The Story of Lazer Vizion
I originally wrote this back on January 21, 2006 for The New Gamer. I’ve stuck it here for posterity, with some minor editing.
I got my first pair of glasses when I was in second grade. When I put them it on changed everything. I can remember the first time I saw a tree from far away and being surprised at the detail – I could see individual leaves.
My eyes continued to get worse as I got older and I would get more and more powerful glasses to compensate. My optometrist enjoyed calling it “BIG E” vision because I was unable to make out even the largest E on the eye chart. I was pretty near sided — 20/400.
Note the “was” – I am glassesless thanks to Lasik Eye Surgery. Woo.
The had me take a tiny amount of Valium… just enough to keep you from going nuts during the procedure. I was immensely calm the whole day, and while I personally found the entire Lasik process far more interesting than terrifying, I’m sure the Valium helped!
Once I’m at the place I’m taken to a room with this giant device which I’m to stick my eyes up to so that they can be mapped. Basically, the computer takes incredibly detailed pictures of the back of the eye so it can tell the laser what to do to reshape the eye correctly.
Enough boring stuff… it’s surgery time.
There are three people that are there: my optometrist and his two assistants. They drop some stuff in my eye to numb all the nerves and then… you know those scary alien abduction movies?? Where they do all kinds of crazy experiments to some poor human and they use that reverse clamp to hold open the poor guy’s eye? They’ve got that.
One of the assistant’s only job seemed to be adding drops to my now unblinkable eye during the entire surgery.
So now that my eye is stuck open they grab this crazy eye-cutting robot-thing. It suctions firmly onto my eye (and attaches so hard that it breaks a blood vessel in one of my eyes) and uses a camera (or some sort of magic sensor) to track any subtle eye movement your eyes do. A cutting blade then slices a near-complete circle around the cornea of my eye. The sound it makes while doing this reminds me of a tiny electric saw.
They remove the eye-slicebot and my doctor warns me: “When I flip back your cornea your vision will be extremely blurry. Don’t worry, it’s normal.” They have me focus my view straight up at a small red LED and then flip back my cornea.
Holy shit! That tiny bead of light instantly spread to cover my entire range of vision, now as a soft, fuzzy, orange glow. I had bad vision, the BIG E, but this was unbelievable.
And it’s finally time for the Lasers! I really have no idea what’s going on at this point as I’m basically blind, but they start firing a laser into the back of my eyeball, reshaping it based on the map they created earlier. The Laser sounds incredible loud, I assume that anyone waiting in the lobby would be slightly terrified from it.
They flip the cornea back, drop some other stuff in my eye and take five. And then they do it all again.
All in all it was very cool and 100% pain free.
The recovery process, though, is quite annoying. For the first day I just slept. The “surgery” was exhausted my body, I guess, and the Valium was still in my system. And you have to wear these ridiculous eye covers for a week because rubbing your eyes will totally fuck things up.
An example the eye doc liked to tell: One guy was dumb enough to attempts to use his antibacterial eye drops while driving his car. Shit happened and he ended up poking his eye with the tip of the dropper causing his cornea to slide out of place! Worse was that there was nothing they could do to fix it :/
After six months I actually ended up going back for a touch up, since my vision wasn’t quite where I had hoped it would be. The process was nearly identical except for one key step: instead of using the robot to slice my cornea, they just found the old cut…. WITH METAL TWEEZERS! He literally used small tweezers and manhandled the cornea lose.
I’ll admit.. that got to me a bit.
But now my vision is 20/15+2 and I can watch TV in bed!