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New Year New Eyes for Christmas via LASIK

I smiled to myself as I went to bed. Looking at my contact case, wondering if this would be the last time I needed it. This little tiny case had been an essential part of my life since I was 12. I became near-sighted at ten years old and received my first pair of glasses. Two years later as a gift, my parents got me fitted for contacts. I remember waking up an hour before school learning to put them in my eyes. This little case had to come with me everywhere I went. If I was spending the night somewhere, it had to come with me. There were several times I left cases somewhere, forgot the solution, or a case and had to make do with a cup of water, which made for an unfun morning of putting my contacts back in.

I spent many years with the same optometrist who said to never get LASIK. He told me my eyes would be permanently messed up and if the LASIK failed I would never be able to wear contacts again. It terrified me. I hated everything about glasses. I hated the way they felt on my face. I hated the way I looked in them. I felt like I had to squint to see in them. I knew I couldn't deal with wearing glasses for the rest of my life, so I just decided I would never have Lasik.

So what changed my mind? My husband got LASIK in 2017. He has been doing great with no issues. Over the years, he has gently encouraged me to consider LASIK. Recently, I was on my laptop and saw an ad for 20% off of the location where he received his LASIK surgery. "Why not?" I thought to myself. I will schedule a consultation and see what happens. Imagining racing and working out without having to worry about contacts sounded good. The Friday before my consultation, the office reached out to me to confirm my appointment. They asked if I could leave my contacts out for at least 24 hours because they had availability the same day to do the surgery if I decided I wanted to proceed with it.

The next 36 hours were long. I still didn't care for wearing glasses, and I missed the freedom of contacts, but I knew I was prepping for freedom from both glasses and contacts. Finally, it was Monday morning. Time for my consultation appointment. I drove to the office, parked my car, and took a deep breath. I was nervous. My childhood optometrist's words still rang in my head about how dangerous LASIK was.

I entered the office and was greeted warmly by the receptionist. I filled out a few forms and waited to be called for my tests. I was called back and spent about 45 minutes getting my eyes tested and asking about my medical history. After testing, I was given a tablet with a video showing how the procedures are performed, recovery time, and it answered any other questions I could think of. After the video, the doctor called me back to go over the tests, and said I was a great candidate for LASIK.

I was sent back to the waiting room and the receptionist called me up to schedule my surgery. I decided to go ahead with surgery that afternoon. I drove home to tell my husband as he would be driving me. I was both nervous and excited. I couldn't imagine waking up with clear vision every day. No more stumbling around the room to the bathroom to get my contact case. No more looking for golden blurs on the floor to avoid tripping over two golden retrievers. No more stubbing my toe on the end of the bed because I didn't go around it.

Time went quickly once I was home. Soon, it was time to leave. Even though it was a forty-five-minute drive, it went by in an instant. I had never imagined at 41 years old that I would be able to say goodbye to glasses and contacts. I said a quick prayer that everything went well and entered the office for the second time that day. I checked in, signed a few more forms, and waited. My eyes were checked one more time.

As time for my surgery approached, I was taken back to a private room with a recliner. I was given a hair cover, and a wipe to wipe my eyelids. Then I waited. A few minutes later, the doctor entered the room and walked me to the operating room. I laid down on the table and the assisting doctor gave me two stress balls to squeeze for nervousness. The doctor put numbing drops in my eyes and we waited a few minutes for them to take effect.

The next thing I saw was lights. I saw a red light and a green light. Next, everything went gray for a few seconds, and then I saw a ring of bright lights. It felt like an alien abduction because it reminded me of the movie, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. Then this was repeated on the other eye. Within minutes I was done. The assisting doctor helped me sit up and I could see immediately. I was amazed. I couldn't read the big E on the eye chart before and now I was able to see letters on the wall of the operating room.

It was time to go home and recover. I was told to close my eyes on the drive home, which was hard. I was seeing the world for the first time without glasses or contacts since I was ten. I was ready to explore, but for recovery, I kept my eyes shut until we got home and then went to bed for a nap. My husband was able to fall asleep easily after his. I had short bursts of sleep. For the next few hours, my eyes burned, teared, and were very red. I wanted to scratch and rub them but I knew I couldn't. After five hours, I started feeling better and started using the antibiotic drops and artificial tears. I ate a late dinner and went back to sleep for the night. The next morning, I woke up for my follow-up and felt better. My eyes still felt dry, but with drops, I was doing pretty well. At my follow-up appointment, my left eye wasn't seeing quite 20/20 yet. The doctor told me not to worry and that sometimes it takes time for both eyes to see 20/20.

Eight days later, I am very happy with my vision. For me, it feels like I upgraded to a high-definition television. Everything looks so crisp and clear.

I am back to doing most normal activities. I swam with goggles today, have run, and am biking on the trainer. I will stay on the trainer for another week. Overall, I am very happy I got LASIK and can't wait to see what the next year holds for me.

My tips for LASIK recovery:

  1. Do your absolute best to sleep for four hours afterward.

  2. Use artificial tears as much as you want, and keep them with you at all times.

  3. Keep a bottle of artificial tears in the refrigerator. On days your eyes feel dry, this provides major relief and feels great

  4. Wear a headband when you run to keep sweat out of your eyes.

  5. Bring a hand towel to the pool to keep by your lane to dry your hands if you need to use drops during your swim.

  6. If your eyes feel tired, do your best to take a nap. The eyes will take some time to heal even if you are back to normal activities.

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