I remember the first time I realized my vision wasn’t as clear as it should be. I was 14 and my dad was standing on the staircase outside my bedroom door, asking what I wanted for lunch. I squinted at him, trying to make his blurry face come into focus. He stood there expectantly, wondering if I’d heard him. Oh, I’d heard him. I just couldn’t see him. Off to the optometrist and the diagnosis was glasses – just what every 14-year-old girl wants to hear. But don’t worry – I was able to charm good ol’ Dad into getting me contacts, despite my mother’s objections!

I’ve been wearing glasses and contact lenses for a long time now. I’m so used to them, I barely think of the alternatives. But increasingly, I’m thinking about getting LASIK. It is a surgical procedure that uses laser technology to reshape the cornea to correct vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. People I know who’ve done it rave about it and I find myself thinking how nice it would be not to have to think about glasses and contacts and not to have to deal with the hassle of both.

Having laser vision correction would make travel easier. I wouldn’t have to worry about packing my glasses, lenses and contact solution or worse, figure out what to do when I forget to pack them (which has happened!) I wouldn’t have to deal with painful dry eyes when I fall asleep on the plane with my contacts in. It would be so nice to wake up in the morning and just be able to see. Oh, and it would be nice not to have my contacts splashed right out of my eyes by a massive ocean wave. Here’s that story:

It was January 2007. I remember it clearly because it was just two months after I’d met my now-husband Johnny Jet. We had met in November of 2006 on a press trip to Delray Beach. I lived in Toronto and he called Los Angeles home. It seemed unlikely that a relationship would prosper across a gulf of 2,000 miles but travel and technology make all kinds of things possible these days.

As writers, we both have the opportunity to travel to exotic locations for work – from France to Finland to the Florida Keys! I’d never been to Key West before and when Johnny asked me if I wanted to join him for a weekend escape, I was delighted; I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough! I’ll never forget the view from the plane just before landing, the crystal-clear turquoise waters shimmering below looked more like Fiji than Florida.

We checked into the Sunset Key Cottages, a resort on a 27-acre island that’s just seven minutes by launch from Key West. The quaint tropical cottages were surrounded by beautiful bougainvillea and the air was thick with the fragrance of frangipanis. It was all a far cry from what Toronto looked like in January and I soaked up every glorious moment.

Besides lazing around the resort, moving from the pool to the beach and hitting up the hammock in between, it was a restful and relaxing vacation. Until we decided to go jet skiing …

Let me preface what’s to come by saying that I’m not a water person. I’m not a strong swimmer and I have what I like to think of as a healthy skepticism of, and respect for, the ocean. So maybe jet skiing wasn’t the best activity for me but let’s just say that hindsight is 20/20 (though of course, my vision is not!)

We were traveling with a group of other journalists and jet-skiing was on the itinerary. I’d never jet-skied before but it sounded like a lot of fun, if a little scary. As we pulled into the marina, I saw the size of the jet skis and was a bit intimidated. I told the guide that I couldn’t swim and asked him if he thought it was a good idea for me; he assured me I would be fine. “You don’t need to know how to swim,” he said. “Just stay on your jet ski!” OK. Sure. That makes sense. I guess.

So I decided to go for it, carpe diem and all that jazz, despite my growing sense of unease. Once everyone was on their jet ski, we started our engines and ambled out of the marina at a slow and steady speed. As I got used to the machine (it was really big and heavy and felt like I was learning to ride a motorcycle!), I started to feel better about things. We weren’t going very fast and it was kind of fun. There were two guides with us and they briefed us on the dos and don’ts of riding a jet ski and assured us that one guide would lead the group while the other brought up the rear.

Suddenly, it was go time and before I knew it, everyone in the group had gunned their engines and were off. And I mean OFF. They took off so fast that I was stunned and started to feel a bit panicky. But I was out of the marina and in the open ocean so I couldn’t turn back. I figured my best bet was to try to catch up … and keep up!

I gunned the pedal and my jet ski lurched forward, taking me unwillingly with it. To be honest, I was astonished by the power of the jet ski. I’d never been on one before and didn’t realize how fast they could go. I watched my speed creep up from 15 miles an hour to 20, to 40. I still wasn’t going fast enough to keep up with the group so I gave the gas more pressure and suddenly, I was flying through the open ocean at 70 miles per hour. Isn’t that how fast you drive on the highway? I was so unprepared for this.

Because of my delayed start, I was well behind the group. The guide who was supposed to be bringing up the rear was nowhere to be seen. I was so far behind that I couldn’t actually see anyone. Instead, I was following the trail of white foam, left in the water in the wake of the last jet ski.

