For four years now, Dr. James Kiley of the Raleigh Eye Center has been giving away LASIK. The desire to give back to the same community that has enabled him to improve the vision of Triangle area residents for more than 30 years runs deep. This years contest however had a new twist. Entrants had to submit a goofy picture of them wearing glasses. Then it was up to the public to choose the goofiest one. The picture with the most votes won a $4000 unforgettable prize, LASIK vision correction. This years’ winner is Raleigh resident, Amanda Smith. We hope you will enjoy reading our interview with Amanda.
REC: What made you decide to enter into REC’s contest?
AS: At first when I saw the newsletter about the contest, I was thinking there is no way I would be able to win this thing! After talking with my family and boyfriend, they gave me the motivation to submit a goofy picture. I had nothing to lose, except my dreaded contacts and glasses!
REC: How did you hear about the contest?
AS: One of my co-workers raved about his experience at REC. Several of our co-workers got LASIK from REC. You hear so many places advertise about LASIK surgery; however, I’ve NEVER heard so many success stories come from the same doctor’s office. From all of the referrals, I knew I was making the right choice to enter the REC contest!
REC: How long have you been considering LASIK?
AS: I have wanted LASIK since high school and have been wearing contacts and glasses since 6th grade. In high school, I was on the swim team and the chlorine would intensely irritate my eyes, especially while wearing my contacts! I remember one time I was racing and my contacts came out during the race. I remember being so irritated and frustrated with myself because I could not see or perform my best for the race! At that point, I really began asking my hometown doctor about LASIK, but due to my young age and vision worsening at each yearly appointment, I was not yet a candidate.
In college, I really started to get irritated with my vision in my daily activities. Between late hours of studying, staring at books and computer screens for hours, and of course, the late nights spent out with friends, my eyes took a beating. They would get very dry, irritated, and sometimes infected from wearing my contacts for too long.
I am very active and do not like wearing my glasses when I am exercising or out and about, so I had to suppress the irritations from my contacts whenever my eyes were feeling sensitive. My glasses start getting foggy when I run, so that was embarrassing and not fun to deal with. I am from the coast so many of my summers are spent at the beach. There have been several instances where the salt water, sand, or sunlight have hurt my eyes badly due to wearing contacts. Because of that there have been plenty of times where I’ve had to wear my glasses, and sunglasses on top of the glasses to be able to see and protect my eyes from light sensitivity. Talk about looking goofy! I cannot wait to experience life without having these disturbances!
REC: What was your strategy for getting so many votes?
AS: Many of my friends know the struggles I’ve had with my eyes, so it was no problem to publicize the contest on my personal Facebook page and get my friends to vote. My friends and family began to share the contest on their Facebook pages and it began to generate vote upon vote with their personal Facebook friend list! I am fortunate to work at a great company that is a close knit, team-oriented, family style culture. As soon as I informed my co-workers about the competition, they began to share it with their department teams and friends. I was genuine and honest with people about my need for the surgery, and very clear on the process of how to vote – it took seconds. People thought it was so cool that I could win a $4000 life changing surgery for free! I am so thankful for each and every vote I received! 🙂
REC: How do you feel now that you have won the contest?
AS: When I found out that I won, I immediately called my family and began to get teary-eyed. Just the thought of being able to wake up in the morning and see the world clearly, without having to reach around for my glasses was such an amazing thought to have! Thinking about all of the times where I’ve had eye infections from contacts and how they would not happen anymore!
LASIK has definitely been on my list of things to do for years now, but at this point in my life I do not have the money to pay for it until I make more money. I am so thankful for that REC granted this opportunity. I really wish all of the contestants could win the surgery, as I understand their pains of wearing contacts and glasses. I would not have won without my friends, family, and co-workers and am beyond appreciative for each of their votes! I have many events this summer, from traveling for work to being a maid of honor in a wedding. I plan to get my LASIK surgery as soon as possible and am so excited to know that my vision will no longer get in my way while I enjoy my life experiences!