Seeing the light with better vision

June 29, 2015 Vince Shuley

The human body is a beautiful creation, or product of evolution depending on whom you ask. It can withstand a lot of punishment, be honed into an aerobic or muscular machine and has an uncanny ability to regenerate itself.

But just like most things in nature, the every part of the human body rarely develop perfectly, particularly the eyes. Around half of the adult population of the U.S. requires some sort of refractive correction such as glasses or contact lenses, which amounts to around $15 billion of spending on eyewear.

For Days Like This, You Want To Be Seeing Clearly | Photo Randy Lincks
For days like this, you want to be seeing clearly | Photo Randy Lincks

I had awful eyesight growing up, and like any kid, I hated wearing glasses. Besides getting picked on in the schoolyard, spectacles were impractical for pretty much every sport I played, whether it was chasing ball on the soccer pitch or racing mountain bikes down dusty fire roads. But being lucky enough to have an optometrist in my family, I started wearing contact lenses from when I was about 11 years old. I tried all different kinds of contact lenses over the next 18 years; rigid gas permeable, soft, disposable, extended wear. Contact lenses liberated my youth, both recreationally and socially, but during those years I also began to see the downside of being a full-time contact lens wearer.

After Losing Glasses And Contact Lenses, Natural Beauty Never Looked So Good | Photo Dave Silver
After losing glasses and contact lenses, natural beauty never looked so good | Photo Dave Silver

Contact lenses are great in the outdoors, but aren’t so good for prolonged periods like when you’re camping. Hygiene is tricky without running water and if you’re out in the cold, your contacts can freeze while they’re soaking in solution.

If you have sub-par vision and you’ve chosen to base your lifestyle around recreation, it’s time to get corrective surgery. It’s expensive and is rarely fully covered by health benefits, but the investment is entirely worth it. The waiver you have to sign before going under the knife can be daunting; you basically release the surgeon from any liability and if they mess up one of your eyes, they won’t operate on the other one. If you can get past that point however, the surgery is painless for the most part and you’ll likely be seeing clearer for the rest of your life.

A Visian Impantable Collamer Lens (Icl). A Surgical Procedure Inserts It Permanently Into The Eye For Long Term Vision Correction | Photo Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times
A VisianImpantable Collamer Lens (ICL). A surgical procedure inserts it permanently into the eye for long term vision correction | Photo Jason Wachter / St. Cloud Times

There are several different options that your optometrist can walk you through, from the popular LASIK “flap ‘n’ zap” to the relatively new procedure known as Implantable Collamer Lens (ICL) technology. Basically instead of using a laser to reshape your eye’s natural lens, ICL implants a tiny secondary lens in your eye and leaves the cornea alone. Like any surgery, it does have its own set of risks of course, but as a patient who went through the ICL procedure four years ago, I can attest that it’s more than worth the risk and the added expense.

I’ll never forget how bad my vision was before, but I can now pull on a full-face helmet or camp on a glacier for weeks on end without ever having to worry about glasses or contact lenses. If you’ve been considering taking the rather large step towards better vision, do it sooner rather than later.