The eyes have it

The heir to the Farley hundreds, thanks to a defective gene from his mother’s side of the family, has worn corrective lenses since elementary school.

He got glasses first, and the way they opened the world for him was wonderful for a father to see. Contact lenses came in junior high, when vanity set in.

Recently, though, he’s moved back toward glasses. Some quirk, no doubt from that same maternal flaw, has caused great trunklike protrusions to thrust from his corneas like that creature erupting from the thorax in Alien.

On a microscopic level, I mean. You wouldn’t notice them under ordinary circumstances, especially since I may have the whole story wrong.

Whatever the specifics, his eyes and his contact lenses stopped getting along. The professional consensus was that he either go with glasses full time or have his vision permanently corrected.

You can’t disown your offspring just because they reach adulthood. (More’s the pity, I sometimes think.) So after Matt’s insurance carrier declared that it would rather pay for a lifetime of lenses than one shot with a laser, I made an impulsive gesture:

“I’ll split it with you for your birthday,” I said.

If only I’d known that Lasik is a medical term meaning, “costs more than my first six cars combined.”

I might not have been so generous if two co-workers hadn’t had the procedure and pronounced it miraculous. He’s my only son, I reasoned, and if I kept the money, I’d likely squander it on heat this winter anyway. Besides, the thought of being able to wake up in the morning and see was a thrill, if only vicarious.

Eye surgery isn’t an area where you automatically go with the lowest bidder. We discarded, for starters, a flyer that promised “LASIX (sic) $995 per eye.” Misspelling the name of the procedure doesn’t necessarily indicate carelessness, but why risk it? We got recommendations, checked websites, talked to physician friends and painstakingly evaluated our options.

Then we based our decision on the fact that a Lasik factory that advertised on my radio show offered to knock 50 percent off the price.

I don’t mean “factory” in a pejorative sense. Matt got individual attention, a thorough examination, careful explanation of the risks and a free pair of Aquaman goggles to sleep in until he’s healed or his girlfriend stops giggling, I forget which.

They do keep the patients at a trot, though.

Total time drop-off to pickup was about three hours, but that includes pre-medication, counseling, expression of concerns and recovery. The actual procedure was shockingly quick. They called Matt’s name, and he walked down the hall. I stood up, asked for directions to the restroom and followed them. When I got back, the patient was waiting in the lobby in a pair of Roy Orbison sunglasses.

Suddenly I understood those ads I’ve wondered about, the ones where a physician boasts that he’s done thousands of Lasik procedures. If you set up the office right and hire a couple of pushers to keep the crowd moving, you could do two dozen a day with time for lunch. By my rough calculation, assuming the factory processes two groups the size of Matt’s five days a week and that half pay full fare, half get the bro deal, they could be grossing $350,000 a week.

That’s an observation, not a complaint. We knew the price going in, the surgery seems successful so far (left eye “perfect,” right eye “OK,” says the victim). He’d do it again.

He’ll need a new father, though. This one’s tapped out.