*The following is the full unedited story as written in the magazine.
When I was 8, I was diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness), and had to wear big, thick eyeglasses. My poor eyesight crippled my athletic reputation, my career dreams and my self-esteem. I was no longer one of the first kids picked for a kickball team and being an astronaut wasn’t an option anymore (so I considered being President or a doctor so I could change that dumb rule). But more importantly, I had to see the world through a filter, a temporary and fragile device that was a barrier between normal-see and me.
A little vanity is ok. It motivates us to improve and evolve our technology and culture. When RK (radial keratomy) became available,I contemplated getting it done. My optometrist advised that I wait for my eyes to stabilize in growth and for the procedure to establish itself and stabilize in its growth. During my period of eyeball stabilization, lasers were being tested for ophthalmologic applications. In 1995, the FDA approved the LASIK procedure for the treatments of myopia, hyperopia (farsightedness), and more recently, astigmatism.
Recently, I underwent the LASIK procedure at the Moretsky Cassidy LASIK Vision Correction. For those of you that blocked the Discovery Health channel on your cable and see red when you hear the five-letter “B” word (blood, sorry, couldn’t resist”), stop reading right now.
If you’re still reading this, you’ll be disappointed. LASIK isn’t like that. LASIK is a relatively unobtrusive and swift procedure that makes ear-piercing look complicated and painful. And I know- I’ve had both and only one made me cry. In LASIK, a flap is created across the surface of the cornea. Then, laser pulses are directed at specific points of the cornea. The laser is so fine and powerful- it blasts away at the cellular level. Once the prescribed amount of laser is applied, the flap is painstakingly restored back over the cornea. Except for that part, it all happens practically in the blink of an eye.
In this story, the true genius is nature. The properties of corneal matter allow for the flap’s creation and reattachment, the removal of cells in all the wrong places and the swift recovery. Corneal cells really, really like to bond with each other, so when the tissue is removed and the flap replaced, they naturally reunite in a happy, organic collective. Kind if like the Eagles a few years ago.
After family members, friends and my mail carrier underwent successful LASIK treatment, I decided it was my turn. I was referred to Barnet Delaney Perkins, Swagel Wootton and Schwartz. But, an acquaintance of mine, who declined to go on the record but is a preeminent ophthalmologist, strongly cautioned me against it. He pointed out that if eyeglasses or contact lenses suffice, why voluntarily subject one of your most precious senses to a risky procedure?
LASIK is a lifetime commitment, for better or worse. His implorations impressed me and I had to reconsider if LASIK was for me. During my reassessment, I encountered the Moretsky Cassidy LASIK Vision Correction Center, which says, “Trust the Doctors the Doctors Trust.” Over 60 Valley physicians have or their family member has sought Dr’s. Moretsky and Cassidy for LASIK. Also, the Doctors teach other ophthalmologists on the use of LASIK equipment. Their patient success rate is one of the highest in the Valley, too. What a quandary.
More specifically than just the mundane convenience of not having externally corrected vision, I’ve wanted to learn to scuba dive. With an upcoming trip to Cozumel for a friend’s wedding, I didn’t want to go to one of the premier diving locations in the world and be dependent on prescription goggles. If I had to remove my mask for any reason, I wouldn’t be able to see the shark that was coming to get me. Chomp!
Usually your first visit to a LASIK center is purely educational, at least, it should be. At Moretsky Cassidy, I was guided by the serene and charming Mary Ann Lanting. I was highly anxious still about the procedure and her calm confidence and delicate manner reassured me as we conversed. Mary Ann has several years’ experience in the ophthalmology and LASIK field, and she thoroughly explained the procedure, the risks, and the standards and directives of the Doctors.
The inescapable fact is, LASIK is not a fun, star-bellied-sneetch type of medicine. You must assess its potential detriments as much as its benefits. But, even after soul-searching, LASIK still may not be appropriate. After the counseling session, eyes must be assessed for required minimum operational parameters. After getting myself psyched up for it, my screening revealed two little peculiar facts about me.
The good news was that a topographical rendering of my eyes revealed that I had gorgeous corneas, according to Mary Ann. The bad news was that my corneas were a bit on the thin side and my treatments options were up to Dr. Moretsky. At first, I was crushed as Dr. Moretsky explained that because my eyes dilate so largely (apparently a good thing) and my corneas were shallow, the treatable surface area was limited. So exclusive was the scope that he had only one attempt, just like Luke Skywalker. He had told me that I have other options and I told him to use the force.
Depending on your current type of vision corrective device, LASIK can be performed almost immediately. Three things that will optimize your results are: follow the doctor’s instructions, follow the doctor’s instructions and follow the doctors instructions. No one else cares for your eyes more than you- so treat them well. The doctor will tell you how to prepare for treatment.
On the morning of surgery, I arrived without makeup or perfume, prepared to face the biggest event of my life. First, they administered a Valium. LASIK doesn’t hurt but they touch the eyes and being relaxed is very important. After a series of numbing eye drops (which are applied throughout), the Valium took hold. With a lazy grin, I headed for my turn under the laser.
Once positioned, a microkeratome creates the flap. This was the most uncomfortable part and meditation was effective. Dr. Moretsky coached me with reminders to breathe, stay focused. Repeating the mantra, “breathe, relax, look into the light,” I was able to lie still.
The flap creation and LASIK application take just seconds. The most tedious and crucial aspect is the replacement of the corneal flap, which takes about 15 minutes or more. It’s the best part too. As Dr. Moretsky smoothed down my cornea, lights became clearer and sharper and I saw success.
At the end, they placed funky protective shields over my eyes. Post-op instructions were repeated. The doctor’s orders are vital because from here on out, recovery and the ultimate outcome are up to you. My friend drove me home, where I slept for almost 24 hours. When I arose in the morning, upon removal of my eye shields and the crusty chunks from all of the eye drops administered the day before, I looked at the world with new eyes.
The first thing I did was return to Dr. Moretsky. Another unusual and comforting thing that his practice does, is schedule six checkups at: one day, one week, one month, and at three, six and twelve months. You see the surgeon at every visit. And I’m quite happy to see a lot of Dr. Moretsky- clearly.
Risks are inherent to all medical procedures. Don’t rely on other’s testimonials; everyone’s eyes are as unique as all outcomes. If you are interested in LASIK or other corrective eye treatments, so your research thoroughly. Be wary of any eye technician who tried to zap you at the door. Talk to a screening counselor and visit several centers. Ask about pre- and post-treatment standards, medications used and follow up care.
These websites are helpful:
The American Academy of Ophthalmology
George Reiss, MD
National Eye Institute