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How much do I hate not having 20/20 vision? Let me count the ways. I’m not going to lie: this is a post about disappointment, medical drama, and dealing with corneal scarring. It’s kind of a downer. On the upside, there is some Star Wars in there too. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Back in December, Ian and I found ourselves back in our favorite Southeast Asian city. It was my third time in Bangkok since touching down in Thailand a few months earlier — we’d spent a couple days sleeping off jetlag there upon arrival, and I’d returned not long after to speak at a conference. This time, we were en route to a visa-run turned holiday in Siem Reap, and stopped in Bangkok for a few days to get the ball rolling on some eyeball-focused medical tourism. Yup, I’m talking Lasik! Over the years, as I became familiar with the incredibly high quality and low cost of medical care available in Bangkok, I knew that this was where I’d finally kiss my glasses and contacts goodbye, someday.

Bangkok

Bangkok

While I am ever grateful to my eyes for allowing me the gift of literally seeing the world, they have been a regular source of stress. Last summer while home in the US, I paid over six hundred dollars out of pocket (and this was when I still had health insurance!) to deal with two nasty eye infections that cropped up, one minor and one serious. It was the latest in a long line of ocular issues, including one saga back in college that was so nasty it required surgery on my right eye to undue all the damage. Most of the time, doctors would point to my contacts as a possible source of the trouble, but as an extremely active outdoors kind of gal, everyday glasses were just not a workable solution for me.

Infections and injuries aside, it’s a hassle to travel with glasses and contacts. You have to keep them clean and safe, replace them regularly, and haul them everywhere you go — not to mention the constant threat of being stranded blind without them if something were to go wrong.

And glasses, contacts, solution, eye drops and doctors appointments aren’t free — you pay a hefty fee for the pleasure of all that annoyance! For years I’ve been sure that “someday” I’d spring for laser eye correction surgery and finally free myself from the contacts that cause me so many head — and eye — aches. And someday had finally arrived.

While in Bangkok for the aforementioned conference back in October, I accompanied my dear friend Chris to his own surgery at the widely recommended TRSC Center. I was nervous, but when I walked into the futuristic Jetsons-like waiting room filled with obscenely qualified surgeons, luxurious seating and a glorious snack selection, my hesitations eased. When I saw him the next day, smiling and laughing over dinner without a corrective lens in sight, I was sold.

TRSC Bangkok

I immediately went back to Koh Tao and started plotting to get the surgery as soon as possible myself. I did phone consultations with the patient advocates at TRSC, I played around with my calendar, I started saving money, and I booked a hotel for the recovery period. Because I live on Koh Tao and the surgery would take place in Bangkok, I’d have to travel back and forth a couple times for various appointments, and stick close by the center for a few days after the surgery itself. My mom, nervous about me being operated on abroad, even started making plans to visit and nurse me back to health.

My initial appointment finally arrived. We hopped an overnight ferry to the mainland, got on the first flight of the day from Chumphon to Bangkok, grabbed a giddy breakfast at Rocket Coffeebar, and I was in the doctor’s office signing in by mid-morning.

Rocket Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

While the surgical appointment itself takes less than thirty minutes, this first one lasted hours as I went from room to room, having my eyes poked and prodded while meticulous measurements were made. Finally, I met with my doctor, a woman with a resume of qualifications that would put any nervous patient at ease, and beamed as she looked over my charts.

She frowned, which isn’t something you want doctors to do when looking over your medical charts. And then she broke the news — my contacts were here to stay.

She explained that my corneas were extensively damaged from the eye infections that had driven me to her office in the first place — the one that had led to surgery had left a deep corneal scar, and the ramifications of the most recent offender were still actively healing, though also looked serious. She assured me I would never qualify for either ReLEx or Lasik, the two surgical options I was considering. I was crushed.

She did raise the possibility of PRK, the painful predecessor to Lasik. Compared to ReLEx or Lasik, the recovery was brutal and required daily visits back to the doctor for at least a week to check on the healing of the delicate surgery. Overwhelmed, I left to look for a second opinion.

I immediately made an appointment at Bumrungrad, a respected hospital I’ve been a satisfied patient of in the past. Unfortunately, the doctor there came to a similar conclusion — I would never qualify for ReLEx or Lasik. She agreed I could be a candidate for PRK but noted she wouldn’t perform any surgery for at least six months, until she saw what happened with the actively healing corneal scar. Also? She suggested that my long history of picking up prescription eye drops was very likely the result of an allergy to contacts! Who even knew that was a thing?

