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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

LASIK surgery - 14 years later

In 1999, a month before my 30th birthday, I took the plunge and had LASIK eye surgery. In less than 30 second in each eye, a laser corrected my vision from -5.50 in one eye and -6.0 in the other to perfect vision. 

It was wonderful.

I took a nap after the surgery and woke up to near perfect vision. I could watch it improving bit by bit until it was perfect.

It came with a lifetime guarantee.

I loved being able to see perfectly all the time -- I could even read the clock in the middle of the night. The first time I felt the breeze on my eyeballs I was taken aback -- I'd always had glasses or contacts between my eyes and the elements. 

I had a baby, and did not have to juggle contact lenses or glasses and her. Pure heaven, in so many ways!


I did not love the starburst vision at night that seemed to last for years. It was just recently that I realized it has been a while since my vision was like this at night:




The lifetime guarantee did not include normal aging. The anticipation was that around the time I turned 40 I would need reading glasses. 

My eyes chose a different path.

My left eye shifted so that it is a great eye for reading. My right eye is pretty decent at distances, though the astigmatism has returned. In other terms, I have mono-vision and do not need reading glasses. (Yeah, me.) On the other hand, I have mono-vision and this means if the right eye is blocked by a pole or a person, I can't see very far. In those cases I move my head so I can see by the eye needed at the time. Since this happened naturally, I don't even realize it is happening. I think to have surgery to have this happen would be a big pain in the head.

About 9 years later I noticed I was having troubles driving at night. The solution was to use glasses while driving. Aw...nuts. I was still fine for driving during the day, so the solution was to keep a pair of glasses in the car and wear them when I drive. Still not the end of the world.

Each year I noticed they were a little worse, so the eye doctor upped the prescription.

Last year Ashley got her first pair of contact lenses. This has encouraged me to give contact lenses another try. By now, nearly 15 years later, my left eye is -2.25 and the right eye is -0.75, just enough that I am having troubles reading the giant signs in Wegmans from a distance. And enough of a difference that I am wearing my glasses when I drive both at night and during the day.

I convinced my eye doctor to let me try contact lenses again. He is not convinced that I will love them, so he signed me up for one lens (the distance eye) and daily lenses rather than monthly ones like Ashley. Why doesn't he think I'll like them? Because now reading books and computer screens is a challenge and I spend more time doing that than watching TV.

Ashley loves that I have a contact lens like her. She is trying to teach me the best way to put it in. In the 15 years since I last wore them, they have become thinner. Really, it is not just my imagination. My prescription is not as strong. It doesn't correct the astigmatism and technology has gotten better. It flops about on my finger. Instead of one try to get it in, it takes me about 10. Still not too bad.

I wore them all last weekend while away. I have not worn them while I'm home (I'm mostly in the house anyway).

Now about that lifetime guarantee. I thought that meant I would have another few seconds under the laser and VOILA my vision would return. Nope, it turns out you can only have LASIK once. If I want that touch up (which I still might want someday) I have to use PRK, and older technology. Instead of hours of recovery time, it would be a week to two weeks before I could drive again. Seriously? Who has that kind of time to wait for the eyes to transition.

I've since been told the LASIK benefits will last about 10 years. Choose your 10 years carefully. Ashley is already anticipating having the surgery when she turns 21. We'll see. So far the experiment the eye doctor is doing with her (using bifocal contact lenses to slow the decline in vision) is working so well her eyes did not change in the first year. She goes back in six moths for another check up.

In the meantime, I am figuring out the best path for me. Wearing glasses while driving. Wearing a contact lens when I'm out and about for hours on end. Wearing neither when I am just home.

Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

If you have more questions about LASIK, let me know.

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