Fabulous Adventures In Coding
Eric Lippert is a principal developer on the C# compiler team. Learn more about Eric.
Another quick non-technical post today.
I was reading KC Lemson's blog and she mentioned that she's considering laser in-situ keratomileusis, also known as LASIK. I started to email her my experience, but then realized that I might as well just put it up here, and see if anyone else has experiences they'd like to share.
Best money I ever spent. Seriously.
I was -6.25S/-5.75D, slightly astigmatic, and wore glasses for over twenty years. I briefly tried contacts when I was in high school, but, like KC, could not tolerate them. Actually, it was quite amusing -- well, it wasn't amusing at the time, but it is now. As my optometrist put the lenses in my thought process went like this.
"Wow! I can see perfectly but I'm not wearing any glasses! Cool! I'm going to stand up and walk around a bit. I can see perfectly because there are things in my eyes. Things. In. My. Eyes. THERE ARE THINGS IN MY EYES!"
Then I fainted. My mother, who was in the next room, said that she thought that Dr. Lutzi had dropped a whole armful of textbooks or something, I hit the floor so hard. Fortunately I didn't break anything. That's quite literally "the hard way" to discover that you have a phobia about things touching your eyes. (Apparently it is not uncommon for people -- mostly men -- to faint upon first getting contact lenses.)
I never fainted again -- I toughed it out for about a year but I just could not stand it. I couldn't stand touching my eyes, I hated having to clean them -- had there been cheap disposable lenses back then I might have lasted a little longer, but I'm sure that the sheer displeasure of touching my eyes every day would have driven me nuts. (Aargh!) But wearing glasses was the lesser of two evils, that's for sure. I hated dealing with smudges and scratches and worrying about losing them over the side of the boat and having to buy expensive prescription sunglasses and all that.
Now, as you can imagine, someone who is phobic about things in their eyes is maybe not so keen on the keratomileusis, aka, “slice open your eye” part. For those of you who don't know the procedure, here's how it goes. You are fully conscious throughout the procedure. You have a device inserted under the eye lids to keep them open and they cut a slice out of the top portion of the cornea, but not all the way across -- they make a flap basically. Fold the cornea back, burn the underlying tissue away with an eximer laser until it is the right shape, put the flap back, and do the other eye.
Let me tell you, burning eye tissue does not smell good. And though you cannot feel pain from the blade, you definately know that something is in there.
I'm getting the shakes just thinking about it. It was quite literally the most terrifying ten minutes of my life. But I managed for three reasons. First, I went over and over the literature so that I understood exactly what they were going to do, what the risks were, all that stuff. I mentally rehearsed it, which helped a lot. Second, they gave me a delicious Demerol-Percocet-Valium cocktail that took the edge right off. Third, there was a nurse whose sole job, as far as I could tell, was to hold my hand and tell me everything was going to be juuuust fiiiiine.
I could see better than without my glasses immediately, though about three hours later, my eyes hurt like hell. It was like having sand under a contact lens. Fortunately the local anesthetic helped out there. By the next morning, I was 20/40 and went and got the "needs glasses" taken off my driver's license. By the day after that, my eyes felt like I was wearing week-old contact lenses -- they were dry and irritated, but not painful, and I was 20/20. Within a week my eyes were slightly dry and I was actually 20/15 in my right eye. It is very rare to get better vision with LASIK than with glasses, but it does happen. In the three years since my left eye has become very slightly farsighted -- enough for my optometrist to measure but not enough for me to notice -- and my right eye is 20/20 again.
I love it, this whole "not wearing glasses" thing. It's the little things, like being able to see in the shower, or walking into a warm house and not fogging up, or being able to lose a pair of $8 sunglasses over the side of the boat and still being able to sail home safely. I love having an excuse to use the word "keratomileusis" in conversation.
Now, LASIK is not for everyone. If you're considering it, some advice:
Isn't technology wonderful?
I'm actually the webmaster at http://www.lasik.md - We have a complete guide to laser vision correction, including the results of a survey of surgeons that tells what they really charge. You can check out the PRK and LASIK section to see more about flaps and trauma issues, such as your skydiving question. Also, you can visit the geographic directory of surgeons to request information or a price quote from a nearby surgeon, for example, in Arizona, where I'm from! http://www.lasik.md/states/lasikarizona.htm
Hope this helps!
I am editor of http://www.laser-eye-surgery-review.com , woluld be interested in hearing how you are managing post operatively.If you would like to visit our site and post a review it would be greatly appreciated