The Gift of Sight

This year, my wife suggested that we bypass the usual bourgeois gifts for our birthdays and Christmas and rather undergo LASIK corrective surgery. Neither of us wants for anything, and at times it feels like every day is Christmas, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find gifts of value for each other.

Now, neither of us had poor eyesight to begin with - in relation we both had very good vision compared to many. However, over the recent years our sight is getting worse and we have been finding ourselves wearing eyeglasses more and more. For myself, I got to the point where, as an avid bowler (three or four league series per week) I wore my glasses for every session, as the 'boards' (individual strips making up the lanes) used for targeting and adjusting were just not clear enough to be as accurate as required. Also, as an avid angler I had to use prescription glasses to see the shadows that revealed bass in hiding, and watching offshore for kelps and breaking fish just became a futile exercise in recent years. It was difficult to identify friends' boats from across the lake. I rarely wore glasses for any other activities as they just weren't necessary. As an IT professional, I had no problem seeing my computer screens every day. I had no difficulty to speak of when driving, even at night. Reading small print was becoming more difficult, but that is expected as we age.

From the time I was a small child, I was always told my right eye was my "lazy eye", and it was never as clear as the other although I always passed eye tests easily. My eyesight was so good that, as a bouncer at Goodies in my twenties, my nickname was "hawkeye" as I was able to spot red hand stamps from one end of the club to the other, often refracted in the wall mirrors, and had the house record for number of ejections in one night. I was able to spot a 1-square-yard floating kelp from over a mile away, which on more than one occasion helped rescue a slow tuna trip.

In recent years, especially the last two or three, I find my eyesight has degraded in a slight but noticeable manner. Most notably, I find at work I can't recognize a person standing at the other end of the hallway. While these are long hallways, it's never been an issue previously and is a frequent reminder that things aren't as they once were.

We did some research on the generalities, then made inquiries with friends who have already had LASIK. They were all very satisfied with the results, so we decided to pursue it further. We did online research and identified the top three providers, and initiated contact with them. One was very responsive and prompt, so we scheduled a concurrent consultation within a few days.

We were both taken through the consultation together, evaluated, and after discussing the options and pricing we agreed to commit to all-laser LASIK. Our surgery was scheduled two days after our consultation. Based on our evaluations, it was determined to perform surgery on both of Mona's eyes and my right eye only.

The technology is amazing - being a "techie" myself, I was fascinated with the devices and was fortunate to be able to observe some of the testing and imaging devices in action on my wife. LASIK has progressed so far in recent years that it is extremely automated and nearly routine for most.

Once the surgery was completed, an extremely short process only actually taking minutes (although the prep and pre-surgical paperwork takes several hours), a friend picked us up and drove us home to rest. I plugged entries into my laptop's calendar schedule so that reminders popped up every hour for our various eye drops, and we sat in the darkened family room relaxing and listening to Christmas music. I had no pain or discomfort.

Later that evening I started to evaluate the sight of my right eye, through the clear protective eye cup they taped over it, and could immediately tell that my vision was markedly improved. I could hardly believe how clear things appeared this soon after the surgery. We had our first follow-up appointment scheduled the following day, and it was clear that morning that the surgery was a huge success and that my vision in my right eye was incredibly clear. Testing with their Optometrist validated that my right eye vision now surpassed that of my left eye.

It is now the second day after the surgery, and I can't put to words how thankful I am to have the good fortune to be able to do this. But more than that, I'm so thankful for the wonderful woman I call my wife, who decided to give me the gift of sight this Christmas! I love you Mona.

Roger Nelson