For those not in the know, I’ve been legally blind thanks to myopia since I was about 9yrs old – that’s when I stopped being able to see the big E on the eye chart. My glasses prescription eventually stabilized at -8.5/-8.75. I’ve been wearing contacts since I was 16, which at least let me see in 3D and stopped the weight of the lenses on the frames of my glasses from bruising my ears and nose!
So, in February of 2008, I went in to various ocular adjustment places to see about alternatives to LASIK (I’d researched LASIK and found it to be heavily wanting, especially for strong prescription like mine). The best alternative that I found was ICL (implantable contact lenses).
ICL is a form of cataract surgery, which has a 50 year track history and tons of medical research behind it – unlike LASIK. They create a lens, pop it into your eye behind the cornea, and you’re done. Completely reversible, completely upgradable – again, unlike LASIK. Complications are extremely rare.
The first place I was seen, Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center, kept me waiting for two hours past my appointment time, and the tech was so badly trained and/or prepared for my visit that she kept mixing up whether I was there for LASIK or ICL throughout the hour long series of tests -some of which were only supposed to be for LASIK! Nooooo thank you, no sirree bob, not going THERE.
The second place, Schwartz Laser Eye Center, just handed me some pamphlets, rushed me thru some basic tests, and said to see the cashier to make an appointment and pay. I felt like cattle must when going thru a processing plant. Noooooo again.
I almost didn’t go to the third place, but decided WTH, might as well.
I was most impressed with the third place – Brems Eye Center. I received courteous and friendly care, with the techs being knowledgeable, easy going and able to answer all the questions I put to them. My vision was also personally given a final check by Dr. Brems himself, and he went over the entire process and made sure I understand what I was getting into.
I liked Brems, and I decided I would schedule an appointment as soon as I had the cash needed saved up. Well, needless to say the recession began a few weeks later, and I didn’t manage to save anything as my hours and then my wages were cut.
In mid-November of 2008, I decided I would use some new credit to get the surgery and pay it off before the introductory 0% period ended (doable within my budget, but just barely).
At the end of November, I went in to Dr. Brem’s and was given another round of measurements, checkups, etc. They found that after the lens was implanted I wouldn’t have enough space to properly circulate fluid in my eyes, so they put me in front of a laser and zapped a teeny hole in each cornea to create channels for the fluids to flow. Despite numbing drops, this HURT! It felt like getting a rubber band snap INSIDE my eye, and the ache took a couple hours to subside. Still, not terrible.
Here’s one of the things I loved about Dr. Brems’ level of care: I had asked a tech a question while she was examining, and she said she would ask Dr. Brems for me and get back to me. Well, she hadn’t and it was closing time when I left. So what happened? On SATURDAY morning, he calls me up to answer my question! There’s a dedicated doctor for you.
In mid-December of 2008, I had the surgery to permanently implant contact lenses. It was actually pretty quick. My bosom buddy Mary took me to the office, and kept me company while they prepped me. The attendant gave me a Valium and about 8 different kinds of eye drops. Mary and I were then left to let everything take effect, and we chatted and snooped around the prep room a while. We found cookies! Nom nom nom…
Eventually I was taken into the surgery, strapped down, and given more drops. Dr Brems came in and we chatted a bit, then he went to work. It was very odd to watch him working on my eyes with the same eyes he was working on, if you take my meaning!
First he made a couple of teenie holes with a microscopic diamond tipped knife (he used a microscope to operate). Then he picked up a teensy syringe with the contact in it, slid it in where he’d cut, and slowly injected the contact inside. He then used a tiny pointed stick to unfold it and move it into position. Which was VERY strange to watch from the inside! It was like seeing a clear yellow shower curtain over my eye, with a blurry sticky poking it and smoothing out the crinkles.
Immediately after he finished fiddling that into place, he pulled back to get the other lens and I could see past his shoulder to the ceiling… where the ceiling vent was in perfect focus. I was astonished! I knew intellectually that the procedure would have zero recovery time, but it was quite another thing to experience.
So he did the other eye…and I could see! It was somewhat blurry, thanks to the dilating drops and the like, but it was worlds better than it had been without my contacts in. I was literally agog! The whole thing only took about 40 minutes! I was told to come by next morning for an eye test.
The joy of being able to see your alarm clock in the middle of the night is something you either understand or you don’t 🙂 Needless to say, I was ecstatic.
So I come by next morning for testing and have 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 in the other. Paradise! I have never been so happy. Was completely and utterly worth taking out a line of credit to get the ICL.
And as a final example of Dr. Brem’s incredible quality of personal service: I had asked him a question about swimming after surgery. He was busy fiddling at the time and said he’d have to check to answer the question. We both forgot about it, but he called an hour later to give me the answer. Awesome!
So here I am in the first week of January 2009, with 20/20 vision and some slight haloing around bright lights at night…and I couldn’t be happier! Fantastic way to come into the new year! I would recommend ICL and Dr. Brems to ANYONE with serious vision problems.