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March 20 - My Eyes Are Dim

My eyes are dim
I cannot see
I have not brought
My specs with me...

Well, I finally decided it was time to live free of glasses and contacts. I've been wearing these glasses since I was in grade 1. I remember my first set of glasses were baby blue rimmed. Baby blue = baby geek.

But today, I set off to the Herzig Eye Institute for my consulation. I walked in to the front room with its hotel feel. There were many people in the waiting room. Mostly older ladies--I think they do cosmetic surgery here too. I suppose getting laser eye surgery is a bit cosmetic as well. But I can only imagine the freedom I'll feel once it's over.

I filled out a few forms and had some tests taken. Mostly I would look into a machine and they would scan my eyes or measure the thickness of my eye. Then I had a consultation with Dr Herzig. In person, he looks older with his snow white hair when you compare him to his ads. He's an extremely calm person, and talks very matter of fact. This was quite reassuring during the sessions and calming as well.

He said that I wasn't a good candidate for lasik. Mainly because my prescription was so high. As he said this, I lost a bit of hope that I would be able to do anything. But then he started discussing about another alternative: intraocular lenses or implantable contact lens (ICL). In this procedure, they implant a contact lens directly in your eye. It is mainly kept for people with very high prescriptions because it has a small risk (1%) of causing cataracts.

I said I would need to think about it, and he led me to the business partner who began to price out the operation. A hefty $7400 bill for both eyes!


April 5 - My New Health Plan...Woohoo!

So my original extended health plan was weird in that it had a July to June coverage year. So to get maximum coverage and save myself another $2500, I needed to schedule one eye to be done in June and one eye to be done in July. The lady at the clinic looked at my strangely when I made this request.

But luckily, my company announced a new health plan that would cover January to December with a maximum $5000 coverage. Woohoo!


April 20 - It Was Like a Nightmare

As precaution, Dr Herzig scheduled me for a retinal tear check, since high prescriptions means that the eyeball may be stretching. Ugh. So I went to the Western General expecting to have a quick checkup and be out of there in time to grab some lunch and go back to work. Unfortunately, the doctors don't call us "patience" for nothing. I had to wait about 3 hours before I got my first checkup.

Once I got into the office, a nice innocent Chinese girl walked in and told me politely that she was an intern working with Dr Mandelcorn and she would check for the tears. Little did I know that she was, in fact, an evil torturing beeyatch! At this point, she proceeded to poke and prod at my eyes. It was almost unbearable at times. For at least 15 minutes I felt like she was going to pop my eye out as she pushed my eye around like she was playing with the last pea on her dinner plate. It was awful.

Finally, she finished up and apologised for the "discomfort". Discomfort? That was TORTURE, BITCH!! Well, Dr Mandelcorn followed up with a extremely quick and painless exam as he quickly repeated the exam with the hand and expertise of a seasoned doctor. He told me that I had a small tear in my left retina and some weak spots as well that he would need to fix. He had a pretty graphic way of describing a retinal tear--if your eye is a room, and the retina is wallpaper in the room, a retinal tear is like a tear in the wallpaper. The liquid will start flowing behind the wallpaper and may cause it to start peeling off completely! Ugh.

He said he would do the laser surgery right away. Ahh! I wasn't expecting that!

So another hour later, I got ushered into a room with a machine the size of a small tv set. I layed down on the bed and Dr Mandelcorn dimmed the lights. He put some drops into my eyes and everything went a bit purple. Then he started shooting green pulses of laser into my eye. It was a like a nightmare. Totally surreal. All I saw was a green pulsating light and a dull poking pain in my eye each time it flashed. I can't explain the weird sensation it gave, but I would definitely describe it as "painful". By the end, about 3 or 4 minutes later, I was hyperventilating and sweating a bit. Again, it was awful--I thought Dr Mandelcorn was a friend, but he ended up torturing me as well.

I got up with a purplish haze around everything. That cleared up in about 5 minutes. But I had a dull ache in my eyeball for about a day. Well, I guess it's nice to know that my retina won't fall off my eyes for now.


June 19 - And Now For the Red Laser

I was scheduled for an appointment at Herzig again. This time, we were doing an iridotomy. The iridotomy is the first step for the ICL operation. Because the contact lenses get implanted directly in your eye, they actually prevent the flow of liquids around the lens. So they need to put holes into the iris to allow the liquids to move around the lens, so the pressure doesn't build up and lead to serious problems like glaucoma (although in the FDA's trial of 523 eyes, no cases of glaucoma were reported).

So I signed a consent form. Basically saying that if I go blind, I can't blame the doctor. Sigh...

Well, the procedure went much better than that retinal laser. Dr Herzig put some drops into my eyes. And then I put my face and chin into a stand. He then put a lens covered with jelly onto my eye and began to shoot a red light into my eye. It wasn't painful but I was still freaking out because of my experience with the retinal laser...and the fact that he was burning a hole into my iris!

It was about 5 minutes altogether as he burned 2 holes in each eye. I felt a bit queasy afterwards, mainly from the stress rather than any pain.


