An Athlete’s Life Without Glasses

What should have been a routine 45-minute gallbladder surgery took four hours. That was the effect of being 100 pounds overweight, poor diet, poor exercise, and stress.

On December 14, 2011, when Greg woke up from surgery, he saw his wife crying next to his bedside. When he found out what had happened during surgery and how sick his doctors discovered he really was, he knew something had to change. It’s not that life wasn’t good. It was. It was just hazy. But that was about to be different. Greg immediately stopped drinking, started eating better, and started exercising. It started with an odd but wholehearted commitment to ultimate frisbee. Greg started playing with a group, and resolved to keep coming back, three times a week, until he could keep up with every other player on the field. And that’s exactly what he did. Greg’s new active lifestyle soon led him to an obsession with riding bikes. Road bikes. Mountain bikes. Fat bikes (for the snow, Google it). It didn’t take long before Greg was in shape enough to start competing. And less that two years after the wake up call of complicated surgery, Greg ran four marathons, six National Ultra-Endurance bike races, four UltraCross races, and a smattering of other bike events. All in 2013.

 

Greg remained committed to improving his time and moving up the finishers’ lists, especially in competitive mountain bike races. It’s a sport where marginal improvements matter. Every technical detail of the course and how the rider responds to it physically affects finishing time. One of the most basic things that was slowing Greg down in races was his glasses. They would routinely fog up and he would have to pause in order to wipe them off so he could see. Not having crystal clear vision of the trail or rock or log or wet leaves in front of him kept him on high alert, and he would have to slow down to be able to execute safely when those obstacles arose. Slow down. It’s a cuss word to Greg. Greg wanted to go faster. He had to get rid of his glasses. And that meant he had to improve his vision with laser eye surgery. Greg turned to Dr. Kameen, now an opthamologist at Katzen Eye Group. On January 9, 2014, Dr. Kameen performed LASIK and astigmatism correction on Greg’s eyes.

After a short recovery, Greg was back to riding. The difference he experienced was incredible.

I’ve noticed that since my eyes were corrected, it’s made a remarkable difference in my racing. I can see the trail better, I find my reflexes are much better, and I’m able to tackle technical things that used to intimidate me with much more confidence. It’s really changed the way I perform as a mountain bike racer.– Greg Rittler

Greg has described his LASIK surgery as life changing. He’s also said that there’s nothing he’s ever enjoyed spending money on for himself as much as his procedure. Greg says the clarity of vision at night is amazing, and that he also enjoys reading and watching TV a lot more. But we all know that it’s the crystal clear vision he has when bombing down a hill on a bike that he enjoys the most.

 


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