In December, right before Christmas and the genesis of my travel adventures, I threw away my contacts forever. You may be thinking, oh, she got LASIK, but I did not. I mean, I tried to get LASIK. My friend Travis, who is an eye doctor for Icon LASIK put me through the whole exam to see if I would be a good candidate or not. Turns out, I was the “or not”. You see, I’m extremely near-sighted, and though I know I’m not the worst out there, if you’re not near-sighted or only near-sighted a little, it’s difficult to understand what seeing without lenses is like. For me, it was difficult even to read. Clear for me was about three inches from my face – a distance so close that I could only read with one eye at a time because the focal point for both of my eyes to focus was further out.
So, the more near-sighted you are, the more of your cornea that must be removed to correctly shape the eye to focus correctly at distance. Travis told me that I could get LASIK, but if anything ever changed, I would not have enough cornea left to make corrections. And, because one of the side effects of LASIK is dry eye, I most likely would not be able to wear contacts. I was already struggling with my contacts after my move to the Denver area. So, I would most likely be forced into glasses if anything changed, a place I didn’t want to be.
Instead, Travis recommended I get Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL). The surgery is a lot like the surgery for cataracts where the doctor makes a slit in the side of your eye, removes the natural lens, and implants a new lens. However, for this surgery I kept my natural lens. In ICL surgery, the new lens fits between the iris and the natural lens, which can cause some pressure issues in the eye. So, the other main difference ICL and cataract surgery is that I have tiny holes in my eyes that allow pressure to be released so my eyes don’t explode…or loose sight.
The left eye was first and I experienced no pain, only pressure. I felt a little pain during surgery on my right eye. When the doctor placed the lens in my eye the pressure built up and everything went black with multicolored stars – like when you’re a kid and you close your eyes and push hard on them revealing red, green, and blue stars – or at least we did that as kids. It was a little scary during surgery because I could feel the pain in my forehead from the pressure. They fixed it quickly, and the pain dissipated immediately. The surgery was finished in about 30 minutes, and my friend Anita, took me to the hotel. Things were fuzzy, but I could see. That night and for the next week, I slept with plastic eye covers taped to my face. Little by little, my vision got better.
Click here to see a video of someone else’s surgery. (You may have to disable safety mode in YouTube (scroll to the bottom of the page) because this is a close-up of the surgery – just to warn you.)
I’m now about five months out. I have 20/20 vision. It’s not perfect. I still have a lot of glare related to the lenses in my eyes. Driving at night is sometimes difficult, but for the most part, it’s awesome. I never mess with contacts. I don’t have to take them out, or clean them. I don’t have glasses to take back-up glasses. It’s nice. And when I raft for two weeks on the Zambezi River in Africa, I will be even more thankful that I have no contacts to donate to the hippos.