I Can See Clearly Now…

The winner of the Apothia giveaway was à¢â‚¬¦ patchamour! Email me your address under Contact Us to the left, and I´ll get them in the mail. Also, Marina will be posting her reviews of my Holy Grail mods on Monday; I will post my Big Reveal of the construction of these scents simultaneously on this blog. I am excited to see what she thinks!

Okay, today´s post is not about smell. So you´ve been warned. It is about a recent big change in one of my other senses: sight. Skip it if you´re not interested, no hard feelings.

I have been nearsighted since middle school. I wore soft contacts for several years in my 20s, but they were never perfect, and after four kids and three climate changes I just gave up and went back (grudgingly) to glasses. Three years ago the Big Cheese had Lasik surgery. His results were excellent. I was evaluated and for various ocular reasons was deemed Not A Candidate, although I don´t think I would have done it anyway.

Then #1 Daughter (let´s call her Jane) developed nearsightedness (a.k.a. myopia), thanks to her genetic endowment. And she, normally the most compliant of kids, refused to wear her glasses. Refused. Except for going to the movies, her glasses stayed in the case.

So this spring I fulfilled a promise and called my ophthalmologist for a referral to an optometrist who would fit younger clients (Jane just turned 12) with soft contacts. We went for her appointment. And then à¢â‚¬¦ we learned something interesting. While Dr. X was perfectly happy to fit her for contacts, he told me about another service he offered: Ortho-K, which is the fancy-pants, copyrighted name for a process whereby the patient is fitted with a progressive series of rigid, gas-permeable lenses, which you sleep in. Put them in at bedtime, take them out in the morning. And over the course of several weeks, if it works, you have 20/20 vision. He told me most of the advances in this process (it used to take months, with a lower success rate) are from Japan, which is in the middle of a myopia epidemic among schoolchildren due to their insane academic load. The bonus for younger patients is that, unlike glasses or soft contact lenses, it tends to arrest the progression of myopia, so you´re not wearing coke-bottle lenses by the time you´re 20.

There are limitations. The best candidates have moderate nearsightedness (20/400 or lower) and little or no astigmatism. Jane was a perfect candidate. I was less perfect but still a possibility. The process (at least with Dr. X) goes like this: you sign up for 90 days, money up front. At any time in that 90 days you can give up and get 75% of your money back. If you´re pleased, you get a final pair of lenses to keep. After 6 months you can experiment with skipping every other night. Many patients only need to wear them two or three times a week to maintain their corrected vision.

So. How did it go? Well, Jane had perfect vision after two weeks. She´d never worn contacts before, so the whole deal was a little traumatic for her. I basically did the work for her (cleaning, insertion, removal) for a few weeks and then taught her each piece.

I was seeing 20/20 and 20/50 in a week, but things were doubled mildly in one eye and badly in the other. After a month, I was 20/20 in both eyes, my astigmatism was gone in one eye, and mild enough in the other that it´s detectable (if I cover the other eye) but not an impediment. I am THRILLED. I get up and go all day long à¢â‚¬” and do things like swim and bike and play tennis à¢â‚¬” with perfect vision.

Is it cheap? No. In my area it´s roughly one-third the cost of Lasik, and the lenses are expensive ($200, don´t lose them) and need to be replaced once a year. I have to wear them faithfully every night or the next day is blurry (20/50 is my guess.) But I would do it again in a heartbeat. People who don´t wear glasses tend, probably, to take this I-Can-See thing for granted. But each day I get up and face the world with clear vision feels like a gift.

  • March says:

    Iris — well, so far, so good. I do understand their reluctance to wear glasses, particularly if it is combined (as it is in our case) with orthodontia…

  • IrisLA says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! We’re looking into corrective lenses for our tweener daughter, so I’m glad to read that you had success. As for me, I’m happy with my soft lenses.

  • March says:

    Veronica — good luck! The deal-clincher for me was that it was completely reversible. The worst outcome was … nothing, you know? I have a good friend who had a very poor outcome with Lasik, you know, just one of the 1%, so I just don’t think I’d do it yet, and certainly not to a 12YO (which they won’t do anyway.) Good option for the ~:> among us.

  • March says:

    Carolyn — if we can send folks to the moon … why can’t we correct vision better? My guess is that as Lasik improves, the people outside its parameters right now will start to get help.

  • March says:

    Sybil — you’re welcome. I assume at some point as an adult, #1 Daughter (and probably the rest of the brood) will be interested in Lasik, which at that point will probably have fewer bad outcomes. In the meantime, anything I can do to slow down the progression makes me happy.

  • March says:

    Mjau — yeah, so many people find soft lenses very easy. They just drove me nuts.:)>-

  • March says:

    Monica — yeah, that was always a problem — if I took my glasses off I couldn’t see well enough to find them. Plus the twins were always mangling them.

