In third grade, I began wearing glasses. When it was determined that I needed them to see better (one eye is 20/200, the other 20/400), my mother drove me to Capitol Optical in Mason City, easily recognizable among the shops on the north end of town by their signage: a huge pair of cat glasses that could be seen two blocks away. My parents were frugal to a fault and I’m sure they made certain I had the most inexpensive (read: ugliest) pair of frames that were available.
Sure, I could now SEE but at an aesthetic price. In high school, I ‘accidentally’ lost my glasses over the side of a bridge so that I could walk the hallways at school (until I could get my replacement pair) and sit in class without those blasted contraptions taking up facial real estate. That I couldn’t tell where I was going or read the chalk board was secondary. It was a stupid stunt but indicative of how much I thought not having to wear glasses would improve my appearance. Whether it was successful or not, I can’t say. I just know that it made me feel that it did, however briefly.
In my latter 20’s, I finally was able to afford contact lenses and the impact was immediate and definitely welcome. I loved not having to wear glasses! Over the years, it’s simply been part of my morning and evening routine to rinse and insert my contacts to greet the new day and to cleanse, disinfect and store them before bedtime.
Now, thirty years later, I have (finally) decided to have Lasik surgery done. Even with the surgery date scheduled for several weeks now, it was not until yesterday that I settled in to an acceptance of which route I would ultimately take. I queried everyone I knew who had already had the procedure done and to a person each of them told me it was one of the best decisions they had ever made. I even posted a question to my Facebook friends and after a comical, albeit frustrating exercise of telling people again and AGAIN that yes, I already knew I would still need reading glasses, I was thankful for their input and inspired by their stories of how glad they all were to have had the surgery.
My hesitation was rooted in one basic concern: the cost of the procedure and the knowledge that some of the people I spoke with had to start wearing glasses again after a period of five to ten years, although none of them expressed regret for having it done. On further examination, I learned that while some folks now wear glasses again, it isn’t all the time and they can, in fact, function well without them. Incremental changes in their vision made it necessary to wear glasses again for longer distances such as while driving. Another consideration is that three of my sisters – all of whom wear glasses again now but as described above – had Lasik done when they were much younger. Over the years, as explained to me by the nurse at the clinic where I’ll have the procedure done, it is likely their eyes have been stabilizing over the years. Since I’m quite a bit older than they were when they had it done, it’s possible that could be a factor in my favor. While there are no guarantees, of course, this information made it easier for me to come to a final decision to go ahead with the surgery.
Yesterday I was in awe of the realization that when I took out my contacts last night before bed, this was the last time I would ever do so. As I prepare for the surgery one week from tomorrow, I must forego wearing contact lenses just as I did prior to the pre-examinations to determine whether I was a candidate for Lasik. The space in my make-up drawer where I keep the cases for both my glasses and contacts will now open up, to make room for additional make-up, no doubt. Never again will I need to rush to the store to get more saline or make my annual pilgrimage to Target Optical to order my next year’s supply of contact lenses.
I am looking forward to many of the benefits (large and small) of unfettered vision: seeing the alarm clock should I wake up during the night, being able to read the shampoo bottle that sits on the shelf in the shower, having clear views of the people and things underwater while swimming and the freedom of going about my business each day or climbing into bed at night without the hassle of dealing with contacts or glasses. Truly, anyone with 20/20 vision who has never had the need for an aid of any kind in order to see, cannot comprehend what these small ‘gifts’ will feel like to someone who’s worn glasses his or her entire life.
People have told me it will be life-changing. I’ve made my decision and I am ready.