52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I can see all obstacles in my way...

Are there any circumstances under which you would consider cosmetic surgery?

I have really terrible eyesight. I have needed to wear glasses since I was about 5 years old. I can remember that first journey to the optician vividly: my elder brother teased me that I might have to wear glasses and laughed. Ha ha. In the early days it was all national health glasses, and I was always breaking them. Apparently I had the biggest repair file in the opticians. I was acutely conscious of these NHS specs for many years, and it was quite a big deal when I got my first 'private' frame. Rather tragically they were Roland Rat glasses. Anyway....

I probably first started becoming conscious of the thickness of the lenses when I was around 11 or 12. My eyes were still changing quite rapidly at this point, and I used to dread the moment when the new frames were unveiled, and I got to have a look at how much like milk bottles my new glasses looked. I generally didn't give them all that much thought once I had them on though: what choice did I have?

It wasn't until I was into my 20s and had a proper job that I began to spend more money on my eyes: thinner lenses, designer frames... that kind of thing. It seemed a small price to pay for something that I wore every day and was fundamental to the way I felt about myself and to the way I looked to the rest of the world. I also started to wear contact lenses again. I had tried them when I was 17, but they hadn't suited me. Now I was able to get a much more comfortable pair and although I couldn't really use them for work, I was able to use them for sport. It may not sound like much to you, but contact lenses also gave me the freedom to wear a proper pair of sunglasses in the summer, and I bought myself a pair of Oakleys that I still wear today.

Regular readers here will probably know that my glasses cause me quite a lot of anguish. I get bothered by the way they fit, by the way that the lenses scratch. I am terrified of knocking them out of shape. I never seem to ever get comfortable with them. I am also frustrated by the fact that the strength of my prescription means that I am limited in my choice of frames and lenses if I want to maximise the appearance of my specs and to minimise the thickness of the lenses.

So what's this got to do with cosmetic surgery?

When I had my regular contact lense check the other day, the optician remarked that the astigmatism in my right eye meant that my lens was a perfect rugby ball shape, and asked if I had ever considered laser eye surgery. The honest answer to that question was that yes I had, but I had assumed that my prescription was too strong, and I also rationalised that I wouldn't want to take that kind of risk with my eyesight - after all, I'm lucky to be able to see anything. My eyes are bad, but with correction they are essentially fine.

Apparently I'm within range, and the thought has stayed with me. My life would be radically different if I could see without the need for correction. I would be able to read the alarm clock that sits three feet from my face when I'm in bed. I could swim without the need to risk wearing contact lenses underneath my goggles (the pressure means the lens gets slowly sucked onto your eye, and there is a risk of infection from the water anyway). I would not be totally helpless (I take a spare pair of glasses or contact lenses everywhere - if anything happens to the pair I am wearing, I would be totally lost.) It would be life-changing. The cost? The operation would probably cost me around £2,000 to have both eyes done. I would guess that I currently pay around £500 a year on my specs/contact lenses/solutions etc.

I thought on it for a couple of weeks, and yesterday I booked an initial consultation to have an optician do a detailed examination and to tell me if my eyes are suitable for the procedure. I'm not a fool. I have been reading about the risks ever since I decided to do this. If I go ahead, I run the risk - no matter how small it is - of damaging my eyesight permanently. It doesn't appear that people get blinded, but it could ruin my night-vision, or leave me needing artificial tears, or something like that. I am aware of this, but I figure I have nothing to lose by going for this consultation. Having the check is not a committment. I have not made my mind up one way or the other, but I do want to find out from an expert whether or not this could work for me.

This is a cosmetic procedure. I would not need this operation to be able to function. Am I an idiot for even thinking about it?



  • At 7:34 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    It's only as cosmetic as contact lenses. You need some outside intervention to be able to function normally. Does it matter whether it's obtained surgically or by wearing prosthetic corneas as you do now? I don't see this as a moral or vanity issue, just a matter of practicality.

