Growing up, I took my perfect eyesight totally for granted.
Meanwhile, my mom had been wearing what she described as ‘coke bottle glasses’ since adolescence.
When she boasted of my good genes, she said she ‘gave me everything she had, and more.’
So it makes sense why she’d get so pissed at me for things like reading in the dark, sitting too close to the TV, and staring at my GameBoy Pocket screen for hours at a time.
Diabetes research has uncovered a link between high blood sugar and blurred vision, and I downed a lot of sugar growing up.
Whether I was doomed from the start or whether my poor habits finally caught up to me, my eyes started deteriorating fast in my senior year of high school.
I couldn’t sit in the back row of the classroom anymore, because then I couldn’t read what was written on the board.
And while glasses look great on some people, they are SO not my look.
Don’t even get me started on contact lenses…
So until this year, I was living in a mostly near-sighted world.
Instead of using traditional vision correction methods, I chose simply to go without the use of my sight.
Stubborn, I know, but in my defense, I could still see my computer screen just fine, I could see people standing in front of me, and I wasn’t a danger on the road.
At a distance, I could see large shapes and objects, but they lacked detail.
So maybe I wouldn’t be able to read a street sign in time to make my turn, but I wasn’t rear-ending the car in front of me.
It did seem, however, to affect my depth perception, and I became an extremely cautious driver to compensate for the fact that I couldn’t tell how fast a car was approaching.
After my consultation with a doctor at Maloney Vision Institute, I was informed that I qualified to participate in a research study sponsored by their technology provider.
I was assured there would be nothing experimental about my treatment –
It would be the same high-quality standard of care that any of Dr. Maloney’s patients would get.
All I had to do was show up for 3 FREE follow-up appointments to track my recovery, and I would get a hefty discount.
At 25 years old, the minimum age at which LASIK is recommended, I was ready to see again.
May 17, 2017 – During & Immediately After LASIK Surgery
The day of LASIK was so nerve-racking, like any surgical procedure.
The doctors first gave me a dissolvable lozenge that would help me relax – about as intoxicating as a couple glasses of wine.
Next they put anesthetic drops in my eyes to reduce sensitivity during the procedure and prevent infection.
They also smeared iodine all over the top half of my face, to further prevent any contamination, how do I look?
From there, I was in the hands of Dr. Maloney and his team.
The LASIK procedure is completed one eye at a time, and starts with clamping your eyelids open so you can’t blink.
This was traumatizing in itself, and it’s not even the worst of it.
Now that your eyelids are propped open, they attach a suction tool to your eyeball itself.
This seemed like it lifted my eyeball up out of the socket, but I’m not sure if that’s exactly how the technology works since I stopped them when they started explaining all the gory details to me.
The final step is where the vision correction actually happens –
I was asked to stare straight forward (as though I had a choice) while the laser cut my retina and the doctor carefully slid a sliver of eye tissue to the side, causing me to lose vision but maintain sensitivity to light and color.
Imagine looking through a thick piece of distorted glass, plus fog – that’s all I could see at this point.
Then comes the healing zap from the laser –
It’s difficult to describe exactly what that looked and felt like, but there was a flash of light and the faint smell of smoke before all I could see was a dark haze.
Then Dr. Maloney gently put the eyeball sliver back into place, restoring some of my vision (though still blurry at the time.)
Now that I was completely regretting my decision to go through with this, it was time to do my second eye!
It was all over in about 20 minutes, and it would have been done even faster if I wasn’t panicking when the instrument attached to my eyeball (though to be fair, it did temporarily break a few blood vessels in my eye.)
I was instructed to sit quietly for 15 minutes with my eyes closed while my body’s healing response did it’s work.
Then I was inspected, given medicated drops and a couple Ambien, and sent on my merry way.
My first stop?
Sprinkles Cupcakes, which is conveniently located down the street from the Maloney Vision Institute.
Then I went home, of course, like a good LASIK patient, took an Ambien and went to sleep for 12 hours.
There was a follow-up the day after surgery, but this is mandatory for all patients to catch any complications early on, not to measure results.
The weird thing I noticed right after LASIK was how unstable my vision was.
Staring at a sign in the distance was strikingly similar waiting while a digital camera struggles to sharpen –
I could practically hear the camera motor whirring and processing the information.
It would flicker in and out of focus (which was still an improvement since I couldn’t focus my long-distance vision without glasses at all before.)
I was told the LASIK recovery timeline is short, with rapid improvement after the first week or two, so I had faith and followed all the rules:
Used my medicated drops, no steam rooms, no rubbing my eyes, and preservative-free eye lubricants ONLY.
June Follow-Up: 1 Month Post-Op
The first month, I experienced dryness and grittiness in one or both eyes, but my vision had mostly stabilized.
There were still some struggles to focus, but for the most part I was finally seeing details that I hadn’t noticed in a long time.
Individual leaves on trees, the texture of the mountains surrounding the Valley, how filthy my car really looked –
I was seeing it all in new light!
August Follow-Up: 3 Months Later
By this time, my dry eyes had improved and I was given permission to use regular eye drops again.
My vision by this time was about 20-16, which is considered better than 20-20.
October Follow-Up: 6 Months Later
Shaky eyesight no more – I see everything now!
And not a moment too soon since I spent the better part of September backpacking through Europe for the first time, trying to navigate foreign lands, and appreciate the intricacies of European history.
My recovery seems to have leveled out at my current vision score of 20-16 (this was the same score I got at 3 months post-LASIK.)
From what my eye doctor explained to me, this is even better because I can read an even smaller font at the same distance.
All in all, I’m glad I went through with it and I’m particularly pleased with the quality of care I received at Maloney Vision Institute.
While I’ll be paying it off for a while, I was approved for deferred interest financing if paid up within two years –
Meaning if it’s paid off on schedule, it’s interest-free! (If not, that penalty APR is gonna be a bitch though.)
But ultimately, deciding to go through with LASIK eye corrective surgery was a very special gift to myself that I’m grateful for every day.