People have refractive eye surgery (usually LASIK these days) for many reasons including lifestyle, functional, or cosmetic issues. I had iLASIK and my reasons were largely due to function.
Previously, I wore contact lenses, but as time passed and I grew older, my eyes became less and less tolerant of them. I remember very well the moment that I realized that contact lenses were becoming a problem for me.
Recognizing the need for iLASIK
I was an eye surgery resident in the middle of a surgery. My eyes were bothering me from dryness and allergy, so my contact lenses were quite irritating. This problem had been increasing steadily over time so that usually by early afternoon I could no longer wear the contact lenses.
In this case, while I was doing surgery, the problem became so bad that one contact lens actually popped out of an eye. Luckily, it was toward the end of the surgery and I was able to complete the case without incident using just one eye. From that time until I had iLASIK, I did all my surgeries wearing glasses.
I had always been very active with various sports and activities but it took this one functional surgery related episode to really make up my mind to have refractive surgery. Actually, when this happened, refractive surgery was not nearly as advanced as it is today and the lasers were not yet FDA approved.
It would be another 3 years before the excimer lasers for PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) were available, so refractive surgery at that time was restricted to the old diamond blade Radial Keratotomy (RK). I chose to wait until LASIK was available because I knew that the lasers were much more precise than blades could be and I wanted to minimize the amount of blade related cutting on my own cornea.
Why I chose iLASIK
As a surgeon, my vision is critical, so maximizing safety and precision was an absolute must. Refractive surgery only really saw a boom because surgeons started accepting refractive surgery when the precision of the lasers became available where they previously rejected RK because of the unpredictability and potential complications related to cutting the eye with blades. Today, many of those surgeons ironically continue to do old style LASIK using bladed microkeratomes instead of the blade-free, laser-only iLASIK techniques.
Although my first thought when I had LASIK was my ability to function well in surgery, afterward I was able to enjoy the benefits in every other aspect of my life.
I remember the first time when my baby daughter woke up crying in the middle of the night after my procedure. I instinctively reached for my glasses as I woke…then I realized, “Hey, I don’t need those anymore!”
It was a great comfort to know that if any emergency came up in the middle of the night for my family that I could act immediately without the impairment of being “blind.”
Every time I came inside from the cold, I realized that other people were taking their glasses off to wipe off the frost. Or when I played sports, others seemed hampered by sweat and steam on their glasses…or maybe knocking their glasses off or losing a contact lens. Swimming without glasses or contact lenses on vacation became a huge blessing.
There are just so many aspects to life that we take for granted after a lifetime of being accustomed to the handicap of nearsightedness.
Sure, we adjust and we live our lives, but it is an underlying inconvenience that pervades our lives. It’s an amazing world that we live in where we have the choice to reduce or eliminate our dependence on glasses and contact lenses. Life is just so full of detail…why miss out because of a correctable problem like wearing glasses.