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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.
Each laser pulse can remove 39 millionths of an inch of tissue in 12 billionths of a second.