From a time I first remember in my life, both of my parents have worn glasses. Mom experimented with contacts a couple of times, but I always remember the frames on their faces.
I couldn’t wait to get some of my own. It was like a mile marker on the highway of life and I wanted to be just like my mom and dad.
In third grade I got the chance to be just like them. The optometrist recommended a light prescription not for daily wear, but more or less just to practice for what the rest of my life was going to look like.
I don’t remember ever wearing the gold metal frames often or for great lengths of time. But in fourth grade, I went into public school (home school adventures is for another time, but now you know why I’m socially awkward.) Around mid-year I made my way up to the teacher’s desk with a couple of other kids to take notes because I couldn’t see the board.
Interestingly enough, I don’t think I connected the dots on that one until my parents took me back to the optometrist. My prescription had greatly increased and new glasses were required and would be a permanent fixture upon my face.
I hated those pink speckled frames. Not because of the color, but they hurt my face at first. I had headaches. All of a sudden my dream of being just like my parents was set ablaze. Forever four eyes.
As I got older, I looked forward to the day I could get contacts. For sports, I used a purple band to tie them to my head. They became a necessity because I couldn’t function without them.
In eighth grade, I finally got a prescription for contacts. However, mine were different. With my prescription significantly high and my eyes changing every year, the optometrist prescribed me RGP (rigid, gas-permeable) lenses.
I was excited until I got them in my eyes.
Who in their right mind would tolerate the feeling of rocks in their eyes? Not an eye lash. Boulders. Constant blinking. Eyes watering. I thought it would never end. Two hours the first round, a gradually increasing until I was able to wear them for the day.
Don’t know what RGP contacts are? Back in the stone ages of contacts, these were the lenses that replaced non-gas permeable contacts. The plastic used is hard and unbendable. If placed between two fingers there is a slight give, but too much pressure cracks the lens.
You don’t pinch your eye to get them out. In fact, you’d probably end up with a piece of your eye ball under your nail if you tried that. You literally popped them out by pulling the side of your eye, forcing your eye lids to squeeze them and break the seal between the lens and your eye.
While all of my friends were sporting their soft lenses, I was trying to avoid the nightmare of getting a speck of dust in my eye. If I did, it was straight to the bathroom to rinse out the contact and wash off the rest of the make-up that didn’t smear off from the tears running down my face on my sprint to the sink. This was an almost every day occurrence.
In the time I wore them, I only met two other people around my age whose every day was the same.
For 15 years I suffered through RGPs in an effort to avoid glasses. Somewhere in there was a small glimmer of hope for the future.
We visited a family member who had a new eye surgery to correct their vision. It was new and very expensive, but maybe, just maybe I could emerge with good eyes.
Another pit stop was an experiment with soft lenses. That didn’t work at all. I liked the fact they didn’t feel like sand paper on a windy day, but I was squinting to see. The optometrist told me there was nothing they could do, so back to the RGPs I went.
Several years and eye doctors later, an optometrist prescribed me the night and day lenses. My vision wasn’t completely clear with them and I was told it would never be, but I was angry with the RGP lenses and needed a change.
I could sleep in these new lenses. I would take them out once-a-week, sleep and most of the time pop them back in the next day. Glasses weren’t an everyday thing. It was a drastic change, the closest thing to perfect vision, but so far from it. Prescription: OD -6.5 and OS -7.5.
Thank goodness thick plastic black frames were fashionable because that’s all I could wear. My prescription wouldn’t fit in a cute thin metal frame.
My horrible vision was part of my daily routine. Out of bed, glasses on, holding a shampoo bottle four inches from my face in the shower to read the ingredients, poke my eye with a contact, eye drops, solution, new contact cases, dirty glasses, dirt on my contact. All for over 20 years.
Then this past April I got brave. I guess I had an extra cup of coffee that morning. I asked about lasik. My optometrist thought I was a candidate and referred me out to a surgeon. I spent the next week researching the surgeon, making myself cringe by reading about what the surgery consists of (don’t worry, I won’t go into much detail) and learning about possible outcomes, worst and best cases.
My tight-wadness was relieved since my insurance assisted with the bill.
I was told to not expect 20/20. I mean, I didn’t see 20/20 with my soft lenses so I figured I’d still be good with that. Glasses for two weeks and then we’d get a more accurate assessment.
The surgeon took an extra look at my file to confirm he was comfortable with my surgery and the outcome because of my extra large prescription.
My husband will tell you I was a spaz the day of and few days before, which is far from the truth. I was a complete mess.
They were taking measurements the morning of my surgery, trying to get the exact map for the best possible outcome. Then I was taken back, placed in a massage chair, given a dissolvable anxiety pill and told to relax. Fat chance.
The surgical room was cold. I crawled onto the small table blind. Eye lid holder, drops and gel drops. I was under the laser for approximately one minute each eye. To give you a frame of reference, most people are under the laser a few seconds to 30 seconds per eye. I wouldn’t describe the experience as painful, mainly uncomfortable. If you’re very interested in the details, contact me. I’m all for sharing, but some people get squeamish.
I was probably in the procedure room for 10-15 minutes max. I felt like I was underwater coming out of the room. Imagine yourself submerged in a bottle of clear aloe vera gel opening your eyes or as the baby in the new 3D sonograms.
Then it was home to sleep for at least four hours. I wasn’t sure that was going to be possible, but I felt I would rather have my eyes closed with the underwater feeling than have them open, which helped immensely.
I ate one or two bites of my dinner. I couldn’t see it clearly, so I didn’t feel like eating. My husband even pried my eyes open to make sure I got my eye drops in. What a trooper considering he refuses to use eye drops or touch his own eye.
Hot tears welled into my clear plastic sleep mask that evening. Again, not painful, just strange.
I awoke the next morning able to see. It was unbelievable. My depth perception was slightly off, but it was like a new day.
A month later, it is still weird to wake up outside of my vision routine for the majority of my life. I find myself sliding my finger around imaginary glasses to scratch an itch on my inner nose. On occasion I reach for my glasses when I wake up. Most of the time my brain alerts me that I haven’t taken out my contacts in awhile.
A couple more follow-up appointments are left, but I’m completely satisfied despite the consistent use of eye drops and sunglasses right now. The bright side is I no longer have to wear the goggles to sleep.