Life, Minutiae, Toys, Irrational Phobias, Peeves, Fiber

20/20 Hindsight

Posted on | September 28, 2007 at 8:00 am | 4 Comments

Egrets, I’ve ate a few. But then again, too few to mention.

Ha! I kid. A bit of levity before I dive into a serious subject. Y’know, there’s a lot I think I’ve done right in my life. I’m glad I bought a house when I did, for example, even though it was an extremely frightening prospect at the time. I think I more or less treat people right and do the ethical thing in a given circumstance. Making friends over the Internet was a good thing, since those are some of my best friends. I’ve always landed on my feet job-wise. I’m generally a happy person, despite daily Pet Peeves, and want to spread the happiness.

But Lord knows I’ve had many regrets in my life, chiefly dealing with my lack of assertiveness. All those missed opportunities due to my social anxiety and other issues really prevented me from living my life to the fullest. But that’s a subject for another blog entry. Instead I want to talk about a more concrete, specific regret. One of those “If I knew then what I know now” things. One of those “Someone invent a time machine already!” moments. One of those “Why didn’t I listen to my more cautious friends?” incidents.

I just passed the 5th anniversary of my LASIK corrective eye surgery. That was a big waste of $3500. Before the surgery, I was very near-sighted with some astigmatism, and had been wearing glasses since high school. I wanted to do it for the usual reasons: vanity, sick of wearing glasses, wanted to get up in the middle of the night and be able to find the toilet, wanted to do some sports (chiefly snorkeling and scuba) without messing with glasses, knew that I was going to have to start wearing bifocals soon and didn’t want to, didn’t think I could handle contact lenses because of my allergies and because I didn’t like sticking stuff in my eyes, etc. As I said, the usual minor reasons. I heard all the negatives (glare/halos, dry eye, reading glasses) and read some of the horror stories on the web. I did wonder if there were any long term effects that haven’t shown up yet because the procedure is still too new, but I dismissed that as needless worrying. I talked to a lot of people who were happy with their surgery, including my older sister and my friend Pilto. It always seems like the bad things happen to other people, that they aren’t going to happen to you. I should know better, since where medical matters are concerned at least, the complications always seem to happen to me. Some of my friends cautioned against the surgery. I listened to their concerns, but my mind was set.

I thought I had things well under control. My eye doctor said that I was a decent candidate, even though I think now that my pupils were too big. But he was getting a kickback from the vision surgery center, so I don’t know how much I trust him. The center is one of the more well-respected ones around here. I thought that by going there and paying a premium price, I was guaranteed perfect results. The center offered a “warranty” and free corrections and such, as long as I got checkups through my eye doctor every year. So I went through with it. It was fairly easy and painless. But I started to get worried when it was obvious after a few days that they had overcorrected my right eye – i.e. it became farsighted. Looking through it alone, I could sort of see double images, or at least blurry trails on areas of high contrast. After a couple of months, they did a re-correction on that eye. It helped a little, but not much. The left eye was initially pretty good – near 20/20.

But there were other problems as well. The glare when looking at lights at night was fairly pronounced, in the form of “starbursts” around the lights. This made it a bit uncomfortable to drive at night at first, though I’m used to that. And then there’s the dry eyes. I have to put drops in my eyes before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning. It’s very painful to open my eyes and see light in the morning until I put those drops in (or if I wait several minutes for the tears to start flowing). I also discovered my eyes are very sensitive to chemicals and such, like shampoos. I can’t go swimming in chlorinated water without goggles. And I’ve never even gotten around to trying the snorkeling thing (or taking scuba classes) post-LASIK, so that was probably a pointless reason for having the surgery. And who knows if it will even work.

And my eyesight keeps deteriorating, at what I think is too rapid a pace (though my eye doctor disagrees). What’s weird is that the shifts seem to be fairly sudden – almost overnight. I’ll suddenly wake up one morning and can’t see something clear that I saw clear the day before. And then it stays that way for awhile until the next shift. Again, I’m told this is normal and that my eyesight really isn’t that bad. It appears now that the right eye is getting more farsighted and the left one is perhaps tending back towards nearsightedness. Too bad it doesn’t really balance out.

