When it comes to medical issues, I have a pretty strong stomach. Things like blood, stitches and missing teeth don’t bother me. But when it comes to the eyes, I’m a nervous wreck. Even something as benign as getting an eyelash out of my eye makes me so nauseous I could puke on the spot.
So imagine my critical state when one day I noticed a cloudy looking mark on my iris. I immediately performed my own amateur self-exam that included eye drops, a tissue and a flashlight. After several dry heaves and determining it definitely wasn’t something I could fix myself, I called my eye doctor.
Normally I’m not a hypochondriac, but I couldn’t stop fearing the worst. Was this a cataract? Was I going blind? Was I turning into David Bowie?
After thanking the Universe for my health insurance coverage, I dug out my card and checked to see if eye transplants were covered under my plan. Then I booked the next available appointment and sped over to my eye doctor pronto, while I could still see well enough to drive.
After a thorough exam, the first one in six years (oops), the doctor explained that this cloudy spot was created by shedding skin cells migrating underneath my cornea. I know. Gross. He assured me it was harmless and most likely wouldn’t get larger. Ultimately, this meant I could keep both of my eyeballs AND my sight. What a relief!
The doctor then explained that sometimes patients who’ve had the Lasik procedure twice were more likely to have this side effect. He told me not to worry about it. The affected area is small and not near my pupil. So for the cost of one copayment, I was blessed with peace of mind.
I had Lasik many years ago. Hard to believe based on my squeamishness, right? But vanity and the chance for perfect vision trumped any wiggly uneasiness and paranoia I had with the eyes. After all those Christmases as a four-eyed kid asking Santa for perfect vision, he finally came through for me. This was a chance to toss my ugly specs for good! I had to take it.
I may seem melodramatic, but there’s a reason. I got glasses when I was in kindergarten. To me, the alphabet Miss Higgins wrote on the blackboard resembled indecipherable scribbles that my little sister drew. Suffice it to say, I never knew the luxury of waking up and walking to the bathroom without stubbing a toe or bumping a body part in some unseen doorway. As I grew, so did my prescription. I soon sported a cartoonish pair of coke-bottle eyeglasses that completed my dorky ensemble, thereby cementing my place in the junior high Hall of Perpetual Geeks.
When I was finally allowed to get contact lenses I was thrilled. No longer could boys tease me about using my brown tortoise shell octagons to fry bugs on the sidewalk. My nose dent finally filled out and I participated in gym class without tripping over the bases, passing the ball to the opposite team, or having my glasses fly off my face in a hellish game of dodgeball.
Contacts were a great boost to my self-esteem. I popped them in and out with very little nausea. And after some practice I had achieved an iron stomach. At first, they felt like sand in my eyes. I was afraid they’d fall out, so I squinted a lot. But I got over that quickly and was beyond grateful that I didn’t have to look like Marcy from the Peanuts for the Junior Prom.
But there were still drawbacks. My vision was so bad I could barely find my contacts to put them in each morning. And my constant fear of losing one, rendering me as helpless as a newborn puppy, raised my anxiety to ridiculous levels. So after the third broken toe on my morning trip to the bathroom, it was time. I finally turned to Lasik.
I was told I was a good candidate. The only caveat was that since my vision was so weak, I had to go through the procedure twice. Not a really big deal from a medical standpoint. I just had to get over my deep-rooted squeamishness and suck it up. So I did. (Thank you Valium).
This is where the cloudy spot on my eye comes in. Without getting too gross, the corneal flap didn’t completely adhere back to my eye in one small area. After more than ten years, some skin cells worked their way under that tiny ridge and created the small patch of discoloration. Kind of like sweeping dirt under the edge of a rug.
So, if I knew then what I know now, would I still have done Lasik knowing I’d forever have a cloudy looking spot on my iris? Absolutely. Life is too short to dwell on regrets. Particularly one that doesn’t have dire consequences. Lasik improved my quality of life and I choose to think of that little cloud in my eye like a Badge of Honor.
I hope I didn’t scare anyone away from having laser eye surgery. It’s relatively a very safe procedure. I did my research and went to a top, reputable doctor. Even though my cloudy patch experience isn’t common, there are no absolutes. And that’s true with many things.
Life is full of potential unpleasant consequences. Even something as minor as opening a bag of chips can have you frantically searching for the box of Band-Aids after one careless and inappropriate use of dull crafting scissors. You just never know.
Every choice we make sets a chain of events in motion and we have to deal with them as they unfold. Some are good, some are bad and some are indifferent. I hope for all of you that 99% of them are good. As for that remaining 1%, everyone could use a little bit of a challenge, don’t you think?
So tell me. Knowing what you know now, what would you do again even though it didn’t turn out the way you had expected?