Joel Hunter, MD Refractive Surgeon, Hunter Vision Updated 10/31/18 11:17 AM
The suggestions I get for these blog topics are helpful because a lot of times it’s a question I wouldn’t have thought to answer. Today is one of those days. The idea of RLE being compatible with lifestyle isn’t one I would’ve come across naturally. My guess is that’s because my day-to-day is spent in clinic chatting with people who couldn’t see without see without glasses until RLE. Now they can. Does the occasional issue need to be addressed? Absolutely. Need more near vision still? No problem, we’ve got it covered. Eyes drier than expected this first month? We can help.
Will this work for my needs?
Never, however—and I do mean never—have I addressed the issue of compatibility of glasses-free vision with lifestyle. So when I get a question about RLE and lifestyle, it helps me to see my regular “focus group” (ha!) I’m talking to each day in clinic has a bias. They’ve already been through the procedure and come out on the other side with eyes that work without glasses. Some questions which make a lot of sense before RLE stop making sense after RLE. Once someone can read a book and drive a car—ideally not at the same time—without glasses, the question about lifestyle goes away.
The reason it’s a fair question to have while you’re still in glasses is that people have different lifestyles. And with varying lifestyles come a dissimilar set of visual tasks will be part of the daily routine for different folks. A software developer lives in the world of intermediate-range vision at a computer screen all day. An avid reader needs uncorrected near vision since they’ll be spending hours lost in a book each day. A park ranger needs really dialed in distance vision to spot bison or geysers. I’ll be honest, I’m not 100% sure on what park rangers look at, but I assume it’s far away because parks are big.
Will this work for my eyes?
When people are asking about lifestyle compatibility, the concern may be more specifically narrowed down to, “Will this work for my eyes, because I need good vision when I’m…” No one wants to get vision correction surgery and find they have limited their ability to do something they love. And when it’s posed as a question related to the activities and tasks you’ll encounter throughout the day, it becomes an easier question to answer.
The answer has two parts. The first part is quick and easy. For physical activity, there isn’t a limitation on what you can do after surgery compared to before surgery. There’s a healing period of a week without heavy lifting and a couple more weeks without swimming around under water. After that, no activity, from heavy lifting to deep sea diving or skydiving, is problematic in the slightest. There’s no “except for…” in this list of non-restricted activities.
The second part of explaining how RLE affects the specific situations where your vision matters most is about the vision itself. RLE is designed to remove your need for glasses at near, intermediate, and distance ranges. In other words, a book, a computer, and a street sign should be clear without glasses after RLE. The range of clear vision is aimed at all the visual tasks required of you from up close to far away.
The only caveat here would be for extreme near vision. There isn’t currently a way to get clear vision 10 inches from your face without sacrificing some intermediate vision. Unless you are a jeweler or a coin collector, however, it is rare for that extreme close range to be a normal part of life. We ask every patient about their hobbies and job. And every now and then, I’ll have a consultation with a patient who needs extreme close range vision related to these. It affords an opportunity to discuss what RLE can do for near vision (reading) and how exceptionally close vision would need to be augmented with a pair of readers or sometimes jeweler’s loupes.
In all of this, the discussion at the time of your consultation about RLE is the most important step in gaining clarity on how RLE can free you from glasses. It offers amazing human vision, but stops short of offering superhuman vision. So if your lifestyle includes some superhuman aspects (yes, I’m happy to say in this case, coin collecting counts) you may be glasses-free except when you need a magnifying glass. But if your goal is to live a life without the need for glasses when you read, or work on the computer, or drive a car, then RLE should fit your lifestyle very well.