It was quite the catch 22. The very reason I wanted the surgery so badly — my contacts were causing me constant grief and ailment — was keeping me from getting the surgery at all. I was crushed. Frankly, I don’t hear “no” very often in my life — sure, people say it to me all the time, but I typically take it as “work harder” or “try again.” But this was one of those rare times when I heard a no there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about.Β In the end, it’s an elective surgery and there are far greater tragedies in the world than not being eligible to have it. I’ve come to peace with that now, but it did take me a while to come to terms with.

TRSC Bangkok

TRSC Bangkoknaively thinking I’m kissing those glasses goodbye

Now that I’ve gotten over the disappointment of not being able to have the surgery I wanted when and where I wanted it, I’m back to the drawing board. I’m weighing up if I’m ready to have PRK surgery, and if so, if I’m willing to do it — a scarier surgery with a more difficult recovery — so far from my family and a familiar medical system. Part of the reason I wrote this post is I’m hoping some of you reading this might be able to reassure me that you too had PRK, and it wasn’t as bad as it sounds in the pamphlets!

And to add insult to injury? This is why I didn’t go to Burma this year.

It’s become kind of a running joke, both here on Alex in Wanderland and in my real life, that I just can’t seem to get to Burma. It seems that almost every year, I announce a trip there, only to later come back with my proverbial tail between my legs and admit that nope, I’ve still never been to Bagan, or Inle Lake, or anywhere in Burma other than the border that I occasionally run over and back across to restart my multiple entry Thai visas.

So how does Burma play into all this? Some sacrifices had to be made. Looking at my bank account and my calendar when I first made the decision to move ahead, I knew I couldn’t fit in the surgery, the recovery time, all the necessary follow up visits, my visa runs and extensions, and the two week backpacking trip to Burma that I’d been planning with my friends Anna and Janine — who were having some scheduling issues of their own due to various visa and work issues. After some soul searching and tough talks, we all mutually decided that this wasn’t our year, and I took the money and time I’d mentally earmarked for Burma and put it towards my eye surgery instead. I was bummed, but my excitement over finally ridding myself of my contacts and glasses was greater.

Obviously, this would be a much better story if my surgery went ahead as planned. “I gave up a girl’s trip to Burma to get my eyes fixed” is a much nicer pill to swallow than “I gave up going to Burma for a dream that never happened and then it was too late to undo it after,” but I suppose there is always next year! (Ha.)

Which brings me to another reason I wrote this post. If you’re considering vision correcting surgery, and especially considering doing the surgery abroad like I was (oh, how excited I was to document the process of participating in medical tourism), learn from my mistakes and don’t start prepping until you know that you are indeed a candidate for the surgery! In retrospect it’s silly that I didn’t even consider that as a possibility while working out all the travel planning and logistics, but I suppose hindsight is 20/20 — unlike my regular sight. Cue the punchline drum.

So yes, our weekend was definitely overshadowed by bad news. Thankfully, I had Ian by my side to valiantly attempt to cheer me up, tell me I look great in glasses, and distract me with a night out on the town. In Bangkok and looking for a prescription to turn a frown upside down? I recommend dinner at La Monita Taqueria food truck inside Siam Paragon, a movie at the Blue Ribbon Theater, and dessert at Mango Tango. It worked, mostly, for me.

Blue Ribbon Theater Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

Blue Ribbon Theater Bangkok

Blue Ribbon Theater Bangkok

Blue Ribbon Theater Bangkok

Mango Tango Bangkok

By the time we took off for Siem Reap, I’d promised to leave my blurry vision blues back in Bangkok. If there was one thing I could see clearly, it was that through glasses, contacts, or surgery, I had a lot of this world I wanted to see.

Do you travel with glasses and/or contacts? Have you considered — or already had — corrective surgery? I want to hear about it in the comments!

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131 Comments...
  • Amy
    July 6 2016

    Hey Alex,

    I had PRK about six years ago. Although it’s true the recovery is a little longer, I didn’t find it painful at all! I also didn’t need to go into the doctors office daily afterwards. You have to put a lot of drops in your eye for a week afterwards and there is slight soreness, but I would never say I was in pain.

