So, I have been wearing glasses since first grade, essentially all of my life except 6 years. I remember vividly walking out of the eye doctor’s office after picking up my first pair of glasses…. I COULD SEE!! So who knows out of those 6 years how long I actually needed glasses. I was near sighted (could not see distance) and additionally had an astigmatism.
Each year meant new glasses as my eyes got worse. And with each year, the glasses got thicker and thicker. I hated wearing them, but never knew how much until I was blessed with soft contact lenses my sophmore year of high school. I had depth perception and when my eyes watered, I could see the water, crystal clear. I know these seem small, but they are huge when you haven’t experienced them before. We had hoped that moving to contacts would slow down the progressive decline of my vision. Who knows if it really did or not, they did get a little worse each year. I loved wearing contacts because that meant that I could wear SUNGLASSES!! Woo hoo!! But also because the glasses did not slide up and down my nose in the heat. Not to mention the fact that they did not fog up going from outside heat to inside air conditioning.
At some point, the soft lenses, although made for astigmatism, became extremely hard to fit where I could get a good script consistently. It was at that point that my eye doc said I needed to move to hard lenses or back to glasses… Have you heard the phrase, “HELL no I won’t GO!!” well that was how I felt definitely about glasses and partially about hard lenses. I had them in my eye for about 1/2 second before I told them to rip them out, and that is why I had soft lenses. But, we all have to pick our battles right? So, I thought well… I can suck it up and try the hard lenses. And so, when they came in the doc put numbing drops in my eyes so I couldn’t feel the discs of hard plastic in my eyes. It kept them in long enough that I could drive home and keep them in for the first few hours I was to wear them. Don’t get me wrong the next day was not sunshine and roses putting them in, but the few hours the previous day was enough to start a callus to form on my eye, which makes them comfortable. So, it was a successful transition. These were fantastic and saved me money. My eyes did continue to get worse, but I could take them to a local place and they would grind them to fit the new prescription in about 10 mins. Pretty cool. And when I got a piece of fuzz under my contact, I could actually flush it out… try doing THAT with a soft lens… it AIN’T gonna happen folks.
And, all good things must come to an end right? You guessed it, as my eyes got worse it became harder and harder to fit even the hard lenses. Going back to glasses was NOT an option. Mainly because I had grown accustomed to peripheral vision and when I would drop my glasses, I couldn’t see them to find them. My husband had to listen for things dropping and come aid me in finding them because he knew I could not see them. I can’t tell you how many times I dropped my contacts, especially with the soft lenses that were clear that he had to hunt for. I asked my eye doctor about lasik eye surgery. He thought I would be a candidate even though my vision thoroughly stunk. My vision was -12 diopters of near sightedness with an additional -5 diopters in astigmatism. So, the below examples are not nearly as bad as my eyes were and you have to mix them together to get the full effect of my vision.
I could be a candidate! Now, can I afford it? Insurance does not cover it. At this point, I was willing to go for it. I budgeted it in my flexible spending account after I confirmed that I was a candidate with the surgeon.
Now, my first visit with the eye surgeon was quite an ordeal. They dilated my eyes… no problem right? Well, except for it was a super duty dilation – it took 5 days for the dilation to be gone. I sat in the dark at work with my computer on low, low brightness. I was a better candidate for PRK as opposed to lasik with the Multiple Sclerosis and the Thygessens Keropathy I have. 98% of people with Thygessens completely remove the issue with PRK. PRK doesn’t put a flap on your cornea… it completely removes it, which means a longer recovery period.
Oh, and I had to stop wearing my contacts and start wearing my glasses. I had to get rid of the callus on my cornea as well as let my eyes return to their natural shape. The hard lenses actually change the shape of your eye to help your vision become better. This started on November 11… and continued and continued for what seemed like forever. I missed my peripheral vision, my sunglasses, the ability for my nose to sweat and not lose my glasses. But, beauty is pain, right? At that point, let me tell you, I just wanted to SEE comfortably. It was not a beauty issue for me. Finally after several trips for measurements of my eyes, it was GO time. FINALLY!! And then the forms… the SCARY liability forms. I was so overwhelmed that I started crying. I am not a crier. I was scared out of my wits! I had lost vision in one eye due to optic neuritis and it was awful, I did not want to end up that way permanently in one or both eyes. But, after I calmed down, I realized they HAVE to put this language in there for their liability in case something happens. I mean when I had my appendectomy, the possibility of death was brought up. I came out of that one okay, so move forward and schedule the date! March 26th, 2 weeks away. Yes, I had worn my glasses for over 4 months… it was pure torture. I so looked forward to being done with them.
Surgery day came and when I arrived at the office, they gave me a Valium and I had a seat. After a few minutes, they called my name, my husband led me back there. There… to the LASER. I was laid down on the table and the doctor came in. I started to ask him a question, really to chicken out, and before I could take in a breath, he had the spreader in my eye and placing the numbing drops. After about 3 seconds, he took this thing – (I couldn’t see it remember?) that my husband said looked like an electric toothbrush and used it to scrub the cornea off of my eye. Shortly thereafter, he told me to look straight ahead at the green light… which I could just barely see. Within a blink of an eye – lol, I couldn’t blink, my eye was held open! The laser was running and I was thoroughly concentrating on holding my eye still as still could be. And then onto the next eye, same thing. They put some more drops in my eyes and I got to take a breather. When I sat up, I could see the clock on the wall!! I couldn’t even tell there was a clock on the wall before the surgery! It was simply amazing, I couldn’t believe it. My vision was not perfect, but with PRK, it is not instantaneous since your cornea is missing… It is a healing period of at least 6 months. Even if I had to go back to corrective vision, my options were open, I could go back to soft contacts if I needed to.
So, it was time to go home. WOW the sun was SO bright!! I put on my bug eye goggles and laid back to rest. When I got home, I went directly to bed, with my goggles. These things were super sexy and if robbed in the middle of the night, the intruder would for sure think you were some super hero fly human and take off running. It was time for putting in drops… eye drops, my new BFF. I looked at the clock from the bed…across the room. I could see it!! Awesomeness. In fact, I dropped my eye drops that ere in a clear tube on the floor and before my husband could get it, I bent over and picked it up off the floor. He was shocked that happened. And now, if we were robbed in the middle of the night, I could see the person without slapping around above my head for my glasses.
This was not gum drops and rainbows quick recovery. It was a process. My eyes fluctuated, as is normal with PRK in general, not to mention my Thygessen’s. (Yes, remember that 98%? Ya, that is not me, I am the 2%. Why can’t I have that luck at good things that happen? lol). But I just used cheater glasses when needed. I had a +2 and a +1 on hand. Now, I can see 20/20 on a good day, 20/25 on a bad day (usually when I am tired). I have saved money on contacts and contact solutions, my cost of eye drops has reduced since after the surgery. I only occasionally use eye drops, less than when I wore contacts. Most importantly I save time getting ready for the day and for bed. No contacts to put in/take out. No eyelash getting in my contact to irritate my eye while I am driving on the interstate. My eyesight is not perfect all the time, but it is good – I can go without corrective eye wear while driving. This was definitely the best decision I have made to inflict pain on myself. I would do it again if I needed to. If you are contemplating Lasix or PRK, go see a surgeon to see if you are a candidate. Ask questions, lots of them. Get referrals on the surgeon. Find out if your insurance covers it. Then make an appointment – imagine – seeing in the middle of the night without glasses, seeing in the shower without having to put contacts in, it is unbelievably wonderful. It is freedom from glasses/contacts.