join Date
- Nov 2002
I went up to Canada and had Lasik done on both eyes for $750 US about 8 or 9 years ago. My vision wasn't that bad, 20/45ish, but the price was right. It took several weeks for my vision to sharpen, about long enough that I was beginning to think that the whole thing was a crock, but it was still within the time frame they had given me. Any light at all was killer for the first two days after the procedure. You might look at going up to Canada for the procedure as their machines are at least a generation ahead. (no FDA waiting period for machine approval) They let me pick my Doctor so I choose the Head Doc. If you get it done be sure to use eye drops as often (or more) as you're told to."Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes." Oscar Wilde
12-07-2004, 10:16 PM #11
Oh yea, when you go to Diamond Vision, they will not do the surgery if they are not confident you will be a sucess story. They way they explained it to me, "We have had 13,000 sucessful surgeries and zero failures, we'd like to keep it that way. If there is any doubt that it is not worth it for you, they will tell you and you won't be ripped off.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
12-07-2004, 11:12 PM #12
I had RK back in 1993 and it was and has been great. Best
money I ever spent. I walked out 20/20 and just got them
checked at 20/15! My eyes are now a little sensitive to
the daylight, but I just wear sunglasses.
12-07-2004, 11:15 PM #13
I had it done, would do it again in a heartbeat. It was an absolute success as far as my vision correction, but some things are different. I can live with them, but I'll list my drawbacks:
1.) I will likely need reading glasses, though I don't yet. This was explained to me early on due to how poor my vision was, and I accepted this.
2.) At night I sometimes have "starbursts" around headlights and such. This is not all of the time, but it does happen. It isn't such a problem that I can't see or function, just something I notice at night. This was a much bigger issue with the RK procedure, and less pronounced with lasik, I've been told.
3.) My clinic offers lifetime corrections if your eyes progress to the point you need the procedure again. I don't think it'll be an issue.
4.) I had VERY dry eyes initially, even with using the drops. The doc was convinced I sleep with my eyes partially open at times, and I occassionally wake up with very a sore, dry eye. This didn't happen before the procedure, and is happening very infrequently, to the point now that I can't recall when it last happened. (But now that I mentioned it, it'll happen tomorrow morning.)
I had the procedure in order to be hired on a career department, they would not accept me without better vision. It was worth every penny, and would have been regardless of whether or not it got me a job.
12-08-2004, 01:10 AM #14
The Little Rock Fire Department (across the river from my FD) requires 20/50 vision, I believe. They had multiple recruits fail the vision portion of the physical in early 2003. They gave them a week or two to re-take the physical. All affected were able to have the surgery within the time frame and I heard nothing but success stories.
I would love to have the surgery done. However, I've been told that once you have it done, something happens to make it difficult (or impossible) for you to wear contacts later on if/when you vision gets worse.
12-08-2004, 02:30 AM #15
- Join Date
- Dec 2000
I had it done 6 months ago and like others have posted it's the best money you'll ever spend. Not just for firefighting but for everything in life. No more glasses to get scratched up or broken, no fiddling with contacts, etc. Being able to see clearly when you first wake up is nice.
The procedure and the recovery were pain-free.
So it doesn't sound to good to be true, here's some of the slight problems I experienced:
I had a very slight halo around lights at night for about a week.
Dryness can be a problem. I used preservative free drops for about a month.
Like Bou, my eyes seem to be a little more light sensitive in bright sunlight but now I don't need prescription sunglasses.
I am chronically sleep-deprived and things do get a little blurry when I'm tired but I'm sure that was the case when I was wearing glasses too. I just couldn't distinguish it from dirty lenses.FTM-PTB-DTRT
12-08-2004, 05:31 AM #16
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
If you’re considering eye surgery you should know that more than 5% of patients have problems with night vision, results that don’t last and vision worse after than before the surgery.
You need to check out the web site surgicaleyes.com put up by a firefighter who had the surgery then had to quit because his eyesight fell below safety standards.
