Scream if you like, but that will only make it worse.
September, 2003, my sister-in-law, Lenore, was sitting with me in the waiting room of the eye doctor's office. I was told that it would be safer to have someone accompany me home after the procedure was completed. I soon found out why but I'll talk about that a little later. I had finally made the decision to get the Lasik laser treatment done. Hopefully, I would never again need lens of any kind in order to see the world. Mixed feelings of fear and anticipation moved me forward as the doctor's assistant called my name. After I sat in the special reclining chair, the assistant attached the cold, metal contraption to my eyes. Okay, so I'm exaggerating about the cold part but my mind was beginning to make up things while I was waiting for the laser beams to start flying. This device (trying not to say a clamp) was holding my eyelids wide open for safety purposes and this all seemed to make sense.
Even the slicing of front area of the eye (let's call it a flap) was not bad. I guess the best comparison is like peeling the skin back from a grape.This had to be done in order to gain access to the cornea. Now the world from this eye was a blur as I waited for Flash Gordon to begin. Joking aside, all of my questions about the procedure had previously been answered and most of what went on was a little frightening but calming at the same time.
There is was one minor detail which I found unnerving though. The patient (that would be me) had to be awake and alert throughout the operation. I had a slight problem with what the doctor next told me. She said that I should stare at the fixed point of light that was behind her while the laser was doing its work. If I were to look over to the right or left, I would do damage to my eye. Of course, I don't mean that my eyeball would get sliced in half but the level of eye correction might not be as accurate. As I lay as still as possible, there was the ominous click, click, clicking sound of the laser as the cornea of my left eye was being reshaped. The doctor moved the thin flap back in place and then the same procedure was done for my right eye. Amazingly enough, the flaps heals back on the the eye by themselves, sans stitches.
I was told that I could get up from the chair and the assistant then walked me to the nearby waiting room for a few moments. I was shocked to be able to see my sister-in-law but when I glanced out the picture window and clearly saw the lettering of the bill board across the street and the people passing by, tears were welling up in my eyes. I could see again! Lenore, whose vision was as bad as mine was, said she was happy for me and I knew she understood. Forty years of finding ways to adjust my sight and now at age fifty, I was able to view the world normally again, with my own eyes.
The assistant took me back to the sitting room where I had to have clear, concave cups taped to each eye. This was to prevent me from touching and damaging my surgery. On top of this went large, plastic shades for a more natural look. I looked as natural as a bug-eyed monster but it was better to wear the dark shades than to just walk around with the suction cups over my eyes.
I was discharged to Lenore's care and we found our way to the Metro North train station. Actually, I could see through the bubble lens and dark shades but it was safer to be with someone. As we brushed pass the curious masses, I looked like a blind person but I felt far from it. She deposited me home and I took the apparatus off my eyes. There was little discomfort and everything was crystal clear. While I slept, I wore the bubbles taped to my eyes for about two nights . Had to make certain that I didn't accidentally rub my eyes while they healed.
I know that there are others who have had problems with their surgery but it's been thirteen years since my mine and I've had no regrets. I'm glad that I live in an age where I can get my eyes back and the world again looks beautiful or at least in focus. That's my story with a happy ending.
I can see clearly now but not forever
Previously, I spoke about the crush to this author's self-esteem to have to wear glasses and then how it hurt more than my ego to wear "hard " contact lenses. I'm not going to bore you with the exaltation of discovering soft, extended wear contact lenses but I will mention that I wore them daily, for about two decades and life was problem free. I would keep them on, day and night and then after a month, I discarded them and then put in a new pair. This arrangement was great as long as I didn't do anything stupid like go swimming without goggles. Of course, like everything else in life, the good times have to finally come to an end.
Let me first let you youngsters in a little secret. No matter how good your 20/20 vision is, by the time you are about 45 years old, the old headlights begin to weaken. This means that almost everyone will have to wear at least low power reading glasses when they get older. I mention this sad truth because it also occurs to those (like myself) who never had to wear glasses in order to read a book.