I started to feel scared. I couldn’t see anyone from my group and let me repeat: I was out in the open ocean. I couldn’t see the coast line. My jet ski was barreling along at a speed I felt entirely uncomfortable with and my arms were aching from hanging on so tight. The ocean was choppy and I was bouncing over giant waves and just barely staying on. I kept thinking about how I can’t swim and wondering where the hell the guide was.

Using the misty foam in the water ahead of me as my only guide, I followed along as best I could, trying to catch up, when I started to veer towards the left. But just as I started to make the turn, I caught a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. The life vest of one of the people in my group. I think. I decided to change course and follow the speck of red that I could see. Thank God. The other direction would have taken me further off course, headed south towards Cuba.

I finally saw people ahead of me (WAY ahead of me) and started to feel a bit better. I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t lost. I was still flying across the ocean, hurtling over waves at 70 miles per hour, my hands numb from hanging on to that beast of a machine for so long. And then, out of nowhere, came a wall of water. A massive wave that I was not prepared for and certainly not skilled enough to avoid. I didn’t even have time to hold my breath and before I knew it, me and my jet ski had slammed into it. I was able to hang on (just barely) but I swallowed a ton of water and was completely winded, my breath literally taken away. And I was in pain. Crashing into a wave when you’re going 70 miles an hour is like crashing into a brick wall. I think. I don’t know. It hurt like hell. I had barely pulled myself together when a second wave confronted and battered me. My sunglasses were flung from my face and with them, my contact lenses. I was an achy, disheveled, distraught mess.

I don’t know how but I finally made it back to the marina. Everyone else was jacked up, high on adrenaline.

Me? I was soaked. I was exhausted. I was defeated. And I couldn’t see.

I’m laughing (sort of) as I type this – it’s been a while since I’ve relived this experience but at the time, it was anything but funny. When I finally made it back to shore and stepped off that jet ski, I burst into tears. I could barely stand my legs were shaking so badly.

A hearty lunch and a pina colada later, I was feeling much better. But I was angry that I had lost my contacts. The rest of the trip, I couldn’t see properly. I was surrounded by some pretty spectacular eye candy and I couldn’t see it. And then, I had to make my way through the chaos of Miami airport, barely able to read the signs. Ugh. That was definitely one of those times I wished I’d had LASIK. The laser vision correction surgery is quick and by all accounts that I’ve heard, virtually painless. Should I do it?

When considering a laser vision correction procedure like LASIK, it is important to understand what it can and can’t do.  Like all medical procedures, there are risks and benefits to learn about and factor into the decision-making process. Fortunately, the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC) is a great resource of information for people who are thinking about their vision correction options and are interested in LASIK or other laser vision correction procedures.

I would love to hear about your experiences with LASIK. Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear your thoughts! ARSC is listening, so if you have any questions they can address them on their Insight blog.

 This is a sponsored post but all opinions expressed within are my own.

28 Comments on A Traveler’s Case for LASIK

  1. Amy M. Harrison
    September 26, 2017 at 4:09 pm (3 months ago)

    OMG what a crazy story! I loved reading this – thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. Jean
    September 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm (3 months ago)

    Go for it! Best idea ever. Had it done when I was over 60.

    Reply
  3. Johnny Jet
    September 29, 2017 at 2:13 pm (3 months ago)

    Ugh! It was difficult to read this post since I still can’t believe the guide didn’t stay behind you. If I had only known you weren’t a strong swimmer I would’ve never allowed it. We’re so lucky you didn’t fall off.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm (2 months ago)

      It was so crazy at the time and still got me all panicky just writing about it!

      Reply
  4. Sarah
    September 29, 2017 at 6:57 pm (3 months ago)

    I know about 4 people who had it done and swear by it! I wish Lasik would work for me, however I’m older and advice is it would only last a year or two before needing glasses/contacts again. Don’t wait too long if you want to do it as it will affect how long it will last for you. I use the contact lenses which you sleep in and wear for a month then put a fresh pair in. They are perfect for travelling and I carry eye-drops on planes. It’s the best thing to be able to see 24/7 and not be fussing with glasses! I even learned to scuba dive with them but was very nervous they might come out! They are improving contact lenses (and the types of laser surgery) all the time, so keep informed on the latest technology. Good luck with your decision!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:09 pm (2 months ago)

      Thanks for the advice, Sarah!

