Laser eye surgery has been something I have been considering for some time now but it has always been the huge price tag that comes along with it that has put me off. Now I don’t have the worse eye sight in the world but being short sighted, I’ve seen (literally) my eye sight slowly deteriorate since my early teens where I was constantly squinting and straining my eyes at the white board and back then, wearing glasses in school was not cool.
Having worn contact lenses, first the monthly ones (where by week three, my eyes were constantly dry and irritated), then daily disposables, I found that I was prone to styes and dryness. Despite glasses being seen as much as a fashion accessory as they are a corrective aid for defective eye sight, I have always found them to be a nuisance. They are either uncomfortable on the tops of my ears where the frame rests, or on the bridge of my nose where they would always leave behind a dent. The fact that I don’t have a clear 360 degree vision is probably my biggest issue and craning my neck the full way round every time I go to cross a road is annoying.
My boyfriend had his eyes done a few years ago and I have a few colleges who have had the corrective procedure done and have nothing but praise for it. It wasn’t until my sister got it done recently, (although her eye sight was much worse than mine), that I started to contemplate the idea again. So I took the first step and booked myself in for a consultation with Optical Express which involved numerous tests to check whether or not you are a suitable candidate for surgery. They also go through the pros and cons to the surgery and also the two types of surgery. There’s a lot to take in so I wanted to go away and sleep on it before I made my decision to commit to a date. They give you an information pack to take away (which has a lot of information about the procedure and all in small print) of which you have to sign and agree to so I made sure to read through it thoroughly. I must admit I did feel pressurised into booking the surgery even though I was told that I could cancel within 3 days should I change my mind and get the full deposit (£400) back. I didn’t feel comfortable with it so I insisted that I wanted to go away to think about it.
After going away and reading the pack front to back (and back to front), there was a bit of confusion and questions I wanted to have clarified so I booked into see them again to go through all the things I wasn’t so sure of. It was only when I was happy that I understood everything that I went ahead and booked myself in for the surgery.
After coming back from a recent trip away from Bali, I felt that I was definitely making the right decision. If anyone who wears contact lenses will know that going abroad to a country with a hot climate is a right pain in the backside. Your eyes are constantly dry and going into the pool or sea is always an issue. You don’t really want to take your lenses out because unless you’re happy wearing glasses, which I find always become a sweaty mess, you’ll have to walk around seeing everything in a big old blur (not great for sight seeing!) Seven days prior to the surgery (which was conveniently seven days before the surgery), I was not to wear contact lenses as apparently they can cause the shape of your eyes to change. Having put up with a full week of wearing glasses, I couldn’t wait to have the surgery over and done with.
On the day of the surgery, I turned up 10 minutes early. Annoyingly I had to wait around 30 minutes before they called me in. When they did call me in, it was to go through the same tests I had during my consultation. I guess this is to make sure nothing has changed and that you are still suitable for the procedure. Shortly after the surgeon called me into his office just to make sure that I still wanted to go ahead with the surgery and asked whether I had any last minute questions for him. I didn’t so the surgeon told me to wait outside whilst he prepped himself for the surgery.
Then, a few moments later, the nurse called me into the surgery room where I sat back into a chair not too dissimilar to the ones you find at the dentist. A cap was put over my head to cover my hair and the surgeon proceeded to cleaning the area around my eyes before putting anaesthetic drops into each eye. Then, what I can only describe as some sort of clamping device (sounds pretty awful but is not too bad, just slightly uncomfortable but not painful) was used to keep my right eye open whilst my left eye was covered. Then there are a series of lights and moments where my vision goes completely dark. All this happens in a matter of seconds and during this time, a flap is being created in the cornea of each eye. You can’t really feel anything besides the clamp keeping the eye open (which feels like something heavy pushing down on it but not at all painful). Then the chair rotates and I was put under the “laser”. All I could see was an orange light in the form of a small dot surrounded by darkness. The surgeon’s voice can be heard telling me repeatedly to “look into the orange light”. Then came the mechanical sound which I can only describe as some sort of drill. I can only presume that this was the sound of the laser working to correct my vision. Less than 30 seconds later, it was done and the surgeon moved me back into my starting position and proceeded to work on my left eye. Even though I knew that it was a routine procedure for the surgeon, that risks were relatively low and that the surgery would be complete within a matter of minutes, my body was tense and admittedly I was nervous throughout the procedure. Especially so when the surgeon kept telling me to look into the light because it got me paranoid thinking that maybe my eye was moving without me realising and that I wasn’t actually looking into the light (when I was the whole time). I have to say that there is a faint smell that comes with the laser part of the surgery which is a bit unnerving (fried eyeballs anyone?).
