can’t see the forest

…but I can see the trees.

Posted in eye, health, medicine, opthalmology, Personal by Curtis on 12/17/06

On Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to undergo LASIK (laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis) surgery to correct severe myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. The procedure is acutely expensive—but in terms of cost-effectiveness versus a lifetime of contact lenses, glasses, and eye exams, one really can’t lose on the investment.

A special state-of-the-art laser system called the Allegretto was used to perform the operation. This laser is faster and more accurate than many of its predecessors in the field. The surgeon, Dr. Bregman of Eye Health Partners in Nashville, was kind enough to put on some classic jazz piano for ambience and the procedure took about fifteen minutes total from start to finish.

There was no pain involved, and the only discomfort so far has been a little dryness and scratchiness which is fading with each new day. By the time I woke up on Saturday morning, my vision—which had required some of the strongest contact lens prescriptions available—had reached 20/20 clarity and is expected to improve even further as the healing process continues.

The cornea is the micro-thin layer of clear, avascular tissue which covers the pupil and the lens of the eye. It is round and convex in shape, but irregularities in this shape can cause astigmatism, a condition in which the eye has different refractive powers and focal points in different planes of sight. This can cause straight lines to appear slanted, particularly in detail.

Myopia is caused by an eye that is axially too long for its own focal power, so that a myopic individual can only see clearly those objects which are relatively close to the eye because light from faraway tends to focus forward of the retina instead of directly on its surface. Sometimes a cornea which is excessively convex can be the chief culprit behind nearsightedness; at other times the shape of the eye as a whole is more of a factor.

In LASIK surgery, the surgeon creates a hinged flap out of the top of the cornea. This flap is peeled back and a low-temperature excimer laser is used to reshape the interior of the cornea in such a way as to compensate as completely as possible for all refractive errors. In a best-case scenario, even a very nearsighted person such as myself can be endowed with optically perfect vision. The corneal flap is then replaced and the reshaped cornea heals over the course of the subsequent days, with the patient’s vision improving and stabilizing as the healing is completed.

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3 Responses

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  1. zilla said, on 12/18/06 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve been wanting Lasik for years and finally read up on it a year or so ago. I can’t wear contacts for more than a few hours — I assume this is due to dry eye syndrome. My reading about Lasik indicates that it isn’t for those with dry eye syndrome. I’m so sure that it’s dry eyes that causes trouble with contacts that I haven’t even bothered with a consultation.

    Punctal plugs? Too creepy!

    I ENVY YOU!!!! But I envy you in that way that means I am Oh So Happy for you. I mean, no glasses or contacts to bother with — HEAVEN!

  2. Curtis said, on 12/20/06 at 1:14 am

    Thanks, Zilla. I, too, have always had dry eyes and I asked a lot of questions during consultation. Just like you, I could never wear my contacts for more than a few hours without going nuts. Now, almost a week out from surgery, I can honestly say that my eyes really aren’t any more or less dry than before. So, I just keep using the artificial tears like always. I’d heartily recommend a consultation. You might have to use drops a few times a day, but the upshot is you could earn decades away from corrective lenses of all sorts.

    Thanks very much for your sentiments! :-)

  3. Allan Mills said, on 1/18/07 at 1:42 am

    Google is the best search engine


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