March 14, 2008

See Here

I have terrible eyesight. Beyond terrible. I can't see the alarm clock beside my bed, and unless something is about 3 inches from the end of my nose - no closer, no further - it is blurry. I've had friends who have done the Lasik eye surgery, and I've always held off even investigating it. When you've had lots of surgeries in your life that aren't voluntary, you get an appreciation for avoiding those that are.

This article today in the NYT reminds me why I'm probably right to hold back. It's not a horror story about missing eyeballs or something, it's a rather more scary scenario - not understanding the definition of 'success' of such an operation.

This woman had it done, and wishes she hadn't. Her vision was basically corrected, but the side effects, all the mumbleness in the small print, is plaguing her. That is my concern as well.

I've had glasses since I was 8. Oh, they were ugly. I squinted my way through my teens, horrified as my sight deteriorated at an alarming rate. At 16 I begged my mother to let me get contacts - people didn't really get contacts back then like they do now, and she was adamant. There was one eye doctor in town, and he was about 107 years old. He said I couldn't get them. My mother said if I could find a doctor who said yes, I could. I found one. A new doctor hung out his shingle and I bet I was the first patient through the door. He looked about 11, but my mother liked him, and I finally got contacts.

Contacts are an endurable curse. I wear both glasses and contacts interchangeably, though I've never really made friends with either. It's a drag not being able to see - and you're reminded of it every day as the phone beside the bed rings and you answer the clock.

I did ask one doctor in passing about Lasik a few years back, out of curiousity. He checked my file, and announced I'd need at least 2 go rounds, and then I'd still need glasses. I am neither near-sighted nor far-sighted anymore; I'm essentially no-sighted. I passed.

The biggest pain in the butt with lousy vision is on some of the trips I take. We're in odd places at odd times with unforseen things happening. This is adventurous and fabulous, until you find yourself fumbling in a pup tent with a miner's lamp strapped to your forehead trying to take out contacts in the middle of Argentina.

You can't fly in contacts - they dry out and feel like little crusts on your eyes. And you should see how sexy you can look in glasses and one of those furry hats with the ear flaps.

I know this woman's story is just one, and most people seem really happy with their decision to get the surgery. But she makes some valid points we should listen to regarding anything to do with our bodies and the medical community, and especially, Big Pharma. Ask questions, and err on the side of caution. We take a lot for granted, and many of us are quick to look for a quick fix. And maybe here I should find a link to a tattoo removal story, to remind us of the hell of the un-fix.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What most people don't realize about laser eye surgery is that it's not a one shot deal. They don't advertise that although I'm hoping they at least tell people prior to their first zapping. This is still a relatively new procedure and I too, would prefer wearing glasses rather than mucking with my eyes. Even eyes that have been lasered will continue to age and will probably end up needing another zapping and then finally those little reading glasses. People need to ask a lot of questions.

March 14, 2008 4:56 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

I'm in the same boat, I can't see past the end of my nose without my specs.
I am jealous of people who can wear contacts, I can't. Well, technically I could, but I would need 3 people to hold me down to put them in and take them out. (Ask Alice what happens when I get an eyelash in there!)
What concerns me about lasik is what happens if something goes wrong? I doubt very much there is an undo button on the laser.
And to make matters worse, I get my bifocals next week...


March 14, 2008 5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the old days they shot down anyone who had corneas that are warped or mishapen for contacts. Now I understand that mild abnornmal curves can be tolerated by the soft contacts, It came so late I never bothered getting them. A vicious dog attack to nmy face made me grateful for glasses. He busted the glasses but I only got minor cuts on the forehead. It would've been a different story with contacts. Yes, the owner paid for new glasses and other stuff to avoid problems with police,

March 14, 2008 10:48 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

OK, so this miner's lamp thing is creating interesting visuals all on its own; before anyone makes any comments about hair colour, please, Lorraine, explain how the lamp was used to aid in the removal of said contacts... the light is shining away from you and...
Oh yes, DJ, are you getting the "invisible" bifocals? Watch out for negotiating going down any stairs of any kind for the first few weeks.
About 18 months ago I had a laser procedure done on my right eye -- I had a tear in the macular(sp?) that required "sealing". I knew it was a risky procedure given where the tear was. Found out after the fact that very few opthamologists would have even attempted this repair. Point is, regardless of what you buy or have done, generally speaking, one gets what one pays for. Lasik for $ 490 per eye? Not so sure about that. Actually, they charge even less in Alberta. By the same folks.

March 17, 2008 11:38 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Well, when you're in the the pitch black of a wee tent trying to find all your junk that's been crammed to the bottom of a big bag, it helps to use the snazzy light provided that lets you be handsfree. I can pull my contacts out without a mirror (or light, even) but making sure they hit the case is another matter.

Any other smartarse questions while I'm here?!

March 18, 2008 9:46 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Rhetorical questions... gotta love 'em!

March 18, 2008 10:17 AM  

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