In terms of options, first I was faced with wearing bifocal glasses. You know, the ones invented by Benjamin Franklin around 1750. With these glasses, you can read through the bottom of the lens and also see at a distance through the upper portion. The old fashion ones just looked plain weird but that's hardly the case with the newer "seamless" ones. It's a lot harder to tell that the newer ones have two sets of glass melded together.
My biggest gripe with buying eyeglasses in general is that the more features you add (bifocal, scratch resistant, tinting, etc.), the more you have to pay. You could plan to spend about $100.00 but after all the lens features and the designer frames have been added up, you're forking over more than $500.00 and I'm not exaggerating.
And did you know that the "bifocal correction" also comes in contact lenses? I did try these things for about one day. They have to give you a free test pair in order to see if you can bear keeping them in your head. I felt so dizzy and disoriented that the next day I had no choice but to return to the doctor. I opted to just fill a prescription for my regular distance contacts. Unfortunately, after speaking to the dear doc again, another crazy truth was apparent. I could wear my contacts but to read clearly, I would have to put on reading glasses. I fought wearing glasses for decades and now I'd have to put glasses on top of contact lenses! This seemed like some sort of cruel joke.
And why not throw another negative in for good measure. As one gets older, one's eyes tend to get a bit drier. On more than one occasion when I was driving, my contact lens actually popped out and sat on my cheek. I had no choice but to pull over and find a way to cleanly place it back in. It was becoming sadly apparent that my eyes were rejecting this foreign body that they had clung to for decades. What would this eventually mean for the future of my vision? Was I forced to return to glasses? I had gotten so used to the freedom (not to mention the vanity) of contact lenses, so this did not seem fair. But there was another alternative. It was scary when I first considered it but the answer came in the form of eye surgery.
To be continued.......
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Hard Not To See the Vanity in This
June 1974 -
For the past ten years, I'd been unhappily putting up with having to wear eyeglasses. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to have a solution to my vision problems but I wished there was another way for me get around and not bump into walls (okay, it wasn't that bad but not being able to clearly see a traffic light with my naked eye was no joke).
After a passing conversation with an acquaintance, I found out about the existence of hard contact lenses. This guy Robert was standing in front of me, talking about how blind he was without his glasses. The fact that I could not tell that he was wearing lenses, made me want to jump up from my chair and run (not walk) to the nearest eye doctor. I had to have this amazing innovation. Little did I know that this idea was not so new.
Back in 1888, Adolf Fick was the first to successfully make what could be called a contact lens. The fact that it was made from blown glass did not make it very appealing to most. You see, the surface of the eyeball has to breathe and this cannot happen through glass. By 1929, Dr. Dallos perfected a method of making molds from living eyes (Yes, I did say, "molds from living eyes". Please don't ask how). Anyway, for the first time, the lens actually conformed to the shape of the eye. Trials with these lenses were difficult to say the least. A gel had to be placed on the lens in order to avoid irritation and damage from the wearing of the glass lens. The gel made it difficult to see at times but I guess when it comes to vanity, you have to take the good with the bad.
The previous lenses were pretty large and covered most of the visible area of the eye. It wasn't until the 1930's that a type of Plexiglas had finally been developed and the clinical trials with glass stopped (how could you put glass in you eyes anyway?). About 1949, the smaller lenses, which cover only the corneal area, were finally produced. Up through the 1970's these "hard lenses" still did not allow air to pass through its surface. No air passing through means possible adverse effects, meaning you could hurt that delicate organism. This brings us back to 1974 and me.
While I was at Sterling Optical, the eye doctor and his helper, showed me how to carefully put in my newly purchased hard contacts. Unfortunately, there is a huge natural defense that I had to move pass in order to purposely stick a foreign object in my eye. Forcing my eyelids open and placing the lens directly on what I'd spent my life protecting, at first felt like a horror movie. Eventually I learned that as long as they were clean, they were comfortable. For a short while, I experienced the same feeling as when I first put on my "I hope they don't look like bottle-cap" glasses, but wait, this was different. These were no glasses. No one could tell I had them on! I felt like a new man. I had gotten my face back!
