Sight and Vision

This morning, my mother posed an interesting question.

“What’s the best thing that has happened in your life?”

I already knew she was aware of my answer, so I immediately responded with “My vision”.

“Do you think about it a lot or do you take it for granted now?” she followed.

“I will never ever take it for granted”.

It has been almost five months since my long-awaited corrective eye procedure, Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK).

It’s predicted that over 96 million people wear glasses, worldwide. That’s an estimated 1.6 percent of the world’s population. Indeed, that is a lot. For many, however, it doesn’t mean a thing. They work those spectacles like they’re a fashion statement (which they’re rapidly becoming). I mean, look at that lensless frame phase that arose in the world of fashion not too long ago (I apologise in advance for those still in this ‘phase’). Anyway, I’m getting off the point, so I’ll stop rambling and spit it out.

Corrective eye surgery changed my life.

I was in fourth grade. 10 years old. Day after day the whiteboard would become blurrier and blurrier, even if I was in the front row of desks. Consequently, I used to copy the work of my neighbouring peer who would ‘dob’ on me for plagiarising. That was when I realised that I may need glasses. Being the avid child actor that I was, my mum didn’t believe the fact that I may be short-sighted. She thought I was being the cheeky kid that I was. Alas, she fell into the constant complaints that I made about my eyesight and booked an appointment with the local optometrist. Now, you know the drill. You read one line of letters, then the next, then t h e n e x t ….. I couldn’t see.

“Do you know what you need, girly?” he asked, bending over the large ophthalmological machine.

“No …?” I responded, shaking my head.

“Glasses!”

You see, that shouldn’t have shocked me considering that I knew my eyesight was not up-to-scratch. But, it did. I finally realised that I would be that kid in the class who would get bullied for being “four-eyed”. I didn’t want to be that person. No. No. No.

From that point on, my glasses were a double-edged sword. Yes, I admit that seeing the world was much better than a muffled blur. But, I looked and felt terrible. As much as I wanted contact lenses, they didn’t agree with my eyes and long fingernails. I knew that my only relief would be getting corrective eye surgery. But that wasn’t going to happen to a 14-year-old.

Year after year, my optometrist would test me, checking to see if they hadn’t changed. They continued to get worse, which felt like a knife ripping into my chest (I was sensitive, okay?). But, in 2009, at the age of 19, they stopped getting worse. They stabilised. Do you know what that meant? That in two years from then, I would be eligible for LASIK or PRK!

Fast forward two years, and my ophthalmologist gave the ‘okay’. No longer was I going to be known as the ‘geek’. No longer were my eyes going to be shaded behind elaborate frames. No longer would I have to rely on my glasses to get through the day.

Due to my small cornea, PRK was the recommended procedure, which I was completely fine with. Even though PRK takes longer to heal than LASIK, it’s reversible if anything were to go wrong. I mean, I’d definitely prefer to wear glasses than be blind! Who in their right mind wouldn’t?

I’m not a doctor or specialist so I’m not going to go into detail about the surgery. It was majorly fast and reeked of a burning smell. Did it hurt? Not at all. Did I feel anything? Nope. Is it worth it? Yes. Double yes. Triple yes.

Every day I am thankful for my 20/20 vision. Sometimes I get the urge to touch my nose to push the frames closer to my face only to realise that I am ‘frameless’. It’s the greatest gift a person could ever give and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. It truly changed my life. Yes, it sounds cliched but exponentially true.

I am so blessed to have received this extraordinary gift.

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