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I Got My Eyes Fixed Up


My first memory of needing glasses was first grade when my teacher told me to stop making faces in class. I was just squinting to see the board, though, and once she understood what was going on, she told my parents and we got my vision tested. The results: pretty bad! It only got worse over the years, too. By the time I hit 30, on that chart where the letters get smaller line by line, not only could I not read the top row, I couldn't tell there were letters there.

So after about 25 years of needing glasses or contacts and generally being helpless without them, I decided that it was time for LASIK. Then at my consultation, the eye doctor ruled out LASIK because the amount that they would need to cut to get my lenses in the right shape would be "destabilizing." But! There are other options these days. The most expensive one is called Clear Lens Exchange, which is mostly for cataracts, and what they do for that is remove your natural lens and hot-swap it for an artificial one that's the right shape for your eye. The other option is called Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL), which is essentially a permanent contact lens that they put between your iris and natural lens. Joe Jonas got ICL, apparently, and if it's good enough for Joe Jonas, it's good enough for me! (I'm not familiar with his music, is it good?)

After all the appointments for the different scans, tests, and measurements, I had about a month to wait before the surgery, which felt like a long time when I scheduled it but flew by way faster than I expected. A few days before surgery, I got a call and a text, both explaining where to go and when to get there and instructions for what to do to prepare (eye drops, no food after midnight, don't get me wet, etc.). For obvious reasons, I needed a driver, and I needed to get there at 5:45 AM, but lucky for me, my parents have weird work schedules where they're awake that early anyway, so my mom was happy to volunteer. It helped that it meant she could see my cats.

Side note: my surgery was on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which feels appropriate. It does mean that I missed the launch of Trivia11y, which I put together with a bunch of other people at work. If you want to test your web accessibility knowledge, go check it out!

The Surgery

When we got there, I checked in, we waited for a few minutes, and then when I got called back, everything happened super fast. There was a quick questionnaire to make sure I didn't have any allergies or medications that would be a problem, and then I walked into the next room and was swarmed by like 4 different people all getting me set up. Blood pressure cuff here, IV drip there, the anesthesiologist giving me a pill to get me relaxed (you're awake for it), more medical history questions, and someone giving me eye-numbing drops and lots of dilation drops.

After that flurry of activity, they left me alone to let my eyes dilate for a while. Then they wheeled me into the operating room and got to work. This part is fuzzy in my memory and that's probably for the best. I just remember being told to look at some abstract shape, which I'm unclear whether that was a machine above me or just a thing that happens when your eyes are operated on, but it felt very 2001: A Space Odyssey. It went very fast, though, like 3-4 minutes per eye and then the next thing I knew I was being loaded into a wheelchair and dropped off at the front door with some cool sunglasses and eye guards taped to my face.

My protective gear, including big chunky sunglasses and eye guards taped onto my face.


My mom and I left for a bit to get coffee and donuts, then killed time in the dark lobby for a few hours before my post-op follow-up, where they checked everything out and gave me the all-clear, plus instructions for what to do for the next week or so. Even with the swelling and dilation, my vision was already 20/30, and on the ride back to my parent's house, it seemed like if I didn't need to read street signs, I probably could drive (I didn't, though, I'm a rule follower to my core).

It's remarkable how fast eyes heal. Right after surgery, I had some pinprick sensations, but those changed into minor discomfort pretty quick. At most, it felt like I had a speck of dust in my eye, and even that wore off by the afternoon. Looking in a mirror, I can't see signs that anything happened to my eyes at all. They're not bloodshot, there are no scars, and I can't see anything that would give away the new parts, it's incredible!

It took a surprisingly long time for the dilation to wear off, presumably because they used so many drops before surgery, and that was the last big thing keeping my vision from being 20/20. It's still a little bit wonky as I write this since it takes some time for your eyes to adjust to having this new thing in the mix, but my surgeon said that it'll keep getting better every day. Everything's mostly normal now, but I'll get the occasional lens flare like I'm in a J.J. Abrams movie. I'm out of the danger zone now, though, so anything that could have gone wrong probably would have by now.

The verdict for ICL: 5 stars, would recommend. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go clean my shower.