Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Blue Eyes

When I got my first pair of glasses in the fifth grade I remember being so excited to see individual leaves on the trees and not just one big mass of green, recognizing the person who drove by and beeped, seeing what the teachers were writing on the blackboard and marveling at every detail of every little thing. I think that was when I first got into macro photography. Everything was so clear it was like I was seeing for the very first time.

I had a love/hate relationship with my glasses. I loved being able to, you know, see but I hated having to deal with finding the right frames, being able to afford the frames I wanted, learning how to play sports without them slipping off and sliding down my nose, dealing with the rain, snow, and fog and fumbling to find them in the middle of the night.

I'm happy to tell you I can see clearly now thanks to the medical miracle of LASIK vision correction surgery. It's truly amazing that I don't need my glasses or contacts after needing them all of my life.

I didn't want to mention it here before I had it because I didn't want to hear all the horror stories of the rare LASIK cases gone wrong. There are always risks with any surgery but after talking to everyone who ever had it and researching the best doctors around for over a decade, I decided to take the risk and just do it. I was extremely nervous after reading all about the rare cases of people who lost their peripheral vision, suffered complications or infection, corneal swelling or thinning, appearance of "floaters" and retinal detachment, hemorrhage, blockage in the veins and arteries of the eye, cataract formation, or the worst possible result, loss of an eye or total blindness. I didn't even tell my mother about it until it was over because she is a worry wort with insomnia and I didn't want her to lose any sleep over it.

The surgery itself was painless and took less than 15 minutes. The waiting was the worst part but once they gave me a Valium I was a bit more relaxed. I elected to have Intralase LASIK/Monovision Myopia (one eye for distance and one eye for reading) which would substantially reduce my need for reading glasses as I get older. After I got my Valium and had numbing drops put in my eyes I was brought into the surgery room and took off my glasses for the last time.

The doctor had me lie down, made sure my eye was positioned directly under the laser and placed a retainer over my eye to keep my eyelids open. This retainer had a suction ring that kept my eye pressurized so the surgeon could cut a corneal flap. It was a little uncomfortable but not painful. The corneal flap was then created with a laser. The doctor used a big sophisticated computer to adjust the laser for my particular eye prescriptions. I had to look at a red dot light for a short time while the doctor watched through a microscope while the laser sent pulses of light to my cornea.

The laser light pulses then painlessly reshaped my corneas. The laser made a steady clicking sound while it was doing its magic and there was a mild burning odor when the tissue was being removed which was weird because they were actually burning my eyes. Ewwww.

I was so afraid I was going to sneeze or move while they were doing this precise work. I think I held my breath almost the whole time. The doctor held my head steady while the machine did its thing. I had to look directly at these bright lights on the machine which felt like I was looking into three suns. My eyes were watering like crazy in addition to the stuff they were squirting in my eyes to keep them flushed out. As the doctor was telling me to look at the light everything went totally white and I couldn't see anything which was a little scary but then it was over in the blink of an eye and I could see.

They sat me up and took me out to a waiting room where they taped these clear round disks over each eye. After sitting with my eyes closed for about a half hour they quickly looked at my eyes through a machine and sent me on my way with various eye drops and an appointment to go back the next day for a follow up.

I had to keep my eyes shut for the first four hours after surgery and then start putting in eye drops every hour and antibiotic drops every four hours. I looked like Jeff Goldbloom in The Fly with the bubble disks over my eyes all night. I had a hard time getting the glue from the tape they used off my face the next morning but I had absolutely no pain and crystal clear vision.

I have some red blotches on the whites of my eyes which was caused by broken blood vessels from the suction but that will go away in about a week or two. My eyes have always been very sensitive to light and they are and will be even more sensitive to bright light for about a month. I have to continue putting eye drops in for five days and have to wear these funny looking goggles to sleep so I don't rub or scratch my eyes.

The surgery was not cheap and my insurance wouldn't pay a penny for it because they consider it cosmetic. I know a few people who traveled to Canada and had it done for a 1/3 of the price but I didn't want to bargain shop with my sight at risk.

It's so exciting to be able to wake up and see everything so clearly without having to fumbling around looking for my glasses. I can't wait to go skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling and not have to bring my contacts or worry about my glasses fogging up.

I now have 20/20 vision! I'm kicking myself for not doing it ten years ago but hindsight is 20/20, right?


  1. Congratulations!!! I've wanted to get my eyes sorted for years but I'm a huge great big cowardly wuss and haven't had the nerve to go through with it...
    You are my hero! And I hope you'll be keeping us up to date with all the healing!

  2. My husband did this and it changed his life so much for the better. Glad you are seeing the benefits!

  3. I am so jealous!! I have wanted LASIK for years but cannot really afford it. it must be so nice to wake up and be able to see, or swim and get out of the pool and see. glad that everything went well and that it definitely was worth it to you.

  4. Hi. I was holding my breath through a lot of this post! I would need a bucket of valium!

    Congrats on having the balls to get it done and I hope it continues to go as well for you.

    I hope one day to have surgery on my eyes but probably a different sort due to the nature of my sight problems. Yeah ... I might be brave enough by the time I'm 80!

    Bearfriend xx

  5. I had Lasik 8 years ago and chose the mono vision option and at 54 don't need reading glasses! Worth every penny. It's paid for itself over the years as I have saved all that money I spent on contact lenses and glasses.

    Truly a miracle and one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

  6. Chrissie: I was really scared but everyone I talked to said it was the best thing they ever did. It really is quick and painless. I'm pretty much completely healed. I still have a little redness from broken blood vessels but that will be gone in about a week.

    LAF: I can understand how it can change your husband's life. It is amazing to see.

    Heather: If you don't want to take a trip to Canada, they have interest free loans so you can pay a little every month. It is totally worth it and it has only been less than a week.

    Bearfriend: More valium would have been better but there really wasn't anything to be nervous about. It was over before I could freak out. After wanting it for years I figured it was better to do it now and reap the benefits than wait until I'm 80.

    Maxine: Glad to hear you had great results. It truly is a miracle. I'm so happy I did it.

  7. Congrats on the successful surgery!

    I have nearsightedness in the very early stages. I kinda want to have it fixed when the damage isn't that extensive. I'll look into Lasik...

    Thanks for sharing the experience with us.



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