How I Went from a Procrastinator to LASIK Advocate
By Arthur Benjamin, M.D.
If you have been putting off having LASIK, believe me, I understand.
You see, I began wearing glasses and contacts for my nearsightedness at age 15, and continued to wear them for years after I became an eye surgeon. During that time, I performed thousands of successful LASIK procedures, yet continued to procrastinate when it came to my own eyes.
Thousands of times, I’d heard cries of excitement as my patients opened their eyes after surgery and discovered they could see everything. Thousands of times, I answered questions about the procedure’s risks—without even taking my glasses off! Your odds of being shot during a bank robbery or being in a plane crash are higher than your chances of being disappointed in the results of your LASIK, I’ve told them. Yet, I continued to procrastinate.
With thousands of surgeries under my belt and a few eye-opening events, I decided just after my 40th birthday to follow my own advice. It was time to see.
Two weeks prior to the procedure, I removed my contacts to allow the cornea to regain its natural shape. I took all the measurements with the same in-office equipment we use to treat patients. Our technicians performed all the necessary testing and measurements under my direct supervision. I asked my friend Jonathan to perform the surgery.
As a doctor, I performed 20 cataract surgeries that morning. As a patient, I arrived at the surgical center and filled out the paperwork for my 6 p.m. procedure, constantly aware of the patients I was scheduled to see the next day.
Jonathan gave me a few words of reassurance, cleansed my eyelashes with iodine solution and took me to the familiar room with the IntraLase™ laser. IntraLase is the ingenious machine that creates the 110-micron LASIK flap without a blade crossing the eye. Jonathan gingerly opened my eyelids and placed a special lens designed to keep the eyes open throughout the procedure. That allows the laser beam to focus at a precise corneal depth while creating a flap.
It took 20 seconds for each flap to be created—no pain, no discomfort, only a light pressure sensation around the eyes. I nearly fell asleep. Everything was blurry when they asked me to get up. That’s the result of microscopic air bubbles that soon disperse. Next, we moved to the room with the WaveLight Allegretto. It utilizes a unique technology that tracks even the most microscopic eye movements without interruption and sends the laser beam to exactly the right place on the corneal surface to correct imperfections.
Once again, the doctor draped my eyelashes and directed me to look at the green flashing light. He lifted the flap and the Eye-Q went on its appointed rounds for 20 seconds—no sensations except light pressure. When I got up, I saw the world with new eyes. As a doctor, I know this stuff. As a patient, I was amazed. I’ve never seen anything like it. The world had become clean and crisp—the way you see it after a summer rain. I noticed streaks of paint on the wall that I’d never noticed before. Not only could I see the minute hand on a clock seven feet away, but I could see the second hand tremble before each move. It felt like I was born again.
It changed my life as a patient and as a doctor. When my post-operative patients began sharing their experiences the very next day, I listened to them full of understanding. From then on, we’ve had the same point of view. And I bless the day and time I chose ophthalmology.