Rebekah describes her dangerous (but not uncommon) mindset regarding contact lens care prior to getting LASIK.
Just because your eyes don’t hurt, doesn’t mean they’re healthy
When she first started wearing contact lenses at age 13, Rebekah was diligent about cleaning her contacts and replacing them according to her eye doctor’s instructions. Then at 18, she left home to join the Air Force, where she served honorably as an aircraft mechanic, working on F-16 fighter planes.
“I didn’t like how I looked in glasses, so I wore my contacts all the time. But I didn’t like the responsibility of having to take my contacts in and out, so I stopped. I didn’t replace my lenses unless they felt really dry,” Rebekah says.
At that point, Rebekah estimates that she only swapped in new lenses every two months on average. On top of that, she was sleeping in her contacts, so her eyes never had the opportunity to rest or get the amount of oxygen they needed to stay healthy. Plus, over this time period, dirt and bacteria continued to build up on her contact lenses – and in her eyes.
Unfortunately, even a corneal ulcer didn’t faze her … at first
During her service at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, Rebekah started to feel discomfort in one of her eyes. That discomfort turned out to be a corneal ulcer, which commonly results from improper contact lens wear and care.
Corneal ulcers typically occur when a bacterial infection penetrates the cornea. Dirty or worn contacts can scratch the epithelium of the eye, allowing the bacteria to enter the eye. Symptoms may include pain, redness, mild to severe discharge and vision loss. Some people even experience long-term or permanent loss of vision.
According to Rebekah, “It constantly felt like there was a woodchip in my eye, I couldn’t get it out and was in non-stop pain. It bothered me for a month, and during that time I had to stop wearing my contacts. When I visited the eye doctor on the base, she said, ‘You have an ulcer on your eye.’ I didn’t even know you could get an ulcer on your eye, I thought it was only a stomach thing.”
Rebekah’s corneal ulcer almost dashed her dreams of LASIK eye surgery
On a short leave from the Air Force, Rebekah visited her Dallas eye doctor at Key-Whitman Eye Center, Faisal Haq, M.D. Dr. Haq, an eye surgeon and corneal specialist, informed Rebekah that she was lucky, and he was relieved the ulcer didn’t fall in the area of tissue where the LASIK surgery would be performed.
Rebekah was also relieved. She knew LASIK was out of the question until her vision remained stable for at least one year. But she didn’t realize that the corneal ulcer could jeopardize her ability to have LASIK. And if you ask anyone who knows Rebekah (full disclosure, her mom Miriam is the Marketing Director at Key-Whitman) – they will tell you that she’s been waiting to have LASIK ever since she was a young girl.
After a medical discharge from the Air Force last year, Rebekah returned to Dallas to be close to family and pursue her dream of life without contacts and glasses. With her eyes healthy, vision stable and Key-Whitman President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, M.D.’s OK, Rebekah finally had successful LASIK surgery in Dallas this past January.
“I went from legally blind to 20/20 in 20 minutes. I was laying on the operating table with Dr. Whitman talking to me, and the next thing you know, I sat up and I could see,” says Rebekah with a big smile on her face.
“Life after LASIK is so freeing”
Today, Rebekah has transitioned from her career as a Senior Airman in the Air Force to a jet engine mechanic working on corporate aircraft. “I loved serving in the Air Force. If it wasn’t for my medical discharge, I’d still be in the Air Force today,” says Rebekah.
She also makes a point to caution other people her age to wear contacts according to doctor’s orders and consider the benefits of LASIK eye surgery.
Rebekah explains how LASIK changed her life dramatically and why there’s no need to be nervous about the procedure.
Following recovery from her corneal ulcer and successful LASIK surgery, Rebekah is thrilled to say that dry, blurry eyes and poor vision won’t slow her down anymore. As she expounds, “It’s so freeing. I don’t have to worry about my eyes anymore, I’m free to go ahead and live my life.”
LASIK surgery outcomes are better than ever.
LASIK means less to worry about at work and on her wedding day
Between scrambling for eye drops or finding protective eyewear to fit her glasses, Rebekah’s contacts and glasses were a constant distraction at work. Post-LASIK, that’s one less distraction she has to deal with during the day, which makes her job easier.
She’s also glad she won’t have to worry about her eyes next month, when she marries her fiancé Brice.
As Rebekah explains, “With contacts, my eyes would water and my make up would run. Now I don’t have to worry about all of that ridiculousness when I get married. LASIK was the greatest thing ever. Even several months later, I’m still so excited about it that most days I’ll say to my fiancé, ‘Babe – I’m not wearing contacts!’ I couldn’t be happier.”
If you have any questions about LASIK or would like to schedule a consultation
with one of our LASIK eye surgery specialists, please call (214) 225-2577 to speak with a Key-Whitman patient service representative. If you prefer to contact us via our website, you can fill out our handy online appointment form here.