Jude Digue was diagnosed with myopia after his fifth birthday and has worn eyeglasses all his life. But that changed when he underwent laser eye surgery in 2022.
It’s Jude’s journey from prescription glasses to 20/20 vision, as told to Ama Udofa.
My grandparents and some of their siblings wore glasses; my parents and their siblings all wear glasses. Me and my two siblings wear glasses. Growing up, whenever we dated, we were known as the family where everyone wore glasses. At church we had special seats.
Until this month, I had never known life without glasses, since I started wearing them when I was five years old. I sat dangerously close to the TV and my parents warned me against it. After my fifth birthday, I had headaches for three days, so my mother took me to an optician who diagnosed me with myopia.
At school, I was a walking stereotype: the smart little boy who wore glasses. I entered JSS1 on my 10th birthday. At boarding school, the kids always wanted to try on my glasses to see what they would look like. I had three pairs, so when the first one broke after going through several different heads, I moved on to my saves. They also wanted to try them. My dad kept buying pairs, until one day he got tired and said fuck he wasn’t going to buy them anymore.
For a year, I went without glasses. I didn’t write notes in class. I was just copying from my seat partner later, or sometimes just heading to the blackboard. My classmates complained, but other than they wanted to fix my eyes, there was nothing I could do. After a year, my dad finally bought me a new pair, and I never shared them again.
All my life I’ve worn glasses, and for a very long time I hated not being able to wear sunglasses. I could wear photochromic glasses but they are anyway your goggles, no real umbrellas. I saw really doping ones, but I couldn’t rock them. I’ve always been too afraid of getting things in my eyes so I never thought about contact lenses. Then in January 2022, my girlfriend gave me a pair of recommended parasols. I had dreamed of carrying parasols for a very long time, so you can imagine my joy.
I always wanted to do surgery, but I didn’t know how to go about it, so I never really made it a priority.
Two weeks later, I saw a tweet about LASIK surgery, a type of laser eye surgery to correct vision. I thought, “You can do that in Nigeria?” I always assumed it was an elaborate process and would cost around $15,000 or even up to $30,000, so imagine my shock when people started recommending an eye surgery foundation to Lekki Phase One, Lagos.
I went to inquire in February. I was told I had to do a bunch of eye tests, check my cornea, make sure my pupils were dilating properly, etc. The bill stunned me – it all came to just over ₦200,000 – but nothing could have prepared me for the true cost of the procedure; it was ₦2m. I sulked. I started thinking, “Do I really want to do this now?” My girlfriend encouraged me to end it.
What sealed my resolve was when one of the nurses who had recently done hers shared that it had changed her life. I had upcoming business trips to Kenya and Ghana so I scheduled my appointment for mid-March.
But when I came back from Ghana in early March, I couldn’t wait any longer, so I called and asked the doctor to get things moving.
On the day of the operation, I did further tests and signed a type agreement I will not sue you. Before the LASIK procedure, I looked at the doctor and said, “My eyes are literally in your hands right now.” She laughed and replied, “Your eyes are in God’s hands.
I climbed onto the operating table and she numbed my eyes with anesthetic. That’s when things got scary. There was a circular mechanical contraption on the laser machine that opened my eyes, and even though I was numb, I could feel things moving in them. It wasn’t painful at all, but the rubbing of my eyeballs was a weird feeling.
Throughout the procedure, all I thought was, “How many people went blind when scientists were testing people to understand this process? How many people had to die to perfect this? And then, “Shit. I’m already here now. Either my eyes get better or I go blind. I’m CEO now; would I lose my business and have to settle for jobs that don’t require reading or writing? »
My only job was to focus on the light source no matter what, so I forced myself to think happy thoughts.
My right eye was easy and took five minutes, but with my left eye I felt some pain. I think the anesthesia had started to wear off, so I told him. She reapplied the numbing medication and the pain subsided. Twenty-five minutes later – the longest 25 minutes of my life – we were done. The whole experience was interesting and scary at the same time.
It was after the operation that I realized what had just happened. According to the tests, the laser had cut my cornea to accommodate a certain level of refraction. It was painless and after the operation I realized that the procedure did not take much time. finished pretty quickly.
When I got off the table, everything was blurry. The doctor gave me eye drops and instructions: apply the drops every hour for the next 24 hours and visit the eye clinic three more times a month. Then my friend took me home.
That night, I didn’t touch anything. Neither my phone, nor my TV, nor my laptop. I just went to sleep. My friend woke me up every hour to apply the eye drops. Fortunately, I never had any problems falling asleep, so it was easy to go back each time.
I woke up in the morning very groggy, but when I saw the painting in my bedroom, I was like, “Shit. Damn, I just saw that clearly! I texted my friends, “Yooooo! I see die!
My life changed that day. The first thing I did upon logging on was on Twitter asking where I could buy umbrellas. I had to wear U/V blocking glasses because my eyes were still very sore, and I was also told to avoid direct U/V light for the next few weeks. A nurse told me that she made the mistake of watching television during her recovery period. Her eyes became swollen, prolonging her healing period. I had to be careful.
Mutual Twitter suggested a place in Lekki that sells designer eyewear. The COO’s mother had recently had eye surgery, so she knew how to help me choose a suitable pair. The UV glasses I bought cost ₦165,000 but they took off ₦30,000 because the person who recommended me is a “friend of the house”.
₦135,000 for glasses!
And they’re ugly as shit, but at least they did the job.
It’s been weeks now, and I still find myself instinctively reaching for my glasses. There’s this thing people who’ve been wearing prescription glasses for a long time do, they adjust them to the bridge of their nose when they slip. I still do it out of habit. Well, I threw away my glasses and I’m glad I don’t need them anymore.
Even though I paid all that money to see Shege clearly, did you see how cool I look with umbrellas now?
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