I had intralasik this year 2012 in January (middle of ski season). My prescription was about -6 with -.5 astigmatism.
I felt good enough and had doctor's approval to go skiing within 2weeks in Tahoe. Driving up that night I did have some big halos from oncoming traffic, and maybe was a bit more dangerous than usual; but I also got halos to a lesser degree with my older contact lenses, so it wasn't a huge degredation, so I switched driving duties with my ski buddy.
The first few trips through march, perhaps due to altitude, eyes were blurrier than when I was at sea level (even with eyedrops), so there is some recovery time. It isn't something that will stop you, and it is just minor, you just may not be able to read signs from 500feet away. So don't except to get away scot-free immediately with zero tradeoffs. It takes some *months* to fully heal up, now I rarely use eyedrops at all, and the halos are gone.
Even while skiing, Eyedrops were not too much of an issue. I wear goggles, so the interior stays more humid then if went with sunglasses. So even the first trip past the surgery, just drops before goggling up for first lift, drops at lunch, and drops at the end were enough to keep the eyes moist (everyone is different though). Probably, the casinos with secondhand smoke were more irritating than the slopes.
Do get a pair of goggles with low enough VLT (dark).
It is a huge plus to have no glasses (OTG is so bug-eyed), or if you're contacts, the risk of your contact getting dried up, irritanted or dislodged. If anything, I think my eye health maybe better and stronger now now since I'm not stuffing a piece of plastic in there every day. So the eyes are stronger and probably more resiliant to getting poked or something. For this reason, most pro-athletes actually consider laser surgery. If you're a football player and your contact gets popped out in a tackle, you're in big trouble as compared to having the laser surgery..
After 15years of contacts, not a single night or morning has passed (6months now), that I don't appreciate that I don't have to deal with the lenses.
If you are planning it, I would suggest just starting eyedrops now. Per the suggestion of my surgeon, It will improve the health of your eyes, which will pay dividends in a speedier recovery. The key to avoiding dry eyes is just to stay ahead of it, and just put in drops even when your eyes aren't dry yet (just like drinking water for hydration).
If you are wearing contact lenses, you will need to stop using them for several weeks (some doctors will care less and roll the dice, but it's better to let things stabilize for longer). So if you're planning lasik, I suggest to just stop using the lenses now, just so you don't have to go through the waiting period later (or in case you have a doctor that like to rush things).
As far as the different options available, I suggest you research it a bit so you understand it; but talk it over with the the place; they will examine you and tell you what may work best for you. Most places will give free "evaluation" and pressure you to sign up. This is usually the minimum set of tests so they can just tell if you are a good candidate and then they can sell you surgery (more indepth tests later after you sign). Don't be afraid to walk away without signing anything or checking out a few places to see what you are most comfortable with.
Edited by raytseng - 7/16/12 at 10:30am
Some places will also let you observe a surgery if you wish. It's not for the faint of heart. It's actually easier as the patient, since all you see is a flashing light, as compared to a third party seeing someone's eye get lasered.