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LASIK and Shooting -- My Experience

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Grampa, Aug 17, 2006.

  1. Grampa

    Grampa Well-Known Member

    I’m 52 and have worn glasses since the second grade. My eyesight was very poor, but was corrected to 20/20 with glasses. I also had some astigmatism in my left eye. I tried contacts in my 30’s, but they were uncomfortable. I didn’t naturally tear enough to wear contacts for more than a few hours.

    Shooting with strong prescription glasses, and eventually bifocals, was fine for handguns, as long as I paid attention to looking through the “sweet spot” of my glasses. Same with rifles with iron sights. Using red dots, holographic sights, and scopes was always a problem. Not only did I have to concentrate on looking through the “sweet spot” of my glasses (tough to do and have proper cheek weld), often the combination of astigmatism, strong prescription glasses and optics caused the target to bloom and halo.

    A few weeks ago I had LASIK surgery. The operation and recovery went fine, and I now see 20/20. The right eye took 38 seconds, and the left 42 seconds. I was in the operating room at most 20 minutes start to finish. And the next morning my vision was 20/20, tested. I looked up at the stars the next night and saw them as pinpoints of light for the first time in my life. And Mars was actually a disk. Just amazing.

    But, there is a big downside. The vision correction for my distance sight was so great that my near vision now is absolutely shot. For most instances, that just means I need to wear reading glasses for reading, looking at the computer monitor, reloading, stuff like that. You can buy reading glasses very cheap, and in a variety of powers. I've bought several pair and have pre-positioned them in key locations. For most stuff I use 2.00 power, but I keep a pair of 3.00 at my reloading bench.

    The worst impact is that I can no longer clearly see the sights on a handgun. I used to be able to shoot fairly accurately (just slow), but that may be significantly degraded. Or, at least, it requires some adjustment in shooting style. Last weekend I took my 22/45 out and tested my new eyes. As I suspected, overall my groups have opened up. I was still able to put 210 of 220 rounds in a 5 ½” bullseye at 50 feet, but it took a new level of concentration and different sighting technique. Where before I really tried to concentrate on the front sight, now I have to depend more on watching for the white space around the front sight. I find myself looking more at the target. Opposite of the “sight alignment then add the target for sight picture” process I was taught.

    Shooting a rifle with any kind of optics; red dot, holographic or scope, seems to be no problem. Even better, as there is no more blooming of the target. Cool! Iron sights are tough. I haven't shot iron sights since the operation, so don't know how well I'll be able to do with either the 16" or 20" AR's with A2 sights. I suspicion that the 20" AR and longer rifles will be easier to shoot.

    So, for those of you considering LASIK surgery and have moderate to bad nearsightedness, you may be interested in my experience. I am glad I had the surgery, but there are drawbacks related to shooting.
  2. Chipperman

    Chipperman Well-Known Member

    Nice review. The surgery is a two-edged sword.
    Glad the surgery went well overall.
    Things like that make me realize how lucky I am to have perfect vision still.
  3. AVESguy

    AVESguy Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the great post. I'm in the same spot as you, same age too. I went to be evaluated for Lasik, and was given contacts to "pre test" and see if I would adjust (I can wear contacts fine most of the time). I had the exact same problems you describe wearing the contacts, still needed prescription reading glasses with variable bifocals, which I wear sometimes when wearing the lenses. I finally decided that just trading one problem for another doesn't seem worth it and am in no rush to get the Lasik done.

  4. Wiley

    Wiley Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the club, kid. :D

    I'm 57 and wore glasses since about the year you were born (20/"What chart?"). I had LASIK about ten years ago and never looked back. I had the choice of distance vision or close vision or one eye close/one eye distance. I picked both distance. It took some months the 'settle in' and I had to have a tuneup on my left eye at about a year. Beyond that it's been great. Ten years later I can still see individual leaves on trees at a half mile, craters on the Moon.

    What you will find is that since you wore glasses, you'll have to adjust to having periferal vision. Things that you had to turn your head to see you'll pick up periferaly, and it may startle you.

    In time you'll adjust. I have no problems with my P-3AT to Uberti 1875 Remington to M14.
  5. Dravur

    Dravur Well-Known Member

    I had

    Lasiks about 3 yrs ago. I am younger than you all, at 42, but the surgery did not affect my near vision at all. To this day, I have had no problems shooting and seeing iron sights.

