Laser Eye Surgery Changed My Life

Oren Cohen

I’m not sure if it’s all for good yet.

Photo: Unsplash

It’s good to write again. For the past week, I’ve been in bed, not doing anything productive. Simply lying in bed with my eyes closed and aching. It’s what happens when you do a Trans-PRK Laser Eye Surgery.

During that time, I had ample opportunity to think. Engaging my mind was among the most common actions I took during that week. I realized my life would never be the same again.

The Process Was Pretty Straightforward

I was scheduled to arrive on Sunday at 15:45 to start the process. Coming here with my dad, we started going through the whole process of visiting the different stations—first, the technician, then the optometrist, and then the surgeon doctor.

The whole process, including the surgery, took about 2 hours. They usually say to make sure you have 3.5 hours in case there are delays. I wasn’t planning to go to a party after the surgery, so it didn’t matter anyway, but it was good to get this over with sooner rather than later.

I definitely don’t want to be blind.

The doctor had me sign the papers, and the secretary had me learn how to apply my eye drop meds and then sent me to wait for surgery.

I didn’t have much time to prepare before I was called to the surgery room. I drank some water and sat on a sofa for a few minutes before I heard my name called.

The Surgery Happened Faster Than I Imagined

I was in a daze. I was entering a small room with four people who will zap my eyes. Suddenly, even though the doctor assured me I couldn’t move my eyes during the surgery or that I won’t feel pain, I was picturing all of the different ways in which this surgery could go wrong and leave me blind. I definitely don’t want to be blind.

The doctor assured me everything would be fine, and the nurse gave me two pills — two types of pain killers. Those were in addition to the particular eye drops that will numb the eyes during the surgery.

The nightmare started a few hours before I went to sleep.

The nurse had me lie down on the bed, and I had shoved all of the doubts into the void. I’m here, now, in-the-moment. This is it. I came to do something for me. Was it really for me, though? Was I unhappy with glasses? No, I’m here. It’s time. But was it so bad if I had-

“It’s time. Please look up.” I did so and quieted the inner conversation.

We Came Home In Public Transportation

The surgery lasted for about 10–15 minutes. At least, that’s what my dad said when I came out. He didn’t believe it was over so quickly. I still had the numbing agent and the pain killers, so I didn’t feel much of anything on the way home.

My dad, bless his heart, wanted to order a cab because we didn’t come in the car. It wasn’t his day, and we ended up getting home by public transportation. I buried my head in his shoulder the whole time to stop light from coming into my eyes and thought about how crazy it was to see something touch my eye without feeling it actually touching my eye.

I was tossing and turning the whole night.

I know he felt terrible for not finding a cab to stop for us, but I was impatient to get home and rest. I started to feel the burning itch that would become my friend for the coming days.

The nightmare started a few hours before I went to sleep. Well, before I tried, at least.

I Tried To Sleep

Do you know that feeling when sand or dust gets into your eye, and it’s kind-of burning but only for a few seconds? Well, imagine that but for 24 hours, in both eyes and a larger area.

I got four pain-killer pills. I took two of them at the hospital before the surgery, and the other two were given to me to take before bed. It didn’t help.

I was tossing and turning the whole night. At some point, I took an additional two pain-killers from what we had at home. I probably triggered some toxic combination in my stomach because, at around 4 AM, I had to throw up. I couldn’t contain all of it until I got to the bathroom, and some dropped on the floor.

Even at 4 AM, eyes closed, burning, and me throwing up I knew this pain will pass. It’s temporary.

There, sitting on the floor of my bathroom and throwing up into the toilet like a drunk after a night of partying, I learned the first way this surgery had changed my life.

It’s Better To Suffer Now Than Live With The Risk

Sitting there on the floor, suffering as I did, I blamed myself for doing this surgery and not the Lasik. The main difference between the two is that Lasik surgery creates a flap that is then opened, the operation happens in the eye, and then the flap is closed. Most people have a recovery period of one day or go back to work the next day.

I didn’t want to be there on the bathroom floor, to feel pain in my eyes. I wanted it to end. But if I chose Lasik surgery, I would live with the risk. Anyone who ever gone through the Lasik surgery signs a paper that says they understand the flap does not fully heal. The chance for it opening again is slim but still exists.

I’m free of yet another limitation in my life.

What if one day, when I have kids, my kid will try to poke my eye? It’s not uncommon for children to try stuff like that. What if I want to dive? If the flap never fully heals, then the pressure of water can stir it. We’re talking about a deeper cut than the epithelial layer. The flap includes a lot of nerves. It could be a severe problem if something were to happen to it.

I didn’t want that. I knew I made the right choice. Even at 4 AM, eyes closed, burning, and me throwing up, I knew this pain would pass. It’s temporary.

I kept my eyes whole, and It’s the right decision that will accompany me for the rest of my life.

The Pain Dissipated As Time Passed

The following day, I still couldn’t open my eyes. I already notified beforehand at work that I will not be coming to the office that entire week.

I didn’t announce I’m doing eye surgery on Social Media, and so not many people knew I was lying on my bed and suffering from burning eyes.

I always wanted to be the cool guy with sunglasses.

During those first few days, my parents had administered my drops. It was wonderful to be taken care of for a while instead of caring for myself. Nevertheless, I knew that this was another step toward freedom. I will not need to take care of glasses anytime soon. I might need glasses again in a decade, or so, I don’t know, but still — I’m free of yet another limitation in my life.

