The Eye Saga: Part 2 – Choosing a procedure

phoropter-2297282_640More than likely, you’ve read Part 1 of my Eye Saga. If not, you may want to peruse it for the background to my story.

Going back a little, I had mentioned that I was a good candidate for almost all of the procedures but not an excellent one for any of them.

To put a little more detail around this:

Procedure Description Advantages Disadvantages
LASIK (with cross-linking) Traditional LASIK surgery (with the flap) with addition of cross-linking to help stabilize the results of the procedure Well-documented procedure, great results for most people, less costly than implants, my thick corneas made this procedure a good option My risk of having the procedure re-done was higher than most, flap may be difficult to lift/set down after a touch-up procedure
PRK (with cross-linking) Laser surgery in which they go through the cornea instead of creating the flap, again with the cross-linking procedure to stabilize results Less risky without needing to create the flap, less costly than implants With my prescription, would need the procedure repeated 2 or 3 times to attain 20/20 vision (higher risk), very long (3 week) healing period
Cachet implants A fairly new type of man-made lens that is implanted in front of the lens in your eye Reversible procedure, lowest risk, do not have to touch the cornea of the eye at all Costly procedure
ICL implants A procedure that has been in use for more than a decade, implants a man-made lens behind the lens in your eye Reversible procedure, moderate risk, do not have to touch the cornea of the eye at all Most costly option, slight risk of causing a cataract when implanting the lens due to proximity to lens in eye

The Cachet Game

In short, both myself and the optometrist believed LASIK with cross-linking and Cachet lenses to be my least risky, most-viable options. After much thought, and getting the opinion of Dr. Gimbel himself, at the beginning of January 2013 I chose Cachet lenses.

The lenses took 4 – 6 months to order in, so it became a waiting game. I called at the beginning of April to check in, but nothing had happened yet. I called again towards mid-June, and, to my surprise, the lenses had been pulled off the market in April. According to Gimbel’s file, I should have been contacted as soon as they knew, but was apparently missed from the process. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. But, looking back, the issue occurred mainly in Asian people and those with small eyes, and I definitely fall into the latter category. I would much rather put up with the disappointment than possibly irreversibly lose my vision in the future.

So, that was that.

The switch to LASIK

On June 21, 2013 (otherwise known in my brain as Flood Day), I went back to see the optometrist and she confirmed that LASIK with cross-linking was still a good option for me. We reviewed my charts and I made an appointment with the counsellor for mid-July to have the surgery. As the date approached, the excitement and trepidation grew. A week before the surgery, I had to try to cut down on Vitamin C as it makes the cross-linking more likely to work as intended – apparently Vitamin C strengthens the corneal layer but you want it to be more pliable for the procedure. Who knew bell peppers had so much Vitamin C? Between my not eating red meat, dairy sensitivity and cutting down on Vit C, I felt like there was nothing I could eat that week.

The day of, I went into the main part of the offices to have my tests re-done before the surgery, since it had been more than six months since my last set. As I was sitting in the optometrist’s office, I started to feel a bit uneasy as she had left for some time to speak to the surgeon. And (I felt like) my whole world fell apart when she came into the room and said that I could not have the LASIK procedure due to irregularities in my cornea.

Basically, the irregularities increased my chance of developing keratectasia, which is a bulging of the eye due to removing too much of the cornea or where weak spots appeared on the eye. The corneal thickness of my eye also varies greatly from top to bottom, especially on my left eye. In short, with the additional risks these tests uncovered, the surgeons decided against allowing me to do laser surgery of any kind.

I also know more about the composition and topography of my eyes than any other living person, I’m convinced.

To this day, we’re all still unsure as to why these irregularities didn’t show up in the first set of tests. I tend to blink, a lot, and they actually have to recruit someone to hold my eyelids open for some of the tests, so it’s possible I blinked at the wrong time. Dr. Gimbel thought that there was an outside chance it could be dry eyes, so I hydrated like there was no tomorrow over that weekend and went back for re-tests the following Monday, to no avail.

Ironically, the test that had seemed most risky in that chart above, and is most costly, is now my only option: ICL implants.

Luckily, the space in my eye they insert the lens into is normal-sized, which means my risk of developing a cataract is fairly small, no more or less than your average person.

And, thanks to the CP shares, cost in this decision has been less of a factor than it would be for most people.

Onto the ICL

So, here we are. At the end of August I went in for a final test during which they did an ultrasound on my eye (very odd procedure) so that they could do measurements for ordering of the implants.

There have been tears shed. Excitement, hope, disappointment, nervousness, trepidation, resignation… these are all emotions I’ve felt during this process.

Two days before Christmas 2013, I had the procedure performed. The rest of the story to come.

Part 1 | Part 3



  1. I had my LASIK done at Gimbel as well, and by Dr. Gimbel. I’m surprised he is still working, but he was a great guy. They were professional, helpful, and 10 years later I am still really happy with the results. I had a better than expected results from the surgery. I would say my only issue with them is that I was a blinker, and they decided not to tell me what they were doing during the surgery due to that, and it wasn’t the best decision on the part of the technician.
    How do you feel? Do your eyes feel dry?

  2. Thanks for commenting! I’m a blinker too – it was really difficult to have my eyes forced open for so long. They were pretty quiet during my procedure but I also didn’t want to interrupt and have them make a mistake so I will attribute it to that 😉 So far, eyes are pretty good – I’m not at 20/20 in both eyes yet – the left is lagging a bit. I’m hoping it catches up to the right. But I was okayed to drive without corrective lenses 24 hours after surgery at my follow-up appointment. Dryness isn’t too bad, although I could be much better at putting drops in. After they stop mandating you to put them in every 30 minutes (I had to set a timer on my phone to remind me) I keep forgetting to do it at all, even when my eyes DO feel dry. Perhaps I need to set a timer for every hour or so!

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