    I do know that as we age, our near sight does decline, called Prespyopia <sp> And I do believe that it could be accelerated by correcting your vision. I think that correcting your vision brought out the prespyopia that was present, but not noticed when your vision was set for nearsightedness.

    I am not an optometrist, so, I could be wrong, but Lasiks worked well for me.
  6. HMMurdock

    HMMurdock Well-Known Member

    I'm 22 and had LASIK 2 years ago. Super close distances (right next to my face) is a bit blurry, but otherwise no down side. No problem at ANY shooting distances. The only downside I have noticed is that my night sight isn't what it used to be. I used to have wonderful vision at night and now I'm average at best. But otherwise I am very grateful for the LASIK, for I had horrible vision (-7.5) and astygmatism.

    Congrats on the procedure, though. I'm glad all went well.

  7. JesseJames

    JesseJames Well-Known Member

    Thankyou very much Grampa for your post.
    I've thought about getting that surgery myself but stories of the negative aftereffects instilled some serious doubts. You only have one pair of eyeballs.
    I may try out the newest type of gas-permeable contact lenses. I don't want to take any chances with my eyesight. Too much depends on them.
  8. 'Card

    'Card Well-Known Member

    Lasik 2 years ago when I was 36. My personal opinion? Best thing I ever did. I only wish I'd done it sooner. No near-vision issues, but as I understand it, that's primarily age-related, and linked to losing tone and flexibility in the muscles in the eye that do the focusing.

    For me it was almost like a miracle, in some ways. All my life I'd thought the one thing I could never change, and just have to accept, was my vision problems. Then they wheel me under that laser, fire a few shots, wheel me out, and my vision went from 20/500 to 20/15 almost overnight.
  9. striker3

    striker3 Well-Known Member

    I'm 25 and it has now been 4 years since I had LASIK. Best thing I could ever hae done. My vision went from 20/400 to 20/15. I have no problems shooting at any distance under any conditions. It did not change my night vision, but that had been horrible anyways.
  10. Wiley

    Wiley Well-Known Member


    You should have some concerns. As with any surgery there are a percentage of patients who have complicateions. To ignore that would not be smart.

    However, there are ways to limit the risk. Go to a surgeon who has done LOTS of them. Ask for refreals. Ask about the possible compications. Don't just pick the low-price leader.

    If you have bad eyes, like the other posters here and the procedure is successful, you'll wonder why you didn't have it done sooner. Don't let internet horror stories scare you unnessarily.
  11. Grampa

    Grampa Well-Known Member

    Oh, I'm VERY glad I had the surgery. For most aspects of my life, it really is a miracle. Since it has only been a few weeks, I'm probably being premature in my evaluation of my near vision. It may still improve. But, the points made about aging eyes are right on. I started losing my near vision at about 47. I was still able to take my glasses off and hold something about 6 inches from my face to see it, but otherwise I used bifocals or reading glasses. Now, something held next to my nose is blurry, and it doesn't really get sharp to about 6 feet out. Before, I needed my reading glasses or bifocals starting with anything closer than two feet. Handgun sights were right at that boundary.

    I've not noticed any change in night vision, nor am I any more sensitive to light than I was previously.

    My wife wears her contacts as one distant, one close. I think its called monovision. The ophthamologist said he could do the same thing with the LASIK surgery for her. She is considering it.
  12. Devonai

    Devonai Well-Known Member

    I'm 29 and I had LASIK surgery in January. I can't remember what my vision was on the Snellen scale (20/x) but in decimal it was -2.25. Now I'm at 20/15 in both eyes. Near and far vision is excellent.

    The major drawback to the surgery was well disclosed prior to the procedure. I was told I had very large pupils, and that in low light the size of my pupils would exceed the surgery area, resulting in light distortion. That's exactly what happened, so the acuity of my night vision depends entirely on the ambient lighting conditions. Glare is most pronounced when there is a very bright single light source, i.e. a car approaching on a country road. My mom uses hard contact lenses and she experiences the same glare for exactly the same reasons.

    For shooting, there has been nothing but improvement. I got the surgery because I was alerted for possible deployment to Iraq with the Army, and I'd had enough of my glasses fogging up during combat training. Now I can shoot from a wider variety of positions (especially when prone) and I don't have to worry about my damn glasses fogging up!