June 23 - This is Starting to Feel Real

I think I have a mental problem sometimes. It's hard for me to feel that the world around me is real. Everything feels like a video game and I can always put another quarter into the machine if I lose (am I revealing my age with that statement?). But this day really hit home that I am real and that real things are happening to me.

Since the iridotomy, I think I see my eyelashes!! When I told Ayhan this, he swivelled his eyes around and tried to look at his own eyelashes, and then said that it's impossible to see your own eyelashes. Thanks.

Well, I'd explain it as if you had a white piece of fuzz on the end of your eyelash. You can see the end of your eyelashes slightly distort your vision and the white fuzz flips up and down as you blink. That's exactly what I see! Especially when the lighting conditions are uneven.

So I'm kind of freaking out about this. I start to read online about the iridotomy. Going to people's blogs and stuff. And I think the internet is definitely a bad place to look for information when you think you have a problem. Because it amplifies all your worries as you easily find the bad stories. Well, I started reading about how the iridotomy puts holes in your iris and if they are too large, they won't be covered by your eyelids. And you end up have something like a second iris....FOREVER! What? I have to see my eyelashes forever?!?! Fuuuuuck!!

So this is starting to feel real. I could really fuck up my life here with this operation. Sigh... The picture in the sidebar is my eye...really--you can see the two holes on the top.


July 6 - They Have Videos of This!

I did a search of the ICL operation and a youtube video came up. I made the mistake to watch about 10 seconds of the operation before I quickly shut it down. Oh....My.....God.....



Aug 7 - The Day of My Freedom Has Been Set!

Finally! How long has it been now? About a month and a half since my last appointment. Finally today I got a call from Theresa from the clinic and she wanted to book my surgery. September 9 and 10 it is!

I'm very excited! Maybe after all this, I can donate my glasses to a blind kid with a big head in a third world country somewhere.


Aug 11 - Like Skinny People Serving at McDonalds

I went to visit Theresa for a last test and to pick up some Vigamox eyedrops that I have to start using 2 days before the operation. I had to place my head once more on a rack and peer into a orange light that turned yellow, and then a white light strobed on the side. Not sure what that was about.

Now, one thing occurred to me as I was sitting in the waiting room. All the people that work there have glasses on. Theresa does. The lady fixing up the magazine stack does. The front desk lady does. It worries me a bit--why haven't they had their eyes done?!? It'd be like going to McDonalds and everyone serving you is skinny. It'd be like going to a Honda dealership to see that the owner is driving a Volkswagen. It'd be like having a dentist with bad teeth.

There's just something strange about the situation.


Aug 23 - PreOp and PostOp Instructions

So 2 days prior to the surgery, I have to start using these Vigamox antibiotic drops. 1 drop 4 times a day.

The instructions page also talks about fasting, which means no eating or drinking for 3 hours before the operation. But the lady said that I could ignore that for my operation. Also, wear comfortable clothing, don't wear perfume or eye makeup, and make arrangements for transportation to and from the centre.

After the operation, I have both Vigamox (1 drop 4 times per day, 2 times per day in second week) and Maxidex drops (1 drop 4 times per day in the 1st week, 2 times per day in second week) to use. And that's it. Seems easy enough.

And I get a valium pill right before the operation....I wonder what that's going to do to me? I should try to write my blog while I'm on it.


Sept 8 - ICL Blogs

So I spent today calling friends and family. Sucking them like a leech for well wishes and pep talks. I also did my final scan of the internet for people, like me, blogging their ICL experience. Here's some good ones I found:

I liked this blog--she was super thorough with her research to compare ICL and Lasik. Now, she ended up picking Lasik over ICL and it's interesting to read her reasoning: http://conqueress.blogspot.com/2008/04/lasik-surgery-vs-icl.html

This guy actually had the retinal tear fix like I did. But he didn't describe it half as horrifically. http://www.isnake.org/

And this girl has the top spot on Google for ICL blogs. She has a cute pitbull too: http://happypitbull.blogspot.com/2006/12/my-icl-eye-surgery-experience-part-i.html

And if you find a ban on ICL, make sure it's not the Indian Cricket League before you freak out.

And if one day someone comes upon my blog, I'll give you a pep-talk: "It'll be fine! Don't worry--the doctor has done this operation millions of times! And if anything goes wrong, it's always reversible! Ok go get em tiger!"


Sept 9 - The Miracle of 24 Hours

6:00am - I groggily wake up

7:00am - The office just opens and we are let in to wait

7:08am - Another guy comes into the office for ICL surgery. He has been wearing glasses 32 years since he was 2!

7:15am - I read and initial several forms detailing all the problems that you can have with an ICL surgery. The one that sticks out in my head is that they don't have any empirical evidence on the long-term effects of having these things. I get the bill for $3700. I ask Ayhan if I can borrow some money, but he's too tired to get the joke.

7:15am - I am given 4 drops to numb and dilate my pupils. They also put a purple dot above my right eye so that they don't mix it up. Ayhan and I take a few pictures to mark the moment. Cheese!

