A few years ago, I first heard about radial keratotomy, better known as RK, from a friend who said he couldn't wait to put his eyes under the knife and get rid of his glasses.

I thought, but didn't say, "Examine the man's head - not his eyes."Of all things I might subject myself to, using a diamond blade to make spoke-like slits in the surface of my cornea was not one of them. No matter what the promise - like flattening the cornea to redirect light rays to fall properly on the light-sensitive retina - and produce clear vision without glasses.

But I kept talking to people who had done it and reading about the 250,000 plus RK patients nationally each year. The kicker came when my married daughter had it - an unqualified success.

I was present for the procedure, performed by Jay Clark, an Orem ophthalmologist, and was impressed by his steady hand.

Finally, I asked myself - am I brave enough to go through the 20-minute procedure myself to get rid of the contact lenses that were driving me crazy?

It turned out I was - sort of.

Friends thought I had slipped over the edge. Last summer, I made an appointment with Clark, who pronounced me a good RK candidate - meaning I was moderately nearsighted and my cornea was healthy.

He said I would have to give up contacts and wear glasses instead - for several weeks - so my cornea would return to its normal size.

That was hard. Glasses irritated me more than contacts. But I wore them every day, as people inexplicably showered me with compliments.

"I love your new glasses!" (Gag.)

I wore them on a trip to San Francisco with my wife. When we returned, I went into surgery, so nervous that my daughter held my hand. In 20 minutes, the painless procedure was over.

Clark made conservative cuts to avoid over-correcting my nearsightedness, assuming he would make an "enhancement" to refine my vision later.

I had a special reason for hoping the surgery worked - our family was going to Yellowstone in a week.

The doctor said, "No problem. You will see the bears." Actually, I saw a Yellowstone with no bears - but it wasn't the doctor's fault.

While traveling, my vision was 20/25 in the morning, then it gradually fluctuated to about 20/50 by mid-afternoon.

In the morning, I looked across the broad Canyon of the Yellowstone and picked out tiny objects or animals that others had to strain to see.

After the trip, my vision stabilized to 20/50, so the surgeon decided to do a 10-minute enhance-ment. I walked outside with an exciting new visual clarity and drove myself home.

One week later, I tested 20/20 in both eyes. Two months afterward, my left eye had slipped to 20/25, while the right one remained 20/20.

I didn't mind the change, because the left eye provided the close-up vision I needed to read clearly.

You old guys will understand.

In October, the Archives of Ophthalmology published the results of a 10-year study of almost 400 RK patients. I read the study.

It says RK is safe, 70 percent of patients do not need glasses for long-distance vision, and 85 percent have at least 20/40 uncorrected vision, good enough to legally qualify for a driver's license in most states.

As for me, I love the clarity of the mountains and street signs as I drive to work. I love not blinking 30 times a minute, as I did when I wore contacts. And I love waking up each morning to a vivid, new world.