In 1999, I got LASIK surgery and said goodbye to glasses for what turned out to fourteen years. What a good run it’s been.
I originally needed glasses because I had one eye that couldn’t see far away. It continued to get worse and because one eye had perfect vision, I ended up straining too much, so not only did I have vision issues, but I was getting headaches.
I had glasses for a good part of high school, through college, and for the first three years of my post-college life. I can’t handle things going in and out of my eye, so contacts weren’t something I was interested in. Yet it always annoyed me that I had to wear glasses for problems in one eye, and that I was wearing one clear lens.
So, when I heard about corrective surgery, I was intrigued. Laser surgery had been around for a while, I think it was called RK, but it was pretty basic and I’d heard of various issues surrounding scarring and such. LASIK was just entering the United States, and was much easier, had virtually no scarring, and produced more accurate results. I did some homework and found that the procedure had been going on in Canada for awhile, but had only been approved in the United States for a short time. As such, there weren’t many doctors taking on the surgery, and even fewer who had the level of experience I would be comfortable with.
Luckily, we live in Michigan which is literally a stones throw from Canada, so a doctor who had been doing LASIK in Canada set up shop here. Because he had already done tens of thousands of LASIK surgeries, he quickly gained a positive reputation, and I decided to have the surgery.
The surgery went great, and I lived glasses free for fourteen years. Then, I started noticing some problems with my eyes focusing. It hit me really bad in a conference room here at work that has very bright lighting. I would find that my eyes would not focus correctly for several hours after the meeting, and I could even see my eyes not lined up straight if I looked in the mirror.
It’d been awhile since I had an exam, so I went in and explained the issue. Since my insurance will be changing beginning 2014 since we are being ‘insourced’ I compared this year’s insurance with next years, and found that this year’s was better, so I made sure to get in plenty of time so that I could get anything done before the end of the year.
After doing some testing, the doctor was able to confirm that I had eyes that naturally did not want to line up. By assessing that I did not typically have double vision, she was able to surmise that I had likely had this condition for most or all of my life. The issue is that your body can typically adjust, but as you get older, your eye muscles start weakening and your body is not able to make the adjustments. She said that this typically starts showing up around the age of 40.
She said that I would need glasses. Surgery isn’t recommended because while it can work, even the smallest imprecision can lead to your brain being unable to adapt as it does today, thus it actually increases the chances that you’ll have double vision. She recommended that I wear glasses. Through testing, she was able to determine that they would best help me when working at the computer, which is what I do all day. I don’t need them for long distance. Essentially, they’ll somehow take over the work that my eyes were having to do to keep my eyes lined up. This should reduce the stress on my eye and would make it less likely that they would get out of focus. Without them, as my eyes continued to age, I’d find more and more triggers (like the bright lights of the conference room) that would cause them to lose focus. Glasses will slow the process.
This has nothing to do with LASIK. She even commented that the scarring was virtually non-existent and she could see that the correction was done properly. She assured me that this would have presented regardless of having had the LASIK or not.
(Funny story interlude: A colleague of mine was in the conference room which sparked my issue, and he noticed the misalignment in my eye. After that, I mentioned that I was going to get my eyes checked out. After I came back from the appointment, I told him that they’d found an issue, and described it. He asked what they’d need to do, and with a straight face, I told him that I’d likely need a glass eye. I couldn’t last more than a few seconds before I burst out laughing and told him that I would not need an eye pulled out but you could tell that he believed me).
It’s pretty amazing, because I had thought my vision was fine, but when I put the glasses on and started using them, the difference was evident when I started working on the computer.
I don’t think I’ll mind them if I can keep them limited primarily to use at the computer. In the past, I had to wear them pretty much all the time. Plus, knowing that I have a prescription in both lenses provides more justification.
It was a nice fourteen year break, for sure, but I sort of had a feeling that glasses weren’t out of my life forever.
Readers, do you wear glasses? Any other veterans of corrective surgery? If so, are you still free of glasses or contacts, or have you had to go back to them (for the same or a different reason)?