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      Hey Amy, this is exactly the reassurance I was looking for! I don’t know if it is my eyes specifically or just a different procedure but at TRSC they told me I’d have to come back every day for 5-7 days so they could check on corneal healing and eventually remove the protective lens they put over the eye during surgery. But that’s awesome to hear you didn’t consider it painful at all! I think after seeing how crazy simple my friend’s recovery was with ReLEx, PRK just sounded really tough in comparison.

  • Aw, boo. What a bummer all around. Every time I see things like this it makes me immensely grateful my eyes have held out so far. If it makes you feel any better, my brother had LASIK and they messed up the surgery while he was on the table, the doctor started freaking out and obviously my brother freaked out as well! It was a horrible experience and when he had to go back to get it fixed, he had to be heavily sedated (I don’t blame him!)

    I hope you can find an option that works for you chica!!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Mega-Roundup: Months 42-47

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      OMG what a terrible story! I definitely felt super comfortable with the care at both TRSC and Bumrungrad, but I feel bad that I know how stressed my parents are by the idea of me having surgery abroad. Personally, I find the standard of care at those facilities higher than what I’ve received in the US, but I hate putting them through any kind of stress.

    • Ashley
      July 6 2016

      Oh my god, that’s terrifying! I’ve never heard any stories of that happening. That’s a mega scary experience, I hope he isn’t scarred for life and that he can see perfectly now!
      Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

      • He got all fixed up on the second go-around, thankfully. Apparently it’s only good for 10 years or something though – he said whenever it wears off, it’s glasses-only for him πŸ™‚
        Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Mega-Roundup: Months 42-47

        • Ashley
          July 6 2016

          Well that’s good! I hear that sometimes, the 10-year thing, my dad got it 15 years ago and he’s still going strong. I think it’s different for everyone. And my doctor told me because of how messed up my eyes were (more ways than one), that I would never need reading glasses or anything. Here’s hoping!
          Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

    • Rachel
      July 9 2016

      Thats so scary!!! I’ve considered LASIK for in the future but I’m honestly a bit concerned about problems like this…From what I understand they are the minority but your eyes are your eyes you know?
      Rachel recently posted..An Invocation for Beginnings: The Do More Diaries

      • Alex
        July 10 2016

        Rachel one thing I found reassuring in the million hours of video I had to watch at TRSC (okay, maybe not quite a million but lots) is there has NEVER been a total loss of sight from Lasik. Things can definitely go off course but you don’t have to worry about going blind. I found that very comforting ha ha.

  • Angelica Troeder
    July 6 2016

    This relates to me so much because I am planning to get Lasic in 3 years and I travel and I at times have issues with my eyes…so sorry you didn’t qualify. I did not know there was a “qualify or can’t qualify” process until this post. I thought anyone can get it. At least we do have our sight and glasses exist and now frames are more stylish than ever. I started battling a low level of dry eye syndrome in the last few months so I’m wearing my glasses 50/50 time. At least trying…was that something you had too? As a New Yorker I have docs recommended here near me to me from peers but still I’m thinking..it could be cheaper elsewhere. It is still about 5-6k here pricewise. Just don’t know how it would work if I tried out of state, out of country I think I’d have to move for a bit right? so much to consider. Thanks for your first hand troubles you’ve shared. Know that many of us travelers will share in how frustrating eyes can be!

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      Thanks Angelica — it really does make a world of difference to hear someone commiserate, so I appreciate it! ReLEx, the most expensive procedure at TRSC (one of the top centers in Southeast Asia for corrective surgery!) is $3,800ish. Lasik and PRK are cheaper. Of course if you travel there to do it you have to factor in travel costs, but I guess you get a free vacation out of it! I think if you travel abroad to have the surgery, you can do the initial follow ups where you did the surgery, and do later ones with a doctor at home (there are no eye doctors on Koh Tao, in my case, but I have a feeling New York has some ha ha). For ReLEX or Lasik they recommend 4-5 days in Bangkok, for PRK, at least a week.

    • Ashley
      July 6 2016

      Hey Alex, I’m totally bogarting your comment section haha.
      Angelica- I had serious eye-dry syndrome too before I got my LASIK (obviously I thought it was totally unrelated). Another Catch 22 was the fact that my Acuvue Oasys (moisturizing contacts) were the source of my eye-dry issues. As soon as I got LASIK the eye-dryness went away completely. So I guess that was a bonus! Good luck to you!
      Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

  • Katie
    July 6 2016

    I am too scared to get the surgery! Maybe when (if) it gets to the point where they can knock you out for it, I will do it (I can’t stand people going anywhere near my eyes) but I’m happy enough wearing glasses, especially now I have prescription sunglasses too. I wear contacts occasionally – if I’m dressing up or for snorkelling/diving or any activity where I can’t wear my glasses – but can’t be bothered most of the time
    Katie recently posted..Ko Tao through a sickness haze

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      I wish I was better about wearing my glasses. After this saga I wore them frequently, but kind of tapered off and am back to almost full time contact wearing. I just don’t like having something on my face — I’ve never gotten used to it!

