When she decided she wanted to check out laser eye surgery, Leesa Fields knew a lot of people to ask. Fields, who lives in Rockville, estimates that 30 of her friends and neighbors, a few of them ophthalmologists, have undergone Lasik in the past two years.
At 42, Fields, who had been unable to wear contact lenses since her mid-thirties, was eager to join their ranks. An avid athlete and former competitive swimmer, she was sick of contending with glasses that got wet, fogged up or slid down her nose.
First she called her ophthalmologist friends for information about surgeons and surgery centers. Then she made appointments with several doctors.
Among them was Rajesh K. Rajpal of Washington Laser Eye Center, the former director of George Washington University's Refractive Laser Eye Center. Rajpal, who estimates that he has performed 6,000 Lasik procedures, was one of the principal investigators in FDA-sponsored clinical trials of the excimer laser.
"When he told me he had had Lasik and had done his two partners, I signed up right there," Fields recalled. She decided to do both eyes simultaneously, rather than one at a time, because she wanted "to get it over with all at once."
One Friday morning last month, she did.
As her husband, Jonathan Band, watched anxiously through a glass observation wall, Rajpal performed the procedure at his Tysons Corner surgery center. Band's trepidation eased considerably when Rajpal's nurse, as is her custom, pivoted and flashed a big smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up after surgery on each eye was completed.
Less than 15 minutes later, Band held his wife's hand as she donned disposable wraparound sunglasses and waited to be examined before going home.
Band, an attorney who wears thick glasses, said he wouldn't consider having Lasik himself. "I really don't believe in exercise, so glasses don't interfere with anything," he quipped.
Two weeks after surgery, Fields was elated at the outcome. The operations were painless, as her friends had told her they would be. Recovery was simple: The day after her surgery, she saw Rajpal for a quick checkup, then took her daughter shopping. That night she went to a play with her husband.
Within 48 hours she could see well enough to drive without glasses. "And in the shower for the first time," Fields said, "I can actually see."