Karla Pereira discusses her laser surgery


Nearly three years ago, NCABA and WDCAWBA member Karla Pereira, who was near-sighted as a child and had worn glasses or contact lens ever since, underwent laser eye surgery at the Vision Quest Laser Center in Vienna. After a recent outing at a Virginia Bowling Queens event at U.S. Bowling in Alexandria, Va., in which she cashed, Pereira, a software tester and integrator with Dynamic Animation Systems, Inc., and the subject of the "My Stuff" feature in the November 2005 issue of BOWL Magazine, took time to discuss her "eye-opening" experience with editor Bob Cosgrove.

When did you first consider laser eye surgery?
I probably first heard about people getting it in 1997-98, but at that time, I also heard that for folks who got it, it was very painful afterwards, so I thought I wouldn't do this right now. I'll try and wait it out.

It will be three years in February [2006 since the surgery]. I knew a couple of people who had done it, and their recovery time was very quick. They didn't have any issues. There was a remarkable difference within just a couple of hours.

So I would say that I probably started looking into it about four and a half years ago. I was reading about it, looking around, and pricing it.

Was cost a concern for you?
A lot of times you'll see it advertised where it's really cheap, per eye, but they don't give you any follow-up. They check you the next day or next week or whatever and that's it. But I still have free follow-ups now to this day, and mine doesn't end until actually my third year. I go see them whenever I feel like it.

What were some of the questions you asked?
After people had had it and their eyes settled down, Was it a remarkable difference? Price wise, was it worth it? That was about it. After that, my concern was a medical one, so no one could answer those questions except for the doctor.

What happened on your initial visit to the eye doctor?
They first make sure that there's nothing to disqualify you from becoming a candidate. For example, I had astigmatism, which is a curvature of your eye that makes it look like an egg, but I qualified.

What were your thoughts as the day of the surgery approached?
I was okay until the day of, and then I got a little apprehensive because, you know, this is your eyesight!

And when it actually happened?
My eyes were dilated and numbed. I then lay down on a table—by then, you can't see—and I was told to look up into a light and focus on it. I closed one eye, and an instrument similar to an eyelash squeezer was used to keep the other eye open.

You then hear and probably smell the laser, and the doctor cuts the cornea. I was probably just okay, but when they flipped the cornea up, I had to talk to myself a lot to keep from panicking. I was a little apprehensive then; it was like, Omigod, what have I done?

I then had the other eye done.

I couldn't tell if it worked or anything because they cover your eye almost immediately. After being in the recovery room for maybe an hour, it was cloudy at that point, but my eyes were so bad that I could see better immediately after the surgery than I could without my glasses before.

What was your recovery period?
I drove to work the next day without any assistance or glasses or anything of that nature, and I was able to see. It was a quick recovery.

They do the surgery and dilate your eyes and send you home with the "senior citizen" glasses. You don't drive yourself home at that point. You're supposed to go home and take a nap for a couple of hours, and everyone I know who has had this done has fallen asleep.

Three to four hours after the surgery, I was able to watch TV without the assistance of my glasses. It was still a little fuzzy, as I was told it would be, but I was basically able to see pretty well.

And then by the next morning, it snowed that night, and from my bed I could see on my 26-inch television the crawl line that told me what schools were closed.

Prior to the surgery, were there ever any fears pertaining to your bowling?
It was more of a fear pertaining to my sight! I do know someone that bowls who had it done and was very pleased that it helped—it didn't hurt. I made the assumption that my eyesight would be better, so I would be able to see my targets better, which I do. So I think it actually helped.

When you can wake up in the morning and look over across the room and not see a big red blur where the digital clock is … at that point, it's a bonus. My assumption was that my eyesight would be better, and it would only help my bowling because I could actually see what I was supposed to be looking at.

My doctor used to say how bad my eyesight was: I could see the big "E" on the chart without any assistance but everything else was just a blur! And it was probably worst than that because if I didn't have my contacts or glasses on when I was standing on the approach, I would see just a white blur instead of the pins and the ring around their necks.

What would you advise a bowler who is considering laser eye surgery?
Make sure you go to someone reputable because there are a lot of these places that seem to be popping up here and there, and make sure the doctor has done quite a bit under their belt. The doctor who did me was one of the first doctors in Vienna that performed the surgery however many years ago. He had done PK (Penetrating Keratoplasty) and PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy) and many procedures prior to this.