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Since I was 12 I was told I needed to wear glasses which totally shook my world, I was a fashion conscious young lady for goodness sake I didn't want to be wearing glasses that would be sooo not cool !! In the end I had to compromise with my mum and have glasses and contact lenses, which was a total rubbish idea because on the first day of getting my £200 pair of glasses I left them in the seat pocket of an aircraft, which put a quick end to those. I got on fine with contact lenses but I was forever breaking them, losing them, forgetting the case so having to bathe them in solution in glasses for my dad to throw them down the toilet, putting them on inside out causing infections and even falling asleep in them so I could hardly open my eyes in the morning etc etc.
I never really knew about laser surgery till I was about 15 when my grans sister and my uncle had laser treatment and they said it took ages to recover, it was painful, expensive and you had to wear dark glasses for days so I was never really interested in the idea. However after years and years of abuse to my eyes I thought it was time to get them sorted out whether it be having a pair of dreaded glasses or going to the more expensive daily contact lenses. Whilst mulling this over I saw an advert on the TV for optical express offering special deals for laser surgery and it all seemed very straight forward with no hassle just 20 20 vision for £395 an eye seemed like a bargain but what was the catch?
MY INTRODUCTION I hadn't a clue on laser surgery so I sent off for the usual bumph and began to read up on all the different procedures and costs. The different procedures were
LASIK Which was £395 per eye, which involves making a flap of lens to expose your cornea, lasering your cornea to reshape it in order to correct your vision and placing the flap down to heel by itself.
LASEK If you have thin corneas or play a lot of contact sport you should go for the Lasek which is the same price as the lasik and very similar to the lasik but instead of creating a flap to expose your cornea the actual outer layer is removed so you have to have a bandage contact lens on at the end of the procedure and your recovery is a little bit slower by all accounts.
These are the two original methods that are the cheapest and most common. They have more advanced procedures that do not include cutting your eyes but using computers to perform the whole procedure. Results are meant to be better and proven to cause less discomfort but you will be paying at least 3times more for one of these procedures so I discounted them straight away as I didn't want to spend a fortune.
I read up all about the different procedures and because my prescription was very low something like -1.75 and -1.25 and as I am only 23 I thought my eyes cant be that bad so went for the cheapest procedure. When you go for your consultation they check the thickness of your cornea as if it very thin you are not suitable and you have to have the more expensive procedure. They also said to me that I had larger than average pupils which means my eyes let more light in causing glare so I might not be able to have the cheapest procedure it depended on what the surgeon said on the day and he checked my eyes and never even mentioned anything.
Obviously the prices can be different depending on where you go but I shopped around on the web and found they all companies were pretty much doing the same prices and deals, it was more easier to choose a location than it was a surgery.
PREPARING FOR THE PROCEDURE I had to mainly just physically prepare for my procedure, I know a lot of people have to mentally prepare which can be a lot harder because you have to pace yourself and talk yourself into everything. If you wear glasses you are ok but if your like me and only wear contact lenses you have to prepare a lot more than the day before as
you have to keep your lenses out 7 to 10 days before your operation so your eyes haven't shaped differently. If you are a sport fanatic you also have to prepare to sit back and not do any sports after the treatment for a while especially swimming and contact sports. If your into your beauty regimes like me you aren't allowed to wear eye make up for a week but I have had the operation nearly 2 weeks ago and I still wouldn't wear eye make up. You also cannot use sun beds for a month. On the day of the treatment you aren't allowed to wear deodorant, make -up, perfume or face creams.
ON THE DAY My appointment was booked for 10:30 so I arrived about 10:15 and was called up to the surgery floor where I say waiting. I have to say I was naive because I thought there wasn't going to be any pain involved what so ever and I would practically be able to see when I came out so I wasn't nervous at all. I was called in first to meet the surgeon who just looked into my eyes and said everything was ok and if I had any questions, which I didn't have. It was pretty brief but I think if I had questions he would have answered everything, as it is such a major thing. I was then sent back to the waiting area for 5 minutes until I was called in to see a lady who explained the aftercare procedure and provided me with my little gift bag full of drops, leaflets and a pair of goggles. You then have to put a surgical hat on and have your eyes cleaned with antiseptic. Once this is all done you are then taken to the operating room.