    The only thing I regret is that I'm currently experiencing hard financial times, and the $3500 I spent on the surgery would look pretty good back in my bank account right now.
  13. gunsmith

    gunsmith member

    upper forties

    and I use reading glasses in low light and fine print...very inneresting thread here
  14. History Prof

    History Prof Well-Known Member

    I just started wearing bifocals (yesterday, in fact). I'm more curious about this "sweet spot" thing you're talking about, because I haven't been to the range in about 2 months or so. I never had problems with my single-vision lenses, which I've worn since age 12. Dang, I just realized I haven't even picked up a gun in the past 24 hours to see what the impact might have been.:eek:
  15. Catbird

    Catbird Well-Known Member

    Grampa -

    Your eyesight background sounds a lot like mine. I am in my 50s and started wearing glasses at age 7; by age 10, I was totally dependant on glasses to navigate through my everyday environment.

    I had LASIK surgery on both eyes approximately 5 years ago. Prior to the actual procedure, I was given the option of correcting one eye to 20/20 and under-correcting the other eye to (approx.) 20/40 - called monovision. Initially, that sounded like a bad idea and I wasn't interested at all because I feared it would lead to headaches and/or dizziness.

    To make a long story short, I decided to go with the monovision option after I gathered more information and am now so happy I did. Utilizing both eyes, I can read small print and see pretty well at a distance without any corrective lenses whatsoever with both eyes working in concert.

    The benefit of all this is that the monovision has given me the ability to see my gun sights and my target pretty easily.

    For a guy that had an (estimated) 20/800 uncorrected vision in both eyes and wore super thick glasses most of his life, I'm more than satisfied with the results. Other than shooting, the only time I choose to wear any glasses is to sharpen things up a bit for nighttime driving.
  16. Werewolf

    Werewolf Well-Known Member

    As one grows older the lenses in the eye become less and less flexible - they just can't adjust to the full range of distances we need to see at anymore.

    Lasik doesn't affect the lens - it changes the cornea - it's kind of like adaptive optics but it only goes so far.

    You can correct for far or near but if you're older and your lenses are getting stiff you've just got to decide what is better. My doctor showed me what correcting for near, far, and mid would look like. None were acceptable for various reasons.

    Lasik isn't for everyone and it isn't a cure all for poor vision in many, many cases.
  17. Tokugawa

    Tokugawa Well-Known Member

    Now this is an interesting thread! I am nearsighted with astigmatism. I can focus like a magnifying glass up real close with out glasses, but no distance vision at all. I'd like to hear what other guys in thier 50's experience is.
  18. Glock_10mm

    Glock_10mm Well-Known Member

    My doctor told me that if you can see well enough to drive / move around the house in normal activities, its not worth the risk of lasik (ie a bad infection or wrong move and your blind). Glad the surgery went well but I'd only suggest it to those who dont have 'decent' vision.

    Also, if you are real young, your eyes will constantly change until you are 25 or so, so you should hold off until then. The change is much slower after that, but doing it too early can put you in the same boat just years later. I read an article where a parent got their 14 year old lasik and by 17 they needed to have it again.
  19. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    very interesting thread. i've been debating this for years.

    did any of you ask your doc if you could do one eye at a time? like, do an eye and wait a day to do the next one, to make sure they didn't screw up the first one?

    i mean, losing sight in one eye would suck, but not nearly as much as losing it in both eyes, due to something like a machine not being calibrated properly.
  20. Ricebrnr

    Ricebrnr Well-Known Member

    Werewolf is correct, the condition is called presbyopia. Unlike glasses your natural lens flexes to accomodate focus at various distances. As you age the lens naturally loses this flexibility.

    Lasik will correct your vision via sculpting of the cornea but even younger people are usually advised as I was (37) that with my corrected vision there is a possibility of losing near vision as I grow older.

    There are several other options available now but they require a more invasive surgery. These use new multi focal intra-ocular lenses in a surgery called a refractive lens exchange. This is essentially the same surgery that would correct for cataracts but in this case you'd be replacing a "clear" natural lens with an artificial presbyopia correcting intraocular one. There's even a new class of lenses (Toric) that would correct for astigmatism as well. Generally speaking these all fall under the classification of "New Technology Intraocular Lenses" or NTIOL's.

    Should you have cataracts, Medicare and some other private insurance carriers willl pay for the medically necessary portion of the surgery and you can pay the difference for the vision correction out of pocket.


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