I’ve worn contact lenses for almost 20 years. So, not too long ago, on a day when they were particularly irritating, I decided to get rid of them. Just imagine a piece of dry gummy plastic sliding up into your tearing blinking eyeball and you’ll get the idea. It wasn’t the first time, but this time it was the straw that broke the camels back. Say hello to laser surgery.
The procedure I opted for was Wavefront PRK. The wavefront concept is simply some measurement which checks the path of light as it goes through your eye combined with a contour map of the surface. Armed with this, they fire up the laser and do some sculpting. Use the force Luke!
Anyway, this involves having your eyelids held open, having the surface layer of epithelial cells on your eye removed, then having to look at a little light while a laser carves away at your cornea. Your eye is frozen while this is going on, so it isn’t really that bad, but it is quite annoying for several days while your eye is healing.
The alternative precedure, which I was not interested in, involves slicing a flap on your eye, lifting it, then performing laser surgery. Although healing may be a bit quicker and less irritating, I didn’t like the thought that there is a slight but permanent chance of blindness if for some reason you suffer physical injury and that flap is torn off. Anyhow, given how I like to express my point of view, there is still the chance I’ll get punched in the face one of these days, so, no chance of going this route.
The post-op process is interesting. You end up in the waiting room with other miserable victims, all wearing “happy glasses”. These are the dorky looking shades which completely cover your eyes. You aren’t allowed to shower for several days and you are given drugs to help you get through the pain. Those who’ve had bad contact lens days probably won’t find these three days all that bad.
You wouldn’t believe how intense normal things are after this. Just try looking at a computer screen! It’s so bright, your eyes water, you can’t see clearly, it’s just plain painful. You have to get a whole boatload of drops into your eyes, but it’s tough prying them open to do it. It seems the eyes have developed a sense of distrust for some reason, go figure.
On the third day you get your bandage lenses out. These are contacts worn on the eyes to cover them while the epithelial layer grows back. They give you a quick vision test, and tell you that you can now resume normal activities, which thankfully includes showers.
Everyone is different, so healing speeds and visual improvements move along at different speeds. I’m still worrying about my eyes. Though I can now see much better with uncorrected vision than I could before, I’m certainly nowhere near able to see as well as I could before when I wore lenses. So, I put in my drops, look for changes, and hope I keep seeing improvements. Not so fun.