Friday, January 29, 2010

Life after LASIK

I had a lot of reservations about going in to get LASIK, a laser-assisted refractive surgery of the eye to repair vision problems. The foremost fear is the possibility of going blind. On a lesser note, there is the possibility your vision actually gets worse instead of better. It's definitely a possibility, it's not some kind of myth of people going blind, but people need to understand the entire picture of those consequences is mostly from bacterial infections that occur after the surgery rather than the procedure itself causing direct harm. (I am still currently applying anti-infective and anti-inflammatory medicinal eye drops).

The risks
Once you get past the initial possibilities of going blind, the next stage is calculating the cost-benefit analysis for the hefty price tag for the procedure.

The cost of the surgery.
It's not cheap. Although I did get mine at a cheaper cost by doing it in the Philippines, the cost is still pretty substantial. I paid about USD1300 for the treatment, and the price tag in North America is probably more than double that.

The rewards
One could argue that I didn't get my money's worth as much, or that I didn't really need the surgery because my eyes (at the time of the screening) was only +1.00. My eyes weren't that bad, but everything at a distance was blurry enough that I needed to wear glasses. For me, +1.00 or +9.00 makes no difference, you still need to wear glasses to see things clearly. The potential upsides for me is definitely worth the cost.

Freedom. The obvious one is not needing to wear glasses. (I won't go into contacts because I never felt comfortable in using them. I've never tried) No more clunky eyewear to obstruct my view. No more reliance on corrective lenses to be able to see something at a distance. Freedom to see the world as it is. This may sound really ridiculous for people who don't wear corrective eyewear, or people who are far-sighted, but I feel that it's a huge burden. Wearing glasses for reading is a different argument altogether and I'm going to ignore that discussion.

Driving. The only time I really feel like I was compelled to wear glasses was when I was driving. I have a great fear of not seeing signs or judging distance properly. The surgery definitely minimizes that crushing fear.

Sunglasses. I hated not being able to wear sunglasses because I wouldn't be able to see without corrective lenses so I never bothered wearing them. There's clip-ons, but those feel clunky too. Now, I can wear shades! Sweet.

Worrying. My parents always have issues with not being able to find their glasses. I don't lose mine as much, but there is always the burden on your memory to always remember to bring it if you leave it somewhere and also the cost of having to find it when you do realize you've lost them again.

Confidence. I never realized how much I used my glasses as a metaphorical crutch. Playing around with it when I'm nervous and using it as an excuse that I didn't notice something. I found out the past few days that I kept reaching for my glasses even though I don't wear them anymore. I definitely feel a lot more confident about how I look without glasses framing my face. I think the simple fact that I can see everything around me clearly without having to rely on the glasses give me some psychological sense of security. I guess it's the idea of a barrier or reliance that generates a feeling of dependence.


Day 7 after LASIK. I am satisfied with the lifestyle change. I'm still suffering some bouts of Phantom Glasses Syndrome and fighting the urge to reach for glasses that aren't there. From someone I've talked to who have had the procedure, they told me, I quote "best decision ever. should have done it earlier." I'm pretty doubtful I'll have any regrets, but I will have to see if I'm still happy with this in a few weeks.

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