Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
Ever had an entire lift line on its knees looking for your missing contact lens? Then had to re-insert that same dried, crispy lens in 25 mph freezing wind? How about trying to ski an icy chute while your glasses vibrate like a tuning fork on the end of your nose?Been there. With a prescription of -8.00 (translation: hold up three fingers and I can’t even see your arm), I finally decided to get my eyes fixed through Lasik, the latest in laser-refractive eye surgery. On the recommendation of friends, I went to see Dr. Thomas Clinch, a Lasik wizard now at the University Opthomic Consultants in Washington, D.C.
It lasted 10 scary, uncomfortable minutes: My eyes were clamped open, there was a vague smell of burning flesh, and I was forced to stare at a little red light while the doctor sliced my cornea and zapped away microscopic bits of tissue. For about a day afterward, it felt like someone had thrown sand in my eyes. Now, though, not only can I see those three fingers, but I have 20/20 vision.
There are downsides, of course. A small percentage of people experience things like night glare and hazy vision. It’s pricey, too — around $5,000 for both eyes. Still, “It’s not a commodity where you should shop around for the best price,” warns Dr. Cary Silverman of Eyecare 20/20 in Parsippany, New Jersey. “You want to look for a surgeon who’s done lots of surgeries, over a thousand.” And though Lasik is all the rage, it’s not yet approved nationwide by the FDA, and its long-term effectiveness is still being studied.
Me, when I’m tired, I don’t seem to see as well, but having a newfound freedom from dry eyes, contacts blowing out, and trying to cram goggles over glasses has made it all worthwhile.