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Nov 30, 2007, 02:57 PM
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ClayH's Avatar
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Lasik eye surgery - what's your story

A few years ago I thought that spending a few hundred dollars for an airframe was expensive. Then I discovered competitive soaring. Two years later having $2200 invested in a sailplane is not that unusual. As my passion for the hobby has grown, so has my willingness to purchase the best equipment that I feel will make the experience more enjoyable/successful.

So I'm looking at this next year thinking what else I can do to become a better pilot. I can't make any more practice time - I fly as much(or more) as possible already. I have state of the art equipment and good flying buddies to fly with. But there is one thing that is deteriorating as my thermaling skills increase - my eyesight.

After hearing glowing reviews from a few non-fliers who've had refractive surgery, I decided to get an exam and ask a professional how this procedure might help me. After two hours of testing my eyes in every possible way it seems I have a common problem. Like most over 40 year-olds, my eyesight for reading is really starting to drop off.One eye is very dominant and excels at distance while the other eye is just hanging out, getting worse and not really contributing much to either up-close reading or distance.

The doctor suggested one of two lasik options - leave the good eye alone(it's nearly 20/20 for distance) and have lasik on the bad eye to convert it to my reading eye, or have both eyes worked on, trying to get a little more clarity in the distance eye, the other eye would be my reading eye. They call it monovision. Takes time for the mind to get used to it, most people learn to deal with it fine. So says the guy whose going to make $4500 on the procedure.

Looking for feedback from those of you who've had lasik surgery to see how your experience has gone. Are you satisfied with your results?


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Nov 30, 2007, 03:12 PM
Gravity is a harsh mistress.
Tim Wolff's Avatar
I haven't has lasik, but $4500 will buy a lot of perscription sunglasses and you will need sunglasses anyway.

A "reading eye" and a "distance eye" sounds a bit bizzare and will pooch your depth perception (at least for a little while). It's someting I'd try with glasses first (if that's possible).

My current script uses prism to trick both my eyes into working together. I know when it's time for a checkup when I start seeing two sailplanes at extreme distances. Like you, I'm over 40 and need longer arms for reading, but my insurance will only pay to fix the eyes
Nov 30, 2007, 03:22 PM
Gustavo Exel
gustabmo's Avatar
I had Lasik at age 30 on both eyes. Had 5 degrees myopia on each eye and since than I have 0 degrees and perfect 20/20 eye sight and no problem to see my planes at a distance.

I wear sunglasses all the time when flying. Bright lights annoy me a lot but that's how it has always been, even before surgery.

I also think that reading eye / distance eye method might work for the usual chores but will not be great for what we need when flying our model planes far and up (sometimes far and low!).

Still haven't developed presbyopia (I'm 37) but when it happens I'll most certainly need glasses for reading.
Nov 30, 2007, 04:00 PM
I haven't had lasik, but did take the tests. The doctor said that my up close vision was fine I simply can't see clearly at a distance.He said if I had lasik, I'd probably need reading glasses for up close reading.
However he also recommended doing each eye slightly different, one for up close and one for distance, but I took these tests just over 6 years ago.
And lasik has made a lot of advances since then.
I do wear glasses now.I take them off to read.
But I am still contemplating lasik. However it doesn't cost $4500 here, it's much less than that.
One of the best opthamologists in the nation is in Ft Wayne Indiana and the cost is around $2,000.
I get so tired of taking my glasses off when I work on my models, and lay them somewhere, then forget where I put them!
I lost them once and heard "crunch" just before I found them!
Not good!

Nov 30, 2007, 04:13 PM
infopimp's Avatar
I'm really paranoid... I'm slightly nearsighted and prefer to wear glasses than have surgery. Something about messing with my eyes freaks me out. I want another 10 years of results to know it really is safe. Like I said, I'm paranoid, and glasses don't bother me ( I need anything I can use to look smarter... glasses help I think )
Nov 30, 2007, 04:43 PM
Laughs at his own jokes.
IwantaJet's Avatar
I had lasik 6 or 7 years ago. My vision went from about 20/200 to 20/15. I could see at the pool, I could see better on skis and, after 42 years of being lousy at sports I could finally hit a fastball.

On the down side I need to use reading glasses, I see mild halos around lights at night and I keep eye drops in my pocket for dryness.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. I understand it's not the same for everybody. Do your research and understand the potential problems before you decide.

I started flying soon after I had the eyes done so I can't tell you what it was like before, but it's fine now.

Nov 30, 2007, 05:07 PM
SSP#14 aspirant
Soar_dude's Avatar
I had PRK Photo Reactive Keratanomy which is the procedure they do the correction right on the surface of the cornea my vision went from 20/400 20/600 down to 20/15 in both eyes. On the flip side my close up vision has dropped a little. I had it 03 I amd 40 now and still have very good distant vision, but I can tell I am getting closer to needing reading glasses when I build my gliders. I have not had any complications from the procedure. My suggestion is to have both eyes corrected to distant vision and wear reading glasses. Go for it man!