7:25am - Another set of 4 drops to numb and dilate my pupils

7:35am - I get taken to a smaller waiting room, where I get a couple more numbing drops. And I take my 1mg of valium. And get a relaxing hand massage from a nice lady. The valium doesn't do anything...boo!

8:00am - Dr Herzig looks more chipper than usual--he must be a morning person. He takes me to his office and gives me some comforting words. He puts a few more numbing drops in my eye and then marks my cornea to make sure the toric lens is placed correctly.

8:10am - I get lead to the operation room with two nurses and a simple gurney in the middle. I get on with my head cradled on one end. They keep putting more numbing drops in my eye. It's a bit chilly in here--the nurse offers me a blanket. No thanks. I ask if I can get a copy of the video for my blog, the nurse says "no". A crooner sings in the background. I don't feel the valium kicking in and am getting pretty anxious. Taking a deep sigh, I cross my arms to hold it all in.

8:15am - Dr Herzig, saying he'll talk me through the whole thing, places a white sheet over my face, and peels open a section above my right eye. A clamp holds my eye open, but my eye can still move freely. Another numbing drop and another cleaning drop. A bright light is placed above my eye and it's hard to look at. Liquid is squirted into my eye regularly. Herzig puts some lubricant over my eye making it hard to see. I notice the nurse has turned the room light off, now there is just the operation light. I see a scalpel thing come at my eye and then pressure along the side of my cornea. I don't think the valium is working. And motion. And liquid. Things blur. What am I supposed to look at!?! And the bright light changing colours and angles. And more pressure. And liquid. And motion. A lens moving across my vision. A bit clearer. And then darkness for a minute--I can barely see the bright light. Then the shapes come back. Herzig peels away the operation sheet, says it went well, and asks me to follow him to his office. Everything is dark and semi-clear. I can see the hands on the clock. It only took 10 minutes. I walk back to his office giving a thumbs up to the other 3 guys in the small waiting room. Herzig asks me to read an eyechart, I only get the big E and a couple lines down from that. He puts a few more drops in my eyes and checks the pressure with a small blue circle of light that lightly pushes against my eyeball.

8:35am - I'm lead into the small waiting room for some cookies and juice. Just like giving blood. My right eye is dark and I can't quite focus, but I can see things in the distance. Ayhan comes in--I tell him all the things I can see. I'm given a black pair of sunglasses and some drops to take home--I try to remove one lens out of my glasses so I can use them, but it creates vertigo when I put them on. There's some soreness if I change my view suddenly from looking one way to another.

8:40am - Ayhan goes to Russian class, and I walk home. I have to go back at 11:00am for a pressure check. I am reading signs like it's the first time I've ever read them. I see double vision looking at car headlights. I can't focus close up at all. Farther away, I can see but I can't focus completely. But I can almost count the number of windows at Radio City. Excitement bubbles in my chest. No pain, dryness or irritation in my eye. Going to take a quick nap with McCoy.

11:00am - Followup visit with Herzig, couple more drops in the eye to freeze it for the pressure check. He says that the double vision and halos are due to my dilated pupil, he assures me that it'll get better over the next few days. I do another eyechart, I can get another line smaller. He looks at my eye through a machine and then says everything looks fine and does one more pressure check and lets me go. See you tomorrow!

12:00pm - I try to do some work with a piece of cloth draped over my right eye. It doesn't work. I try with my glasses and my left eye, but it doesn't feel right either.

1:00pm - I take a nap

4:00pm - I wake up and everything looks hazy from my right eye. If I had my regular contacts in, I'd take it out, lick it, and put it back in. But I can't! I can focus more now and see more close up but I'm a bit worried--there's this uniform haze on everything- I don't remember reading about that on the blogs.

5:00pm - I am getting vertigo from my screwed up eyes. I wish I had an eyepatch.

7:00pm - I'm watching some business news on tv...without my glasses. This is fucked up! The haze is now gone and everything is getting clearer. Woot woot!

10:00pm - I go to sleep with a headache from the uneven vision.

4:00am - I wake up to go to the washroom and I can see McCoy weaving around my legs. He is no longer the invisible speedbump of death at night! I can't sleep afterwards as I am looking at a painting on the wall and switching from my bad eye to my good eye back to my bad eye, and then good eye again. It's so amazing to no longer see the world as formless blobs of colour. I keep thinking I forgot to take my contacts out.

6:00am - ....bad eye, good eye, bad eye, good eye. Still awake. My alarm goes off. Time to get ready for the operation on my left eye.


Sept 10 - Fixing My Left Eye

I was still nervous for my left eye--the operation was a repeat of what happened yesterday. I must say that the left eye was itchier and more sensitive after the operation, but right after my 12pm nap, it had become so clear! It's awesome. Better than my right eye almost (which still is not super crisp). I just hope that both eyes eventually clear up and focus. Another guy getting his eyes done said it took anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks to improve.


Sept 11 - Twenty twenty baby!

I see skies of blues
Clouds of white
Bright blessed days
Dark sacred nights
And I think to myself....what a wonderful world.

