When (Halfway) Good Genetics Saved Me $2,100

I never needed glasses as a kid, but around the time I started high school (it might have been a year before or it might have been my first year, I honestly can’t remember), I started getting a lot of headaches and was noticeably squinting at time.

Turned out I had vision problems.  But, as it so happened, I only had problems in one eye.

So, I got glasses.

And I hated them.  I’m convinced that people who wear glasses from an earlier age have it easier simply because they can make wearing them second nature.

Not so with me. I could never get used to the feel of them.  I hated having them on.  I could never keep track of them.  And, in the back of my mind, I always found it ridiculous that I had to deal with these stupid thing when one lens was there for show.  In fact, it was worse because if the stupid lenses got dirty or scratched, one perfectly good eye was actually made worse off.

I couldn’t stand it.

(And, before anybody asks, I have a ‘thing’ about my eyes where I don’t like anybody touching them, not even myself, so contact lenses simply weren’t a viable alternative for me)

I suffered through the glasses ordeal for about a decade, when the idea of laser surgery began entering my world.  Until the late 1990’s, the surgery known as RK was the common corrective surgery, but a new option called LASIK was emerging. RK worked but it was a lot more invasive and some of the side effects included problems with ‘starbursts’ at night due to the scarring.  Practically eliminating this was a huge benefit.

When I started looking into the idea of surgery, LASIK had just recently been approved by the United States, so it was considered a ‘new’ technology, but there were a number of doctors setting up shop to perform LASIK surgery.  I did some research and settled upon a doctor who was significantly more money than many others, but he offered several benefits:

  • He had been doing the procedure for years in Canada, where the procedure had been licensed for many years.
  • He performed the procedures at a surgical center within a hospital
  • He had operated on over 10,000 eyes

The cost was $2,100 per eye.  Nowadays, the cost has dropped, and I think some insurance plans even cover it, but it was so new that it was all out of pocket back then.

Still, after looking into it, I was good with it.

And, since one eye was perfect vision, I only needed to pay $2,100, where most patients visiting that doctor had to pay $4,200 to cover both eyes.

I have had absolutely no regrets about the surgery.  I noticed the vision improvement as soon as the eye patch came off the next day.  The biggest issue I had is that, while both eyes were 20/20 vision after the surgery, they still did not focus ‘in sync’, but this got better with each day and was completely cleared within a few weeks.  I was also surprised the first time I drove at night, because there was some of the ‘starbursting’ from headlights and such, but the main difference between LASIK and RK was that it went away within a few days.

That was a pretty big bill at the time, but good genetics made it so that it was half the bill that it would have been otherwise.  Thank goodness for that!

4 thoughts on “When (Halfway) Good Genetics Saved Me $2,100”

  1. I had to wear reading glasses from high school all the way up until I was about 30. Then I just stopped needing them . Weird, right? However, if I had needed glasses for everything, I’d probably get LASIK. Like you, I hate touching the inside of my eyes (I wear makeup so it’s not an entire aversion) and the thought of contacts creeps me out.

    The only unfortunate thing about LASIK is that if your vision is bad enough (like my husband’s), it may not be 100% effective. So I guess that’s saving us a ton of money 🙂

  2. I’ve always had great vision, so that’s saved me a lot of money over the years – I’ve never even had a single problem with my eyes but everyone tells me that it won’t last.

  3. I was an Optometric Technician until my little one came along, so I know all about this! To my knowledge, there are no insurances that will cover Lasik, though some will give more incentives, so that should make you feel better about the money spent! I love Lasik, but if I had one bad eye, I would try to get by with it until mid 40’s when it will come in handy to have one myopic eye. There are a ton of people who PAY to have that kind of set up! It’s called monovision, but it doesn’t work for some. Sometimes, the brain just can’t get used to switching from eye to eye. As the eye ages, the myopic eye turns into the reading eye, and the “good” eye is your champ for driving and other tasks for which you need distance vision. Obviously, it wouldn’t have worked for you as you had been getting major headaches even as a teenager…so that wouldn’t have been worth it for you, but I am a little jealous of people who get older and don’t need reading glasses at all. I’m 30 and already know I’ll need them! 🙁

  4. You’re lucky! I had glasses ever since I can remember (seriously like 1st grade or maybe before that) but I always hated them. I LOVED when I got contacts in 7th grade, I can still remember the first day I wore them. Huge moment in my life.

    I wish I could get Lasik but the last time I asked a couple years ago, I was told that since I have such high astigmatism, even if I get Lasik, my eyes will go back to needed glasses. So it’d be pointless for me anyway. 🙁

    That’s great it worked out for you! One of my friends has the same issue – one eye only – and we joke about getting her a monocle. Which I’m still planning on doing.

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