Advantages Perfect vision, quick results, no more contact lenses
Disadvantages Cost, possible problems as with all operations
|Why did you buy it?|
|Does it irritate your eyes?||Yes, a bit|
OK, OK, so the title made you cringe – but the point is, a slightly unpleasant smell was the ONLY tiny thing I didn’t much like about the eye surgery. So that’s gotta be good!If you’re reading this you are either someone planning to have surgery, or simply interested in the topic for someone you know, or generally. It’s a great start – READ up on it if you’re planning to have this done, there’s a wealth of information out there and I hope this review helps you make your decision. I have written in plain English, avoiding too much ‘science’ talk or techhie data to make it understandable, but if you want to know more in-depth data about the actual process of laser surgery just Google the word ‘lasik’.
Laser surgery has been around for over a decade now, in one form or another and is a hot topic of debate. It’s a big decision, probably one of the biggest you will ever undertake and you should research carefully before going ahead. As with any service, there are professionals and cowboys out there and for the average consumer it’s very hard to know one from the other, particularly with technology where we assume all suppliers are reputable.WHY DID I DO LASER SURGERY?
I know, I know – we only have one pair of eyes, so it’s not a decision I took lightly. I have worn glasses since the age of 4, then contacts from 16 onwards. When I was 18, a very stuffy consultant looked down at me over his reading spectacles and told me I was so short sighted I wouldn’t be ‘touched with a barge pole’ by a laser eye surgeon – those were his exact (very hurtful) words. As a result, I completely forgot about the subject for the next 4 years. When I was 22, my mum prodded me back into action insisting that ‘technology must have moved on’ so I started to investigate and ended up not only doing the surgery but helping a friend do it too! I no longer pay £29.99 a month for contacts or £160 for glasses – it’s wonderful to be able to say ‘I USED to be short-sighted’.THE HISTORY
Laser eye surgery came about as a result of a man who had had a car accident around 20 years ago I believe. He had been short-sighted prior to the accident and afterwards his vision had uncannily improved. After investigation, it was found that a splinter of glass from the windscreen had entered his eye and as a result, light was refracted differently through the eye improving his sight. Laser eye technology is based on this – altering the eye surface (the ‘cornea’, in front of the black pupil) so that light refraction can take place as close to normal refraction as possible. It has now been used on millions of people across the world and is more trusted than ever as an instant way to correct vision permanently. There have been no long term effects noted so far that would warrant not doing it, only some side effects in a minority, which seem to stem from bad aftercare, individual reactions or bad surgeons.
LASIK laser eye surgery (Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis) is a surgical method of cutting a very thin layer of the cornea of the eye to create a flap (the width of a hair), leaving a hinged flap at the top which is lifted from the eye and then held up allowing a pre-programmed laser to reshape the exposed eye surface (cornea) before the flap is replaced into it’s original position. This procedure allows for the laser beam to ‘burn away’ excess tissue on the eye surface which had been causing distortion of light (because it was too thick), and therefore had been causing short-sightedness.WHAT TYPES OF LASER EYE SURGERY ARE THERE?
There are two main types: PRK and Lasik as well as others. As I chose the Lasik option, I will mainly focus on this type. The difference being that with PRK the eye is lasered directly with no flap being created. Therefore the laser ‘scratches’ away excess tissue to achieve thinning of the cornea. This in turn causes longer recovery times as the wound will weep more as it is exposed to oxygen. Lasik is recommended for those who are very short sighted, whereas PRK suits lower levels of short-sightedness overall.WHO CAN HAVE LASER EYE SURGERY?
The first step is to go to a consultation with a reputable laser surgery company and discuss your particular case and the type of vision you have. However, overall, anyone with short-sighted (myopic) vision can have their vision significantly improved with laser surgery. I was –5.5 Diptres per eye and even had astigmatism in both eyes, which is where your eye shape is different to normal, and was still able to have it done. Long-sighted people can also benefit, up to around +2 per eye I believe.SO HOW DO I START LOOKING INTO IT?
Just by reading up on Ciao you are making a great start – too many people trust the ‘high street’ just because it is the high street – I did not. I also didn’t trust Harley Street just because it’s a well known and trusted address – do you know companies can rent an office for 1 day a week on Harley Street? Don’t go on location or reputation alone – go with a friend’s recommendation and your research, with a healthy dose of ‘gut feeling’ about who is the right company for you. Search the internet then call companies and ask questions. Once you’ve narrowed some down, go for a consultation and talk to a specialist.HOW DO I CHOOSE WHO TO DO IT WITH?
Research, research, research. I wanted to make sure one of the ‘horror stories’ of the 80’s didn’t happen to me. I investigated several companies on the internet and narrowed my selection down to 3 possible choices based on the following factors:- Type of laser used (modern, type of laser?)
I ended up choosing a company called Optimax.who I felt best met all the points on my list in terms of experience, price and location.WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OR POSSIBLE PROBLEMS?
