Making a spectacle


Thanks, “Final Destination 5,” for making the prospect of laser eye surgery even more terrifying to me.

If all goes well, I am getting my eyeballs cut open this week.

This is a somewhat daunting prospect for someone who, in a completely unrelated scenario, has already spent more than one sleepless night worrying what he would do for a career if he ever lost his sight.

“Oh, but isn’t it just lasers?” someone at work said today, trying to reassure me. “Yes,” I replied. “Just lasers. Cutting open my eyeballs.”

I know that Lasik surgery (and/or all of its variants) has been performed safely millions of times, but I blink reflexively whenever a camera flash goes off — ask my friends about the myriad photos I’ve ruined with my stupid closed eyes — so I’m already sweating how I could screw it up when a laser is burning away.

Meanwhile, for the past few weeks I’ve stayed away from contact lenses — they are, as the eye doctor so eloquently phrased it, “breeding grounds for bacteria” — and worn my glasses.

This is a new thing for me. For years I put on my glasses only for the trek from the bedroom to the bathroom in the morning (and the reverse in the evening). Then, two years ago, I asked my optometrist why one blood vessel in my eye seemed to be getting bigger, and she pointed out that wearing contacts from dawn until dusk was depriving my eyes of much-needed oxygen, and recommended that I wear my glasses for at least an hour a day. Usually I do so as part of the winding-down process at the end of the day.

But all-day usage always seemed like it would lead to problems. Breakouts or weird marks on the bridge of my nose, for example. Today at the gym I handed over my spectacles to Trainer for safekeeping so I didn’t have to worry about them getting sweaty and slipping off and being gross during our session. And — shhh! — for my niece’s wedding last weekend in Montana, I packed a fresh pair of contact lenses that I wore only for about four hours (for photo purposes), then tossed.

Meanwhile, I worry that the surgery might eliminate one positive quirk of being extremely nearsighted: I have the peculiar ability to look at things REALLY CLOSE UP — but only when my contacts are out and glasses are off.

Tiny cactus spine embedded in a finger? No problem. Threading a needle? Piece of cake. Examining pores? One of my favorite parts of the morning. But if my contacts are in and I try to do the same thing, I find myself swerving my head backwards as my eyes cross, trying to determine where my new focal point is. I wonder if I’m about to become one of those people who has to hold things like menus at arm’s length.

This might all be for nought: Back in January, when I had my first consultation, I was found to be a borderline candidate; if things have changed since then, I might not be able to have the surgery (and then I will have $2,300 to blow on things like prescription sunglasses in about a week, since my use-it-or-lose-it flexible spending account expires Oct. 31).

“I just want to wake up and see my alarm clock,” another co-worker said today wistfully. Meanwhile, I’m so used to not seeing it that I half-wonder whether this elective procedure will be “worth it.” I guess I’m about to find out.

In the interim, I’m gonna wear the hell out of these glasses.

WHAT SAM WORE: 10/21/13
shirt011111 pants051412 shoes112110
The shirt: Light flannel button-down by Converse One Star, from Target.
The pants: Cotton trousers, from Uniqlo, New York.
The shoes: All-Stars by John Varvatos for Converse, from Nordstrom Rack.

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