To see or not to see

Glasses are inherently a bad thing. Having pieces of glass and
plastic stuck between your nose and ears is asking for trouble.
Until about a week ago, I was among the 150 million people who
wear glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses for about 15 years, and I
had had enough. After having LASIK surgery, I can see clearly
now
– supposedly 20/20.
Glasses are inherently a bad thing. Having pieces of glass and plastic stuck between your nose and ears is asking for trouble.

Until about a week ago, I was among the 150 million people who wear glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses for about 15 years, and I had had enough. After having LASIK surgery, I can see clearly now – supposedly 20/20.

I never have worn contacts. My eyes water a lot, and the idea of the contact popping out at ill-timed intervals didn’t sit too well.

Going into the surgery, my vision was 20/50. It wasn’t that bad, but it was enough of an irritant, especially when playing sports. I can now see where the basketball rims are and read people’s eyes when playing. I never used to play basketball with glasses on, and as a result, my game usually suffered.

But even with the surgery, I still can’t find my golf balls. I need a lot more help there than just corrective eye surgery. Maybe GPS surgery could help.

The surgery cost $2,100 per eye for the Custom LASIK procedure, so I decided to get both eyes done at once.

Custom LASIK creates a three-dimensional corneal map using wavefront technology, allowing the laser to fix the distortions, or aberrations, more accurately than traditional LASIK, which is cheaper.

The actual surgery didn’t take more than about 15 minutes. It was the pre-op that was slightly problematic.

The appointment was scheduled for 3pm. They wanted me there at 2:15pm, but I was running about half hour late. About 3:15pm, after I’d signed my life and my eyes away, the first assistant saw me.

She had me stare at a light without blinking while the computer mapped and measured my eyes for the laser.

“Don’t blink. Don’t move.” Easy for you to say.

I held as still as I could, but no matter what I did, she couldn’t get the reading she needed.

“Maybe Vicky or Ramon could hold his eyes open.” Great, just what I need.

I pictured two big bouncer-type individuals holding me down. Where’d that duct tape go?

The doctor even came in with Q-tips to hold my eyes open. Still nothing.

Finally, they moved me to a different machine in a different room. This machine took a series of three images per eye. Eventually, they got the reading. If the presurgery was this hard, how am I ever going to make it through surgery? I wondered.

Needless to say, I was a little nervous beforehand. If I was a little nervous, my dad, who took me up to Laser Eye Center In San Jose, was a nervous wreck. But I still was able to convince him to record the procedure on video.

They gave me five milligrams of valium to help me relax before the surgery, but they could have easily given my dad the whole bottle. The attendant said the valium wouldn’t have much effect on me because of my size. But by the time the surgery was done, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and slept for most of the ride home.

By about 5pm, they were finally ready to begin the procedure. After giving me a local anesthetic, they had me lay down on a table looking up at the laser. I could see red and green lights above me as a speculum held my eyes open.

Once I was in position, the doctor cut the cornea flap and told me that it would become a little blurry. I watched as he quickly made the incision and then pulled away the flap. It seemed like he was pulling a film off my eye, and then everything went blurry.

While I was under the laser, the doctor and the assistants counted down from about a minute, stopping every so often to check the eye before continuing with the next step. I could still see the red and green lights, but it was as if I were looking at them through a kaleidoscope. They were moving back and forth, contracting and expanding.

Once the countdown was over, they smoothed the flap down and then went to the other eye.

There was no pain during the surgery. Just a mild irritation and dryness of the eyes, as well as the urge to blink. Following the surgery, they gave me a pair of sunglasses, which I gladly took even though it was dark by the time we left. By the time I got home, I lifted the glasses a little and was amazed to be able to read street signs. I even watched a basketball game for a little while.

The recovery was quick. The next day, I could see as well as when I had glasses. My eyes were still a little watery, and I had to keep them lubricated with drops.

I went back the next day for a scheduled follow-up appointment.

The doctor said the cornea had ruffles in it and wasn’t sitting down correctly for some reason – possibly because I moved it during surgery or scratched it while sleeping. He resmoothed it, and after 10 minutes I was ready to go.

So far, so good. I haven’t had any major complaints other than a little bluriness in the mornings and a slight halo at night, but overall I can’t complain.

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