  • Barbara
    July 6 2016

    At my age, 66, I am now waiting for cataracts so Medicare will pay for it while repairing cataracts. But there are times when traveling I wish I didn’t wear glasses. I have found excellent opticians in Hong Kong and Cairo, Egypt and very reasonably priced designer glasses!

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      I just used the very last of my vision insurance (which ran out in January) to get my old frames updated with my most recent prescription. But I’ll definitely look into getting my next frames abroad — great idea! And I like how you’ve found something to look forward to in cataracts πŸ˜‰ Good luck!

  • Colleen Brynn
    July 6 2016

    Loved reading this, as I am in my 4th year of optometry in Canada. Currently doing a clinical rotation in Salt Lake City. I’ve watched eye surgery at home and here – LASIK and cataract surgery. LASIK is definitely much easier than one would think! PRK is more involved, for sure, but I also know that it can have great results for tricky corneas. You can also see an improvement with corneal scars from PRK, depending on what layer of the cornea/how deep the scars are. The healing process can definitely be more painful, but my professor mentioned that there is a lot of psychology involved; if you are anxious and expect a lot of pain, it will come! If you are relaxed and trust your surgeon and the process, pain will be minimal. I’ve never had refractive surgery, but I do have a good friend who had excellent results from PRK. With any surgery, as in ocular surgery, there are risks involved, even things that can come up years down the road. One thing I would suggest is getting the documents and measurements of your eyes pre-surgery to keep with you. If in the future, you need cataract surgery, having these numbers will help your surgeon. Something to think about if doing surgery abroad (even though this is years and years away!).
    Hope this helps. Message me if you wanna talk eyeballs anytime! x
    Colleen Brynn recently posted..Beautiful Alien

    • Alex
      July 6 2016

      Wow, thank you so much for all this info Colleen, it’s so helpful! I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t know if anyone would care but me ha ha but this is the kind of conversation that makes me super grateful I did. Both doctors did mention that they thought my corneal scars could be improved by PRK — what is the benefit of that, by the way? I can’t remember if I even thought to ask that at the time or if I was just too overwhelmed by new information!

      Love what your professor said about manifesting pain, and I will definitely reflect and meditate on that if I move forward! And thanks for the tip about keeping all records. That’s great to know!

      • Colleen Brynn
        July 7 2016

        I’m not sure where your corneal scars are, but if they are on the visual axis (where you look through), they can decrease your visual acuity (how well you see). Some corneal scars don’t impact vision if they are out of the way.
        Colleen Brynn recently posted..Beautiful Alien

        • Alex
          July 8 2016

          Interesting! Good to know!

    • Alison
      July 7 2016

      Hey! I found your blog a few months ago when I was preparing for a trek on the inca trail and have been enjoying reading along. I also happen to be an ophthalmology resident so this post seems like a good one to weigh in on! First, you are right to do your research thoroughly before jumping into refractive surgery. If you do end up having it, as the previous commenter said, you should get paper copies of all the eye measurements that are taken so that you have them in the future – especially if you one day have cataract surgery. As far as refractive options go, PRK is a more difficult recovery but I would urge you to lean toward it instead of LASIK because of the mechanics of the procedures themselves. LASIK is done by cutting a thin flap on the surface of the cornea and laser ablating the underlying tissue. The flap is then laid back in place, but there always remains the possibility of flap-related complications such as flap dislocation, epithelial ingrowth, dirt/dust particles finding their way under the flap, etc. It is for this reason that the military performs only PRK on service members — since they are in a variety of environments and exposed to sand/dirt/dust there would be potential for a lot of flap complications with lasik. Given your adventurous lifestyle, the potential for flap issues is something you should consider as you make your decision. Good luck!

