In this three part series local, award winning meteorologist Justin Berk shares his journey with LASIK surgery.
A life of strain on my eyes
I was nearly blind and now I can see - in HD. I had LASIK on November 7th, 2014. It was a Friday morning like any other, but it wasn’t. LASIK has already changed my life and I want to share my story in the hopes that it may help others make the decision to have LASIK. Disclaimer: I have a big mouth and if I like something, I want everyone I know to know. I love to share, especially when it’s good. So, here’s my story.
My blurry, strained, and itchy past
I was 10 years old when I was first prescribed glasses. I needed them to see the blackboard, but like many 10 year old boys, I never wore them. By junior high, my eyes had gotten so bad that I had to wear glasses all the time - or at least I was supposed to. My doctor believed I would be in bifocals by my senior year of high school and wanted to try a technique to limit the change in vision. He suggested I wear hard contact lenses in an effort to act as a cast, helping to form and hold the shape of my cornea. Hard Contacts STUNK! They were small, slid down my eye quickly and back up with every blink. It was hard to hold my focus and painful to keep in my eyes.
In school, I played baseball and ran track. My issue in baseball was at the plate. When I could see the ball, I could crush it! But, all too often in the batter’s box, while trying to focus on the pitcher and the ball, my hard lenses would slide down my eyes. I would either have to blink a lot or lose focus. That’s no excuse a coach wants to hear. Now that I coach my son’s teams, I get that. When I ran track, my eyes were often very irritated from the wind. I would finish a race with tears rolling down my cheeks. They weren’t always tears of joy from victory. Winter is my favorite season and I would do anything to be out in the snow. After sledding or snowboarding, I kid you not, I would sometimes have frozen tears on my eyelashes -- even with goggles.
Gas Permeable Lenses
When I was in college I made the switch to ‘gas perms’. These were a dramatic improvement, but not perfect. They were large lenses that fit better, but I still had tearing and irritation.
When I was 30 years old, I made the move to soft lenses. Because of my astigmatism, I was told my vision would not be as crisp, even with ‘toric’ lenses that can help correct astigmatisms. It didn’t matter, I needed something to change. Soft lenses were a big plus. I even slept in them sometimes. Even more often, I would let my disposables overstay their welcome. I wasn’t the best patient. I still had frequent irritation and just accepted that was the way things would be.
Deciding to get LASIK
I had become accustomed to having tired eyes. Taking my contacts out at night and putting on my glasses became a normal routine. Since I couldn’t see the clock, I had to wear a digital watch. This was especially important when I had to wake up early to do the weather on TV. Having to deal with my contacts became stressful while doing all kinds of activities with my two sons like swimming, going on amusement park rides, and just horsing around. There was always something that made me think twice about what I was doing because of my eyes and the possibility of losing a contact lens. I just wanted to live in the moment.
So after years of dealing with poor vision, the effects of contact lenses and glasses, cost of new lenses and solution, I was fed up. It was a big move for me to consider having someone work on my eyes. I was squeamish thinking about it. But honestly, after meeting with Dr. Maria Scott at Chesapeake Care Eye and Laser Center, I felt a lot better about getting LASIK.
Dr. Scott’s warm, reassuring demeanor put me at ease. She answered all of my questions and thoroughly discussed the LASIK procedure. My LASIK consultation was extremely thorough. They took all kinds of measurements and when Dr. Scott looked at the test results, she was uncertain that I was a candidate. She asked me to stay out of my contacts for two weeks to see if my contacts, which I had only taken out the night before my exam, were skewing the results. Upon my second visit to her office two weeks later, I thought for sure I was not going to be a candidate. After another set of exams, Dr. Scott explained that my corneas had normalized and she gave me the thumbs up! I was shocked! I felt excited and nervous at the same time. Now, on to getting LASIK…stay tuned for Part 2.
In the meantime, here is a video I took the two weeks prior to my LASIK procedure: