You Can See Clearly Now
Nearsighted swimmers, imagine this---seeing the black hash marks of a pace clock, noting the five-o'clock shadow of your swim coach, deciphering the handwritten set on the chalkboard across the deck, or recognizing the hand in front of your face.
Seem far-fetched without wearing your contact lenses under your goggles or donning corrective-lens goggles? Not anymore. There's a new laser vision correction technique called LASIK which can give you perfect vision permanently, even if you have astigmatism.
In a LASIK procedure, an eye surgeon cuts a small flap in the cornea, then uses a computer controlled laser to reshape the corneal layer below. The doctor then replaces the flap, which adheres without stitches. It's painless, takes about 10 minutes, and most people have near-perfect eyesight right away, says Neil Martin, M.D., a Masters swimmer and an ophthalmologic surgeon in Chevy Chase, Maryland, who has been doing laser eye surgery since 1991.
"I've done the surgery for several swimmers, and they've been very happy with the results," says Martin."We tell people to stay out of the pool for five to seven days after the procedure, but that's the only restriction." Unless, Martin says, your favorite goggles are the kind that sit inside your eye socket. If so, you may have to switch temporarily to another style.
LASIK costs about $6,000, and isn't covered by most insurance plans; it can be financed, though. There are surgeons nationwide and in Canada who perform the surgery; Martin recommends choosing one who is board- certified in eye surgery and has a lot of experience with LASIK.