      • Alex
        July 7 2016

        Very interesting, and my doctor did mention that PRK can be the best choice for those with super active lifestyles for all the reasons you mentioned. Are you familiar with ReLEx? It was my first choice because it seemed all around the least invasive, though it also was very pricey and not available in the US yet from what I understand. (At TRSC, they get a lot of American patients who travel to Thailand to have the procedure!) Another benefit of PRK is that it is so cheap!

        I guess one of my big hesitations with PRK is they improved upon it for a reason, right? So it feels a little scary to go back to the original surgery when it has been seemingly improved upon so many times…

  • Katie Roscoe
    July 6 2016

    Hey Alex,
    I feel your pain! I wear contact lens and they are so frustrating when travelling! In humid places like Bangkok, I find they just get dry really quickly and by 8pm my eyes feel tired even though I am wide awake! May have to head over and think about surgery too!
    How do you get contact lens delivered when you are always on the move?
    xx

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      I track them down when I’m traveling, which can be tricky! In Bangkok they are easy to find but in Koh Tao they rarely have my prescription. Sometimes they are surprisingly pricey (looking at you Nicaragua!) and in some places they are hard to track down. It’s a big hassle!

  • Kim
    July 6 2016

    This stinks! I want LASIK too but have been told my vision is probably too bad for it (-9.5 & -10), but I do have a friend who had similar vision to me and she had PRK done and definitely recommends it! I asked my eye doctor about it and she did mention the recovery ha longer but didn’t mention it was super painful or anything like that! Hopefully you get more comments to reassure you that it’s a viable option!!

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Sounds like it’s hit or miss according to the comments here — some people are fine and others struggle. It definitely does seem worth it in the end, though. I think I’m probably ready to start moving ahead with preparing for PRK!

  • Erik
    July 6 2016

    Hey Alex,

    I had PRK surgery about 5 years ago. I was in the same situation, as a traveler wearing glasses was just a pain. So I went online and found the best clinic near my home and contacted the head of the department there (The Rothschild foundation in Paris – Dr Gatinel – https://www.gatinel.com/).

    The Dr. recommended PRK for similar reasons (and as it’s less invasive). The surgery went well and the local anesthetic made it possible to go home without tearing my eyes out. However, I’ve never been in as much pain as I was during the 3 days after the surgery. I had to stay in total darkness, as any light was unbearable. So, be ready (but not everyone has the same experience, hopefully you’ll have a better time).

    Today with 20/20 vision – I can tell you I’d still go through it all over again. Do it – it’s worth it.

    ps: if you want to have a look at a similar PKR operation here is a video: https://www.gatinel.com/chirurgie-refractive/les-techniques-operatoires/la-pkr-techniques-de-surface/

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Hey Erik, thanks for sharing your experience. My doctor described a similar recovery scenario — she told me to prepare to spend a few days in darkness basically on bedrest. I think it’s good they prepare you for the worst case scenario so that if it’s easier, you’re pleasantly surprised but if not, you’re mentally ready for it. Awesome to hear that you still feel it was all worth it!

      • Alanna
        August 4 2016

        I had PRK done about 5 years ago also and had a very similar recovery to Erik. My eyes were extremely sensitive to light and very painful, but the pain mostly stemmed from the protective lens that they put in my eyes. Once it was removed a few days later I felt much better. I was still sensitive to light, but was feeling pretty good within a week of the surgery. I would 100% do it over again and I like the fact that it has left my eye more “in tact” than Lasik.

        • Alex
          August 8 2016

          You guys have really given me a lot to think about! I am definitely considering PRK again thanks to all these encouraging yet realistic stories πŸ™‚

  • Katelyn
    July 6 2016

    Urgh… I too travel with contacts and glasses and hate it! I wear a monthly in one eye and a daily contact in the other. Carrying a 90-day supply of contacts along with two sets of glasses (in case something happens to one of them) and contact solution, etc. It totally sucks! I’ve been considering teaching English in South Korea next year because you can get Lasik surgery for about $600 USD total. It’s definitely on my list to look into. I think I qualify, but according to my eye doctor I do have this weird thing in the back of my eyes where my blood vessels could grow into my eye and cause me to go blind. Awesome right? I guess blindness is extremely rare and I’m hoping it doesn’t disqualify me from Lasik. Good luck with your eyes. I think it’s worth loooking into if its something you want bad enough!
    Katelyn recently posted..Yum or Yuck: Eating Fermented Shark in Iceland

    • Julie
      July 7 2016

      I got LASEK done in South Korea and it was great! I paid around ~1700 USD, but that was at a clinic that did everything in English. I probably could have done it cheaper at a local place, but the comfort of not having a language barrier was worth the extra cost.

