I hate wearing glasses. I literally feel like the ugliest person alive when I wear them (which is why there are very few photos of me in my glasses anywhere). I can feel them on my face the entire time and I’m just really self-conscious. I wear contact lenses 90% of the time but it’s a faff and my eyes get dry by the end of the day. Swimming is a nightmare as I can’t really go underwater if I want to wear my contact lenses, but if I don’t wear lenses I can’t see. Laser eye surgery was something I always intended to do. My vision is (WAS!) -5.75 for both eyes; so quite a bit short-sighted.
I booked in for a free consultation with Optimax in Southampton to see if I was eligible for eye laser surgery and to see how much it would cost and what it would entail. After what was basically an eye test with an optician and then them checking my eye (very much like you would at the opticians – nothing different here at all), they said I was eligible. If you’ve had issues with your eyes in the past then you might not be able to have it done. I had an ulcer on my eye – away from the cornea – a few years ago and was still OK so it’s worth checking. Then you’re scheduled in to see the actual eye surgeon who’ll do a more in depth eye check. But again, nothing crazy or painful. Just something very similar to eye and contact lenses appointments. The worst part was a puff of air being blown into each eye.
My surgeon was very thorough and gave me peace of mind. He went through the procedure and seemed very competent (obviously). I was offered LASIK surgery which is the preferable treatment as it only takes 24-48 hours recovery time, unlike LASEK which is a week of recovery.
He told me I wouldn’t be able to wear make-up a week after the surgery (I don’t anyway so no issues there), no exercise that would cause sweat to go into my eyes for a week (but I clarified I could still do weight lifting at the gym as I don’t sweat much at all) and no washing your hair for the week – basically no water is to get into your eyes. I pondered over the washing hair issue… I have goggles or I’m going to get my mum to help me. I haven’t worked this out yet. Or hello dry shampoo.
After a few weeks of that process it was time for the actual surgery. I thought my eye surgery was Friday afternoon. My lovely manager said I could work from home and not worry about taking the day off as it was so late in the afternoon – plus it wasn’t that far from where I live. My dad had taken the day off and he was going to pick me up and drive me there as I wouldn’t be able to drive home. The clinic’s only about 15 minutes away so it was really easy. However, I once again failed at being a functioning adult and got the date wrong. I turned up and they were like, “errr it’s tomorrow?”. Whoops. So we had to turn around and go back home, despite having paid a fair fortune on parking. Oh dear. Luckily my dad saw the funny side!
So Saturday saw us there again 24 hours later. First up was having my eyes once again checked by the surgeon and then filling out some fun paperwork…
The whole process was quite lengthy. I was scheduled for 4pm but didn’t leave until 6pm. This is not necessarily because the procedure takes that long but because there are a number of people having it done on the same day and it’s kind of like a conveyor belt of people coming in and out. This is my only criticism of the process. My appointment would always be later than the scheduled time purely due to the number of people being seen all day. Any delays would then filter down and build-up (when I say a lot of people, I’d say around 4-5 other people at the same time as me during that afternoon, so not huge numbers really). And because they obviously do this week in and week out it becomes very rote and script-like to the employees who are helping and advising you…
However, I didn’t feel like I was rushed or that my questions weren’t listened to and I felt like I was in good hands. Also I was given the phone number of the surgeon after I first decided to go through with the treatment and was told I could ring day or night and discuss any concerns I had, how ever small. He was very nice.
What was also nice was seeing people go into the “laser room” and then 15 minutes later come out like “I’m healed!”. We could ask them how it went, what it was like and it was just so reassuring to see people go in and come out absolutely fine.
After the paperwork (and more waiting around – both my dad and me had brought our Kindles and iPads in preparation for the wait) it was time.
A nurse takes you into a room where you put a net hat on (like in fast food restaurants) to keep your hair out of the way, then you’re led into the laser room/operating theatre(?). It was a big clinical room with a bed in the middle and several machines. One of the nurses asked me for my glasses. She told me to say goodbye to them as I’d never need them again. It was quite a moment! Then I laid down on the bed. My head went into a firm foam block thing which kept it in place (like a mould basically).
