I Can See (BEYOND) Clearly Now.

Stacy Hope Small
5 min readMay 2, 2024

Twenty-five years ago, a friend of mine was helping a young, innovative eye surgeon get better known here in Los Angeles. He was a pioneer of some newer techniques she wanted me to hear about. She asked me if I would consider going in for a consultation and to learn a bit more about LASIK. I was terrified, but excited, after a lifetime of subpar vision that required glasses since age 7 to “see the board” in 2nd grade. I was one of the youngest kids to wear contact lenses because I was athletic, and my dad felt my glasses got in the way of me excelling at sports.

Thus, my saga of always needing help to see clearly — in school, on the field, at home reading, and later on, as a traveling journalist became part of my identity. It was always a hassle remembering to bring “extra” contacts and all that went with them on trips. I have plenty of memories of waking up with dry eyes on planes and anyone who had similar vision challenges (I was “legally blind”) can likely relate.

Having LASIK was a no-brainer after meeting Dr. Kerry Assil founder of Assil Gaur Eye Institute(www.assileye.com) and learning about how it would literally change my vision from 20–400 to 20–20 overnight. I wrote about the experience for several magazines. Feels like a lifetime ago, so imagine my surprise when I went in for an appointment 25 years later and see my article titled “EYES WIDE OPEN” framed on the wall for everyone else considering eye surgery to see. I immediately remembered why I was there. It circles back to the spiritual toolkit filled with trust that I am guided to the right places at the right time, and to the right people.

I am sharing this as background because it’s only been a few weeks since my life was once again upended by a vision challenge that had become almost debilitating. I’d been struggling to read signage faraway and books up close. Multiple attempts at Rx glasses to “fix” the slipped vision wasn’t helping. I was also getting a lot of headaches, had a few stumbles on curbs I should have “seen”, was feeling fatigued after a few hours at the computer and in all honesty, just feeling off.

Most of us associate “cataracts” with something older people get. While I am 54 which to me doesn’t qualify as old, I wasn’t prepared to hear “You have severe cataracts, and it requires surgery to fix. There is no other solution.”

Well, as terrifying as that sounded at the time (and immediately put me into “OMG how can I possibly swing a few days away from work during my busy season?” mode), the spiritual CEO version of me stepped up and spoke up. I couldn’t ignore the guidance to GET THE SURGERY ASAP and trust that the experience is a wake-up call to prioritize my own health and needs this month. It required cancelling some exciting European travel plans, but the last few domestic trips I took were a blur (literally) and I had a challenge seeing signage at airports, reading menus and schedules and that gave me a clue.

I also took Dr. Assil’s advice to get both eyes done same day. (This is not an option for everyone, so consult with YOUR doctor on the customized plan for you.) He understood my concerns about downtime and my desire to get back to “normal” life quickly. He also told me he’d had both of his done same day, and it felt like the aligned path for me. It required shifting some priorities around, but that too is always a lesson. Nothing happens to us; it happens for us.

When your vision is physically off, you are off. There is a bigger reason we are guided to FIX what needs fixing. It’s impossible to do our best work when we feel off. My eye doctor has restored the sight of SO many people, including top athletes like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade (!). I feel fortunate BEYOND to have been diagnosed on April 16 and scheduled for surgery on April 29 due to a last-minute cancellation in Dr. Assil’s schedule. Typically, when you go with the flow and take advantage of opportunities presented, you are rewarded for taking the risk.

My reward? Driving myself to the Dr’s office in Santa Monica just 24 hours post-surgery and testing at 20/15! It was such a joyful experience and a true reward to hear: “Your eyes are BETTER than perfect” from the doctor at my post-op appointment. Wow. While I still feel a little tired from the whole experience, I can read tiny type in a book again (did I mention I love reading and can’t wait to enjoy REAL books again?!) and also see the street signs clearly. I was able to see about six lines further down the eye chart today vs. two weeks ago (when apparently I wouldn’t have passed the DMV eye test!).

It wasn’t easy to put my life on hold for a few days, but thankfully I’ve learned the hard way what happens when you don’t. Health is wealth. No one benefits from us being less than healthy. Whether it’s eye surgery or anything, taking a little time out to FIX what’s needed should be a no-brainer.

My other big lessons learned from this experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help. From asking a new but wonderful local friend to pick me up from surgery because I can’t uber it home to asking a new but solid business contact to back me up while I was offline recovering, that might have been the hardest part of this all. Well, that and not being able to drink WATER for 12 hours pre-surgery! Anyways, let this be a reminder to get your eyes checked and a PSA that cataract surgery is a life-changer not just for “old people.”

If your vision is blurry, don’t waste time finding clarity. No regrets about my decision to do this sooner than later. Your eyes are the window to your soul. Cloudy vision just gets in the way. Clear vision is a gift. xo — Stacy



Stacy Hope Small

Founder & CEO: Elite Travel Club | Author: Why Not Me?!? | Santa Monica, CA