2004-08-13 / Community

Rockaway Lasik Helps Woman To See 20/20

Most of those who come to the office of Dr. Mark Gelwan’s Laser Vision Institute in Rockaway do so because they want to see better in their everyday lives.

Some, however, come with stories that belie belief. Adele Freeman, a California woman, provided one of those stories.

Freeman survived the earthquake that killed 30,000 people in Bam, Iran, last year. In that horrendous event, Freedman lost her fiancé, Tobb Dell’Oro.

In the predawn hours of December 26, 2003, her life changed forever. Thrown out of bed with her fiancé, Freedman was left without glasses or contact lenses. Trapped beneath the rubble, she could see nothing.

Rescuers finally freed Freeman and her fiancé and transported them to medical care, but her inability to see what was going on and her dying fiancé haunts her to this day.

“I was in the front seat and Tobb was in the back seat dying,” said Freedman. “I wasn’t even able to see him during those last few hours of his life.”

She went on for the next seven days without glasses and contacts while being treated at an Iranian hospital.

“I never could see what they were doing to me, or who was coming or going. And, when you’re in a foreign country, experiencing a dramatic language barrier, that’s a really helpless feeling.”

Wearing glasses and contacts since the fourth grade, Freedman had 20/800 vision prior to her Lasik surgery.

Living an active lifestyle that included scuba diving and traveling around the world, Freedman did not let her uncorrected vision impede her day-to-day routine.

“I had never thought much about having LASIK surgery before,” said Freedman. “But, that sentiment changed after experiencing a life and death situation without my vision.”

Once she returned to the United States, Freedman sought counsel about laser eye surgery from longtime family friend and ophthalmologist, Dr. Leslie Shapiro, who performed the surgery on the LADARVision surgical system at the Rockaway Park office.

Now, with 20/20 vision, Freedman hopes to continue her travels and help build a school or hospital in Bam.

“I knew I never wanted to be in that type of situation again, where my vision hampers my ability to function,” said Freedman. “It’s great being able to see now and I have eased at least that fear from my life.”

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