It was the best $4,000 I ever spent.
I had Lasik surgery in November of 2015, and overnight my 20/600 vision became better than perfect at 20/15.
My terrible vision dragged me down my entire life. I could have let it stay the way it was. That would be the easy and cheaper path, but by November 2015 I was well into my self-improvement journey, and it should encompass all parts of your life that are not optimal – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
My path to Lasik started in the third grade. I remember that day when we were going through slides on an illuminated screen in front of the classroom. The teacher decided to have each student read a slide. Up and down each row she went in order calling on students.
I sat towards the middle of the classroom and squinted my eyes in a desperate attempt to make out the words while waiting my turn for what felt like an eternity as student after student did their job.
My heart felt like it was going to beat through my chest as my heart rate increased when it got closer to being my turn. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it because I couldn’t see the small words on the screen. They were a blurry blob and no amount of squinting helped, though I tried.
When it was my turn, the inevitable happened. I couldn’t see the words. It appeared to my classmates that I couldn’t read, as I struggled and gave up.
The teacher had mercy after a short time and moved on to the person sitting behind me. I was embarrassed and angry at myself.
Soon after this incident, my mother took me to the eye doctor and he said I was near-sighted and needed glasses. My world dropped. Nerds wore glasses and I wasn’t a nerd. I hated those thick glasses we picked out from the rack in the lobby.
When we picked them up, I refused to wear them. I couldn’t face the world looking like that.
After continued struggles and after it became clear to my parents that I would not wear them, I told my parents I wanted to wear contact lenses. I knew a teenaged family member who wore contacts and loved them.
“You are too young,” was their response.
It became a battle of wills, one I was determined to win. They relented, and we went to see the eye doctor to inquire about contact lenses. The eye doctor, recognizing that I would not wear the glasses no matter what he said, agreed to give them to me. From that day forward, I wore contact lenses.
It was as if a whole new world opened up. I could finally see.
Even into adulthood I hated wearing glasses, never wearing them out of the house. By my teen years I was wearing disposable contact lenses that could be left in for a few days. I usually extended that, and often wore them for up to a month at a time. I now know how dangerous that was and I’m lucky I didn’t get a serious eye infection.
Even as an adult, people who knew me well had never seen me wearing glasses. I still didn’t feel comfortable wearing them and couldn’t see as well with them as with my contacts.
By my mid-30’s I had become wiser and started wearing daily wear disposable lenses and changing them each day as directed. This was safer but increased my monthly costs.
I hated the ritual of putting in and taking out contacts. It wasted time. They were also prone to popping out at bad times. My father had to carry an extra pair with him during my football games in case one came out during a game. This happened a few times. Once, as a teenager, one came out in a nightclub and I lost it and had to drive home with one eye.
There were times I traveled for a few days and forgot to bring both my glasses and an extra pair of contacts, which means if one came out I would be almost blind until I got home.
I knew about Lasik, but also knew it wasn’t covered by insurance and was somewhat expensive.
I didn’t do anything about it, believing I would be wearing contacts my entire life.
By the summer of 2015, I was lifting weights and lost the extra pounds I had gained through my early 30’s. My “Dad Bod” was gone. At that point, anything seemed possible.
I decided I would explore Lasik.
I did research reading every description of the procedure I could find, every story good and bad, and even studies in medical journals. I researched local providers and compared them. I also talked with people I knew who had the procedure. This was the most important to me since every person I spoke with about it raved about what a good experience it was and how it improved their quality of life.
I worked up the courage to do it and made my initial appointment. When I arrived at the office, it looked like a typical medical waiting room. The Medical Assistant soon called my name and ushered me upstairs. I was in a whole new world up there. This was the area for Lasik patients and it was filled with expensive minimalist modernistic furniture and décor. Knowing that everyone up there for Lasik was paying without insurance, they gave us a different experience than regular patients.
When I asked the doctor about it, he shrugged and said, “Yes, I have a problem with spending money on making it look nice up here.”
He had me put my chin on a chin holder as I looked straight ahead into what looked like binoculars. The device did its job and minutes later, after consulting his computer, my doctor said the words I wanted to hear: “You are a good candidate, when do you want to schedule?”
I was able to schedule the procedure for two months from then with two initial visits for eye measurements before that day.
He told me that prior to the first visit I would not be able to wear contacts for two weeks. It was ironic that people saw me wearing glasses for the first time several weeks before I wouldn’t have to wear them again. Those few weeks were hard because I remained uncomfortable wearing glasses, and I still couldn’t see right with them.
The procedure itself was not bad. They handed me a Valium when I arrived. When it was time to walk into the procedure room, I was unsteady on my feet and feeling a drowsy and pleasant intoxication.
My wife was brought into another room that had a large TV and she was told she could watch it.
They first numbed my eyes with drops, then got to work. It was a few minutes on each eye. I felt no pain, but there was a weird burning smell, as the laser burned my cornea creating the necessary flap and reshaping of my cornea.
When it was over I could see a little clearer. The medical staff gave me two Percocets to take home. My instructions were to take both and take a nap, and when I woke up I would be in a new world.
He wasn’t kidding. When I woke up the world had a sharpness I had never experienced before, even with contacts in my eyes.
It was like going from watching an old TV show in black and white with static and bad reception to seeing the newest science fiction movie in the crispest HD available.
At my follow up appointment a few days later, we did a vision eye test and the doctor said my new vision was 20/15.
Better than perfect.
From 20/600 to 20/15 like magic.
I experienced no side effects, no eye dryness, or no other major issues. Sometimes, if I wake up when it’s still dark outside and drive in that early morning darkness, I do see some tracers coming off the street lights. That’s the extent of any negative effects and it’s not even noticeable any more.
It’s been a new world since then and even five years later I’m still getting used to it. Despite the $4,000 pricetag, by early 2021 I will start saving money since I calculated how long it would take to pass $4,000 in savings on contact lenses.
For anyone who is thinking about Lasik, my recommendation is to do it. When I did my research, I read some horror stories. They are easy to find. Anyone involved in a service business knows that those who had a bad experience are more likely to leave angry reviews than those who had good experiences. For each of those negative reviews, there are thousands of satisfied patients.
I wish I did it a decade earlier. It would have saved me more money and would have given me an improved quality-of-life when I was younger.
Do your research, find a good doctor, and open up a new world for yourself.
Once you are convinced that this is the path you want to take, don’t save for tomorrow what you can do today. This is true with regard to Lasik, as well as anything else you do that makes you better.