For years I had heard about LASIK and how it worked, but nothing really prepared me for my own LASIK experience. My husband and I both grew up with poor eyesight, and our history of nerdy, giant glasses is something we’ve joked about almost from the time we met. When we first started dating in college, I visited his parents’ house and saw a picture of him in fifth grade. He was tall, lanky and tan, but it was hard to see his face because it was half-covered by huge glasses. It was eerily familiar, and I realized I had the female version of that exact same photo.
Both of us had ditched the glasses and moved to contacts somewhere around middle school. By the time either of us thought about LASIK, we had a combined 40 years of contact lens wear. Andy earned a bonus at work, and we decided to each buy something we wanted. He chose LASIK because his colleague had just had it and loved it. I thought I was still okay with contacts, so I bought new living room furniture.
After Andy had LASIK, I couldn’t believe it. He went from being so blind that he almost didn’t get into the Air Force years before (an admissions officer “helped” him read the eye chart) to seeing 20/20 — in one day.
When our baby woke us up at 3:00 a.m. a few nights after his procedure, Andy instinctively put on his glasses and then wondered why the room looked so weird. It took him a minute to realize he didn’t need the glasses. We laughed about it, and I was excited for him. He had to take his glasses off his nightstand so he’d stop reaching for them every morning; it was that much of a habit. Every time he realized he didn’t need them, a little smile came over his face. Finally he threw those Coke-bottle glasses and remaining contacts in the trash. I was shocked when he did. Then it sunk in: This was permanent. Even if his eyes changed over time, they would never be as bad as they were. He could see, and I couldn’t. I was a bit jealous.
Sometimes when I was taking out my contacts at night I’d ask him about it: Is your vision still good? You don’t have side effects? You can just… see? It seemed pretty amazing to me.
A couple years later, I was ready for LASIK myself. I couldn’t stand contacts anymore after 20 years, so we put money in a health savings account and planned for my surgery. Then, on January 3, 2007, I began my life after contacts and glasses.
The procedure itself was very easy. I admit, I was a little nervous, so my doctor prescribed a Valium tablet to help me relax. Between that and the eye numbing drops, I didn’t feel any stress or discomfort. Something was placed in my eye that made it physically impossible to blink, and the procedure was done in just a few minutes. Overall, I’d rather have LASIK again than go to the dentist. That’s how easy it was.
On the drive home from the procedure, I kept my eyes mostly closed because they felt scratchy, but every time I opened them I could see pretty well. The irritation went away that afternoon, and by the end of the next day, I could see perfectly. It was the strangest feeling to be able to see without help for the first time since fourth grade.
I still get a little thrill every time I go through my morning and bedtime routines and don’t have to worry about contacts. It only saves two minutes each way, but it’s the best two minutes. Now I can swim with my eyes open; I can go camping and not worry about disinfecting contact supplies in a state park sink; I can sleep on a plane without getting contacts stuck to my eyes; I don’t have to mess with solution or ordering expensive daily lenses.
But my kids do. We passed our bad eyesight on to them, and they both wear contacts now. I tell them that it’s just for a few years. After they turn 18, I’ll help them pay for LASIK so they can have the freedom that Andy and I have. I don’t want them to wait as long as we did; 20 years of contacts is a long time.
My only regret is not getting LASIK sooner. The furniture I chose over LASIK the first time has been relegated to the upstairs playroom. It’s ratty and threadbare in some spots, and even the kids are embarrassed by it. My eyes, however, are still in perfect condition.