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Thread: Preparing eyes: Lasik and presbyopia

  1. #1
    bwilson4web's Avatar
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    Preparing eyes: Lasik and presbyopia

    I soloed at age 16 and didn't need glasses but a couple of years later, I noticed I couldn't see a familiar radio tower out the window. By the time I was a freshman in college, I had to slow down on the interstate at night to read the signs in time to take my exit. I remained nearsighted and choose careers not in aviation. Turn the clock forward 40 years and I bought my dream airplane two months ago.

    Last year, I had signed up for the maximum, flexible-spending account in anticipation of my wife getting some dental work. But Thanksgiving comes and goes and we still had $5,700 in that use-it or lose-it account. Then I found it also covered Lasik eye surgery and had both eyes corrected two days ago to regain my distance vision and the expected presbyopia, loss of near vision.

    As expected, it will take 10-14 days for my eyes to fully recover so I still see a fog halo around lights at night but I don't have to drive with glasses. But as expected, my former, great vision within arms reach now requires reading glasses . . . $2.50/each . . . versus the $100+ for prescription glasses. As I type this note, I'm using reading glasses but this was expected.

    On the drive home yesterday afternoon, I noticed reading the GPS and engine OBD scanner text required reading glasses. So I'm looking for the little, half-glasses, so I can quickly tilt my head and read the 'fine print.' But these will be inexpensive, reading glasses and I'll keep extra sets in the cars, at work, and the plane. I'll also get some 'shop glasses' for reworking N19TW, my airplane project.

    I had not planned on Lasik vision correction and this was just a by-product of my wife not getting her expected dental work. But I'm not one to turn down opportunity and this worked out reasonably well.

    The eye examination was done in the morning then came the sales pitch. Over the phone, I was given a $2,000/eye, low ball cost. But at the clinic, prices ranged from $2,800 to over $4,000. Without going into the terms and conditions, we agreed on $2,700 and liquidated the remaining flexible spending account money.

    To avoid sticker shock, make sure to get their full price list before leaving so you can figure out exactly what you'll pay. Also, have enough time and a backup plan so you can look them straight in the face and say,"Well, guess I'll have to find another provider" and walk to the door. Better still, have the card and number for another Lasik clinic and be ready to fly there. In my case, I was in a use-it or lose-it situation with a hard deadline, December 31, two weeks away.

    Bob Wilson

  2. #2
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing the story, Bob, and congratulations on the life-changing procedure! (And on the "dream airplane", of course.)

    Your story is very, very similar to mine. In fact, my surgery was on the 8th, so maybe just a week ahead of yours. My recovery is going very well, though the occasional very minor fluctuation in vision is a little frustrating, it's stabilizing rapidly.

    After 30 years of wearing glasses, the change is remarkable. I was testing at around 20/400 in my best eye before the surgery, and hit 20/20 with no trouble the morning after.

    For me, I knew I'd chosen the right surgeon when, on my first visit, I saw that the waiting room was decorated with nothing but aviation paintings - William Phillips and Robert Taylor, primarily.

    Hal Bryan
    EAA #638979
    Online Community Manager
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  3. #3
    I had the precursor to Lasik 18 years ago. It was laser called PRK and was not even legal here yet. I had to go to Canada. I am still 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other. I have not spent a single day regretting doing it. That old procedure made you blind for about a week after and the only bad thing was when I walked into the ladies room at the Detroit Airport. I couldn't see anything anyway.

  4. #4
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Ignoring the mindless spam on the thread from a guy who seems to have created an account here just to hawk his snake oil...

    Lasik is OK with the FAA once your vision stabilizes, if you're considering other procedures you need to check.
    My wife whose AME recommended she carry two spare pairs of glasses when flying (20/600 or so) got LASIK'd down to 20/20 and she doesn't regret it.
    She had some of the complications (in fact one that the very experienced ophtamalogic surgeon had never encountered before) but it worked otu.

  5. #5

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    Timely discussion!

    I just got back from a trip to Wisconsin, and heard a radio commercial for Lasik eye surgery that was pumping up how their patients were returning to work the day after. What caught my attention was their claim about "pilot's" returning to work the day after. My question is can an Commercial pilot or ATP get this procedure done and just go back to work the next day or does the FAA have something to say about waiting periods and eye exams?

    Joe

  6. #6

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    I had to have a more in depth eye exam with my normal Opthamologist who filled out a specific form that I sent on to OKC. Only took a week or two but definitely not an overnight deal

  7. #7
    MEdwards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyingRon View Post
    Ignoring the mindless spam on the thread from a guy who seems to have created an account here just to hawk his snake oil...
    Where was that? I don't see any such spam on this thread. Was it removed?

  8. #8
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    Looks like the mods removed it...

  9. #9
    If the Lasik corrective surgery is done recently the FAA likes you to self ground till the surgeon clears you for normal activity and then wants you to provide the FAA Form 8500-7 (Eye Evaluation). If the Lasik was done more than two years ago the AME can simply document the surgery and issue the certificate assuming you meet the visual acuity standards. They have separate requirements if you are planning to correct one eye for near and one eye for distant. Hope that helps, Greg

  10. #10

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    Thanks for clearing that up Greg!

    I thought you might pick-up on my post. That radio hype was a bit "over-the-top" on pilots flying the next day, but it sounds like this procedure is effective for many.

    Joe

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