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Monday, 12 May 2008

My experience with laser eye surgery

My experience with laser eye surgery


This was written on 12 May 2008. It's now August 2016 but, having had to go searching for this sporadically during the last eight years when the subject came up, I thought I'd move it over to the blog so I could share it outside of Facebook.

It is entirely irrelevant to the rest of my blog and not at all funny, and unless you're looking into Laser Eye Surgery probably not of much interest. But if that's your bag, then read away!

A few of you asked me to keep you posted about how the eye-lasering went, and I'm extremely bored at work so I thought I would indulge you.


I had my laser eye surgery through Ultralase. Despite their admin staff being near useless (I'm still waiting for a call back from their reception...) and the sales guy being a sleaze (I didn't want to know about all of their fancy payment options but hell he wanted to tell me them), the optometrists knew what they were doing and I thought that their lifetime care guarantee was definitely worth it - and they appeared to be the only company to offer this. Besides I really really wanted to be able to see, so they would have had to go some way to dissuade me.

I must admit that it is kind of expensive.


It cost almost £4000 for my treatment which is possibly more than all my belongings including my car are worth together (how depressing), however you have to bare in mind that I was particularly short sighted to begin with and the costs vary depending on the type of treatment you have. However, with contacts costing about £15 per month and a pair of glasses every two years or so at £300, it works out that in 12 or 13 years I will 'break even' so to speak - and also there's the issue of quality of life which you can't really put a figure on. Also there are the aforementioned interest-free payment plans which let you spread the cost over a few years, which means that there really isn't too much of an excuse not to go for it as soon as possible - the younger you are, the longer you'll benefit! God do I sound like an advert - I really do apologise.

So anyway, I had the consultation in one clinic back in March to see if I was suitable - this involved having anaesthetic in my eyes and something to dilate my pupils and I felt pretty strange afterwards - I certainly wouldn't recommend travelling home alone afterwards as it's hard to focus, you look like you're on drugs and you tend to walk into things.

I was referred to a different clinic for the surgery, so I could have a surgeon who was experienced with high prescriptions. That was quite reassuring, however I did have to wait a month for the slot which was a week and a half ago. Against all my urges I did not use this month to research and/or convince myself that I was going to die.

After waiting for two hours, which I didn't appreciate (the magazine choice was worse than at the dentist), the Australian nurse (they all seem to be Australian...just an observation) put the anaesthetic into my eyes and talked me through the rules - I was given two sets of drops to take every two hours for the first two days, and then four times daily for seven days afterwards, and another set to use whenever I fancies. I was also given clear patches to sellotape over my eyes at night for two weeks which are very sexy. Obviously mascara is temporarily banned, as are showers (baths only, and no water in the eye) and swimming.

She then led me into the theatre where I had to on a bed looking up at the laser machine. I had to try and keep my eyes still and open and fixating on a light, while the surgeon made a flap (I had this done by 'intralase' which basically means they put a sucker on your eye, and a laser cuts the flap - apparently it heals much better however the sucker really sucks and you end up with what are effectively hickeys on your eyeballs for over a week, but more about that later). Although I can't be entirely sure as I was trying to pay as little attention as possible, the surgeon then flips the flap back on itself and the laser goes to work. It is a short process - about 20 minutes per eye all in all, and the surgeon and the nurses counted me down at each stage (although I could have done without the surgeon's helpful remarks such as 'I'm just dissecting the corneal flap'...).

You'll read reviews on their internet site and in their pamphlets that claim people 'hardly felt it'.


After watching programs like extreme makeover (oh come on, admit it) you'd be mistaken for thinking that it's like having your teeth cleaned. I would like to refute this, and say that there is a world of pain involved. Now I admit I do not have the highest pain threshold, but I thought i'd warn you. I read somewhere that the worst part is the smell, and although there is a faint whiff, it's by no means the worst part. I am willing to concede that perhaps it is different from person to person - although I couldn't feel the actual laser part at all I could certainly feel the heat from the making of the flap and the pressure from the sucker being attached.

Then they lead me back into the waiting room, and I could see - it was very cloudy, like looking through really thick fog, but I could see! Until about ten minutes later and then my eyes hurt so much I couldn't bare to open them, and put my sunglasses on and shut my eyes. This lasted for most of the journey home and only subsided a little in the evening. God bless Doug for helping me get home ok.

I had the surgery on Thursday. On Friday, I woke up and I could see. 


I was very light sensitive and even with my sunglasses on it was quite difficult to focus for long periods of time (which I was told not to do), and I looked like I had the rage virus from all the sucker action, but at the clinic the next day they confirmed that I had 20/20 vision.

In terms of driving and work, the optometrist said I would be safe to drive on the Saturday, although I didn't need to go anywhere so I didn't test it. On Monday I went back to work as normal, however I had a bit of trouble focussing on the screen as my eyes were steal healing and adjusting - and on Tuesday I woke up with a pounding headache and couldn't face another day of it. However after a day away from the screen, I was back Wednesday and although I had a few headaches that week, it was nothing that ibuprofen couldn't handle. I would certainly suggest to anyone thinking about having the surgery who works with a computer take more than the recommended long weekend as I did - perhaps a whole week with the surgery at the beginning and back to work the next week would have been more sensible.

On Friday, I went for my one week check-up (they do them at one day, one week, one month and six) and the optometrist confirmed 20/20 vision, and said the healing had been textbook, and the quality of my vision (which is as good as it was with my glasses) will only improve in the coming weeks. The redness was mostly gone although I was told that it would continue to disappear little by little.


Now it's Tuesday - so almost two weeks on. 


My eyes aren't itchy or dry any more, I'm not getting headaches and I don't seem to be extremely light sensitive. The redness is very difficult to make out and fading more each day. In fact I'd go as far as saying that if I didn't have to put on the lovely patches at night, I'd almost forget that I ever wore glasses.

So there you have it. That's it in a nutshell. I would definitely do it if I were you - yes there is a certain amount of pain involved, but it lasts less than a day and then you have perfect vision. I'd say that was worth it.

Edited to add: Been over a month now and everything's perfect :)

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