I don't think it's sunk in yet. I keep having a feeling that I forgot to pop my contacts out, and get that "oh my god my contacts are now dried to my eyeball and I'll need to peel it off like a jar label" feeling.

I went back for my consult today and my left eye is 20/20, but my right eye is only 20/30 and I have a feeling they didn't fix the astigmatism completely. The doctor said that there is still some inflammation left, so we have to wait for that to go away. I'm slightly worried now, but I'll wait a bit before I freak out.

I've been wearing those gigantic sun blockers that cover half my face because my eyes are pretty sensitive to bright light--my eyes get a bit sore when I'm on the computer. But I was able to work on the computer the day of the operation! And I'm religiously using those eyedrops 4 times a day.

Now one thing I noticed when I went out at night was the headlights on the cars had huge spray, so it would be difficult to drive at night. But small lights are totally clear.

It's amazing what science can do nowadays.


Sept 17 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

So it's been exactly one week since I finished both operations. For the most part, it has been pretty amazing how clear I can see, and how effortless the "recovery" has been. Just some light sensitivity for a two or three days and the eyedrops have been stinging more the last few days. My left eye is perfect. The haze on my right eye has mostly gone away. That's the Good.

The Bad: My left eye has some weird effects at night. Bright lights have these reverse teardrops that shoot up from them. A weird halo. After I blink a few times, they go away--so it must just be some dryness. Strange, but not a big deal. My right eye has a tiny bit of a haze at night.

And now the Ugly. My right eye still has a bit of blurriness to it. Even close up, which leads me to think that they didn't correct my astigmatism completely. Before the operation, my right eye was dominant, and now this operation has switched that. And it gives me a general feeling of discomfort sometimes. I'm hoping they can fix this somehow, or it fixes itself.

I had my second followup with the eye doctor and they said that it still has healing to do, so I need to wait longer to see the "final" results. But she said I have "no more restrictions", so that means I can get water in my eyes, go swimming, and go back to the gym. Finally, I can get back into shape!

My next appointment is after I get back from SE Asia in a month and a half.


Sept 21 - Living in a Bizarro World

So I've been putting in drops everyday into my eyes. Now every once in a while I miss my eye and the drop goes rolling down my cheek or I have to tilt my head to maneuver the drop back into my eye.

I just thought about it more when it happened today. I have never missed with eyedrops before. They are so simple to put in, you look at the tip of the dropper and bam, it's in. But all of a sudden I'm missing my eye 10% of the time?

Then I realized that I can't focus on the tip on the dropper anymore. It's a blur. I then took a look at the bottle and realized that I couldn't focus on any of the instructions when I put it less than 6 inches (15cm) from my eyes.

So the interesting part is: what used to be the only things I could see before the operation, I can't see after the operation! What a bizarro world.


Nov 4 - Traveling After ICL

So it wasn't just out of vanity that I got the eye operation done. I also thought about how much easier traveling would be. I just returned from a 1 month trip in SE Asia and not having glasses or contacts was AWESOME! Packing was a cinch without having to worry about where my eyes were. I didn't have to worry about clean water to wash my contacts. I dived into Halong Bay and saw the beauty with my eyes open. While puttering on a back of a tuk-tuk through the dusty streets of Cambodia, when I got some dust in my eyes, instead of being brought to painful tears and the concentration to only speak single word sentences, all I had to do was blink and I was fine.

In a single word, I felt Freedom. I had always dreaded visiting the less-developed countries. Having to deal with the dusty streets and sweltering days with either contacts or glasses would be an ordeal. And having to find clean water is always a worry. But now, I am looking forward (with eyes wide open) to visit places like India and Central America. Bring it on!


Nov 10 - Right Eye Not Improving

I went for my two month check-up today. The leftover astigmatism in my right eye is exactly like it was a month ago. I'm not optimistic it will fix itself after this healing period. The doctor said that we will look into alternatives for tweaking the clarity at my check-up next month. They will most probably use LASIK. I'm a bit disappointed about this, because one of the reasons I chose to do ICL was because it is reversible. LASIK will be a permanent change to my eye. Plus I am not looking forward to another operation.

Not just the astigmatism, but everything has pretty much remained the same since my last check-up. I am still seeing bursts around lights at night which go away after blinking a bit. Reminds me of times when I had to blink to reposition a shifted contact lens. It makes driving at night a bit more difficult. But the haze in my right eye is gone.

I should also mention that the issue after the iridotomy where I saw my eyelashes is now gone--but the world is now a brighter place, and I'm much more likely to wear sunglasses on the sunny days.


Jan 13, 2009 - WYSIWYG

I pretty much figured that what I saw after the first week was what I was going to get. I said that I was left with some astigmatism, and today the eye doctor confirmed that the astigmatism is there. He said that they would need to schedule another operation--this time a LASIK surgery to "touch-up" the eye. They make it sound like they're fixing my makeup.

I'm a bit disappointed--I was hoping for perfection the first time around. But I understand that the measurements must need to be pretty exact to get perfect vision. I remember being under the knife the first time, and now my chest heats up with anxiety thinking about the next operation. And the sad part is that the LASIK was something I wanted to avoid by doing the ICL operation. And now it ends up that I'm doing both!

