# Monday, February 19, 2007

It’s now been two years since I had my laser eye surgery. I used to have a prescription of -5.75 in each eye which basically meant I could see about 10cm in front of face and everything else was blurred. From the age of 13 I have worn glasses or contact lenses and am now at the age of nearly 30 just enjoying the freedom of being able to see normally. After noticing there are not many blogs showing actual experience of laser eye surgery I thought I would post my experience. I hope it helps people who are thinking of having the procedure done so they know what to expect. It may seem scary but I found the results were worth it.

Five years after going for my first consultation for laser eye surgery and being told I was unsuitable for treatment, I finally decided to go back again for another consultation. I was sure that I would be told again that I was unsuitable for treatment but was hopeful that with new technological advances there might be a solution. This time when I had the consultation I was told that I could have Wavefront treatment, a new type of treatment that has recently become available using more sensitive lasers and mapping of the eyeball.

It took me about a day of thinking about it and then I decided to book the treatment for two weeks after the initial consultation. It all seemed a bit scary and although I had wanted the operation for so long I found myself getting increasingly worried as the day of the procedure got closer.

I had booked the procedure straight after work on a Friday so that I would have the weekend to recover. At 5 a clock my boyfriend came to meet me and we went over to the Ultralase clinic in Hammersmith. I had a brief check up during which they checked my prescription, put some drops into my eyes and explained the aftercare procedures.

Then I had to take my glasses off and go into the treatment room, which was a little scary because these people seem to think you can see where you are going when you don’t have your glasses on, you would have thought being in this business they would at least know you need a guide dog to get to the treatment chair. More drops to numb the pain and then they started on the first eye. First they put the suction cup on the eyeball to elevate it so that they can make the incision. Then everything goes black, I guess that’s when they make the actual incision. Next you have to stare at the red dot whilst they use the laser. The laser makes a really loud, slightly scary noise and there is a bad smell as the surface of the eyeball burns away (this is what the leaflet describes as a fragrant aroma). Sound nasty but you don’t feel anything. Next the weirdest bit. Someone washes your eyeball. It’s really strange to feel water running down inside your eyeball and not being able to do anything about it and a fair amount of the water naturally ends up in your ear.

Well that’s the first eye done and they ask you to sit in a chair with your eyes closed whilst they recalibrate the laser to do the next one. Same procedure but the next eye is slightly more uncomfortable. I think it’s probably because you are expecting the suction cup on the eyeball and so are waiting for the pressure. When it’s all over and you walk back down to the recovery room you have fairly limited vision, although it’s better than without your glasses before treatment, it is very cloudy but I could see walk down the stairs … amazing, I couldn’t have done that before. You have to spend 30 minutes in the recovery room and then see the surgeon before you can go home.

Now the interesting bit is finding your way home. The surgeon recommends wearing sunglasses for the first couple of days after treatment and by this time it was dark outside. I really needed the sunglasses, the smallest bit of light made by eyes stream with water, even a traffic light was like a beacon. Getting on the tube I got a lot of strange looks with my dark glasses on, people either thought I was blind or was covering up a black eye. Changing trains at Richmond everyone moved out of way instead of crowding in front of me as they usually do.

On arriving home I had to keep my eyes closed for the whole evening so that the flap in the cornea had chance to settle. We had the lights turned down as low as possible and still the dim light was too bright for my eyes. I had to put 2 different kinds of drops into my eyes every 2 hours in order to prevent infection and help lubricate the eyes. At this stage my eyes felt like I had really dirty contact lenses in, all scratchy and with stabbing pains at around 5 minute intervals. At night I had to wear eye protectors for 2 weeks after the operation. These are basically plastic guards with air holes in them which you secure with sticky tape; they look like something out of The Fly and are very uncomfortable.

The next morning when I woke up, I could see the time on the alarm clock without glasses or lenses for the first time in 10 years. Although bright light still hurt my eyes, by lunchtime I could walk around in the sunlight without my dark glasses on. At the 1 day check up I was told I had already got 20/20 vision and that it would get even better. I had to use the 2 lots of eye drops every couple of hours for the next week and although I was back at work on Monday I had to take regular breaks away form the computer and after a long day my eyes were very sore and dry. After about a week I no longer had any pain in my eyes and two years after the operation I think it’s the best thing I have ever done.

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