I can’t even tell you how often I thought about laser vision correction. I researched it a number of times over the years but then stopped somewhere along the line. Either it was bad timing, I worried about the cost of the procedure or feared the big what if… what if something goes wrong?
As years passed, I started to know more and more people who had gone for laser vision correction and were thrilled with the outcome. I began feeling more comfortable with the idea of getting it done myself.
I was in elementary school when I got my first pair of glasses. Initially, I was really excited about picking out frames and showing them off to my friends.
The honeymoon phase didn’t last long. I didn’t like the weight of the glasses on my face, the way the lenses fogged up in the winter or that I couldn’t see when I took them off to swim.
Over time, my prescription kept getting stronger as my vision got weaker. Even with compressed lenses the glasses felt so heavy and uncomfortable.
By Junior High I made the switch to contact lenses. It was amazing! I wore them almost exclusively. Sure, I always had a pair of glasses on stand-by to wear at home but I hardly slipped them on.
The contact lenses solved one big issue for me, but it came with a new set of responsibilities. Every day I peered into the bathroom mirror either putting my contact lenses in or take them out for cleaning overnight. I had a steady collection of bottles with various solutions, eye drops for the occasional dryness and the looming timeline for ordering the next batch of lenses before running out of my precious supply.
After a few decades of wearing contact lenses virtually every day, my eyes started to feel more sensitive. I kept upgrading the brand for comfort. I was suddenly paying $600-$700 a year for daily disposable contacts. Ouch!
Years earlier, it seemed almost indulgent to get laser vision correction. Suddenly, the increasing cost of contact lenses was another factor that pushed me toward reconsidering laser vision correction.
Finally, I decided to take the next big step to see if I was a candidate for the procedure. I asked my eye doctor and a few people I knew which doctor or clinic they would recommend. The name that kept coming up was Dr. James Wiens at Image Plus.
So, I booked a free assessment at the clinic. During the appointment, a staff member guided me into a few different examination rooms where he checked my eyes with an array of machines. I was surprised and impressed by the number of tests conducted and throughout the process he patiently answered my many questions. Before leaving, I was told I was likely a suitable candidate for laser vision correction. Within a few days Dr. Wiens reviewed the test results and I got official confirmation that I was good to go for the surgery. I made the appointment to have PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) with iDesign WaveFront.
“I started imagining life without glasses or contact lenses. I was so excited!”
About a week before my surgery, I had an exam with Dr. Wiens. He mapped out my eyes and we talked about what to expect during and after the laser vision correction. He took time to describe the process and answered all my questions. Even though I had read every last word in the information package that’s provided, it was reassuring to have him reiterate the details.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous, after all, these are my eyes we’re dealing with. But his excellent track record and the feeling I got from the staff sealed the deal for me.
The day of the surgery I remember sitting in a quiet room with soothing lights and music, waiting to go in for the procedure. PRK is a little more invasive and requires a longer recovery time, but I was prepared with lots of information and advice on what to expect.
In the operating room, I remember squeezing the stress ball that was offered tightly – this was it – after years of wanting this day to come – it had arrived.
The countdown of the laser doing its work came and went for both eyes and in less than a half an hour it was over and a whole new phase had begun. Without glasses or contact lenses on, I could see across the room.
The PRK Healing Process
The first couple of days were spent in my darkened bedroom. I slept a lot and put cold facecloths on my shielded eyes to help soothe them. They were uncomfortable days, but short-lived compared to the years spent dealing with contact lenses and glasses. Every day I noticed major improvements.
My follow up visits to Dr. Wien’s office over the next few days required sunglasses and a baseball cap to shield my eyes from the intense brightness of lights. By the one week appointment, I was able to see well enough to have my driver license changed to remove the required corrective lenses.
Within the first few months I noticed progressive improvements in my vision. There was more clarity and less fatigue. I went from a prescription of -5.75 to 20/20 vision just like that.
“Nearly six months have passed and I am thankful every day for this new freedom.”
Not only has a weight been lifted off my face (in the form of glasses), the weight of responsibility that comes with needing corrective lenses has also disappeared. I no longer have to grab my glasses off the nightstand as soon as I wake up so I can see. I no longer have to give thought to opening up and new package of contact lenses for the day, or remembering to pack extra pairs on a trip or making sure that I have enough lenses to make it through the next few weeks, or wonder when I should get a new pair of back-up glasses that aren’t so outdated.
Before getting laser vision correction, so many little decisions in my day revolved around ensuring I was able to see.
This burden that I carried with me for over 30 years is gone. I am so happy that I followed through with getting the procedure.
Over the last few months, several situations have come up where I realize how great this new reality is. A recent weekend getaway without needing to pack my collection of eye essentials was amazing.
There’s a lot more space in the vanity drawer now that the contact lenses and solutions are gone. I don’t have to worry about water getting into my eyes in the shower and messing up my contact lenses and at this age, who wants to keep pulling on the skin under the eyes to get the contact lenses in and out each day. And the list keeps growing.
Like many who’ve done this before me, I too wonder what took me so long to make this dream come true.