Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I can see clearly now...

After more than 20 years of wearing glasses and/or contacts, I finally bit the bullet. Last Friday, I had LASIK surgery! This is a long and complicated story, so bear with me as I start from the beginning...

I have worn glasses or contacts for what feels like my entire life. We found out I needed glasses when I was in first grade. My parents had taken us bowling, and a few frames in, I hadn't hit a single pin. My mom said, "Tara! Look at the pins! You need to aim the ball to the pins!" I said, "What pins? I don't see any pins?"

A picture of me, pre-glasses. I'm the one in the middle. This picture is
mostly to show you that I was a ridiculously cute child.

My mom probably thinks of that as a parenting failure moment, but there wasn't any way that we would have known that my eyesight had changed -- it changed dramatically in just a few short months. The eye doctor gave me some coke bottle glasses and the journey began.

Just kidding. Those weren't my real glasses. This is just to show you that my
parents were fun and to embarrass my little sisters.

In second grade, I started to wear rigid gas permeable contacts. At that time, any young person whose eyes changed so dramatically was recommended for these. They thought that wearing them would slow down any more changes in your eyes (this has since been prove false, by the way). Anyone who has ever worn them is probably full of empathy at this point. They are rigid and hard and expensive and easily breakable and uncomfortable. Combine that with a second grader and you have years of difficulty! My mom actually put my contacts in and took them out each day for a few years. I lost more than one down the sink and my dad rescued them out of the drain. Once, we couldn't find a contact anywhere. I mean - anywhere. Because it had stuck to my shirt and we had thrown it down the laundry chute. And we found it in tact.

When I was a senior in high school, I made the switch to soft contacts. I was heading off to college and wanted to have more flexibility and comfort. I wore soft lenses without a problem until just over a year ago. All of a sudden, contacts were brutally uncomfortable, made me blink uncontrollably, and led to all sorts of watery eyes and irritation. I apparently just developed an intolerance to them. Side note - so did my friend Claire, who does not live in Cincinnati. But also, so did another friend who developed it just after moving to Cincinnati, which is when I did. Strange!

I've been thinking about Lasik since high school. When I was able to wear contacts, it was mostly an inconvenience. When I could only wear glasses, it became almost unbearable. Let me clarify that I have a lot of friends and family members who look amazing in glasses. Even better than they do without glasses in glasses. I am not one of those people. I hate the way I look in glasses. Case and point:

My aunt's crazy friend Jan, who is super fun.

It's probably because I wore contacts for so many years during the day, but I associate myself wearing glasses with being tired, sick, or going to bed. When I look at this picture (or any picture of me in glasses), I just don't like it. 

All of the people I knew in Cincinnati who had had LASIK used Dr. Varley -- quick shout out to his office for being amazing. It was pricey, but five days in, already so worth it. I did all the normal pre-procedure stuff, and then arrived on Friday for the surgery. Zac took me, and my parents came down as well. My dad said he wanted to see me when I realized I could see. Yes, he is the best dad ever.

They gave me some numbing drops and some valium. I was way more nervous than I thought I'd be. They took me into the procedure room, and Zac and my parents got to watch the whole thing.  I could wear my normal clothes, but had to wear a sweet hair cover thing. They gave me a teddy bear to hold, which made a ridiculous difference. It was great having something soft to hold on to.

Dr. Varley was wonderful, and really calming. I just had to focus on his voice, look where he told me to look,  and not freak out. Let me say that this was the strangest experience of my entire life (which I actually told him during the procedure!). It didn't hurt at all, but it was just so strange. If you have ever had a tooth pulled, it felt like that -- no pain, but you can feel it happening. Weird.

The first thing they do is cut flaps in your eye so they can laser off the parts that are making your vision bad. This is my unscientific description, by the way. This takes all of 5 seconds for each eye, but after they do it, your vision is really blurry and hazy. This is normal and the doctor told me it would happen, but it was still a bit disconcerting. 

Lining up my eye so they could cut the flap.

After they cut the flap, they line up your eye for the actual lasering (which for this post, counts as a real word). I don't really know what you're looking at here, but here's a picture of my eye, post flap cutting, but before any lasering:

The final step is the laser re-shaping your eye. Again, no pain, but super weird. I had the laser for about 30 seconds each eye, but my eyes were pretty bad. If your prescription is less, you don't have to have as much time under the laser.

Lining up my eye for the laser

One neat part about the technology is that if your eye moves for any reason, the laser stops and won't start again until it is repositioned.

The whole thing took less than 20 minutes. I got a complicated schedule of eye drops, some sweet goggles, and was sent home to sleep for as long as possible (at least 4-6 hours). I slept for awhile, woke up and had a milkshake, then went to bed for the night. I had some pretty intense discomfort the first night, but it wasn't bad enough to prevent me from sleeping.

First picture, post surgery!

When I went back the next morning, my vision tested at 20/15. Absolutely incredible!! It has gotten clearer each day sense. It's not necessary blurry, but my eyes are SO dry that it feels like it is. So far, that's been the worst part. I think I'll buy stock in artificial tears. Oh, and my eyes are super bloodshot and it looks like I do drugs. Except I told my kids at work I got bitten by a zombie (and three of them believed it). And I get to sleep in those cool goggles for three weeks (do you love how they matched my outfit that day??).

So... the verdict is that I am SO glad I did this, even though I'm not totally back to normal yet comfort-wise. It's amazing to wake up and see the alarm clock, see the tv without having glasses on, and be able to read a book in bed without having it 4 inches from my face. It's amazing not to have to clean my glasses all day, look in the mirror and hate them, or to be able to wear sunglasses in the car.  It isn't the right choice for everyone, but it sure was for me!!

Has anyone else had LASIK? Do you love contacts or glasses? Are you one of those people who has perfect vision and makes everyone else jealous?


  1. 1st off I thought you looked great in glasses.
    2nd I totally understand what you mean about not liking how you look in glasses.
    I didn't get glasses until I was a junior in high school.
    Contacts are a hassle to me and no matter how much blinking or drops I put in my eyes always seem dry so I save contacts for nights on the town.
    My husband has had glasses since he was a kid and the Air Force is going to pay for his PRK surgery. We are waiting for the appointment now. It'll probably be a few years until I get my LASIK done (most likely after I'm done having kids), but I can't wait! The idea of no more glasses and not having to worry about pictures with glasses glare sounds awesome!
    Congrats on your new eyes ;)

    Be Blessed,

  2. I second that you look adorable in glasses. I'm hoping to get my eyes lasered at some point. Las eye appointment I was told I might be a candidate. I'm blind as well and agree that it would be incredible to see when I wake up!


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