I still appreciate the extra boost in my life the eye operation has given. It's been an amazing ride so far. And I won't let this little set-back get me too worked-up. I knew it was a possibility that I would need to get adjustments done with LASIK, and now I have to cross that bridge.


Feb 11 - Nervous again

So tomorrow I go under the knife (or laser) again for Wavefront LASIK surgery. My brother and sister both had LASIK done a while ago, so that gives me a bit of comfort. Basically, the doctor cuts the top layer of the eye to create a flap. He lifts the flap up and then the laser does the rest, remodeling the cornea. After this is done, they put the flap back down and you are left to heal naturally.

So compared to ICL, it is not as intrusive because it doesn't implant anything into the eye. But it permanently reshapes the eye, there's no going back. The recovery stage is also a bit more iffy because of this flap thing. So I'm preparing myself for a bit of pain this time.

The lead up to this operation was so quick too. I guess the optometrist took all the proper measurements during my fourth check up. And then the office just booked my LASIK surgery right away. It can all happen so fast. I haven't thought about it too much, and I didn't do any research into it. And now I'm getting nervous.


Feb 12 - LASIK Is A Different Experience

3:00pm - I am walking to my appointment, and I start to have second thoughts.
When I look at the signs on the way, my right eye seems clear. Why am I doing this operation? My vision is good now. Are the incremental benefits of this operation worth getting my eye cut open?! I stop at a corner for 5 minutes and look at everything out my right eye. It's all so clear. It's like my eye is doing its utmost to stop me from doing this operation. I call my friends but noone answers the phone. I am fighting with myself as I walk down the street.

3:15pm - I arrive at Herzig. I'm nervous and I almost want to postpone the operation to see if my right eye has miraculously improved. As I sit in the waiting room, I realize that the astigmatism in my right eye is back. It was always there, but I was trying to forget it.

3:30pm - I read a consent form very similar to the ICL consent form. They have been doing this operation for 15 years now. My brother had the operation done almost 15 years ago. I remember when he signed his consent form, it said that the empirical evidence came from people who had their eyes cut in car accidents. He had balls to sign that consent form!

3:45pm - I get a back and hand massage from the massage lady. The same one as my ICL operation. Kind of a light massage, but relaxing nonetheless.

3:55pm - I get a Herzig fanny pack full of eye drops, codeine, sunglasses, eye patches, and post op instructions. I note that I never received painkillers for the ICL operation. I also get a tiny pill of valium...but again, no effect.

3:58pm - I'm watching a video screen with the patient before me. I can see her eyeball and hear the clicking of the laser. The clicking of the laser is giving me memories of my retinal tear visit. My chest heats up with anxiety. I am more nervous for this operation than the ICL operation. Maybe because I didn't take time to learn about the procedure and prepare myself. Maybe because of my past laser experiences. Maybe because I'm having second thoughts.

4:00pm - A nice filipino lady takes me to do the wavefront measurements. Here you look into a machine for about 10 minutes. It's all dark except for a red light that goes in and out of focus. The whole time, the lady is telling me not to focus on the red light. How about I not supposed to focus on the red light? It's the only thing I can see! I see some spray around the red light too, from my ICL operation. I can blink to make them go away, but I hope that doesn't screw up the readings.

4:10pm - Dr Herzig does a final vision check on my eye. I haven't seen him since my ICL surgery. He looks the same, and he still has his calming effect. He says the ICL lenses are perfectly in place.

4:15pm - I get led into the surgery room. A small room mostly filled with one big machine. There is mist coming out of a unit on the wall. The nurse asks me to sit on the gurney in the midst of the machine. I lie down and I am really nervous. The nurse shifts me under a piece of the machine. There's a circle surrounded by lights right in front of my eye, and she explains that I will need to focus on the red light in the middle.

4:17pm - The nurse puts anesthetic drops in my eye. And wetting drops. And I wait with my eyes closed.

4:20pm - Dr Herzig comes in. And quickly begins by putting a suction cup to my eye. It is sucking, and my vision is gone. It sucks even harder and I can feel lots of pressure. I can hear a guy counting down in the background. As he gets to zero, I feel a quick tinge on my eye. Gross, they just made the flap. Everything becomes uniformly hazy. I get rolled back under the circle of lights but the lights have become an almost imperceptible blur. Herzig proceeds to arrange the flap with something looking like tweezers. Then he tells me to watch the red light which is now just a hazy blob. I watch it as best I can. The nurse says the laser will be activated for 15 seconds, and counts. It begins. I cannot hear or see the laser, or smell steak (like my brother claimed). I have a slight sense of discomfort in my eye, but nothing else. No pain. As the countdown reaches zero, Dr Herzig adds his comforting words "it's almost over". Once it's done, Herzig flips the flap quickly back over my eye, and everything becomes much clearer. He spends about a minute rubbing something across my eyeball to get the air pockets out from under the flap. He tells me everything went well, which is so comforting to hear. He quickly leaves to see his next patient. I feel like I'm on an assembly line.

