Refrigerator magnate goes under laser

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:21 pm

Uihlein now functions without contacts, glasses
To a small businessman, vision can be that abstract trait that allows you to see new possibilities in the market.
Or it can be that concrete skill that allows you to see the hands on the alarm clock in the morning.
Phil Uihlein, president of U-Line Corp., the Milwaukee-based manufacturer of under-counter refrigerators and icemakers, had plenty of the former. But it was the latter that he wanted when he opted in for LASIK vision surgery.
“I really had significant correction. I had been wearing contacts since I was 12 years old, and that was — lots of years ago,” Uihlein said, carefully sidestepping his age. “Before the surgery, I couldn’t maneuver without glasses or contacts.”
Opting for the procedure was not a no-brainer for Uihlien. Despite the involvement of the laser, the LASIK procedure — Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis – is, in fact, surgery.
The procedure involves both a micro-keratome — a computer-aided tool used to shave the cornea — and a laser which actually reshapes the cornea.
The doctor first folds back a thin flap of the cornea, and then uses the laser beam on the cornea’s exposed surface in order to correct imperfections which cause nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The corneal flap is then replaced.
“I had been thinking about LASIK for quite some time,” Uihlein said. “I knew the industry was upgrading and enhancing their technology in mapping the eye so that the laser could be more precise in reshaping the eye.”
Prudence order of the day
Business people take risks every day, but Uihlein was not about to take unnecessary ones. He waited two and a half years for the technology to advance to his satisfaction, and even then opted for a physician that family members — including his brother and mother — had been treated by successfully.
“Up until the last year or two it was not uncommon for people to have to go back and get an enhancement — have it redone,” Uihlein said. “But I came to find out that in a study they did in Peter Foote’s office on how many enhancements they had done in more than 200-300 patients — the number was zero.”
Although he was told by Foote’s staff at Milwaukee Eye Care Associates that significant improvement in vision would be immediate, Uihlein made sure he was prepared to be out of commission for a while before going under the knife.
“We tend to be pretty busy during summer and early fall, so I had it done in October,” Uihlein said. “I wanted some time because I was not familiar with the healing process.”
But when in October of 2001 Uihlein had the procedure done, he was back attending to his business immediately.
“I had immediate relief,” Uihlein said. ” I had it done on a Friday — just because I didn’t exactly know what to expect. I wanted to have a couple of days to get over the process. But I drove the next day without my glasses to get a check-up. I have come to understand that the full effect of the laser surgery can take anywhere from six months to a year — it takes a while to get the last 5% or 10% improvement.”
Feeling of freedom
Now, Uihlein is free of the tyranny of contacts, which had been a concern particularly during business trips. He acknowledges that other people with more physically demanding professions might derive even more benefit from the procedure.
“Certainly if your profession is such that you are a firefighter or some type of very active person that would be a concern,” Uihlein said. “It provides me with a tremendous amount of freedom from carrying all that contact stuff and glasses when I go on the road. Convenience is a big thing for me. If I travel — those days tend to be rather long. It means I have my lenses in from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. at night — that is a long time.”
Dec. 21, 2001 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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