Clear Vision for Travel and Surf

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I see a vague outline of the wave coming at us. It was this dark line in the horizon that was getting taller and taller as it came closer. I want to ride it. But I could only sense its approach, I can't tell how massive or dangerous it was. But it was certainly on its way- fast. 

All of a sudden, the huge wave comes at us so quickly that we don't have time to react. We paddle hard for our lives, but we all got caught inside. The current pulls me down hard into the reef and I realize I had a cut on my lip and scratches on my legs.

I was never so fully so aware of my own mortality.

There were a few things working against me: I had just attempted to surf the famous Majestic Waves in Catanduanes back in October of last year and I had bad vision in both eyes. A few weeks before that incident, I had been diagnosed with eye ulcers from using contact lenses abusively- yes, eyes also need to breathe. So the doctors gave me 2 options: continue to wear contacts and risk going blind or give up surfing altogether.

Surfing Cobra Reef, Baler
Photo Credit: Craig Pulsifer 

But I decided to give myself a 3rd option: LASIK surgery from the American Eye Center.

The first step was to have my eyes checked to see if I were a candidate for LASIK surgery. When I found out that I was, I was more than overjoyed! I was told that the procedure was painless but slightly uncomfortable. The recovery time would be a few hours. And then- perfect vision and spectacle free for life!

I felt like a prisoner who was finally getting out after years of confinement.

If you have had to wear glasses and contacts for years, you’d know what I’m talking about. Having to bring a bottle of contact lens solution everywhere. Not being able to ride a roller coaster properly if you’re wearing glasses. Being afraid to try water sports for fear of losing your contacts. The risk of eye infection if you’re not too careful. It’s just a big pain in the you know where!

Dra. Alnette Tan of American Eye Center

The moment I spoke to Dr. Alnette Tan of American Eye Center about the surgery- I knew for sure it would change my life! First of all, this lady is just a delight! She’s bubbly and energetic! She explains everything very clearly and precisely. I knew instantly I was in good hands. I don’t think I would trust my eyes to anyone else- let’s just put it at that.

But that didn’t keep me from getting cold feet on the day of the surgery. I’m usually open to new experiences. Especially when it’s something that would change me for the better. But how would you feel about someone or something poking your eyes? Nerve-wracking doesn’t even begin to describe it. Dr. Alt ( as she is fondly called by her patients) made sure I was comfortable. Her soothing voice gave me a reassurance that I was not going to risk going blind. She gave me calm instructions and gave full disclosure of what to expect, every step of the way.

I felt the comfort that everything was gonna be alright.

Skin Diving in Coron, Palawan

Was it painful? That’s usually the first question, right? I wouldn’t say it was painless. It was very obtrusive and uncomfortable. The entire procedure only lasted less than 10 minutes! Would you risk being uncomfortable- similar to the feeling of having very dry contacts in your eyes- for 10 minutes and have perfect vision for the rest of your life?

And my answer would be a resounding, unequivocal- HELL YEAH!

To say that LASIK surgery is life-changing would be an understatement. Let’s put it this way: You will be grateful for those 10 uncomfortable minutes- every single minute of your life!

Snowboarding in South Korea

I’m grateful to finally see that wave and touch it for the first time! My surfing has improved tremendously. I’m more confident to see signs and directions on the street when I’m traveling. I'm trying new sports like wake boarding, snowboarding and diving.

No need to squint at the theater. Roller coasters have become phenomenal! I threw away all my contact lens and solution. It’s like seeing the world for the very first time!

Diving in a coral nursery in Baler, Aurora Philippines
Photo Credit: Endless Samar Surf Tours

Waking up in the morning with clear vision has become a celebration!

Thanks to American Eye Center for this life-changing gift of perfect eyesight. American Eye Center has branches in Level 4, Greenbelt 5 in Makati and most recently re-opened in Level 5, Shangri-La Plaza in Mandaluyong.

Main photo credit: Tommy Schultz Photography

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3 sole trails

  1. I can relate to this. I hope I could save money for LASIK.

  2. Hi! I'm also considering undergoing LASIK surgery. How long did you have to wait before you could swim again in the sea? I'm planning to undergo the surgery in August, and I have a scheduled trip to Surigao and Davao 2 months after, and I'm afraid I might not be able to swim on that trip. :-/ Thank you!

  3. I think that you need at least a month depending on the kind of procedure you went through. Best to ask your doctor first so you can plan ahead. Enjoy having 20/20 vision! I'm still grateful for it everyday!


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