Two months ago I underwent LASIK eye surgery to correct my short-sightedness. Several people have been asking for more details and what the downsides of it all are so I thought it might be easier to write it all down and point people here.
First of all, I'll provide a little bit of background. I started wearing glasses when I was about 11 or 12 and over the years I became more dependant on them to the point that I couldn't see a thing without them. Before I had LASIK I was -4.75 in my left and -4.5 in my right. My eyes were getting worse at the rate of around -0.25 every four years.
I was one year into a new prescription and on leave when I spotted an offer from Optical Express to go for a free laser eye surgery consult so I decided to go along and see what they had to say.
The consult itself was an interesting experience with my eyes measured every which way I could think of and a few I couldn't.
Part of the process included putting eye drops in that forced my pupils to dilate fully and stay like that for a few hours, going home after that wasn't fun because there was far too much light coming into my eye but that discomfort only lasted a few hours. The tip here is TAKE SUNGLASSES!!
So, with the consult out of the way and with a rather expensive bill for the actual LASIK procedure I had something to think about. The actual cost was nearly 10 times more than the adverts promised but it was because my eyesight was so bad and my pupil size so big. This meant that the only option I had was all laser LASIK with wavefront guided technology, this wasn't an issue as I was already only interested in all laser LASIK. I'll explain the reason in later entry when I explain how the eye is shaped during surgery.
Anyway, after a discussion with my wife about the procedure and the cost it was duly booked 2pm in for the Bluewater shopping centre which is about 15 miles from where we lived. The nice thing about Optical Express is all the follow up work could be done at my local Optical Express, only the surgery had to be done in a specialist centre.
So, the day comes and Krys drives me up to Bluewater, we have lunch.... rather she has lunch as for some reason my appetite has deserted me then the clock rolls round to 13:55 and off I go...
Now at this point I was half expecting them to take me in, shoot me with lasers and I go home but nothing is that simple I end up having to fill out a few more forms and sit there for half and hour.... and it was that 30 minutes which was a total killer, all thoughts going through my head about the bad side of LASIK, the warnings and I'm almost ready to make a run for the door but I manage to hold my cool and I'm duly summoned.... to have my eyes checked, again...
Turns out that one of the scans they took of my right eye wasn't good enough for the surgeon so it was to be repeated.
These scans are vital though as they show how light enters the eye for the wavefront laser to do it's job.
15:00 rolls around and I'm summoned in to speak to the surgeon who asks me if I fully understand the risks and if I'm ready to do this. A voice at the back of my head squeaks 'no' but my voice, probably an octave or two higher says yes and then it's time....
I get lead into the theatre and the room is BRIGHT white, I mean the sort of white you get in a Star Trek episode or something. it's GLEAMING. I get introduced to two people, one is a nurse the other an assistant laser specialist. I get to put on a funky hair net and they lay me down on one of the most comfy chairs ever.
Then the laser surgeon arrives, my heart rate goes up a notch and at this point, it's all down to business. Some eye drops go in to numb the eye, an eye patch goes over my left eye, something metal goes over my right eye, there is an INTENSE pressure on my right eye and I'm seeing all sorts of funky colours which I guess is down the pressure of this metal contraption pressing down hard and causing nerves or light cones to fire off randomly. It doesn't hurt, it's just a little odd an uncomfortable, they roll me to my right and tell me to hold very still and look at a white light, the light flickers and that's the flap in the cornea created. I think it was the assistant surgeon that then moved something over my eye which pulls back the flap and my eyesight goes straight to shit, everything is splodges of colour and at this point I'm grateful to whoever it was who said "you won't see much, don't panic it's normal" because my left eye is covered and my right eye is a blur.
Then I had the most disorientating thing I have ever experienced, bear in mind that my left eye is covered, my right eye has no cornea covering the pupil so I've no vision in my right, just blurs and then the damn world MOVED. Turns out the chair I'm laying on rotates between laser devices but I didn't know this, all I sense is the world moving and I've got no visual reference for it so I'm gripping the chair in a death like manner until I realise that this is normal and I'm not falling...
So, I'm now pointed at another laser machine and the assistant surgeon tells me to relax and look at the orange flashing point to which I respond "which one?!" as thanks to my now very blotchy vision I can see about 9, the assistant surgeon tells me that it doesn't matter and once again to relax so I try very hard to but it's a little difficult. The surgeon tells me that I need to hold very still and that there will be a smell of burning which is normal as it's just a byproduct of the machine, others have told me that it's the smell of the surface of the eye being ablated but I prefer the byproduct thought. Anyway, the surgeon puts his hand on my head quite firmly.
I'm once again told to relax then there is a loud clicking and the orange light pulses, in the background I hear the nurse count down from 30.
Now, what's amazing is as she goes '3...2....1' my vision clears, from 9 dancing orange spots to one very well defined one - already my vision is far better...
They move the chair again, something passes over my eye and then some eye drops are squirted in. My right eye is done.
The process is repeated for my left eye and I won't go through the details for it suffice to say that's it's almost the same. When they created the flap apparently I squinted a little and put too much pressure on my left eye which caused some temporary damage and swelling but I'll go into a little bit of detail about that later.
The whole process for both eyes took no more than five minutes, was uncomfortable, not painful and was performed by some really friendly people. Once the procedure was done I was lead into a darkened recovery room and told just to relax. In the room were a few paintings which I could SEE without glasses... amazing.
One of the nurses gives me a little goody bag of eye drops and I'm told very firmly "DO NOT rub your eyes". My eyes feel very gritty and there is a film over them which is all quite normal.
So, I give my wife a call, she comes in to collect me and drives me home, at this point I realise that Optical Express is right across from a store that sells... lamps, which are on, causing all sorts of halos and weird optical effects right in front of me. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to put a lamp story across the concourse from a Laser Surgery facility?!
The drive home was interesting as I couldn't look out the windscreen because it was just all too bright, the few glances I did steal were awesome because I could read car number plates without glasses!
That's probably enough rambling about the procedure, I'll cover the aftercare and some other things in later posts.
In summary it was one of the most uncomfortable and disorientating experiences of my life but it was very quite, certainly painless with results that I could literally see seconds after surgery.