Sunday, August 08, 2004

Contemplating Lasik surgery...

Philip and I were flipping through channels last night after we watched the movie, and Gattaca was on. And...it just so happened to be the moment when Ethan Hawke swipes the contact lenses out of his eyes so as to hide the evidence that he is an invalid and the movie shows what his vision looks like as he attempts to cross the road with Uma Thurman, pretending like his vision is that of a valid and perfect. I made a comment to Philip along the lines of that my vision is just like that without my contacts, because it is. And he mentioned me looking into having Lasik done on my eyes for about the millionth time. My husband just got glasses about two years ago, and he just can't comprehend what life is like waking up and not being able to see, or dealing with the reality of not being able to drive a car without contacts or glasses.

I, on the other hand, have had corrective lenses since I was eleven years old. That's eighteen years! I started with glasses when I was in fifth grade and, thanks to the generosity of my parents and my uncle, upgraded to soft lenses when I was twelve. At the age of fourteen, my eye doctor said that the shape of my cornea was shifting too rapidly to continue wearing soft lenses and that if I wanted to continue to wear contacts, I would have to switch to gas permeable lenses, or hard lenses, and that's what I have worn since then. My vision is extremely bad, a trait that I inherited from my father (thanks, Dad! *wink) but I think even my eyes have surpassed his. I have trouble walking around without my contacts, I can't watch television, drive or read without them, and they are as much a part of me as say, my teeth. My eye doctor had told me a few years ago that she would not recommend lasik surgery to me because of the fact that I am not only nearsighted but now also farsighted. I started out being nearsighted only (I couldn't see the blackboard when I was eleven), but now my eyes can't see things close-up either. She also said that she would not recommend it to anyone that has such healthy eyes as I do...and I do, other than the fact that I can't see.

But this is also the person to whom I buy a new pair of $300 contacts and a new pair of glasses from every year, so what interest would she have in recommending that I have a procedure done that would limit her ability to make her BMW payments?

I don't know. I'm contemplating calling next week and making an appointment for a free consultation with one of the surgeons here in Dallas during the week I'm on vacation. On one hand, I hate to go and get my hopes up, only for them to be dashed and me to be told that no, it's not possible, and I'll live in contacts for the rest of my life, a reality I already accepted long ago. On the other hand, I hate to not go and miss out on what could be a great opportunity. Lasik is so affordable now. But I also don't want to have it done and then be resigned to wearing reading glasses for life either. Right now, with contacts, I have 20/20 vision.

Any thoughts out there, please share! I just thought I'd share what I'm contemplating...

7 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

I can highly recommend Dr. Bowman (just north of Greenville and Park). He did my eyes May 7. I have been wearing corrective lenses since age 7, and either hard or rigid gas perm lenses since I was 10 or 11-- that's a total of 27 years, or 23-24 in contacts. Like you, if I didn't know who was sitting 3' away, without correction, I wouldn't be able to see them well enough to tell you. Literally. Now, I see perfectly in my right eye, and the left is not quite as good, but my vision with both eyes is 20/15. I am supposed to go back next April, and he will make a final decision on the left eye at that point (regarding whether or not to tweak). The procedure was very quick, easy, and painless. The worst part about it for me was having my eyelids taped open (only for a few minutes). I had no problems following surgery... I wouldn't say that I had discomfort, but more of a tickly/annoying sensation for a couple of days. I could see well enough to read that evening, and drove to my post op appointment the next a.m. I had a slight haloing effect around lights, especially at night, and they also tended to have a yellowish cast (especially headlights during the day). I would say the nighttime haloing lasted about 1-2 weeks, and now it is probably less than what I experienced with contacts, plus I don't notice the yellowishness during the day anymore. I have a patient who is a retina surgeon who had Lasik done by Dr. Bowman, which is why I chose him (even tho insurance covered somebody else).

Also, my optometrist (not Dr. Bowman) was negative about Lasik. He told me that people with as much correction as I needed didn't have the "crispness" they had with contacts, and were disappointed as a result. I don't notice that. But, he does have a new building to pay for, as his fees at my last visit indicated.

I would at least get the consultation (free). Here's the catch: in order for them to get accurate pre-surgery measurements (so they know how much of what to do), you have to go without your contacts for at least a month. They did have me go in prior to going without lenses, since my vision with my glasses is so bad I was uncomfortable driving, just to make sure there wasn't anything obvious to rule Lasik out for me before I suffered for a month.

Also, you can finance 50% of the cost interest-free for one year, IIRC.

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It doesn't hurt anything to look into it. I don't know anyone who has done it, so I can't offer any advice. Let us know what you find out!

Lisa

11:55 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

While your're checking, look into the lasik program at Zale-Lypshy University Hospital. Yes, they are much more expensive than the folks who advertise on the radio, but it's important to remember that it's your eyes you're going to have burned with a laser. In my opinion, who better to work on your than a professor of Opthalmology? Even if you don't go with them in the end, their free lecture is very enlightening, and not a sales pitch. My eyes are about as weird as possible, it took two sessions on both eyes to get them perfect, but perfect they are.

http://www2.utsouthwestern.edu/lasercenter/index.html

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's definitely worth looking in to. And if you have it done, maybe you can talk to Dana about it. She doesn't like the idea for herself at all! ;)

I had mine done about 2 years ago now and I've been very happy. I went to Cornea Associates of Texas (www.corneatexas.com). When another well-known, well-advertised Lasik surgeon here in Dallas has problems, Cornea Associates is where he sends his patients to get mistakes fixed.

I had really bad astigmatism in both eyes. A few months after the initial surgery, I ended up having tweaks done to both eyes (which was included in the basic cost). Since then, my vision has been great. I can as well as I did with contacts, and I can actually see better than I could with glasses (since glass always produced reflective glare.)

As for discomfort, I was aparently in the minority in that it was very uncomfortable. The actual surgery was no trouble at all. But about 30 mins later, my eyes started to feel like I had an inside-out, dried out contact, with an eyelash stuck under it in my eye. However, keeping my eyes closed and napping for 2 hours right after surgery took care of that problem. And even that amount of discomfort was worth it. I'd do it again for the end results.

Again, it's worth checking out Lasik as an option. Good luck!

--Scott

10:53 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Cornea Asso. of NTX is who Dr. Bowman is with. And, the fee was definitely more than those you hear advertised on the radio (but well worth it, which is why I didn't go to the people my insurance offers coverage with).

4:56 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

Thank you all so much for the feedback. I will definitely look into Cornea Associates and I'll let you know what I find out! Thanks so much!

11:00 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Just saw this. My officemate's fiancee got it done a month or two ago, and she LOVES it. I think she was legally blind before, she couldn't even see to go to the bathroom first thing in the morning without her glasses. Now she's 20/25 in both eyes, I think, maybe even better, I can't remember offhand. Definately worth looking into, but not for me! I couldn't even do contacts :p

4:12 PM  

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