On February 20, 2001, the amazing happened. I lost my glasses. Permanently. I've worn glasses since the fourth grade. Not those glasses people dawn only at night or when reading. No, I'm talking about those thick Coke-bottle glasses that you need to find the toilet in the middle of the night. Danna had Lasik eye surgery last year and was convinced I should have it too. I was skeptical; one slip of the laser would mean a life-altering change for the worse. But, due to a general lack of constitution, I signed up.
The operation actually began several weeks ago with an examination consisting of an eye exam and a sophisticated topographical map of both of my eyes. The map included details like the thickness and shape of my corneas, and additional tests showed the cellular makeup of my corneas. After looking at all of the data my doctor decided that I was a good candidate for the surgery. This procedure dilated my eyes like you wouldn't believe, as you can see at the right.
The surgery took all of about fifteen minutes. The only anesthetic consisted of eye drops that numbed the surface of my eye. It was nearly painless. I was, however, quite full of anxiety.
After the drops were placed in my eye I lay on a table with a large machine over my head. The first step was to hold my eyelid open with something the size of a truck wrench that fit in my eye socket. Scenes of A Clockwork Orange flashed through my head as I squirmed under the pressure of the device. Ok, done. Once in place, it didn't feel that bad.
Next came a little rubber nipple that was placed on the surface of my eye. Ok, no discomfort here, thanks to those drops. "Suction". The rubber nipple came to life and sucked down on my eye...and my vision faded to black. Anxiety factor: five.
Next I heard a high-pitched whining like a dentist drill. This is a device called a microkeratome , which is designed to saw into your eye and produce a flap in your cornea. Still no pain. Anxeity factor: nine. The rubber nipple released its death grip on my eye and my vision returned.
"The flap looks good, peel it back". A brief flash of a surgical instrument and then, white. Nothing but white. The doctor had peeled back the surface of my cornea and my eye could no longer focus on anything. "Focus on the blinking red dot." What red dot? I focused at a vague perception of a blinking red blotch in the field of white. Anxeity factor: seven. Nothing can beat the Cuisinart the doctor just applied to my eye.
Tick Tick Tick Tick....the laser had begun reshaping my cornea. I smelled smoke. The smell of burning eye-tissue has no comparison. Especially if it's your eye you smell. I stared at the vague blinking red dot as best I could. One slip up here and who knows where my perscription would be etched. Anxiety factor: eight. Too much possibility of a mistake lied in my hands, and I wasn't up for the task.
The laser stopped and the doctor rinsed my eye. During this brief rinse, the field of white vanished and for a moment the entire operating room was crystal clear. The doctor finished rinsing, sealed the flap back down and applied a condom-sized contact lens to my eye as a bandage.
Ok, ready for the next eye. Anxeity factor: ten. I already knew what was coming...
Immediately after the surgery, I could see better than I could going into the surgery. I was instructed not to rub my eyes or I could tear the delicate flap while it was healing. Like I needed to be told that twice. My vision gradually returned, and by the next day I could leave the house and navigate. I drove to my doctor appointment that day, and returned to work the day after. My vision is not perfect yet, but comes and goes. It is never so bad that I cannot read, and is supposed to slowly improve over the coming weeks. Yea. Now, what to do with all those old pairs of glasses?