THE TECHNICAL PROCEDURE You are given anaesthetic drops to freeze your eyeballs so you are ready for the apparent pain free procedure. A protective flap is then created and gently lifted by the Surgeon, revealing the inner corneal tissue. Then Computer-controlled pulses of cool laser light are applied to the inner layers of the cornea. As the laser pulses, it makes a ticking sound. The inner corneal layer is reshaped with the laser to correct short sightedness, long sightedness or astigmatism impressions in your eye. The Surgeon gently replaces the flap and aligns it to its original position. It heals naturally and securely. There we go nice, painfree and easy. Yeah right!
MY PERSONAL PROCEDURE I was taken into a bright white room with 4 people stood around waiting for you there is a chair you sit in which swizzles round under the laser machine. You are then passed a stress ball and a lady quickly squirted what I assume was the drops to freeze your eyes into my eyelids and straight away a huge metal suction ring was forced onto the outside of my eye. I felt instant pain my eye felt like it was trying to escape and felt like it was being stretch to the maximum I started to cry and felt like trying to get away but before I knew I heard a zuuuurrrr and what looked like a tin opener circled my eye and before I knew it I was plunged into complete darkness. I am sure you can tell by now I am bawling my eyes out thinking this just isn't right! The surgeon then said calm down and stare at the red light which I could barely see so he said come on I'll guide you so he was saying look left, look right etc which was freaking me out even more because I felt completely blind and dreading the other eye. I then heard 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then the loud piping noise stopped so I think that was the laser that was being shone into my eye to correct my vision. Then a clear glue looking substance was painted over my eyes and the flap was flipped back down. Lots of liquid was then put into my eye and then they began on the next eye. The pain I must have been enduring must not have been normal because on the second eye more antiseptic was put into my eye and the surgeon asked the assistant to hold my eye open instead of using the big sucker thing! The only thing I remember him saying was "what ever you don't squeeze your eye" and me saying "but what if I cant help it?" thankfully everything was fine and the second eye hurt a lot less.
WALKING OUTSIDE FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME Once the operation was complete you are guided into a dark recovery room where there are some boiled sweets and a chance to have a cup of tea or coffee. I had a couple of sweets before having yet another cry I was so over come by everything and honestly didn't think I would ever recover. I know you must be thinking what a drama queen but I really wasn't expecting any pain at all and foolishly I thought I would have the procedure and be able to walk round the shops after! Once you leave the dark room you put your sunglasses on and head home, straight away you notice that you cant actually open your eyes and when you do they just stream with water. Thankfully the car wasn't far away but far enough for everyone to stare like I was a blind woman as I was in dark glasses holding on to my boyfriends arm for dear life on a busy Saturday afternoon. The journey back home took us about 30 minutes and in all that time I couldn't open my eyes once. As I walked into the house all I wanted to was sleep but had to put some drops in before I went to sleep which was so difficult as my eyes wouldn't open and when I forced one open it still felt like it was shut so more tears this time because I thought I was going blind!
7 HOURS LATER After I slept for around 6 hours (whilst visioning someone tin opening my eyes every so often) I woke up to yet again more darkness I couldn't open my eyes and by this time my lids had swollen up like I had been in a boxing match which I think was probably down to all the crying and trapped liquid under my eyelids whilst I slept. I went downstairs about 7pm at night to have my tea and watch listen to the TV. After about 30 minutes I kept trying to open my eyes and eventually about 8:30pm I could open them and actually keep them open without wanting them to close, I thought my eyes were open fully but when I looked in the mirror I could see they were open a tiny bit. I must say though once I could open my eyes there was no discomfort what so ever its shocking because you go from thinking you are at deaths door to feeling great again.
24 HOURS LATER The next morning I felt fine I had no pain or discomfort what so ever. My vision was so clear it was spooky. I could suddenly see everything clearly straight away. It was funny because the first time I noticed I could actually read the sky digital box menu normally I cant in the morning, as I don't have my lenses in. After I had been back to the opticians I was also told I could drive. Fancy that a day after the operation life is back to normal.