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      I’ve had so many doctors recommend daily contacts to me over the years (and I did wear them for a short time after my surgery) but I hate the waste of the packaging and also can’t imagine trying to find enough of them when I’m spending so much of the year on a teeny tiny island in Thailand! I feel your pain!

  • Tessa
    July 6 2016

    I live in Hong Kong where each day I decide a) sweat my glasses off my face continuously shoving them back up my nose and have the steam up every time I move between AC indoors and humidity outside OR b) wear contacts and have the driest tired eyes from sitting 9-7 in intense AC

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Oh, I feel you. Glasses are not made for the tropics! I’ve never gotten used to having something sitting on my nose all the time.

  • I WAS LITERALLY JUST WHINING TO MYSELF ABOUT HAVING TO WEAR GLASSES!! I remember when I was a young teen I’d try to botch my eye appointment in order to get glasses, now that my vision finally failed me and I am forced to need them, I have realized they are such a PAIN! Especially for travel. I can’t bring myself to stick something in my eye (ie. contacts) so until my vision gets bad enough to qualify for Lasik I too am glasses bound. It is true, that in the grand scheme of things I am thankful for what I do have and that I have the ability to see the world with glasses, but at times it is hard to remember that. I feel ya girl. #glassesgangforlyfe
    Megan – Forks And Footprints recently posted..Why I Hate Being Gluten Free, My Answer May Surprise You

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Ha! If only you could go back and warn your teen self to love ever minute of that 20/20 vision, right?!

  • Erin
    July 6 2016

    Did u know there’s a kid of contacts you put in your eye while sleeping?? They are a hard lens u out in overnight and it re shapes your cornea. Whe you take them out in the morning you can see all day.! It’s a long process and expensive but perhaps work it in the end

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      I’ve just heard of these for the first time ever this month! No doctor has ever brought it up to me — I just had a friend tell me recently. I’m definitely going to look into it!

  • Claire Wang
    July 6 2016

    Erin mentioned it above but you can try night contacts! They’re hard contacts you put in at night and they’ll “correct” your eyesight while you sleep so when you wake up in the morning you can take them out and have perfect vision without wearing anything! The downside is that the initial contacts are pretty pricey, but still less expensive than Lasik and if you don’t lose or break them you don’t really have to replace them! On top of that, they also prevent your eyesight from getting worse! I have them, and it’s great, especially since I swim and water + normal contacts is not a great combination. I don’t know it’ll suit your eyes book I’d definitely look into them! I think the official name of them is Ortho K

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      I’ve just heard about this for the first time this month! So how often do you replace the contacts? And do you store them in solution? Very intrigued by this thing I somehow have never heard of, ha.

      • Claire Wang
        July 7 2016

        Yes you do store them in solution, just like normal contacts. And I’ve had yet to replace my night contacts and I got them 4 years ago! I think the only reason you’d want to replace them is if they broke or if your prescription got worse.
        Claire Wang recently posted..Where to see the Hollywood Sign

        • Alex
          July 8 2016

          Wow that’s amazing! Four years is a good record for holding onto anything πŸ˜‰

  • Ashley
    July 6 2016

    Hey girl –
    I feel ya pain! I once got robbed in Italy and the bastard stole my glasses! I had to be led blind down the unfamiliar Italian streets, bumping into doors and tripping over curbs (I had a terrible guide, clearly). I had an Italian optometrist laugh at my godforsaken prescription, telling me it must be a mistake.

    I got LASIK almost two years ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I will say though that not only was I legally blind (with eyesight of 20/500+, apparently they stop counting at 500?), I was also told I would NEVER be eligible for LASIK, ever. Of course I didn’t take that as an answer and saw another doctor who assured me it could be done. They had more state-of-the-art equipment and better procedures, yada yada. Don’t lose hope! There’s a solution out there (heh, a little contact humor) but concentrate on fixing your eyes the way they are! Best of luck to you : ) I really hope it works out – I swear by LASIK to everyone I meet.
    Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Wow, that glasses being stolen story sounds like a nightmare! I remember reading a story about a journalist being kidnapped in the Middle East and held hostage for two years, and the part that stood out to me the most was that in the midst of the kidnapping his glasses were broken, and he couldn’t see FOR TWO YEARS. Can you imagine?! My vision isn’t THAT bad, I could get around fine and read up close without glasses or contacts, but I wouldn’t be able to drive or work on my computer and I’d quickly get headaches from everything being blurry.