4:30pm - It's done. I have a dull ache in my right eye. And I'm lead to the recovery nook where the filipino lady explains the post-op procedures. I can see out of my eye, but things are slightly dark and blurry.

4:40pm - Dr Herzig brings me back to his office and looks at my eye and tells me that everything looks good. I shake his hand. He's changed my life. Since I was a child, I've hoped that one day science would find a way to fix my eyes. And now it's all happened.

4:50pm - I begin my walk home. It's a windy day and even with my super granny eye blockers, I can feel my eyes drying out. It's painful. There's a throbbing ache in my eye. More pain than after the ICL operation. I stumble home with my eyes open no more than slits. My eye is aching.

5:15pm - I get home and get into bed right away. I want to just close my eyes to make the aching go away. I put a lubricating drop in my eye and sleep.

7:00pm - I wake up and my eye is completely glued shut by the remnants of the lubricating drop. I gently and slowly pry it open. I don't feel the throbbing ache anymore, but it still aches a bit with light. I try to read something with my right eye, but it makes it sore. And it's still slightly blurry and lights have a uniform halo around them.

7:05pm - I look at myself in the mirror and my eyelashes are crusty. There is a circle of red in the white around my iris. It's the popped blood vessels from the procedure. I wonder if it was worth it? I think I would have been happy stopping after the ICL surgery, even with a bit of astigmatism left over. Well, we'll see...

11:00pm - The soreness is gone from my eye. Things are not crystal clear, but getting close to normal again. There isn't much discomfort other than the crusty stuff around my eye that I am afraid to clean off because the instructions seem to tell me not to. I put my drops in, put a funky eye patch on, and go to bed.

7:30am - I wake up and write some more on the blog. My eye is crusty and a bit irritated, but it is super clear. No more astigmatism. Sweet!


Feb 13 - Good to Go

It was a really quick followup with the optometrist. She did an eyechart, looked at my eye under light and that was it. She said it looked good.

My eye feels fine today. No feeling of an eyelash in my eye. I have a bit of a face ache feeling when I'm in bright lights--like a really minor sinus ache. But other than that, it feels normal. My vision is super crisp. And there's just a bit of a halo on lights at night. But I think the recovery has been faster than with the ICL where I had a haze for at least a week.

The recovery hasn't been bad at all. When they gave me the codeine before the operation, it got me a bit nervous. But it's been no worries.


Apr 2 - Must....Protect.....Eyes.....

So I had the most freakish accident a few days ago. I was at a bar with some friends, and drinking a ginger ale. And I made some giant dramatic swivel with my head as I was telling some story, and suddenly I found the ginger ale straw stuck in my eye! Not like pierced through it, but it must have fit right into the inside corner of my eye, cause I had to pluck it out. It was super bizarre.

Well afterwards, my left eye had double vision, and I couldn't focus on anything. And imagine how much I was freaking out the next day, over 24 hours later, when I was still seeing double vision. Let me say that I called Herzig, and they were good enough to push my visit up a few days just in case.

So about 36 hours after the incident, the double vision went away. Ho-ly-shat. It almost gave me a heartattack. So the moral of this story is protect your eyes. I no longer have contacts or glasses to deflect any rampaging straws. I have to learn to respect the newfound vulnerability of my eyes.

I think this is going to be my last entry for a bit. I'll try to update this every little while just to assure all of you that everything is okay. So just some final observations about the side effects of the operation (other than these, the experience has been amazing!):

• I think the way they market the ICL operation as "reversible" seems a bit misleading. Sure you can take the lens out of your eye, but iridotomy holes will be there forever. And the side-effects of having these extra holes in your iris is pretty noticeable. I still see my eyelashes every once in a while, but I think I've become used to it. In uneven lighting conditions, like the sun right behind someone, all I see is a dark silhouette. My ability to discern details in harsh lighting is essentially gone. The world is generally a brighter place.

• I feel like I have lost some peripheral vision in my left eye. I do my own little non-scientific tests, and my field of vision in my left eye seems slightly less than my right. I mentioned this to the doctor during my last visit and he didn't seem concerned by it. I will keep monitoring this to see if it deteriorates.

• I do feel a bit paranoid about any after-effects. I find myself checking my left eye, then right eye, while standing on the subway platform. Is it better? Is it worse? It's an extra awareness that you develop about yourself, so hopefully one day it will become "normal" to me and I will stop thinking about it.


Aug 29, 2009 - Released

So I'm starting on my 1 year abroad today. Sitting at the Vancouver Airport waiting for my connection--I don't think it's hit me yet that I will be out of the country for at least a year. I think once I touchdown in HK and spend those first few days finding an apartment, it will become more real.

Before I left, I took one last trip to Herzig to check how my eyes were doing. My left eye is still noticeably weaker than my right eye. After the doctor tested it, she said it was at 20/25 but she said that it wasn't worth it to do an operation to correct it further because of the risk. And I still think there's a dark spot or something affecting my left eye, but I can't pinpoint it.

The doctor said that I was "released". But I must admit that I'm afraid sometimes about what might happen in the future and I don't think I'll ever be totally released from that.