AFTERCARE Once you get over all the shock, pain and horror you have to take 3 sets of drops
EXOCIN EYE DROPS These to me are the most important drops as they are the antibiotics. They come in a blue and white bottle and are clear in colour. You have to apply them 4 times a day and it doesn't matter if you get to 9 o clock at night and forget you have only put them in twice you should just put them in every half an hour to make sure the doe is correct as that is more important than the time frame. You are given a timetable to fill in to guide you I normally took one about 8am then at 12 then 3pm and at 7pm. You have to apply these drops for one week.
PRED FORTE These drops come in a red and white bottle and have to be applied 6 times a day for a week they are an anti-inflammatory to get rid of the redness, because when I came out of the operation my eyes were all blood shot then when I got him I noticed to massive red blobs which are burst blood vessels and under eye bruising from where they cut your lens. The red blobs have gone down but they are still there now 2 weeks on. The surgeon advises about a month for these to go for good. These drops are a white colour and you have to shake the bottle well before use.
BLINK Anyone can use blink it's just really an eye refresher. It helps to lubricate dry eyes you should use this at least 4 to 6 times a day for a month because not only does it make your eyes feel more comfortable it also quickens the healing period because it keeps them moisten.
The drops really help your aftercare and ease the discomfort especially the Blink. You don't have to follow an exact pattern but you must only use one drop in each eye each time. You can apply the drops one after another but you should leave a minimum of 5 minutes between each, I personally left 10 minutes sometimes more because putting them all in together does no good at all as they will just drip out straight away.
You are also provided with big goggles that look like skiing glasses for whilst you are sleeping so you don't exert any pressure on to the outside of your eyes and so that you don't rub your pillow or quilt in them.
The day after the procedure you need to go back to the optician who referred you who checks that everything is ok with your eyes and that the lenses is safely in place. They also check your vision by giving you the usual eye test read the smallest letters possible. You are expected to be able to read the third row from the bottom when having the basic lasik operation this confirms you have 20/20 vision, I could read the 2nd from bottom so the optician so I had improved a lot but I think that may be down to the fact my prescription was not very strong in the first place. You are also asked to read a number plate, which is as clear as a whistle. As long as you can read that you are fine for driving, so after 24 hours you can drive! You then have to attend the opticians a week later where again they take a look at your eye to make sure the lens hasn't dislodged or anything bad like that. He also asks you to read the letters again, this time I could read the bottom line so he said that was a brilliant result. Your eyes are meant to improve daily for a couple of weeks, which I think is amazing. The second appointment they also do what they call a pressure test where you look into a light and a small puff of air gets released every second for 4 seconds just to make sure nothing dislodges the lens or causes any problems. The reason for this is probably to make sure everything is A ok because you don't have to go then for another month unless you have any problems of course then you should go back straight away and believe me you wouldn't mess around because I can imagine the pain to be excruciating if the lens got dislodged. Once you have been back after a month you are then required to go back after a further 3 then 6 months after just to check everything has gone to plan.
MY OVERALL THOUGHTS Don't do it !!! Not really I cannot begin to tell you what a new lease of life this operation gives you. Anyone that wants a life should get this done. I have suffered for so long seeing peoples as blurs, not being able to go swimming without being blind, not enjoying lying in the sun on holiday in case you fall asleep in your lenses, not being able to fully relax when your out and about and have forgotten your contact lens case just in case you need to rake them out because something has flown at your eye or you have just forgot and rubbed your eye dislodging your contact lens. I know these days you can get all singing. All dancing lenses that allow you to supposedly sleep in them, ones that let so much oxygen in its like not wearing them and even ones that change the colour of your pupils but you are always going to be faced with the same problems. I also think wearing contact lenses for a prolonged period time is no good for your eye hygiene anyway because no matter how hard you try to keep them clean sometimes its impossible! The slight discomfort for a day is worth the lifetime of vision I wouldn't care if the operation only lasted 10 years before you had to have it renewed it would be money well spent. At £395 an eye you can have a miracle performed in 10 minutes how can that not tempt you. I have but only one regret and that is not having it done sooner!
Very informative review! You're very brave. I'd never let anyone near my eyes, and I'm a lot more shortsighted than you were.
py106 12.02.2009 21:37
I can't say that I am totally agree with your points and I am not going to recommend people to do it, at least at this stage of technology, because I think for the people who don't really need it, the risks outweigh the benefits. Anyway, that's not the criteria here. This review is a fabulous one. Anan