Just A Few Of My Reading Glasses (click to embiggen)I had to start using reading glasses fairly early on, within the first year. At first it was just to read small print in low light. Now I keep reading glasses with me at all times, and even dorkily wear some hanging from a strap when I’m at work or home. For going out, I have a slimline pair in a thin, lightweight vinyl cover that fits well in any pocket, even though the whole thing is the length of standard glasses. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find another of those pouches, no matter how much I look. This one better hold out for awhile. Anyway, for the past couple of years, I’ve even needed reading glasses for all computer work. I don’t yet need glasses to drive or watch TV, but I’m sure I will eventually. (They will probably be those bifocals that I was trying to avoid by having the surgery in the first place.) I know that they say almost everyone who gets LASIK will need reading glasses eventually, I just didn’t know it would be that soon or that I would have to be so attached to them. I was hoping for at least a few good years with no glasses. I also keep having to buy ones with better and better magnification. The thing that is probably most annoying to me now is having to wear glasses sometimes. That’s a pitfall that never even occurred to me when I initially considered this whole thing. Just the act of putting them on and taking them off when needed is a pain, especially trying to find them if they’re not within reach. Looking back, it really wasn’t so bad wearing glasses all the (non-sleeping) time.

So, I guess I could ask for another correction. But I’m getting pretty old at this point, and I don’t know if they’d allow it. And I’m really leery of going through that again and potentially making it even worse. Which is how things work with me. So, I guess I’ll just have to live with what I’ve got and hope for the best. I’m actually nostalgic for the old days and my old glasses. Then, the only thing I had to worry about was getting a stronger prescription. Yes, those were the days. At least I could see perfectly in all circumstances when wearing those old lenses. I suppose it’s possible I’m having some other problem with my eyes that is not related to the surgery, but no one’s found anything yet.

I’m sure that many people have no problems post-LASIK. However, Pilto is complaining about his night vision and really needs glasses to drive at night. My sister’s eyes keep getting worse and she needs reading glasses all the time like I do. Other friends who have had the surgery have complained about the negatives to various degrees. So all I can do is tell my story. And if anyone asks me if they should do it, I’ll tell them to learn from my experience and that it’s not worth the risk, unless they have some really compelling reason why they need to do it.

Pet Peeve Of The Day: Small print on CD packaging. Sometimes the reading glasses aren’t good enough to decipher it and I need a bright light and a magnifying glass.



4 Responses to “20/20 Hindsight”

  1. Editrix
    September 28th, 2007 @ 11:12 am

    Wow, so sorry to hear about your eye troubles. I was just talking about LASIK with a group of colleagues this week, two of whom had done it and love it. I can’t get over the idea of having someone shoot laser beams into my eyes, plus wearing contacts or glasses doesn’t bother me. But even if I wasn’t a chicken, your story would definitely discourage me from having it done. Just sorry that you’ve had so many ill effects.

  2. InfK
    September 28th, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

    Ditto on the “bummer, dude!” sentiments – the worst part is, even if you get your money back, $3,500 these days is barely enough for a couple tanks of gas…

    I got my first pair of glasses for minor nearsightedness about 10 years ago and still wear them (same lenses) today. I wonder if your doctor would consider me a good candiate for corrective kickback surgery?

  3. 2fs
    September 28th, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

    I never had anything like LASIK done – anyway, I rather like my glasses. Regardless, my vision’s definitely changing: it’s to the point where small print, or even normal print in poor lighting conditions, means I have to take my glasses off. I need them for things further away, but it’s kinda funny: unless I’m driving, I guess I don’t really need them. (And yes: I can never remember which is “nearsighted” and which is “farsighted” – except pretty obviously, I’m the opposite of Flasshe.)

    This means I can legitimately do the “whip off the glasses to connote sexy seriousness” thing now.

  4. Flasshe
    September 29th, 2007 @ 11:27 pm

    “Nearsighted” means you can see things that are near better, so that’s apparently what you have. Although probably with some astigmatism.

    I think one of the weirdest things for me about the whole experience is going from one extreme to the other.

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