On Friday, April 8, 34-year-old Heather Ford-Cassell, a teacher at the Renaissance Montessori School in Fort Myers, saw her long-awaited dream come true when she had iLASIK laser vision correction surgery, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Jonathan Frantz at the Center for Laser Vision Correction at Florida Eye Health. Heather was the winner of an essay contest that Dr. Frantz sponsored giving area residents the opportunity to tell their story about why they thought LASIK would change their life.
Heather’s story of dependence on glasses and contacts goes back to middle school when she wore her first pair of glasses to school. She’ll never forget that first day as it was, believe it or not, Nerd Day and all of her classmates were trying their hardest to look as nerdy as possible. But when that day ended, her classmates came to school the next day looking like their old selves. Heather came to school wearing her glasses and still feeling a little nerdy. “I can remember through the years trying all kinds of glasses in an effort to look somewhat stylish – big red ones, purple ones – what an experience it was,” she said. “It’s nice to see that there are so many really great stylish glasses today so that kids feel like they fit it,” added Heather. “I actually think glasses are kind of a fad now with kids.”
In high school, Heather switched from glasses to contact lenses, but still depended on her glasses to help her see during the night. With eyesight that didn’t even allow her to see the big E on the eye chart, going without any correction was really not an option. “I can’t tell you how many times I fell during the night or ran into something because I didn’t take the time to put on my glasses,” said Heather. “I’d wake up in the morning with bruises on my legs.”
In mid February, Heather’s mother, Rita Ford, showed her an article that ran in one of the local newspapers about Dr. Frantz sponsoring the LASIK essay contest with the prize being a free LASIK surgery for the person who wrote the most compelling essay. “My late husband and I used to talk about the day I would be able to get eye surgery to correct my poor vision,” said Heather. “He had great eyesight and couldn’t understand what it is like to not be able to see,” she said. “I would tell him that I can only imagine what life would be like to have the freedom of sight with no fear of losing a contact or breaking my glasses,” she added.
But Heather’s husband would never be able to see the excitement on her face or the jubilation in her voice when she received the phone call from Dr. Frantz on March 15 telling her that he was very touched by her story and that it would be his privilege to perform LASIK surgery on her. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” said Heather. “I didn’t even know what to say. Thank you didn’t begin to express my appreciation, but I was at a loss for words,” she added.
Heather’s husband Bryan was killed when he was only 28 years old while racing his motorcycle in Daytona. Her grandfather had just died three weeks before.and Heather and Bryan talked openly and honestly about the risks of motorcycle racing and what she would do if anything ever happened to him. “All I could think about after he was killed is that he was doing what he loved and I think that’s what helped me through such a difficult time,” she said. Heather and Bryan had been together since high school and enjoyed nine years together before he died eight years ago.
In her essay, Heather wrote, “The reality of ever getting my eyes fixed has been buried under thousands of dollars of medical bills and life necessities which hindered my financial capabilities.” But when she came in to Florida Eye Health for her pre-operative evaluation, Heather was beaming all over and told the staff repeatedly “I just can’t believe it. It will be amazing to wake up and be able to see.” Besides writing about her dream to see without glasses or contacts, Heather wrote “And to think that this opportunity was being offered by Dr. Frantz, a highly respected ophthalmologist who is known for his quality of work and as a cutting edge leader in the industry.”
Just minutes after her surgery, Heather commented how amazing it was that instantly her world was no longer a blur. As she’s walking out the door of the Center for Laser Vision Correction, she said, “Everyone was so very caring, understanding, and comforting; I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow morning and see everything so clearly without my glasses.”
The 100 percent blade-free iLASIK laser vision correction procedure, offered exclusively in our area by Dr. Frantz, combines today’s most sophisticated technologies to bring you improved safety, better vision and more precision.
LASIK, or laser in-situ keratomileusis, corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. What’s different about iLASIK is that it utilizes IntraLase, where a beam of laser light is used to create the corneal flap, the critical first step in the iLASIK procedure. iLASIK is 100 percent tailor-made for each patient, their vision and the unique characteristics of their eyes.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary LASIK screening online now or call The Center for Laser Vision Correction at Florida Eye Health at 239-791-2020.