Fast forward to July 2016. I'm told by Doctor Matthew Sharpe in Bellevue that I'm a prime candidate for a procedure known as ICL, or Implantable Collamer Lens. The procedure is not as scary as it sounds, I'm told - two lenses, made of material similar to what doctors use on cataract surgery patients, are implanted behind both irises. I did extensive research when I got home that night and decided the cost, associated risks, and short-term discomfort were all worth it. The procedure that would come a bit before this was called YAG, which is also common practice with cataract surgery patients. This laser procedure is used to relieve pressure in the eyes and takes place about a week or two before the actual ICL surgery.
Admittedly, the YAG procedure was a little uncomfortable. Dr. Sharpe described the feeling as "like a small rubber band being snapped against your eyes," and I wouldn't disagree. However, the numbing drops, valium, and reassurance of the doctor that it would be a quick in-and-out visit helped calm my nerves. What discomfort I did experience was short-lived, and only occurred during the YAG itself. When I got home that day, I rested comfortably and woke up without any pain.
About a week later, I went in for the ICL surgery. And though I suffered through some side effects of the medication I was given beforehand (which is the exception and not the rule), my vision improved almost immediately after I left the building. I was in sheer disbelief this morning when I woke up and could see everything in my bedroom for the first time in my life, without putting on glasses or contacts.
A follow-up visit today went swimmingly. Dr. Sharpe said my eyes couldn't look better. I'm still seeing some blur and some difficulty reading distant signs and text, but I was able to drive to and from the appointment without any issues. My final appointment for astigmatism correction will be next month, which is the common final step in these procedures in patients with vision as bad as mine was. Essentially, I'm told, that will be the final step in this process, whereupon I'll be seeing 20/20 or better.
Overall, this has been pretty unreal. The ICL treatment has definitely improved the quality of my life immediately, and I am looking forward to getting the final bit of treatment later this month that will help me see better than I ever dreamed I would.