  • VeronicaV says:

    Thanks for posting about this March. I’ve never heard of Ortho-K before. I’m not a good candidate for Lasik either and I’d love to have that freedom. I’m going to look for a doctor right away.

  • Carolyn says:

    Wow…I have never heard of this before! That’s incredible. My whole family has horrible vision, and my mom, dad, and I have all had lasik to correct it. I love not having to wear glasses anymore. My brother’s eyes are too bad to get lasik (it wouldn’t fully correct his vision) but I’m hopeful that science will improve so he won’t have to wear the coke bottles that he has now. I’m so glad this worked out for you and your daughter!

  • March says:

    Pam — I was less than an ideal candidate because even though my myopia was moderate (20/300ish) I had a fair amt of astigmatism in both eyes. I don’t know if it would work for your DH or not (poor guy — had to read a perfume blog!) but maybe there is hope, if it worked for me.

  • sybil says:

    Wow…congratulations! This sounds amazing! I will look into this, because even though I’m probably not a candidate, my daughters could be, and I’d like to keep them from a lifetime of cokebottle lenses if I could.
    Thanks for mentioning this!

  • Mjau says:

    I wear contacts about 5 years and OH GOD! I never felt unconfortable. Seems, I already forgot I am little blind bat hehe:)

  • Monica says:

    Yay for your daughter! and I totally understand the sacredness of being able to see! I am like many others here blind as a bat, actually I think I’m legally blind or something =P I can’t imagine sleeping with the RGP is at all comfortable, it took me more than 1 year + a broken glass (aka, no other alternative) to actually wear them after I bought mine.

  • Pam says:

    March, how wonderful that this procedure has been successful for you and your dgter. Congrats to you both. My eyes are healthy, but DH’s eyes are a different story. I showed him your post (“what? You want me to read this blog?” Yes, but today it’s not about perfume. Really.:) ) He saved the info, and while he’s very nearsighted and also has astigmatism, this is something he can look into. If he’s not a candidate today, who knows what advances this technique will make in the future. This is really a marvelous procedure, March. Thank you for posting about it.

  • March says:

    Sariah — yeah, I’d probably be dead too (appendicitis):-”

    If soft lenses had worked better, I’d have been fine with that. But they just drove me nuts — I was always ripping them out of my eyes frantically at 5:30 p.m., and it bugged me that I couldn’t see while doing things like swimming.

  • March says:

    Cindy — check it out. I was pretty skeptical. I admit sleeping in RGP lenses the first couple of nights took some getting used to, and the first two weeks when I was still blurry, but my old glasses weren’t right any more, were a drag. But NOW — the freedom from glasses makes me ridiculously happy.

  • March says:

    Patch — congrats! I know, I never win contests, either. Just think of all the other ways in your life you are lucky.:x

  • March says:

    P — Nope. That’s called “farsightedness.” Solution: go to Walgreens or the Dollar Store and buy, what, 30 pairs of reading glasses and leave them all over your house. Or … are you referring to blurry distance vision? If so, get thee to an eye doctor.

  • March says:

    Marina — I had never heard of this process, which is why I decided ultimately to post about it. It’s been a great alternative to soft contacts for me. He wasn’t making any guarantees for me because of my astigmatism, though. He gave me about 70% odds of success.

  • Sariah says:

    That’s wonderful March – congratulations. I too am blind as a bat but I am too scared to get lasik, luckily I can wear normal contacts.

    If I was born 200 years ago, I would be blind, toothless, and probably dead by now (or wishing I was dead) – thank goodness there are so many advances in health and science.

  • CIndyN says:

    Total news to me–and good news at that. I too, am nearsighted, and hate wearing my glasses (except to drive, watch TV) etc. 20/200. I once jokingly told a friend that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see perfectly. Seeing everyone in “soft focus” was fine; no wrinkles, no zits, well, you get the idea.
    I will definitely look into this. Thanks for the info—and most importantly, I am soooo happy for Jane and you. Truly, a gift.

  • patchamour says:

    Hi March,

    I’m so glad this worked for you, and glad to hear about it. Sounds as if my daughter might be a candidate. I almost never win stuff, so I’ll go around feeling lucky all day! Thanx. Patchamour

  • Patty says:

    So is it good for people who have had good eyesight most of their life, but in old age can’t see shit? If so, I think I want this, I’m tired of things being blurry.

  • Marina says:

    Oh wow, I have never heard about this. I am so happy it worked for you two.
    Being blind as a proverbial bat and with all sorts of accompanying complications, I have a very, very strong feeling that I cannot possibly be a candidate for these lenses, but…it’s good to know about them. Wow again and congratulations!