For my 40th birthday, I decided to treat myself to Lasik surgery. I had been wearing glasses since my 8th grade and still have very painful memories of being called four-eyed among other things at that very sensitive stage in my life. In addition to looking nerdy, the hassle of fumbling for glasses every morning, not to mention my glasses and his glasses kissing before our lips even made contact drove me to this extreme measure. I wish I knew then what I know now before having my corneas cut.
I asked my friends who had undergone similar procedure. “Life-changing” they all declared. Not having to secure glasses before adventure sports, and the reprieve from having to struggle with your contact lenses every morning, and so on and so on they went. I then went online and did my study. Not having heard anything negative from anyone, I decided to go with it and went to see a doctor at a Lasik center close to home. She declared that I was an excellent candidate and if I decided to have my surgery done that same week, I could get a 20% off the regular price of $2500 and even qualify for financing if I so desired. It was a deal too good to miss.
I then asked her about the risks involved and I was told that some people experience dryness, double vision, decreased night vision and in some rare cases see halos around lights. However, these cases were very rare and usually went away with time. Considering the number of patients undergoing Lasik annually in the US (estimated at 800,000), and given the satisfaction rate (95% from the American Society for Cataract and Refractive Surgery reports) it didn’t seem that big of a deal.
So, I signed a consent form agreeing to have the procedure done and that I clearly understood my risk. Post surgery, my vision was still a little blurry but I was told that it would go away. I kept waiting for the day when vision would be 20/20 again. For now, I got myself another pair of glasses, of course, not as thick as before. I couldn’t drive at night anymore due to the glare from the oncoming traffic. I saw halos around lights and my tear production has dramatically reduced. I go through Refresh Plus (eye drops) boxes like they were boxes of Kleenex during the flu season.
On subsequent visits to the doctor, I was again told that the dry eyes would eventually go away but the blurriness was due to under-correction. I learnt then that 5 to 10 percent of patients had to “enhance” their vision after surgery because of an under- or over-correction. So, I went under the knife again!!
A couple of days later, I tried to resume the book I was reading. To my surprise, I had to hold my book at an arm’s length to even decipher the title of the book. Another visit to the doctor and I was told due to my age, when the cornea was chipped away one more time, I had become long-sighted and would need reading glasses!! If I’d known my advanced age (40 to be precise) might be a problem before going under the knife, I would’ve done things differently.
Hindsight, 2020 and all that I’m wiser for it but I still need my reading glasses and vision 20/20 is still a dream!!
Author’s note: LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis and is a procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea, the clear covering of the front of the eye, using an excimer laser. More than 16.3 million people worldwide have so far undergone Lasik.
The entire procedure lasts a few minutes. A mechanical microkeratome (a blade device) or a laser keratome (a laser device) is used to cut a flap in the cornea. A hinge is left at one end of this flap. The flap is folded back revealing the stroma, the middlesection of the cornea. Pulses from a computer-controlled laser vaporize a portion of the stroma and the flap is replaced.
For those interested in how Lasik eye surgery works, the risks involved, FDA approved lasers and other information, please visit:
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