I don’t think I’ve very found anything with quite such a direct tie to visible rhetoric. On July 9, I had LASIK eye surgery. Today, 20 days later, I can see better than 20/20. (My contact prescription previous to the surgery was in the -5.5 range.)
What does this mean for visibility for me? I can see! Anyone who has suffered through life with contacts or glasses can appreciate how entwined they become in one’s life. I still reach for my glasses every morning. On occasion, when my eyes are dry, I have to remind myself not to scoot my contact around to a more comfortable position. The world is actually legible without aid. I feel naked … and free! (Although I admit that every once in a while after a long day, I sort of miss being able to take out my contacts and let the world fade away.)
As far as the visible rhetoric surrounding LASIK, I think there is much to be analyzed. First of all, the various advertisements for LASIK are fascinating. They all seem to circle around one central point: clarity. The ads demonstrate and overtly mention that basic tenet. They also seem to gravitate toward themes of independence/strength, for obvious reasons. I may post more later on these ads and how they function.
In terms of the surgery itself, the visible rhetoric is striking. The doctor is not necessarily placed in a privileged position. Rather, she is very much part of a team; every member of that team is necessary. She is seated behind the patient, while other members of the surgical team are standing and seem to be busier than she is. My mother had LASIK a week after I did, and during her surgery the doctor encountered problems with a suction device. One of her assistants insisted firmly that the device was not attached and surgery could not be performed, and her opinion was respected. Although it is difficult for me to analyze the visible aspects of the surgery itself (given that my eyes were occupied), I can imagine the interaction of the staff and how it was visibly efficient and equal.
For those who are curious, I will also include a brief description of the LASIK procedure.
The doctor will have you lie down on a surgical table in a sterile surgical suite (which, in my case, was very cold). An inflatable pillow ensures that you won’t move your head too much. There are two machines in the suite, and the table is capable of rotating between them. The doctor first places a suction device on your right eyeball. This really isn’t a big deal for contact users; it just feels like putting a contact in combined with a pressure sensation. Close your eye and press on your cl0sed eyelid; that’s the extent of it. Then the doctor will place you under one of the machines, which attaches to the suction device (add a little more pressure here) and cuts a flap in your eyeball. (This is using the intralase method, not a blade.) You may feel a slight burning sensation, but no pain. The doctor then disengages you from the machine and suction device and you can close your eye. So far, about 22 seconds have gone by. Next, the doctor will put an eyelid clamp in place to keep you from blinking. (I was extremely worried about this, but it was no big deal. When you need to blink, you just go ahead and try. You obviously can’t, but your brain thinks you did and it’s taken care of. No pain or even discomfort.) Then you have the actual LASIK treatment. For me it was about 40 seconds; my mom needed more than 60. Again, a slight burning sensation is the worst of it. Then the eyelid clamp is removed. The whole process is repeated for the other eye.
The worst part is about 30 minutes later when the numbing eyedrops wear off. Your eyes will burn a bit, which makes them tear up, which makes them burn more. This lasted about 2 hours for me. After that, it was just a matter of remembering not to rub my eyes until they healed. I could see pretty clearly when I got up from the surgical table, by the way, and was better than 20/20 by the following morning.
Ah, technology and visibility. What an interesting time we live in. 🙂