It's one thing to go through laser surgery yourself, but when you watch the exact same procedure happen to your son, this time up front and magnified, it makes it all more real and you're thankful it can be done and done successfully.
At eight years old I really don't remember not being able to see the blackboard or struggling with reading my homework, but someone, somewhere along the line figured I needed glasses. The exact same story happened with my youngest son, who needed glasses well before junior high school.
I started hearing about laser surgery about 10 years ago when a couple co-workers had it done, then a friend, and a while later a brother-in-law. Originally it was quite an operation and besides being very painful it was extremely expensive. I never really considered it because my contacts were functioning fine and I just couldn't justify shelling out that kind of money.
But when I moved to Arizona back in 2000 the dry climate raise havoc on my eyes and it was back to the glasses, something I hadn't been used to for over 20 years. Then the dryness started affecting my eyes even in glasses and for the first time I considered laser surgery. It wasn't until I moved to Utah last winter that I started looking around at the various surgery locations and went in for a couple consultations.
My surgery back at the end of May went very well. The actually surgery lasted less that four minutes per eye and my recovery was so uneventful I almost forgot the procedure. That was until last weekend when my youngest son, Derrek, flew down from Montana to have his eyes corrected. This time I was able to watch the operation and was fascinated with the technique.
The waiting room surrounds the glassed-covered operating room. Not only can you see the patients being operated on but their eyes are magnified on a large TV screen and your can watch every detail of the operation. I didn't realize the complexity and the minute tools that are used, all the way from cutting the flap of the eye, applying a suction cup to hold the eyes in place, and then running the laser tool over the face of the cornea to make the corrective repair. With his eyes as large as saucers on the magnified TV set, I watched the doctor carefully repair a lifetime of poor vision. The laser vision procedure is a special, advanced type of correction where a thin flap of the cornea is painlessly lifted. Then, cool pulses of ultraviolet light clearly, precisely, and smoothly sculpt the eye's inner surface. After the laser is applied, which takes only a few seconds, the corneal flap is replaced.
Derrek talked about the colors he saw during the operation, from bright greens to reds to blue and then the split second of total blackness.
I remembered those well and before I knew it they were taping plastic covers over the eyes to protect them. A person wears these plastic covers for a few nights during sleep and within a few days I was seeing as I never had. I had my four-month exam while Derrek was in the office and for the first time in my life I am seeing at 20-20 in one eye and 20-15 in the other.
After spending 20 years with glasses and another 20 years struggling with contacts it is hard to believe the only time I need glasses now is to read. When I put my son on the airplane to fly home Sunday I sure felt grateful for the advance of technology and the opportunity he had to correct his problem at such an early age.
Watching his surgery made the whole process more interesting and meaningful to me.