Temporary Blindness

My eyes, age 43.

Yesterday, I had my annual trip to the eye doctor for a check-up.  I learned two new things… one, my vision is still unique… and two, I am getting old.

So a little backstory first… I had lasik surgery in the 90’s before anyone knew what lasik surgery was.

I was born with bad eyes. I was in coke-bottle glasses before I could even write my name in elementary school. I was in hard contacts by 4th grade, not for vanity, but with the intent to stop my eyeballs from morphing into an even more serious astigmatism. I lost contacts on a regular basis and could often be found with my hands grasping on the ground searching for a lost contact or on the ramp of a giant cruise ship crawling around crying.  The thought makes me uneasy and sad.

How bad were my eyes?

Bad. On the verge of blindness.

I could see (maybe) one or two inches in front of me. INCHES.

My regular eye doctor reminded me yesterday that he has yet to have a patient with worse eyes in his practice.

The Opthamology God that gave me 20/40 vision in 1997 is my hero. He saw my case and literally salivated at the thought of correcting my vision using his just patented FDA-approved laser. I salivated at the fact that I no longer wanted to be a slave to my contacts. I mean, when you carry back-ups to the back-ups to the back-ups and live in constant fear of losing a contact life becomes very isolating.

Before lasik became commonplace like teeth whitening there was this crazy head-on collision of radical laser eye surgery and brave people like me that had nothing to lose. I was the test rat. I paid an obscene amount of money and it was the best money I have ever spent in my life, hands down. EVER.

One month after my vision was restored I did something I NEVER attempted in my life. I swam underwater in the ocean. It was exhilarating.  I was finally free from the anchor of bad vision.

How has my vision been since? Pretty awesome for the last 14 years. I have some issues driving at night with the halos from car headlights (a side effect of the “old” lasik method). I have minor issues with reading restaurant menus in dim lights. But guess what? I have a cool pair of glasses with insanely thin lenses to help me out. When I put them on, I feel smart, not self-conscious.

But now, age is creeping up. I haven’t been able to read labels with tiny print and working in the computer business hasn’t helped for sure. It looks like someday I’ll be needing reading glasses too. Like real soon.

Like today.

And, upon dilation of my eyes, the eye doctor observed that my retina is still thin (always will be) and continues to remain under constant surveillance. I’m like a old car with a new paint job. My eyes look great on the outside but the inside is still really ugly. Throw in the fact that glaucoma and macular degeneration runs in my family, and well… I have a potpourri of things to look forward to.

But nothing beats the fact that I can see.   Because for 29 years of my life, I could not.

And today, 14 years ago I walked out of a surgery center with a new lease on life.

Reading glasses? Seriously, I can handle that.

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