CONSULTATION >> On choosing Optimax, I went for a free consultation in London prior to deciding whether I should go ahead or not. My consultant was very helpful, calm and gave me all the information I needed. He assessed my individual case and advised I could definitely have surgery and that he recommended Lasik as I had approximately –5.5 dioptres in each eye, as well as astigmatism. I was able to ask him any questions I had, which mainly centred around things that might go wrong, as you’d expect! He assured me that most of the reported problems were many years ago in the early stages, and that some other cases were down to bad surgeons, bad equipment and the healing process of the operation itself. If a person chose a reputable company, with the latest technology and took the aftercare seriously, there should not be a problem – but that of course there was no guarantee, as with any surgical procedure. I asked about the size of my pupil and whether this would be a problem, and was told ‘not at all’ and that many people have larger pupils that I do. The laser itself ‘burns’ the area in front of your pupil to the size your pupils get when dilated (large, when you are relaxed) so that after the surgery when they are dilated you can see properly. Imagine if they only did surgery on a pinprick size in front of your pupil (as the eye is normally), as soon as you relaxed in the bath your vision would go blurry because the pupil would have expanded beyond the operated area of your eye! Your book, chocolates and wine would go to waste…
SURGERY >> My surgery was 3 years and 5 months ago now, hard to believe. I call it ‘surgery’ but honestly, it’s the same timescale as a doctor’s appointment (under 20 minutes) so although it’s a big issue mentally, the actual procedure isn’t as much. I have not had any problems at all, and I think I am part of the majority, rather than the minority these days.I arrived at 9am, quite nervous, and was given some paperwork to sign. After reading all the small print, I was even more nervous, as you are basically signing over the rights to your eyes! I had a brief moment of indecision (as you always do when you have to make a big life changing decision) and then signed it, as I wanted to do this and knew contacts and glasses were not for me anymore.
Next I was relieved of my cash - £750 per eye, £1,500 total which I paid by debit card (had sold my adored motorbike to get my eyes done…). You can also pay with a loan which they will organise for you, or a credit card (probably better rates) so there really is no excuse for not doing this. Why not get a credit cards with 6 months interest free especially for the op then clear it off slowly? After paying I was then offered a Valium which I gladly accepted and gulped down with some water.After some 10 minutes in the waiting room (no different to a standard doctor’s waiting room really) to allow the Valium to take effect, I was taken (read floated) into the surgery and asked to wear a special gown and covers over my shoes. I felt relaxed, welcomed by the staff and asked to lay down on the surgery chair, which then reclined. I had no fear at all and was actually quite interested in what was happening. Several drops were put into my left eye (you do one eye at a time) in order to dilate the pupil to it’s maximum and also numb the eye. I was then asked to lay back and relax, and they cleaned the area around my eye with a spirit or cleanser of some sort to ensure it was a clean zone to operate in. Then a wire clamp was placed on my eye, which was not pleasant, but kept my eye from blinking. My eye lashes unblinkingly now in place, it was time for the suction cap, which was more unpleasant – a suction cup that ‘secures’ your eye in place. My vision went black for a few seconds but returned quickly. In the end I preferred to be safe in the knowledge my eye couldn’t go anywhere whilst a red hot laser was being pointed at it! Now was the time of reckoning – the surgeon produced a scalpel and explained he was now going to make the small flap incision. As I had had Valium and numbing drops, this wasn’t a problem and he made the flap, then lifted it up and held it in place to prepare for the laser. When the flap was lifted everything went blurry and whereas the laser red point had been crisp and clear before, it was now a fluffy haze of red light. I was told to keep looking right at it, which I did, but found a bit hard because of the Valium which was making my eyes droopy… However, after a mere 40 seconds or so of lasering and crackling sounds (yes, your own eye cells are being burnt, and yes you can smell it), it was all done. The surgeon then liberally applied more drops to my eyes to protect from infection, as well as a few more drops to numb them. The suction cap was removed. The clamp was removed. I was given a clear plastic cup/pad to place over the eye which was stuck on with some (unattractive) sticky tape (doesn’t hurt when taking off, it’s the Magic Tape). Then it was on to my other eye, which also went fine, even more so as I knew what to expect this time and the Valium was far from wearing off. My mum hadn’t even finished reading the article she’d started in the paper by the time I came out!
AFTER THE SURGERY >> I was given a brief check 15 mins after the surgery to check everything was in place and there were no problems. I could already see better and did a short eye test which was a great moment for me. They also gave me an aftercare pack and my consultation time for the next morning. I then was helped out by my mum and we arrived at our hotel at around 10:15. Anything white was acutely painful because of the drops, and she proceeded to open the hotel curtains wide open… aaargh! I slept deeply, attractive eye cups still on to protect eyes during sleep, and awoke starving hungry, but more importantly, could READ THE TV SUBTITLES OF THE NEWS! Here began amazement at each thing I could now read, so I won’t go into detail as it happened far too many times to mention! Having a bath with no contacts AND being able to see what I was doing and the clearness of everything like the water, the shinyness of the taps was also a great feeling…CHECK-UPS >> I subsequently went to a check-up the next morning, a week, a month, 3 months and 6 months later – all went well and there were no problems to report. Just after the surgery I hed been given an after-care pack with drops and tips which I followed religiously and had no problems apart from some slight wooziness which isn’t unusual.
Negative Points > I only had one and it wasn’t even that bad – 24 hours or so after surgery I felt nauseous and was told that this was a combination of a) my body adjusting to the new ‘settings’ between my eyes and my brain and b) possibly also the drops I was taking, one of which contained mild steroids to help the eyes recover.
If I had to do it again I would actually NOT take the Valium as it made my eyes droopy and besides, I realised there was no real need for it considering how quickly it’s all over and done with. The smell of your own eyes is a bit weird, but it’s only a few seconds.I would never turn back now I know what this feels like and can fully recommend it to anyone considering it.
Think about the following:- If you are worried about money, don’t be, you can pay for this on your credit card or a loan – isn’t it more valuable to you to be able to see properly than use money as an excuse? This takes 20 minutes of your life and as soon as you’ve done it you won’t look back, no pun intended...
- If you are worried about side-effects, after-effects, problems – look into the facts and you’ll see only a small percentage of people have problems, and most don’t. The minority sound louder than the majority, but after research you will see this technology is working for so many people and can make a real difference to your life. Aftercare, the right surgeon and good technology are the key factors to take into account when looking into eye surgery.I actually recommended a friend do the surgery with Optimax and he did, a year ago, and also has had no problems at all.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions let me know!
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