Artificially Intelligent

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Notes On SMILE Eye Surgery

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Yesterday, I got SMILE corrective vision surgery. I found the experience interesting for a variety of ways. Here are some notes:

  • You can see immediately after surgery. It looks like you’re looking through a grey film. I was able to order an Uber immediately after surgery with little problem (I had to rely a little on my memory of what a keyboard looked like to type my address). My vision is currently a bit blurry, but much better than it was without my glasses before. I can read a book from maybe 18 inches away.
  • My prescription was checked 4 times in four different ways: prescription checking machine, historical prescription, machine to check the prescription of my glasses, and a manual check, which was performed both by an optometrist and my surgeon.
  • The entire process end-to-end was about 4 hours. The surgery itself was only 15 minutes. About 4 of these minutes were transitions. About 10 were the surgeon pulling out bits of my eye. About 1 minute of this was me staring at a laser.
  • The important part of the surgery involves looking at one specific spot for 23 seconds while your eyelids get held open by a clamp. This was very stressful because if you move your eye, your postop vision might be worse or the surgery would have to be cancelled and you would have to get a different type of eye surgery with a much longer recovery time.
  • During the part where you had to stare at the laser without moving your eye, your eye is being lasered so you can see your vision blurring in real time. Thankfully, the surgeon had me practice looking at a light without moving my eye, then turned the light off without telling me he was going to do that. As the laser machine lowered itself onto my eye, the surgeon also obstructed my vision to make sure my eyes remained in place.
  • You’re supposed to keep your eyes closed for a few hours immediately following surgery. I was given a sleeping pill to take to make this easier. Keeping your eyes closed for extended periods of times when you’re awake is pretty hard.
  • When my left eye was being lasered, after the laser suctioned itself to my eye, it abruptly unsuctioned itself. Then it started moving away. While it was moving away, a piece of it detached and fell on my face. The surgeon had to restart the laser, and said “I have never seen this happening before.” This surgeon has done this exact surgery probably more than a thousand times, so this was kind of spooky.
  • They asked me how I was feeling and I said “a bit nervous” and they said “do you want some Valium?” and I was like 😮. I wondered if this was legal for a while then I remembered probably a place that does surgery can give you prescription drugs because they can, you know, prescribe things.
  • After the laser cuts a little bit out of the middle of your eye, the remaining part of the surgery is to take that bit out. This process seemed to basically involve a lot of wiggling, which felt extremely strange to be experiencing in the form of distortions in my vision as the surgeon tried to pull something out.
  • The surgeon gave me percentage progress estimates when he was pulling out the part of my eye, which was much appreciated.
  • I was given antibiotic eye drops to put in my eyes. I learned today that your tear ducts connect to your throat. I also learned what antibiotics taste like, which is not very pleasant.