But things have been great so far other than the complaints I've mentioned.


Jan 13, 2011 - Letters From My Fans

Just to update, my vision has been stable since my last entry. So left eye a tiny bit fuzzy, but other than that everything is great. Got my scuba diving certification at the Great Barrier Reef! And flooding my mask didn't freak me out because I didn't have to worry about being blind if my contacts floated out.

So I actually did get one letter from one single fan. It's better than nothing eh? (if anyone else wants to send a message, feel free at wes@akawesley.com) I wanted to share it because it really shows how much this operation is a leap of faith. It's scary for all of us. Period.

Mornin' Wes,

Thank you sooooo much for taking the time to write back, man. we really appreciate this. Dude, your blog is so detailed, we feel like we know ya :o) . you're also super funny, she actually started feeling hope when she read it.

We found your blog by coincidence when searching online yesterday morning we hope you don't mind us e-mailing you. it's just that all we were told, by Dr.Herzig himself, is a bit of blurriness after the iridotomy and none of this was ever mentioned.

My fiance had her iridotomy done on Friday. After which, she was blurry for like an hour, but then she started to realize that there is something else, which is not really blurriness. She said to me when we got home that she's seeing reflections of lights when looking at lamps and when looking outside at daylight. She seeing perhaps a glare. That's when she started noticing "the eye lashes" . ..

Plus, here comes the big one: She wants to let you know that last night, being her first "after-dark" night out after the iridotomy. She noticed, while i was driving & she was in the passenger seat, that she sees rays of lights coming from every bright light on the road towards her face. she tried to avoid these bright lights but she can't. They were coming from everywhere. Car headlights, car taillights, traffic lights, street lights, etc.. you name it.

These perhaps so called "horizontal lights" won't go away till we arrived to our destination. she realized that there is no way she'll be able to drive. we got out of the car and these rays of lights are still hitting her face and her nick from houses which have lights on their front lawns. i think she was almost in tears but she hides it very well. She's quite strong. Stronger than me, i'd say, if i'd ever come to notice such things.

We were out this morning. Today, as you know, has been a very bright day. "The glare has always been there ... all morning" she says. does any of that sound familiar to you? we'll be calling Theresa tomorrow to ask why this was never mentioned? and will it ever be corrected after the ICL?

I'm a bit worried, but i'm a worrier. Specially when it's concerning my love, you know. Amazingly, she's taking the whole thing pretty well so far. Better than i'd expect.

Anyhow, listen Wesley, we'd love to hear from you. you can give us a call anytime. P.S. She hasn't seen the retina specialist yet. But, from what you've described of your retina specialist appointment, it sounds like a scene from the game Silent Hill, ... or maybe a little worse ;o) thanks again,

Hi P,

My experience is that after every operation, there will be a period right afterwards where things aren't "right". Either she'll see huge burst of light around everything at night, or a haze, or a blur. If you think of it, they are doing pretty significant operations here. Just like if you got an operation on your knee--you wouldn't be able to walk right away. You will limp for a few weeks before you can walk and then finally run.

So try not to freak out when your vision has changed after any of the operations. It will change. Just stay calm, try not to worry, and keep telling the doctor everything that you notice. They have done hundreds of these operations, so they should be able to recognize common after-effects or possible signs of complication. In fact, this operation is actually almost the exact operation as a cataract operation, so Herzig has done thousands of these.

I had halos and bursts around lights at night after every operation. And it eventually went away. By the fourth operation, I was just comparing the bursts from one operation to the next--I just expected it! It will be the one of the most obvious after-effects of these operations.

I think being worried is normal. For all of us, this is really a leap of faith. I hope this helps.


Sep 27, 2014 - Sorry Folks, I Ain't a Doctor

I guess ICL is still popular nowadays. I am still getting letters about people's experience. Unfortunately, I can't do much but offer my own experience.

Anyway, I thought it would be good to share all the letters since they all offer different perspectives. If I could program the database stuff, I could just let you all automatically post your comments, but I can't so I'll just post them as they come in on this page: icl2008mail

Keep sharing! wes@akawesley.com

For my update, my eyes are still pretty good now--my left eye (the one that did not get both ICL and Lasik) is getting a bit more astimagty and the vision is worsening a bit, but it's probably because I'm getting older. I probably could use glasses for this, but it's not really pressing right now--I don't notice it too much unless I shut my good eye and think about it.

The eyelash thing is probably still there, but I just don't notice it as much anymore. If I focus and look for the "eyelashes" right now typing this, I can see them.


Dec 16, 2017 - Time for Glasses Again

I'm horrible for getting eye check-ups. I think I have a deep-seeded fear of the eye doctor, more than the dentist, orthopedist, or proctologist. I think it reminds me of the chronic issues I've always had with my eyes.Well, I went to the eye doctor for the first time in a while.

It actually happened because I had gone to get a new drivers license and I had to do an eye exam. My right eye passed with flying colours, but my left eye couldn't read the little letters on the testing screen. I noticed my left eye was getting weaker the last year or so, but I didn't think it got this bad.