    If you feel the possible benefits outweigh the possible risks, there's no reason why you shouldn't do it (one eye at a time).

    It's hardly a pec implant or penis lengthening op, is it?

  • At 7:42 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    This isn't crazy to think about. I think about it all the time. Surprisingly, it's the idea of surgery on my eye (even though I'm sure it's not how I'm imagining it), that keeps me from rushing straight into further debt for this.

    I remember one time, the optician's assistant unwrapped my new pair of glasses, and I burst into tears because they were so thick (WTF was up with those HUGE glasses in the 80s anyway?).

    The worst/best story about my glasses was in high school, I was playing some sort of game and got hit in the face with the ball. I saw the frames go flying from my face in 3 different directions. I actually had tape holding the bridge of my glasses together for a good 6 weeks until I could get an appointment and new glasses ordered.

  • At 8:07 pm, Blogger LB said…

    I don't think you are mad for considering it at all.

    Although, if we're on cosmetic grounds, I have to say I think your glasses suit you. Not that your appearance is clearly the most important issue, here, but it would be the main reason I wouldn't do this. I like the way I look with my glasses on.

    You have nothing whatsoever to lose by going for the initial consultation, so go!

  • At 8:24 pm, Blogger Aravis said…

    I'm in a similar position with the astigmatism. When I wear my contacts, I can see, but I can't read books or papers, or see anything small close up clearly. At least when I wear my glasses I can easily remove and replace them, or look over them. People laugh at me when I do this. But I'm forever bending my glasses, etc. I have thought about having the eye surgery, and if I had the money I'm fairly certain I would. So I think that if you go for your consult and everything sounds fine to you, I'll be the first to cheer you on!

    And then I'll want all the details... *G*

  • At 8:41 pm, Blogger Ali said…

    If I were you, I would do it.

    Incidentally, this is not cosmetic in my opinion. The only comparable scenario I can relate is my mother has recently had her cataracts removed with laser treatment. She is the most procedure-phobic person I know and she went right up to the appointment and almost pulled out.

    Having it done was an epiphany - she can now, for the first time in her adult life, see without glasses.

    I would say if the probability of the risks is low enough - do it. You can always buy a weak pair of specs for cosmetic purposes if they *really* suit you.

    Oh - you also asked would I have cosmetic surgery? I hope not, but I don't know. Ask me when it's all gone south, and vanity gets the better of me.

  • At 9:26 pm, Blogger Erika said…

    Okay, so, just for the record, I think men with glasses are WAY sexier than men without glasses. I'm just saying.

    It's your choice entirely, ST, but do make sure to consider the worst case scenario and really make sure you're okay with the risk. My friend Kirby was one of the statistical dustspecks for whom it goes terribly terribly wrong for no reason: he is now legally blind in one eye and has fractured vision - like a bee - in the other. It scared me enough to reconsider it.

    That being said, one of my best friends had it done at the very same time as Kirby and to date says it was the best money he ever spent. It is starting to revert now on him, which it does apparently, but he still doesn't regret the ordeal or the expense.

    Both sides. Your choice.

  • At 9:47 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    i'm considering it too - I can't even wear Contacts.

  • At 10:10 pm, Blogger Turners in the Country said…

    I agree with some of the others--I don't consider it to be cosmetic surgery. It's just another option available when you consider how to improve your sight.

    I've thought about it quite a bit too, but can't quite get past the idea they'll be holding my eyelids wide open with one of those contraptions whilst they perform the surgery. I just picture the scene from A Clockwork Orange, and then I'm off considering it for a while. I'm pretty squeamish when it comes to that sort of thing though.

    Good Luck- if you do go through with it, I hope you'll give us play by play details!

  • At 11:04 pm, Blogger Michael said…

    I know if I was in your shoes I would probably do it.

    I am supposed to wear glasses, but they drive me mad, so I don't (my eyesight isn't too bad, but bad enough).

    Add onto that, I'm afraid of contact lenses. Surgery seems less scary to me than little plastic things sitting on my eyes forever.

