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Choosing LASIK to See Clearly Outside the Camera Lens

Patient Stories

The decision to undergo laser vision correction is not an easy one. Once a patient does decide to pursue this course, there are several options he or she might be presented with during a consultation.

Focus asked one patient to share his story, why he ultimately made the choice to undergo the procedure, and how he decided which procedure to pick.

Coming into focus

Professional photographer J. Kiely Jr., a 51-year-old from Dedham, MA, had worn contact lenses every day since he was in third grade. It had become a well-engrained part of his daily routine and he didn’t mind it much. But over the past few years, that changed. He would wake up and put in his contacts — as he had done every morning for decades prior – but would notice throughout the day that he would be searching for his reading glasses.

“I needed contacts to see things far away and reading glasses to see things close up,” he recalled. “It became an untenable situation.”

As a longtime photojournalist, J. could adjust his camera’s diopter to see clearly through the lens to make sure he captured and framed his subject perfectly. Once he looked up though, he could barely see anything.

During the pandemic he had more time on his hands with fewer photoshoots scheduled and thought to himself that now was as good a time as any to revisit the idea of laser vision correction. Over the years he had kept tabs on the technology and quizzed friends who underwent the procedures, but the timing was never right for him.

“I figured now would be a good time to do something for myself, and if there were any issues with the recovery, it wouldn’t impact my livelihood,” he said.The technology was constantly changing; I was always kind of paying attention to it. The timing felt right to get an evaluation.”

Making a choice

J. recalled he had been told earlier in his life that he was not a candidate for laser vision correction, so his main goal of the evaluation was to learn what, if any, of his options were. He underwent a comprehensive evaluation with Nandini Venkateswaran, MD, a member of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Service who sees patients at the Mass Eye and Ear Waltham location. After reviewing his test results, Dr. Venkateswaran let him know he was in fact a candidate for several types of laser vision correction.

“My ears perked up when I heard that,” he said.

He was given several options that would be suitable for him based on his case and prescription, including whether to have a procedure done on just one eye or both. What interested him most was a newer procedure called topography-guided LASIK.

Topography-guided LASIK is one of the latest technological innovations in laser vision correction. It utilizes specialized planning software to map out a patient’s individual corneal imperfections to provide a more customized treatment approach. The procedure itself is the same as conventional LASIK, but the software used and calculations that get programmed into the laser by the surgeon are different. Early studies show that some patients may obtain as good as 20/15 vision and a reduced risk of glare and halos at night, according to Dr. Venkateswaran.

“Since I was sitting at the ‘poker table’ with my eyes getting operated on, I thought I might as well go ‘all in’,” he said. “I figured why don’t we just do everything I can at this moment in history, I wanted the best I could afford.”

In July 2021, J. got a ride to the clinic in Waltham to undergo the procedure on both eyes. He said he felt very comfortable thanks to the staff and the procedure went by very quickly. He went home and listened to podcasts as he recovered and went to bed wearing the recommended protective goggles.

“The next morning, I looked out my bedroom window and could see the leaves on the trees, which I never had been able to see before in life,” he said.

J. recently had his one-year follow-up and said his vision is excellent. He still wears “cheaters” when he sits at a computer but has long since ditched the contact lenses. He joked it took him about six months to stop reflexively reaching to take them out each night before he went to bed.

“Part of me regrets not doing it a lot sooner,” he said. “But part of me is a thankful I waited until 2021 to do it because the technology now really seems to be built on a lot of other people going before me.”

From July 1 until September 30, 2022, Mass Eye and Ear is pleased to offer $1,000 off laser vision correction surgery. Call 1-833-LASER-99 to schedule your consultation.

*$1,000 total or $500/eye. Offer may not be combined with any other offer, discount or promotion. Surgery must take place by December 1, 2022.