physical fitness (human)

Riding and LASIK Surgery

I have been pretty severely nearsighted my entire life. It runs in the family; my father and most of his brothers are quite nearsighted as well. (Both of my brothers escaped, which is unfair.) If I’m not correcting my vision, the whole world looks like a Monet painting. I could not read the computer screen without leaning or squinting; forget driving or riding.

For many years, I wore contact lenses. In fact, I wore them far too much. My optometrist told me that my eyes started growing extra blood vessels to get oxygen to my starved corneas. (Which is apparently a thing, ack.) So I eased off, wearing my glasses more and more.

I tried to switch back to contact lenses about 9 months ago, and discovered that I can’t really tolerate them anymore. My eyes get so dry so quickly that I was squinting badly. I either got headaches or fell asleep mid-afternoon – the dry eye sensation was remarkably like a heavy eyelid feeling of exhaustion. No drops helped. No change in the fit of my contacts helped.

So, glasses it is. 24/7. For obvious reasons, wearing glasses while riding horses kind of sucks. Dust gets everywhere, glasses slip and slide on the nose when you get sweaty, and you can’t wear sunglasses so if it’s bright you’re squinting.

riding with glasses
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting corrective vision surgery. I’m really sick of my glasses. I’m sick of not seeing well. I want my peripheral vision and my flexibility back.
I’ve been doing a lot of research and really the only remaining question for me is one of cost. So I’m going to call my insurance company and see if they will chip in for it. If not, the decision will be whether I pay off my car first (which will happen in 18 months) or borrow money through CareCredit. I really have no clear idea how much this costs!
Has anyone had LASIK surgery, or investigated it? Any thoughts on riding with less than great vision?

18 thoughts on “Riding and LASIK Surgery

  1. I wear contacts and there was a point in time where I developed severe dry eye. I had to go on therapy drops for a while and wear only glasses. Now I'm back to contacts. I found that you really cant skimp on quality contacts and contact solution!

    That being said, I have looked at LASIK but the risk of something going wrong when it comes to my eyes scares me. I know someone who know sees permanent halos around lights after his surgery.

    But I can't ride in glasses – I've tried, so I understand your dilemma. I hope you can get some of the cost covered!


  2. My insurance doesn't cover it at all or I would consider it. As I do endurance and have to see the ribbons to know where I'm going riding without glasses isn't an option. And I have to practically tie them to my face to get them to stay on so the sweat, sunscreen or rain gets behind them. Yuck. My co-worker (her husband's insurance paid for it) just had it done and loves it. She rides but doesn't compete. Matilda


  3. My vision, like yours, is atrocious…it's been that way my entire life. I can't ride in glasses so I've been wearing contacts since 8th grade. My eyes do tend to get dry when I've had my contacts in for a long time, but it's not enough to look into LASIK surgery. Plus, the thought of someone slicing my eyeball freaks me out, so I imagine I'll be a lifelong contact wearer. Good luck with your decision!


  4. My cousin had LASIK and swears it was the best decision she ever made. There's also a local weather guy here in Maryland who had it done and on his blog he was quite candid about the whole process (his name is Justin Berk, I'm sure a google search could dig up his posts).

    I'm extremely near sighted as well and find riding in glasses so annoying. I deal with it for lessons and try to wear my contacts at shows and clinics so I'm not fumbling with them as they slide around. I've noticed lately that my eyes have gotten that dry eye feeling a lot quicker than I used to. I'm not a daily contact lens wearer either.

    I've toyed with the idea of LASIK, but I also have an astigmatism (sp?) and heard that they might not be able to 100% correct my vision. I can't think of anything more disappointing than spending the money and still having to wear glasses. But the thought of no more glasses is so tempting!


  5. I'm in a similar boat. I don't like contacts — never could get over the dry eye and then I'd blink and it would take a second to refocus and it drove me NUTS. My eyes aren't terrible, but they're not great either. And I refuse to ride in glasses.

    I'm been considering LASIK for a while, but the cost has be a bit hesitant.


  6. Riding (or doing any form of exercise) in glasses is the worst! I am a die-hard contacts wearer. I'd love to do LASIK, but for the time being, my contacts are working out okay.

    When I didn't have health insurance and couldn't afford to visit the optometrist or buy contacts, I just didn't ride in my glasses. It wasn't bad, especially in an arena.


  7. MY stepdad had lasik 20 years ago and loved it, but will be needing it again soon. I'm sure this isn't a concern for modern Lasik but just a thought


  8. LASIK isn't actually that expensive. It's not cheap, but probably only a few thousand (less than a fancy saddle). You do need to be a candidate though. Your eyesight has to have stopped changing and not change for 2 years before you can get LASIK. I know this because my eyesight changes (very slightly) every year and I can't get LASIK. I would get it tomorrow if I was a candidate.


  9. I too am considering Lasik, and you can get it done pretty cheaply in Mexico (lots of things are safe and cheap in mexico) but my job does do a good compensation program, now I'm just waiting for a bit more money for my end.


  10. I am another perpetual-glasses-wearer. I have zero suggestions on most of this, have no experience with LASIK and haven't looked into it (yet), but: sunglasses! I am a staunch believer in wearing sunglasses over my glasses. SolarShield sunglasses are around $20, sturdy, and work pretty well for me, but YMMV.

    Give me another ten years and a better-paying job, and I may just jump on the LASIK boat. I'm really used to my glasses but I really wish I didn't need them.


  11. I'm pretty severely nearsighted as well, and I actually didn't get glasses until I was 15(Im 16 now) because I didn't know my vision was that bad. I always have problems of them getting dirty when out at the barn, and needing glasses is very annoying, but I've never carefully considered LASIK surgery, but my family has mostly thought of not doing it, for now at least. Im sorry I'm not much help. I hope others are more helpful.


  12. I've been a candidate for Lasik surgery for the last…15 years or so. That's how long ago my prescription stabilized! I would have had it done a long time ago if I had ever had insurance that covered it. The reason why I would have second thoughts about it is that the need for a revision seems to be really high (50%!)…or at least, that's what I last heard as of two years ago or so. This might have changed! As it is, the one person I know personally that had it done 2 years ago did need a revision. But even then she feels it was way, way worth it!

    I use both contacts and glasses. I am not a fan of contacts around horses because dirt. And hair. And these always invariably get in my eyes, and it is a PITA with contacts! I use contacts only for competition. Or if I'm going to be riding in the rain. Otherwise, I have awesome glasses with lenses that are both polarized and have Transition that double as sunglasses when it is bright outside. My insurance covered them and they will usually last a few years.

    I have the dry eye problem with lenses too. I use them for work because I hate having my glasses fog up with the surgery mask in the OR, so I basically only wear them for 40 hours a week or so (about 10-12 hours/day since I only work 4 days a week). I remove them the second I get home; I never ever EVER sleep in them! And on weekends I only put them in if we're going out and I want to look pretty. I use the monthlies: the “permanent” ones are too thick and my eyes got even drier. The dailies are very comfortable but were impossible to remove. The rest of the time, glasses it is.

    Just to share what has worked for me. šŸ™‚


  13. I hate riding with glasses and hate riding without being able to see clearly even more. Will be curious to hear more about your experiences should you go with lasik!


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