  • At 12:02 am, Blogger Le moine perdu said…

    I don't think it's cosmetic either. I call cosmetic things that only affect appearance and have no intrinsic physical benefits. Being able to see without glasses is an ability I greatly treasure, being the only one in my family to be able to do so, and having shared bedrooms as a kid with people who needed me to read the clock for them when they woke up, and just little things like that.

    Jesus made blind people see again, but I doubt he'd have had much to say to a woman who came up to him saying 'Lord, I am afflicted with average sized breasts!'

    Go for it -- I certainly should if ever I were to need it!

  • At 12:16 am, Blogger Damo said…

    For a bit of balance here... I went against the idea. But that's because I'm not a big risktaker, large or small. I hate wearing glasses and contacts didn't work for me at all when I tried them.

    But - the glasses are only for a squint in my left eye... my right eye is undamaged and overall my eyesight is pretty much the best of anyone I know (Bee can back me up there I hope)... so I don't want to risk anything that could endanger it.

    On the whole should you/shouldn't you balance tip, I've known several people who had it done. All but one said it was painless. One person (who had it done only a fortnight ago) said it was the most painful experience of his life.

    In summary? Speak to those around you, and perhaps get a second opinion from the optician (the laser surgery people SHOULD offer impartial advice but you never know...)

  • At 12:45 am, Blogger LavaLady said…

    go for it.

  • At 4:34 am, Blogger -L said…

    My mum had the surgery done 10 years ago (quite revolutionary at that time!) and has never regretted it for a moment. She did have to have a slight correction made again 2 or 3 years ago, but that was also quite minor. So I've heard only good things!

    Do whatever makes ya happy, ST!

  • At 8:16 am, Blogger Di Gallagher said…

    Fuck me, it's your eyes, man! Your eyes are one of THE most important parts of your body, and if there is a corrective prosedure that will fix them up for you, vanity plays no part. I guess you don't know what it is to not have eye problems, and if surgery results in you having 'normal' eyesight, then if you go ahead, you are going to realise that it was never ever an option. That it was necessary.
    That was a long winded way of saying go for it!

  • At 9:50 am, Blogger swisslet said…

    that's just it though Di - it's your eyes, one of the most important parts of the body. If I make them worse by having this done (see Ka's comment above)..... that would be a pretty bitter pill to swallow, knowing that I went into this voluntarily. The success rates are apparently very good (although a lot of this depends upon the rigour of the screening process, and making sure that they only operate on appropriate people), but is that any consolation if you are one of the few??

    I'm not down on this. I'm going to the consultation to find out if it is an option for me. If it is, then that's when the real questioning and worrying starts. If it's not an option, then I just get on with life as I am.


  • At 10:31 am, Blogger Di Gallagher said…

    It would help if I could spell procedure.

    But if you're going to be a statistic, then perhaps you could be in the successful percentile :-)

  • At 1:57 pm, Blogger Teresa Bowman said…

    You do sometimes hear horror stories, it's true, but I used to work with a woman who had it done and she said it was the best money she'd ever spent in her life. She was positively evangelical about it. And the only ill effect she had from it was that her eyes were a bit dry and sore afterwards, but they gave her some eye-drops to deal with that and she was fine after a while.

    I've been wearing contacts for the last 7 years and I wish I'd started wearing them sooner. I do still wear my specs occasionally though - even though I accidentally sat on them a couple of years ago and then broke them trying to bend them back into shape. They had to be soldered back together again and now the bridge and a bit of the frame is a different colour from the rest ...

  • At 6:05 pm, Blogger the urban fox said…

    Are Monk and me the only non-glasses wearers in da house?!

    Has anyone yet funded a study into whether there is a higher percentage of spec-heads in blogdom than in Real Life?

    *applies to British Medical Council for research grant*

  • At 10:36 pm, Blogger Flash said…

    It would be foolish not to consider it, methinks.


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