Experience, LASIK, PRK, Reflection, SMILE, Surgery

With Thanksgiving only three days away, this week’s blog centers on gratitude. In my first blog post, I expressed my gratitude to all the people who helped me open Corsini Laser Eye Center. Today, I will focus on my thankfulness for clear, glasses- and contact-free vision.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but I once wore contacts and glasses. I wore them for sixteen years! But in 2018, I finally had enough time to take off work for my surgery. The Air Force (pending commander approval) generously grants one week of convalescent leave for members to undergo laser vision correction. I wasn’t a candidate for LASIK or SMILE due to my slightly irregular corneas (see Laser Eye Surgery: Which Procedure is Best for Me to learn more about who qualifies for which surgery), so I underwent PRK instead. No, I did not do my own surgery, but luckily, my colleague and friend Dr. Bill Gensheimer took excellent care of my eyes at the Warfighter Eye Center at Joint Base Andrews, MD. Five years later, I still see clearly without any optical devices.

PRK has been a life-changing surgery for which I am eternally grateful. I’d like to share my gratitude in this post by listing the Top Ten Times I’m Thankful I Had Eye Surgery.

10. Middle-of-the-night diaper changes: This one is for parents. Sleep deprivation already compromises our vision and focus at zero dark thirty, so I thank God I don’t need to grab for glasses as I stumble over to the changing station.

9. Looking for toddler and cat toys: This one surprised me the most! But I didn’t realize how annoying the glasses were when pressing the side of my face into the floor in search of toys our toddler or cat had batted underneath our bed. Try keeping your glasses aligned for visual clarity when peering through a one-inch crack on the floor. Impossible! Thankfully, this has been a non-issue after PRK.

8. Cooking: Should you cut onions with contacts in? Not unless you want to trap chemical irritants on your eye. Want to open a hot oven with glasses on? Not unless you want a face-full of steam to fog up your glasses. Now, I’m delighted to cook with clear vision after my PRK.

7. Skiing: Glasses plus ski goggles? Not a match made in heaven. But what if your contact seizes up in the cold, dry air? Do you bring an extra in your ski jacket? What about solution and eye drops? I’m so happy that I can ski without any visual aids now.

6. Performing surgery: I am grateful that I don’t have to pick between the risk of my glasses fogging up from my mask or my contacts causing dry, irritated eyes during surgery. Now, I can operate with the freedom and safety of clear, uncorrected vision.

5. Showering: Before PRK, I had three options, none of which were optimal. Option one was to wear glasses in the shower. Though this doesn’t carry an infection risk, water and steam are not ideal companions for glasses-wearers. Option two was to wear my contacts in the shower and risk a potentially blinding corneal infection. No thank you! So, I always opted for option three: no glasses, no contacts, just blurry vision. PRK was a game-changer for showering.

4. Running: I’ve run ten marathons in my life. Due to meniscus surgery and having two kids between 2019 and 2023, I haven’t run one since October 2018 – one month after my PRK –when I won the Monster Mash Marathon in Dover, DE. Sweat, water, Gatorade, sunlight, rain, dirt, wind: all are possible assailants of a marathoner’s eyes on race day. I’m thankful that contacts didn’t complicate my defense against these forces during that race or each of my runs since.

3. Playing with my kids. My four-month-old son loves grabbing – not just toys but hair, chins, lips, noses, necklaces, and glasses. I’m sure I would be on my third pair of glasses by now since his birth if I hadn’t had PRK. And then there’s my three-year-old daughter, who views my body as a jungle gym. Yes, I am definitely happy that I had PRK. (*If you have similarly “grabby and pokey” children, I recommend you look into either PRK or Zeiss SMILE since you won’t have to worry about those little fingers poking your flap!)

2. Traveling: The first surgery I performed since opening Corsini Laser Eye Center was on my wife’s cousin, Rob. He was planning a weeks-long European vacation and looking forward to ditching his contacts and glasses before the flight. Check out this post for some highlights from Rob’s trip, which he could enjoy with clear vision thanks to his Zeiss SMILE procedure. Like Rob, I am eternally grateful that I no longer have to lug around contacts, solution, and glasses when going on a trip.

1. Swimming: I don’t just wade when I’m in water. I like splashing, playing catch off the diving board, and giving my daughter a dolphin ride. But I couldn’t do any of that in glasses while maintaining clear vision. I also couldn’t wear contacts in a pool or ocean unless I wanted to risk a blinding corneal infection. Now, I don’t even have to think about it. PRK has freed me up to enjoy limitless water fun with clear vision, all while protecting my eyes. And when I get out of the pool, I can throw on any pair of sunglasses I want – because they don’t have to be prescription shades.

Gratitude is the root of all happiness; I posted about this truth in my Fall Meditation blog entry. And five years after my PRK, I’m still grateful to Dr. Gensheimer and the team at the Warfighter Eye Center for granting me the miracle of clear vision.

Jonathan Corsini, MD