      Reply
  5. Michelle Bradford
    October 1, 2017 at 5:22 pm (3 months ago)

    What a story! Glad you are ok! I’m thinking of LASIK as well, what a difference it would make.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm (2 months ago)

      I keep thinking the same thing … it would make travel a lot easier and I could leave all my ‘gear’ at home haha (glasses, contacts, contact solution, etc)

      Reply
  6. Erin M. Masterson
    October 1, 2017 at 5:23 pm (3 months ago)

    I got LASIK eye surgery done four years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. Go for it!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm (2 months ago)

      Thanks, Erin! Stay tuned 🙂

      Reply
  7. J. Gibbs
    October 2, 2017 at 6:07 pm (2 months ago)

    I am considering LASIK eye surgery as well so I’m always curious to learn more. Thanks for the great read and information!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm (2 months ago)

      Keep me posted if you decide to do it!

      Reply
  8. Miranda Fontaine-Lemieux
    October 2, 2017 at 6:08 pm (2 months ago)

    DEFINITELY get LASIK – I wish I had done it so much earlier!!!!!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm (2 months ago)

      I know a lot of people who say the same – maybe it’s just time to bite the bullet!

      Reply
  9. Marcia C
    October 5, 2017 at 12:33 pm (2 months ago)

    I had read The Art of Seeing by Alduous Huxley, so when I lost my right contact lens in Mexico, I tried his techniques. I was sold that you can see through one eye so I had that eye LASIKED for distance. No thinking needed — when lifting my head for distance, I saw perfectly through the left eye. 15 years later nearing 60, I had my right eye LASIKED for computer distance reading. Bingo! I have great vision without glasses for distance and closer reading. I have prescription glasses for reading close, which I do typically when alone. But, even without those I still can read quite well! Glad to have had done each one individually when needed. Also, no experience of pain at all. Go for it!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm (2 months ago)

      This is so interesting and glad to know there was no pain!

      Reply
  10. Olga
    October 5, 2017 at 2:33 pm (2 months ago)

    Got lasik in 2000; best decision ever. Just keep in mind, your eyes wil be drier. Your vision will change as you age, but it is still a great procedure.

    Reply
  11. JDesjardins
    October 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm (2 months ago)

    Definitely the best money I ever spent. Had it done 10 years ago and I’m sure it’s more than paid for itself. No more fluids, rewetting drops, no more running out of fluid and contacts at inopportune times, no more spare glasses to buy, etc. I had monovision LASIK where one eye is corrected for distance, the other for near vision. It eliminated the need for reading glasses too. Makes travel a breeze – no having to take them out when you swim/snorkel, etc.

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:12 pm (2 months ago)

      These are all the reasons LASIK would make travel easier! And is your vision still as good now as when it was first done 10 years ago?

      Reply
  12. Rhonda
    October 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm (2 months ago)

    I want to get my eyes done as well but I keep putting it off. I just keep thinking about how nice it would be to travel and not have to worry about seeing. I will let you know if I do it!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 7, 2017 at 6:13 pm (2 months ago)

      Please do keep me posted!

      Reply
  13. TraceysTravels
    October 8, 2017 at 3:33 pm (2 months ago)

    DO IT! You won’t regret it!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 13, 2017 at 12:37 am (2 months ago)

      Thanks! 🙂

      Reply
  14. Debbra Dunning Brouillette
    October 9, 2017 at 11:46 pm (2 months ago)

    I had my LASIK surgery about 15 years ago and have never regretted it! I had one eye under-corrected so it could be used for close vision while the other eye was corrected for distance vision. (You might ask your ophthalmologist about that possibility.) Years later, I have had to get prescription reading glasses, which I wear when I work at the computer or to read, especially small type. You mentioned dry eyes. LASIK can sometimes cause your eyes to be dry and you may have to use drops (I do when i wake up in the morning…) but it’s still wonderful not to have to wear glasses or contacts to see the world! I’d say…go for it!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      October 13, 2017 at 12:38 am (2 months ago)

      Thanks so much for the info, Debbra! It’s starting to sound like a no-brainer! Appreciate you taking the time to chime in 🙂

      Reply
  15. Amanda J B
    November 2, 2017 at 9:13 pm (1 month ago)

    You will not regret getting laser eye surgery – it’s seriously the best thing I ever did!

    Reply
    • Natalie
      November 2, 2017 at 9:14 pm (1 month ago)

      Thanks, Amanda – I will definitely do a follow up and let you know if I do it! 🙂

      Reply
  16. Chickadee23
    November 2, 2017 at 11:48 pm (1 month ago)

    I’d like to do it but am a bit scared of the procedure

    Reply

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