I had laser eye surgery in June. Some people have it because glasses simply annoy them. I had it because my eyes had rejected contact lenses and my glasses prescription was so strong it hurt to see. I wrote a bit about this a year ago.
The LASIK recovery has taken me longer than most as my eyes are more complicated. Dry eyes are a common side effect after surgery, and when they’re dry they blur. Mine were dry to start with and react badly to the eye drops that are supposed to help. I’ve crashed my bike a few times on the way to learning what helps my eyes heal and what, well, doesn’t.
Fast forward three months and my vision is now good enough, and consistent enough, that I can jump behind the wheel of a car again in the daylight. Only here’s the thing, the new improved vision is not just good, it’s exceptional.
What I didn’t realise that was before the operation I was I couldn’t really see the world in 3D or high definition. Glasses as strong as mine have a sweet spot. Plus they also make the world look 15% smaller and don’t do much in the way of peripheral vision.
The first time I drove down the Hume Hwy I kept drifting in the lane looking at the 3D trees on 3D hills. I walked through the Sydney CBD the other day trying not to trip over my feet as I took in the size, scale and shape of all the 3D buildings. It was also a new experience looking at all the expressions made by the lines on people’s faces as they walked through the towering maze. I lost several minutes in the shower one morning looking at the light passing through drops of water on my arm.
The world is so beautiful. And I am seeing so much of it for what feels like the very first time. Effortlessly. It used to hurt to see, now I can let the whole world come flooding in. It’s a bit like listening to a favourite song with a set of high-quality earphones. Or like watching a 3D movie, only instead of things coming at you, you’re moving through it.
The first time I rode my bike in traffic it was frightening. I had to remind myself that the 3D, shiny, oversize cars were just like all the other cars I’d been riding past for years.
While I keep spinning out in day-to-day life just looking around and taking everything in, learning to ride a bike again has been more a case of trying not to get overstimulated; focusing on the trail ahead, feeling the way the bike moves on the terrain and having a quiet smile to myself as I take in the shapes of rocks which now stand out from the trail.
The next big milestone was the Scott 25 Hour race. My vision’s still improving at night. It blurs a bit, especially when I’m tired, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to stay on the bike in the dark. I rode well enough to bag some of the fastest female lap times. This speaks volumes about the difference day vision makes and the beam quality provided by Radical Lights at night.
Most of all, it just felt so nice to be riding singletrack well, soaking up the great campsite vibe and catching up with so many friends in one place. The view of Canberra from the top of the hill at night was an unexpected surprise as well.
Eyesight is such a subjective thing making it near impossible to know if what you see is the same as what the person next to you can. But next time you notice your eyes working well give them a little thank you. They sure do let us see, and do, some very incredible things.
Photos: Kath Bicknell and Gaye Camm.