The nurse told me to close my eyes and she began cleaning my eyes and the area around them. It kind of felt a bit spa-like at this point… Then she kept putting eye drops in my eyes until the surgeon came in. He basically talked to me the entire time, telling me either to open my eyes or keep my chin up and my breathing normal. I lost count of the times he said, “fantastic, young lady” or “everything is going fantastic”. It was highly reassuring as I was wide awake and didn’t really have a clue what was going on.
FYI, if you’re super squeamish this might not be for you…
One eye was done at a time. He first clamped my eyelid open using what looked like an eyelash curler thing (sort of). My eyes were numb at this point (from the eye drops?) but I could still feel the sensation of it happening. I couldn’t blink. He then put this circular suction thing over my eye and pushed it down. This basically clamped my eyeball so I couldn’t move my eye at all. This was uncomfortable and not particularly pleasant but not painful at all. He then did a few things to my eye that I could neither see nor feel really, but I was aware of. Again, just uncomfortable and no pain. I asked him afterwards and he said this was him “cutting a flap” in my cornea.
After this, my bed was gently wheeled under the laser machine. He reassured me that the laser machine was noisy and it was all fine. I was told to stare into a light. I couldn’t do much else to be honest – I could have moved my head but that was it. If I had have moved my head the machine would stop. A lot of flashing lights happened. This was the laser reshaping my cornea. He told me I had thirty seconds of this and basically counted it down for me and not to panic. It wasn’t at all painful but a quite scary uncomfortable thing. My heart was racing but I tried to breathe evenly and relax. In these sorts of situations you kind of want to close your eyes and relax that way but…! And there is a definite smell which was disconcerting. I can’t describe it…just pungent. I breathed through my mouth and it was fine.
Then the laser was turned off and the surgeon did some more ‘fiddling’ to my eye of which I couldn’t feel (replacing the flap basically) and then added lots of drops to my eyes. This was the worst part. I desperately wanted to blink. He then basically blinked for me though using what I can only describe as a mini windscreen wiper.
Then this was repeated for my other eye. I would say that the whole thing lasted about 4-5 minutes in total. It was really very quick. I was then led to a darkened room to sit in (my dad was allowed in) for about 10 minutes.
It was very strange. My vision was very blurry and my eyes very watery but as I blinked a bit I could see. OK not particularly well at this point but it was better than when I’d removed my glasses. The surgeon checked my eyes again and I was free to leave!
I had to take three different eye drops every two hours until I went to bed (antibiotics, steroids and tear drops). I must also wear sunglasses when outside to prevent dust going in my eyes.
This isn’t such a great look now the clocks have changed and it’s dark in an evening when I walk Alfie but hey ho!
That evening my eyes were very blurry but intermittently would clear and it would be a taste of what was to come. I could see better than I could before without my glasses but not as clear as when wearing lenses, but this would take time. To read my Kindle I had to make the text huge as I couldn’t read the text otherwise. My eyes felt fairly uncomfortable and I was blinking a lot – it was like I’d worn my contact lenses for too long and they weren’t sitting right. But it wasn’t painful or terribly uncomfortable. I used the fake tear drops throughout the evening and it helped.
Before going to bed I had to attach some eye guards to my face using the special medical tape. This would stop me from touching my eyes when I was asleep – a big no no.
I have to wear this to bed for a week and it’s fairly awkward to put on. My eyes didn’t itch but occasionally I got a regular itch under my eye on my top cheek and it was annoying I couldn’t scratch it.
The next morning I opened my eyes and the blurriness had reduced a huge amount. I could see! For the first time in I don’t know how long I could see the world when waking up. It was fantastic! For showering I wore my goggles to keep my eyes dry…
For the rest of the day my eyes were a bit misty and felt dry but nothing major. They were very bloodshot though.I went back to the clinic for my 24 hour check-up with the surgeon and he checked my eyes and then my vision. My vision was almost 20/20 and he said hopefully when they settled down I would be there. Honestly, I am so pleased. I go back in another 10 days, then I think a few months. The after-care is very comprehensive.
I fully recommend LASIK eye surgery. It’s the best thing I’ve done. Honestly, I’m over the moon. Yes it’s expensive: it was about £2,600, though I’m paying just about £217 a month interest free for 12 months. I was previously paying £40 a month for contact lenses and hundreds for glasses every so often so for me it’s worth it. Fully worth it.
If you have any questions at all, I’m happy to answer them!