I began wearing glasses when I was twelve years old. Although I could see very well with them, I never liked the way I looked in glasses. Growing up in Florida, I loved to swim, but I couldn’t see very well when I took my glasses off. Playing sports with glasses was often a problem, because my glasses would become foggy, sweaty, or would get knocked around.
I started wearing contact lenses during eleventh grade in high school. These were much better than glasses for me. They didn’t fog or get wet in the rain, and I had much better peripheral vision. Also, the contacts didn’t cause the distortions that I always had with my glasses. My early contacts were hard lenses, and it did take a few miserable weeks to adjust to them. Occasionally a piece of dust would get under the lens and it felt like my eye was on fire.
During medical school at the age of twenty-two, I started to wear soft lenses, and these were better still. The soft lenses were comfortable from the first day, and I could wear them almost all day long. However, after a long day of working in the hospital, my eyes would usually be very sore, and I would need to take the contacts out. Hopefully I had my glasses nearby. Some days my eyes would be so sore that I couldn’t wear the contacts at all.
Wouldn’t it be great, I often thought, if I didn’t need these glasses or contacts? Growing up, I viewed my nearsightedness and astigmatism as my biggest handicap, so it wasn’t surprising that after completing medical school, I specialized in ophthalmology and concentrated my practice on correcting vision focusing problems.
Day after day, year after year, my patients would tell me that correcting their nearsightedness and astigmatism was one of the best things that had ever happened to them. I treated my own brother and many of my closest friends, in each case with fantastic results. However, because of my relatively high amount of nearsightedness,
I was never an excellent candidate for radial keratotomy, the only technique then available, which was incredibly frustrating. I was, however, a good candidate for laser vision correction, so when the procedure became available in the United States, I decided to have it myself.
I chose to have the Lasik technique because of the faster visual recovery. I knew that there was no guarantee that I would obtain a perfect correction, but I also knew that there was a high probability that I would see well enough to do away with my glasses and contacts for most activities. Because I was over forty years old, I had already been noticing some difficulty with near vision, though I hadn’t yet started to use reading glasses or bifocals. I knew that laser treatment would not solve this problem and that in the next several years I would begin to need reading glasses, whether or not I had the laser treatment. I had tried monovision with my contact lenses and knew that it was not for me.
During the preoperative examination, my eyes were examined and my nearsightedness and astigmatism were measured. Corneal topography was performed. I was asked to read and sign a long document, which explained the technique, including what it could do and what could go wrong. The doctor also discussed the more common complications with me. Although I had gone over this with my own patients thousands of times, I still listened very carefully.
In 1996, when my Lasik procedure was performed, the standard practice was to treat one eye on one day and the other eye the next day. This is how I was treated. Today, almost all people have both eyes treated on the same day, which is considerably more convenient.
The procedure itself was very easy. First, my eye was washed out and numbing drops were put in. After lying down on the table, a speculum was placed in my eyelids to keep them open. All I could really see were several very bright lights. The doctor then created the thin flap, which didn’t hurt and took only a few seconds. I was then asked to look at a blinking light, and I heard the clicking noise of the laser. Again, there was no pain. During the course of the treatment, the blinking light became blurry and changed shape, but I was still able to look at it. The doctor then rinsed the eye and folded the flap back into place. The whole treatment had taken less than five minutes.
A few minutes later, a stinging feeling began in the eye. I didn’t take any pain medicine, because the stinging wasn’t very bad, but someone else might have wanted to take a mild pain pill. I took a nap, and after three or four hours, the stinging feeling went away. I put in the first of the eye drops, which I was told to continue using for a week.
The morning after my Lasik, I was stunned by how good my vision was. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very, very good. It had improved so much in such a short time! I was able to drive myself the day after the procedure. Reading was a little strained during the first several weeks, and my vision would fluctuate somewhat during the day. I also experienced glare and halos around lights for the first several weeks, but this gradually receded.
I returned to work three days after my procedure. After two weeks I felt very comfortable with my vision and resumed performing surgery. During the next few months, my vision gradually became sharper. There was still some fluctuation; there were some times when the vision seemed sharper, and other times when it was less precise. During the first several months, my vision was poor in dim light, and I experienced mild double vision with the left eye. These problems resolved after three to four months.
I am now able to work, drive, play sports, and go to movies without needing any glasses or contacts for my distance vision. My eyes are a lot less irritated now that I don’t wear contacts. They are whiter and less sensitive to the sun. I can see well when I wake up in the morning, and swimming and other sports have become a lot more fun. I don’t have to bother with all those contact lens solutions and don’t have to worry about having an extra pair of glasses available. My clear vision is now part of me, instead of something I would put on and take off.
When I had my Lasik treatment, my children, Bryce and Jocelyn, were young, and they were actually very disappointed. They loved to give me a big kiss each morning, then pull off my glasses and throw them around. But suddenly there weren’t any glasses to play around with anymore!
My Lasik procedure was over twelve years ago and I have enjoyed great distance vision all these years. The hassles of glasses and contact lenses are really just an old memory. Since I am now over 50, I have started using reading glasses, and as I get older I have noticed that I do need them more and more. But I know that I would have needed the reading glasses anyway, only I would have needed glasses or contacts for distance vision as well. Now I wake up in the morning, walk around, drive, and play sports without any glasses or contact lenses at all, and I could not be any happier with my vision.