So I went to a new eye doctor and got a check up.

I told the eye doctor that I had ICL done in 2008. His reply: Wow, you had a toric ICL implanted in your eye back then? You were quite the early adopter! I don't think I thought of myself as an early adopter. It's a bit scary to think of that, but I guess it has worked so far.

Overall, there's a small prescription for my left eye--about -0.25 on the right eye, -0.75 plus some astigmatism on the left eye. He said it wasn't a bad thing because my left eye naturally takes care of close vision and my right eye takes care of long distance. He said it's actually a choice for eye surgery for older people called "monovision".

The scary thing is the eye doctor had a machine to test peripheral vision where you would stare at a dot in the middle of a white background. Then little, almost imperceptible, dark fuzzies would flicker on and off and I would click a button every time I saw one. My right eye could catch glimpses of them, but my left eye was like a dead ball--I couldn't make out a single fuzzy.

Since the operation, I always thought I had a dark spot on my left eye and it screwed up my peripheral vision (see my Aug 29, 2009 post). Now that seems to be the case. This eye doctor noticed some "chaffing" of my iris and is thinking maybe there are some problems with the pigment getting stuck in the drainage canal of the eye. I'm googling it now, it's called pigmentary glaucoma.

Fuck...this is why I don't like seeing eye doctors...will see the doctor again in January.


Jun 25, 2018 - Linking Some References

I got another checkup from an opthamologist and he also concluded there was a "bit of" glaucoma, and a "bit of" a cataract" to boot. He prescribed me some eye drops to help reduce the pressure in my eye for the glaucoma. A funny thing was the nurse had said that the pressure in my eye was normal before the doctor came in.

The doctor said he wasn't sure if the ICL has anything to do with the problem. But noting that there hasn't been any of these problems in my family makes me think that there's a connection. I did some googling and found a recent case study report published this month about a man with issues of pigmentary glaucoma after ICL:

Clara Ye, Cajal K. Patel, Anna C. Mormont, Yao Liu (2018). Advanced pigment dispersion glaucoma secondary to phakic intraocular collamer lens implant. American Journal of Ophthalmology Case Reports 10(6), 65-67, doi: 10.1016/j.ajoc.2018.01.046

Hmm...more articles: Korean medicine, proper ICL vaulting needed, It seems like there is a few cases of this as people age, the eye shape changes, and the ICL touchs the iris and starts to chafe it.

I'm going to write a message to the authors of that article and see what they think I should do. Maybe they can help.


Jul 22, 2018 - No Advice

Yesterday, I attended a wedding of a cousin and it was super fun. After being away so long it was nice to get reacquainted to family I haven't seen for a long time.

Partway through the night, I started talked to a younger cousin--maybe 10 years my junior. He mentioned that he had read my ICL blog before he had the procedure done himself! I felt so much anxiety hearing this--that people use my blog to help themselves make the choice of ICL or not. And now on top of that I'm concerned about my own eyes problems, not just for me but for him as well.

I hope I didn't give any advice in my blog. Just a perspective on my experience, be it bad or more hopefully good.


July 30, 2018 - Back to Herzig I Go

I made a call to Herzig last week and my call was sent to the ICL office manager, which is now none other than Theresa! I told her about my diagnosis of pigmentary glaucoma and asked if any of their past patients have experienced this. She gave me a confident "no", but she said she could arrange a doctor visit to take measurements and check the state of the ICL. I quickly made an appointment as the availability of opthamologists familiar with ICL in Calgary is slim.

I'll be in Toronto for a business trip next week. So I will visit their office for the first time since the ICL operation and final checkup. Hopefully they will have some news that will be helpful.


Aug 8, 2018 - New Office for Herzig

Today I visited Herzig's office in Toronto. The office has now moved to another location just across the street from the original office. The new place was impressive with lots of the calm waiting room space--but now with giant video screens detailing all the new fangled procedures being done. I was taken by an efficient lady to do several tests. The machines at this office are very high tech--lots of lasers and lights mapping out the entire eyeball, and a field of vision machine that looks very futuristic and sleek.

So most of the tests didn't need me to do anything more than look at a dot, and then getting a personal psychedellic laser light show. The field of vision test again was revealing and saddening to do--little dots of light appear around your peripheral vision and you push a button whenever you see one. Again, like that first eye doctor appointment, I couldn't see anything in the full upper right quadrant of my left eye...a giant hole in my vision.

The young guy doctor saw me because Herzig unfortunately was on vacation this week. He looked at the results and gave me the impression that they were a bit strange--my eye pressure was low but I was getting glaucoma. He made it sound like he hasn't seen this much before--normally if people have these problems it's closer to their operation date and the eye pressure will spike. He said that he thinks the ICL is in the right place and looks fine--so if there is glaucoma it's not due to the ICL. I asked if there are still people getting ICL today and he said "yes"--it's a common procedure for people with really bad vision.

That's it. They said I could leave and Dr. Herzig would review the results when he was back from vacation. I will get information later. Anyway, I'm kind of resigned to a darker future, I'm doing what I can and just hoping for the best.