,The real story was that after about five or six hours, my eyes would feel dry and irritated. As much as I wanted to leave my lenses in, I couldn't. Then there's the other problem. I had to be careful not to get ANYTHING in the lenses just before I put them on. It was bad enough getting a piece of lint in there but a stray eyelash felt like there was a rock being pushed unto my eyeball. I found that I couldn't be in a hurry prior to putting them on because if I hadn't cleaned them well enough I'd have to snatch them out to avoid the stinging pain. My worst nightmare was being at the beach and a grain of sand... Never mind, too frightening.
The next few years, I'd learned how to time out wearing the hard lens according to the occasion. Of course, I was still wearing my glasses but having the option of not wearing them, made a big difference to my ego (no, I didn't say vanity). At least I was happy until the night of the party.
I merrily danced and talked and laughed with my family and friends that particular night. I was successfully able to ignore that rational inner voice, which had always signaled me, like clockwork. "The time is up Cinderfella," it said. "Take those things out of your head!" But I kept saying, “Shut up, stupid. I'm having too much fun." When I finally got home, about eleven hours later, my eyes felt a bit dry but that was about it. Usually the technique for taking out hard lenses was to pull the outer side of my face near my eye, with my finger and then blink. I did this a few times but neither lens would do their usual pop out. Finally, I had to move the left lens off the cornea, unto the white area of my eye and then blink. The lens did pop out and I was relieved. I proceeded to do the same with the right lens and got it out of my other eye.
After doing so, I found that any amount of light was irritating my eyes to the point that my only comfort was to keep them shut. As I attempted to peer through my lids, the light was blindingly painful, especially to my right eye. I was scared but I wasn't in any real pain. I decided to wait it out and see what happened before I ran to the hospital. As the hours passed, my eyes slowly returned to their normal state.
Eventually, I found that no real damage had been done. The eye doctor warned me to be more careful. It was weeks before I dared to place the contacts on again. I did not dare to wear them longer than I should and I listened to the little voice. Fortunately, there was another voice that talking about a new type of lenses. These were soft and some were even called "extended wear." Hearing this new voice, pretty much made me punch the old one in the face.
To be continued...
We all have our shortcomings. Mine used to be these two things sitting on either side of my nose. I like to call them, my eyes.
Dec 1964 - Eleven years old
My mother turned off the water and walked over to me. She still had a drippy plate in her hand and an already soaked dish towel. My stopping her from doing her work, suddenly made me feel like I had said something important.
“Do you mean from where you sit in the back of the class?” she asked.
“Yeah. I kind of have to squint to see the writing on the board” I responded.
go get your eyes checked,” she said. "You probably need glasses."
I didn’t like the sound of that. She and my father both wore glasses but my brother didn’t. He was older so why was I having problems and not him. Anyhow, I figured it would be like going the doctor. If you’re sick, he gives you something to make you better. An eye doctor couldn't be much different.
When I arrived home, she and I walked up to 116th Street where the optician’s office was. After all the amazing gadgets and tests were done with, I was told that I had Myopia (what?). In other words, I was nearsighted. The further away objects were from me, the harder it was for me to focus on them. In a day or two, we returned to the eye doctor's office to pick up my first pair of glasses.
glasses just added to my depression. That I would have to adapt while playing sports was bad enough but that couldn’t compete with me feeling like these black frames added nothing positive to the way my face looked.
around all the time without this odd and remarkable appliance. Maybe I’d eventually become happier with the glasses, than without them. It was going to be great to clearly see the writing on the blackboard at school again. I didn’t want to miss a thing in the world around me so maybe this thing being part of my face now was for the best. At least some of the time, anyway. At the age of eleven, I was quickly learning what the word compromise truly meant.
photographer looked like . There was no getting away from the truth. As I grew older so did my ego but the way I felt about my vision was making me take a step backwards. That was, until my next discovery. A new product called contact lenses.
To be continued…….
Sharing a special part of yourself can only make others happy.