      • Ashley
        July 7 2016

        Haha girrrrrllll, when I wore contacts, my biggest fear was getting kidnapped (for many reasons, obvs) because what would I do with my eyes? I was blind and couldn’t wear them for more than 12 hours at a time. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with that fear. Also, in the book A House in the Sky, the girl who lived the story (same as above, journalist getting kidnapped in Somalia and held captive for over a year) also wore contacts and talked about that in the book. Oh, the dreadful things she did with them – ugh!
        Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

  • Marbree
    July 6 2016

    Oh, I feel your pain. When I went in for a LASIK consultation I was told it couldn’t be done with my eyes. All sorts of issues prevented it. But PRK was possible and it was one of the best things I’ve done. At my doctor’s suggestion, I did one eye at a time. Yes, this means it all takes longer but if something were to go wrong with one eye, the other would still be healthy. I recall the pain as being a nuisance, not all that bad. Aleve was enough. I’ve never heard of daily follow-up visits (my surgeon was a pioneer in this field and very conservative about treatment). If both places you went require daily follow-up, then so be it. The process was long (I too had to wait for some healing before the surgery) but completely worth it.
    Traveling and diving without contacts is wonderful and I have no regrets about the PRK. Good luck!
    Marbree recently posted..Rock Art and Other Goodness at Spitzkoppe and Twyfelfontein

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      That’s an interesting idea doing one eye at a time, I hadn’t thought of that. I just checked the documentation I was given to be sure I was remembering it correctly since a few of you have mentioned this and yup, it does say I’d have to come in daily for 5-7 days of follow ups post-PRK. I found a hotel within very very close walking distance of the center I’d planned to do the surgery at so it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle for me. I’m more put off by the time off work, and of course nervous about experiencing the pain some others have.

  • liz
    July 6 2016

    bummer bummer bummer! I’m sorry lady that sucks. You look cute AF in glasses though πŸ™‚ big hugs and I’ll go with you to Burma whenever!
    liz recently posted..Hanging out in the Maldives

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Thanks girl! I actually do love wearing my glasses indoors and during the day because everyone knows that wearing glasses makes you at least 3x smarter. I just hate wearing them out in the sun (squint city!) or at night when I’m supposed to be looking cute (stilettos and frames just don’t mix in my mind.)

  • Girl, I feel ya. I started wearing glasses at 10, contacts at 12 and finally got Lasik at 25. At 33, I still maintain it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

    BUT. Since Lasik is not an option for you, I do have a backup plan. From 12 to 25, I had corrective lenses called Orthokeratology. Has your doctor considered this as an option? They’re essentially braces for your eyes; after they’re reshaped your lens, you only sleep in them at night like retainers and then get by with 20/20 vision all day. Not entirely sure you’re a candidate what with the cornea problems but worth looking into at least? Then, you could work out, hike, dive, etc. all day long without the burden of soft lenses in.
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..The Cutest House on Martha’s Vineyard

    • Nikki
      July 7 2016

      I had to respond to your comment because I totally wore those kind of lenses for almost 3 years! I’ve never talked to anyone who knew that kind of corrected vision even existed (outside of my mom and my eye doctor). People used to literally think I was crazy when I told them I slept in hard contacts and then had perfect vision during the day. But… I HATED them and eventually switched back to normal contacts.
      Nikki recently posted..Three Day Tokyo Itinerary

      • HA! Same. You are literally the first I’ve met who also went through OrthoK! I totally get not liking them as they can be uncomfortable, but once you only wear them at night, I didn’t think they were bad. Plus, as an athlete they were a godsend as I didn’t have to worry about a lens getting knocked out mid-soccer game/tennis match/etc. And with as much diving as Alex does, I know it can be really tricky if you get salt in your eye should your mask leak, so I do think it would be something worth looking into at least =)

    • Ashley
      July 7 2016

      How have I never heard of that? I’m the same as you, I started wearing corrective lenses at 10. Before LASIK my eyes were all kinds of wonky… I wonder if that would have worked.
      Ashley recently posted..Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman

    • Alex
      July 7 2016

      Kristin, I remember you telling me about this in Martha’s Vineyard (I think it was you? I know I heard about it in the last month for the first time in my life.) Definitely going to look into this!

      Nikki — Why did you hate them?