Soar Dude
Nov 30, 2007, 06:29 PM
Registered User


I had Lasik surgery here in Houston Texas about ten years ago by Dr. Berkley, the Doctor who taught many of the current Lasik surgeons performing this surgery across the nation. He has performed thousands of these procedures. They offered to do one eye for distance and one eye for close up, but I elected to do both for distance, then wear reading glassed.
You need to make an appointment with the surgeon and ask questions. Ask the surgeon if one eye is done for distance and one for reading, will that screw up your depth perception.
Write your questions down before visiting the doctor.
Don't listen to a bunch of people who say, "I haven't had the surgery but ....blah blah blah".
Nov 30, 2007, 06:30 PM
somewhere in South America
ShredAir's Avatar
I'm lucky, my nearsidedness has been corrected perfectly with contact lenses for over 20 years now. My eyes are healthy and I have excellent distance vision, but need reading glasses.
Whenever someone suggests surgery to me, I tell them I'm ready as soon as there are shelves full of good spare eyes laying around in case something goes wrong. Until then, and so long as my vision can be perfect with contacts and glasses, nobody cuts the only set of eyes I have.

Dieter Mahlein, ShredAir
Nov 30, 2007, 06:56 PM
Registered User
David Forbes's Avatar
Ask your optician about base 8 lenses, these are wrap around, and don't work for everybodys prescription, but they give full peripheral vision and complete protection. I use them for mountain biking (OK, I'm in FL, riding in the woods) and have them put the lenses in $7 nylon safety glasses frames. You can get them in colors, I have a med green that works well for flying, yellow for cloudy days and clear for night rides.
I'm with Deiter, it scares me to do something to my eyes that's non-reversible, and where I fly depth perception is important.
Nov 30, 2007, 07:00 PM
Schwemmer's Avatar
My son was hit in the face during baseball and fractured his eye socket. He had surgery and successful recovery. What has that to do with Lasik you ask? Well I asked the surgeon about Lasik. He is the head of eye socket repair surgery at UCLA med Center. His response was to lower his glasses and say. I can have it done here but I won't. He went on to say that it is a very safe procedure and many throughout the world have had it done. But it does not last into your 50's and 60's so you will need it redone. Just something to think about.


From the guy who beat the average to 40 years of age then caught up quickly.
Nov 30, 2007, 07:34 PM
Registered User
Slopeman's Avatar
I considered Lasik for 4 years and it is a risk that you take because vision is the most vital of all your senses. I am a father of three children nearsighted with no astigmatism.
My right eye was -4 and my left -3 . I was fine wearing glasses but at night out in the kids room falling over stuff made me think. Lots of little issues with prescription sunglasses and not seeing the plane as crisp as I could I decided to go to UC Berkeley eye center.
The cost was 3700$ the preop was outstanding, and they show you all possible issues and around 7 out of a 100 people have another operation to get 20/20 vision. I was very lucky right after the operation I could see fine but had dry eyes for 4 weeks. I am now very happy and I see better now then ever before.
The technology is improving too the operation itself took 15 minutes, I can only recommend it but find the best place to do it in your area.
Nov 30, 2007, 07:38 PM
Hi Clay,

I developed presbyopia (sounds like a religion, doesn't it?) in my early 40's and decided to get Lasik surgery. I'm a little different than most; I'd been far sighted my whole life (could see well at distance but not close up) and had worn glasses. When I started to lose my distance vision I drew a line in the sand. I used a very good surgeon, Dr. Maloney, Maloney Eye Institute. He had told me I'd still need glasses for reading but since I always had them I wasn't really bothered.

That was 6 years ago. My distance vision is 20/15, but my mid range and short vision are lagging behind. I have to use reading glasses but the good news is they are off the shelf at about a strength of 1.75. You can get 3 pairs for $15 at Costco. That's good to know as the one pair you'll always have in your shirt will fly off when you discus launch. That's what a flight box is for, a back up pair, assuming you can see the box :-)

I chose not to get the mono correction. For sailplanes depth perception is critical, especially for landing. I know your brain adjusts to the different strength of each eye, but I wanted to keep both eyes equal in strength.

Nov 30, 2007, 08:31 PM
Team Crunch Brothers
Here's another option if you don't mind being a guinea pig:

This device is supposed to fix presbyopia without messing with your distance vision.

Here's the description of how it works:

Luckily I don't meet the age range they are looking for, so I don't have to agonize over whether or not I should apply...

Nov 30, 2007, 10:02 PM
I am one year past the age, being 56, but my problem is seeing clearly at a distance. I am also a full scale private pilot, so I need depth perception.
Right now, I take my glasses off to read as I can see better close up.If I leave them on even though they are bifocals, it still bothers me.
The other thing that is very annoying is to come in out of the cold into a warm room, and whamo, my glasses instantly fog up!I HATE THAT!
My Dad had Lasik when he was in his 70's and had worn glasses for maybe ten years.
Dad would go flying with me in my Ercoupe, and could spot other planes in the sky at a much further distance that I could.And he was in his 70's!
I'd look and look, and finally spot them as they got closer.
Are there any of you guys reading these posts who fly full scale or for the airlines and have had this done? What were your results?
Last edited by Ercoupe Ed; Nov 30, 2007 at 10:07 PM.

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