All in all I was probably in there for less than ten minutes. It’s quite astonishing when I come to think of it, how within a matter of minutes, my eye sight is restored. The nurse then escorted me to another room where she checked I was ok and went through all the various eye drops I had to use four times a day, one after the other at five minute intervals for a week. Pretty straight forward. Shortly after being left to adjust to my new found eye sight, the surgeon came out of the surgery scheduled after mine (production line springs to mind) to check on me. He was happy with the results and sent me on my way. You are advised to go to sleep after the surgery which is pretty much all I did. I was surprised that I would be able to sleep at all because bearing in mind, it’s the middle of the afternoon. However, your eyes do feel heavy and there’s a tiny bit of stinging so all you want to do is to keep your eyes closed. I only woke up to have dinner then I went straight back to bed.
The following day, I returned for my 24 hour check-up, although it was a little less than a full day later. The optometrist did a few checks and I successfully read the bottom line of letters on the wall which I was told was better than 20/20 vision. Result! My surgery was done on a Friday which allowed me the weekend to recover before going back to work. Just for extra measure though, I took a few extra days off work and returned to the office on Thursday. I was being extra precautious as my job means I sit at my desk and at the computer for around 9 hours of the day (although you can pretty much return to work the next day if you wish). In the few days I had off, I found that my eyes were surprisingly quite comfortable, not as dry or irritated as I had thought. I guess it’s different for everyone. My colleague said he suffered gritty feeling eyes for the first few days whilst my sister struggled with really bloodshot eyes and dryness (there was a tiny bit of red but was barely noticeable).
When I finally returned to work, I noticed that I struggled to adjust my eye sight to my monitor. I found my vision fluctuated with blurriness alternating from one eye to the other throughout the day (although I was told that this can be expected and was perfectly normal during recovery). I returned to see the optometrist exactly a week after the surgery and she said after the check up that she could see dryness in my eyes (even though they didn’t feel particularly dry). She explained that the dryness causes the blurry vision I had been getting and gave me a more intensive moisturising eye drops to take alongside the regular ones to try to restore the moisture to my eyes.
As I type up this blog post, it’s been another two weeks since the surgery and won’t be another week until my one month check up. I have been experiencing blurred vision which initially has been alternating between each eye, but for the past week or so it’s been predominantly my left eye that is blurred whilst my right eye is fine. Despite being told that this was expected, I wanted to be reassured so booked into see them again before my next appointment and was luckily enough to be able to secure an appointment the following morning. The optometrist went through all the usual, standard checks and as I had thought, my eyesight was not as it was immediately after my surgery and she explained that it was down to my eyes being really dry from what she could see. She gave me even more intensive eye drops plus a gel type solution to be applied at night before I go to sleep. I have noticed that I now have occasional perfect vision throughout the day, rather like a yo-yo where my vision flutters in and out going from clear to blurred which I have to admit is kind of annoying. I’ve set my phone to remind me to put my eye drops in at 30 minute intervals which I found has helped.
Overall my vision is much better as I can now see the number plates on cars from a long distant and also see what number bus is coming when at the bus stop. The best feeling is when I wake up because and everything is (almost) clear as day, it’s a small reminder that it’s been worth the money I think. Hopefully it will continue to improve over the next few weeks but I will update this post as and when I get there, hopefully sooner rather than later.
If you have any other questions about my experience with laser eye surgery, do pop it down below. I’ll be happy to answer ay questions.