Here are questions and answers about eye surgery from internet postings:
What are the current attitudes regarding corneal surgery to correct poor vision? My eyes suck, to speak plainly. I’m considering getting laser eye surgery to correct the problem. Do departments consider that “corrected” eyesight? As in, “Candidate must have no worse than 20/70 vision, uncorrected, in either eye.”
In general, do departments consider eyes modified by corneal surgery “corrected” or “uncorrected?” Have any trends been noticed?
I’m just looking for how departments are tending to receive candidates who have had the surgery. Thanks!
I can’t speak for the fire service generally but I can tell you about my cities’ attitude on this subject. As a member of my locals’ negotiating team I participated in securing an eye surgery benefit as part of our last package. The city agreed that good vision is an important safety issue and that turnout times, (particularly at night) could be enhanced by less reliance on lenses. On that basis they agreed to pay 80% of the cost of corrective surgery for the employee only.
More input: My personal opinion is go for it. I had RK seven years ago and it was the best money I’ve ever spent (Lasik wasn’t an option then). Another FF on my department had the same surgery just after I did. Much later a FF had Lasik.
My departments position on anything of this nature is as long as the doc clears you to come back to work there is no problem. I personally always had concerns about contacts, I felt that I didn’t want to put a piece of plastic on my cornea, go interior on something and even have the possibility of having it permanently fused to my eyes. Beyond the job, just the change it makes in day-to-day living is worth it.
Still more: I can’t comment on what stand a department may have on surgically corrected vision but I can comment on my own experience. I had Lasik last fall, I was like 20/200 before the procedure, I am now 20/15 in my right eye and 20/18 in my left. It was the best $$$$$ I ever spent. I would recommend it to anyone. Signed Seeing Well.
Another: I had Lasik in June of last year, and it took like charm. I was 20/100 in one eye and 20/150 in the other. Now I am 20/20 in both, best bucks I spent. No departments have had any problems with my surgery just as long as it was longer than 6 months ago to prove the procedure took. I was never DQ’d (disqualified) in any processes, they just told me to come back for re-evaluation at 6 months past surgery, and I still passed at that time too.
Finally: go for it!
There were two guys in my academy (paid-new hires) that had their eyes done. The stipulation was they had to be 6 months post op. to make sure the correction took. i.e. the lens didn’t loose shape after laser surgery. Good luck with your pursuit.
I had both of my eyes done. Both eyes were -11.5, which I believe is the equivalent of 20/1150. Lasik usually isn’t performed on eyes worse than -12 (20/1200).
You could say I was an extreme case. The day after the surgery I had 20/30 vision in both eyes and subsequently have improved to 20/25 in each eye. I couldn’t be happier. I’d certainly recommend it but would encourage individuals to read up on it, research it and definitely check out more than one doctor who performs the surgery. Good Luck!
You can check out more information concerning eye surgery on the Food and Drug Administration web site at http://www.fda.gov/CDRH/LASIK
12-08-2004, 07:23 AM #17
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
I had it done in September, to pass a physical for a paid position. Overall it has been great! I was also blind as a bat, but had vision corrected to 20/20 with contacts. As an active volunteer as well, it sucked to have to sleep in contacts etc. So overall I think it was a great decision. You can PM me if you want details about the surgery (what it felt like etc.). By the way, the Department I applied to suggested the surgery to continue with their process and accepts corneal surgery results as uncorrected vision.
12-08-2004, 08:49 PM #18
Several of our firefighters have had this procedure, with no bad results.
12-09-2004, 12:45 PM #19
- Join Date
- Jan 2001
- 'Tween the Mississippi & St Croix
Had mine a couple of years ago. 20/100 to 20/15 in one fell zap of the LASER.
However... I am one of the 2-10% or so that have regressed a bit, and will need a touch-up. I'm now at 20/40 - OK to drive without specs, but not what I really want. I'm wearing a pair of glasses until I can get the time off to have the procedure.
The technology has improved even over the last couple of years.
I would not hesitate to have it done again.
Jim Mc Carthy, RN-C, FF/EMT
White Bear Lake FD
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