Recovering for those few days taught me the second way this surgery changed my life.

The Ban Lifted From Many Things I Dreamed Of Doing

I always wanted to dive and swim freely. You can’t do that with eye contacts. Well, you can, but you’re prone to losing them in the water. Also, staying at the beach with eyeglasses was always accompanied by the risk of rust on the eyeglasses’ metal parts.

I always wanted to be the cool guy with sunglasses. Now I have to wear them for six months every time I go outside in day time. That’s a mandatory benefit of the surgery. I’m ok with that. I’m not sure how I feel about taking steroid eye drops for three months.

Inconsistency hurts the inherent trust that is delicately built between a writer and a reader.

Sometimes my hair suffers from dandruff, and those white flakes fall on my eyeglasses. I will never have to clean those again. I always had to worry about having a napkin in my bag for cleaning the glasses.

Sleeping in airplanes will be somewhat easier without eyeglasses, too.

I’m sure there are still many more activities I will realize I can do now that I don’t wear eyeglasses anymore.

Thinking about the future, I realized the third way this surgery changed my life.

I Need To Rebuild My Brand

My whole thing was being the geek with the eyeglasses. Now I don’t have those anymore. My social media profiles, my blog, anywhere I have a digital presence is somewhere I will need to rebrand myself as the geek without the glasses.

That was also a point I thought of even before the surgery. What happens to my digital life after this surgery? I need to build how people recognize me from zero. I mean, it’s easier when you have an email list, and you go and tell them about it. It’s also more comfortable when you have new people coming along and seeing the new you. They don’t know any better.

Have I always been this guy I saw in the mirror and just couldn’t see it because of the glasses? Oh, the irony.

But what about people who will not know about the surgery? They will get to experience all sorts of content, and my image will not be consistent. Inconsistency hurts the inherent trust that is delicately built between a writer and a reader.

Resting on my bed for those few days, I hoped to rebuild my brand in such a way that will satisfy everyone, even if I left that concern for a healthier day. Thinking about looks and brand led me to the fourth way this surgery changed my life.

I Got To Know The Real Glassless Me

Two days ago, I was able to look in the mirror without having to shut my eyes immediately. I… I’m not sure I know that guy I saw there.

I knew myself better when I had eyeglasses on. This guy, well, he’s different. He could be the same, but he has something harder in his looks. You get a more serious tone, a more sophisticated look.

Does having this surgery made me realize I’m older than I believe?

I can no longer ignore my health issues.

I didn’t know what to think about that guy. He looks different from what I believed I look. So, for now, I just let him be.

Maybe someday I’ll tackle that central question and finally accept that I am him, even if I still don’t know what that means or what he stands for.

Have I always been this guy I saw in the mirror and couldn’t see it because of the glasses? Oh, the irony.

The fifth lesson was one I already knew but was heavily enforced by the surgery.

My Body Needs Help

Looking at the mirror, I got to see how rounded my face is.

When you have glasses on, it’s easy to ignore your actual face’s shape. I looked at the mirror and realized more sharply what I already knew before the surgery. I need to lose weight. I need to exercise more, lose more fat, eat healthier.

Without glasses to cover my face, I could see the way my face became puffy over the years. It’s easy to ignore it when you can’t see it.

I can no longer ignore my health issues.

Dark circles under my eyes are now more prominent without the eyeglasses’ camouflage. I need to sleep more. As a high-tech guy with many side dreams, I often find myself sleeping six hours or less each night. This is bad for my health, I know, but again — it’s easier to ignore when you shrug it off with a coffee and don’t see the consequences. Those long-term ones are what I’m most afraid of.

I can’t keep doing this flawed lifestyle and hope that everything will work nicely.

Anyone will find me more attractive when I take good care of myself.

Realizing my lifestyle needs to change brought me to the sixth way this surgery changed my life.

Eyeglass-Less Dating Is Better, Right?

A few years ago, like many uninformed men, I thought dating worked better for men without eyeglasses. Research confirms that wearing glasses diminishes raw physical attractiveness. So maybe, now that I don’t wear glasses, I will do better on dates? Well, every woman is different. So, no. I can’t assume that by removing my eyeglasses, I will automatically do better.

Instead, I understood something more powerful. Anyone will find me more attractive when I take good care of myself. A potential date might look at me and think he lacks X — whatever X might be for that woman — that might not be the right match for me.

And so, even if I did whatever I could to better myself, there might still be a woman out there who searches for an X that I lack, even if for me she has all the Ys I’m looking for. But when I’m entirely ok in my own skin, that’s fine. Maybe she wasn’t the right match for me anyway.

I regret nothing.

This surgery taught me that it was one step in a journey I must take to feel at home in my own skin — a journey of self-acceptance, self-awareness, and love.

It’s not easy.

People will React And I Will Need To Cope With It

I went through laser eye surgery and recovered as a different person. I came out as someone else. That old me is no more. Now, I only need to figure out how much has changed, and soon, how society will react to the new me. Some people will applaud, some will judge, some will walk away. I accept that.

Above all — in my heart — I regret nothing.

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I'm a geeky content creator. My content will usually be helpful articles for other content creators like me or some fun geeky articles about shows, video games, and literature. Recommend me a new fantasy book! Also, I'm working on my own fantasy story so stay tuned for that, too.

New York City, NY

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