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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Laser Eye Surgery - My Experience - Part 2

Hi Everyone,

I started talking about my laser eye surgery experience in this post which talked about my history with glasses and selecting a clinic for the surgery. In this new post, I will talk about the actual surgery itself and how the recovery went.

In Germany a month before surgery
My surgery was on a Friday in January 2011 in Ultralase Dundrum. I had booked the day off work and would go back on the Tuesday, the clinic said that would be enough time for LASIK.

I had to make sure absolutely all traces of eye-make up was removed when I went in for surgery. They recommend not wearing any the day before too to make sure. You are allowed to eat beforehand so I had breakfast. I made sure to pack my sunglasses for later and wore warm clothes as I was advised it can be cold in the room.

I was there bright and early and met with the surgeon, Mr Faisal Iqbal. He has great credentials - 11,500 surgeries over the past five years with many additional certifications (http://www.ultralase.com/vites/faisaliqbal/).

We had a consult before the surgery. He ran through all the risks and being the actuary that I am, I asked the probability of them happening. Although obviously it's a worry, I was happy to go through with it. I appeared to be a good candidate with only a moderate issue to correct and I was going for a very advanced treatment. The risks were tiny.
A few months before the surgery - me with Robert C Merton, Nobel Prize in Economics winner 1997 and co-founder of LTCM
I was brought into the operating room and lay down flat. I made sure they were doing the Elite procedure I had paid for. The worst part of the surgery was the 'eye clamp' which needs to go around your eyeball to keep it in place. I admit I struggled a bit with this and it was not a nice feeling. I had to look at a red dot above my head and not deviate from it. First the flap was made. There was a lot of fluid in my eye from the anaesthetic drop and all I could see was the red dot, kind of like it was under water.

The actual laser part was ok, it was extremely quick - maybe 20 seconds and they count down for you. A nurse was at my side reassuring me. Then the whole process is repeated on the other eye. This is worse as you know what is coming. I probably struggled even more with the eye clamp this time. Very quickly it was all over. I must have only been in the room about ten minutes. I was then brought to a very large and very comfy chair where I was left to relax for a while. Everything was very blurry and my sunglasses were put on me. I felt nothing as the anaesthetic drops were topped up.

After a quick checkup and a talk re the aftercare, I was free to go. My boyfriend drove me home as clearly you can't drive yourself. Soon my eyes started to feel uncomfortable - like a huge eyelash had fallen in. They were watering like crazy but there was no acute pain. You have to wear these eye protectors - plastic guards you tape on your face to stop yourself from touching your eyes in your sleep. They were pretty uncomfortable if you positioned them wrong but I soon got the hang of it.

Eye guards and swollen eyes
I decided to go to sleep and slept til evening. When I woke up, I tried on my glasses - they made everything blurry! I took them off and looked at the books on the bookshelf across the room - I could read every title and author! It was amazing! The blurriness had gone and I could see perfectly. The discomfort had also gone. I felt normal.

The only problem was, my eyes were extremely bloodshot. Basically every bit of white was now bright red. It was caused by my struggle during the clamping process. It didn't hurt but looked pretty awful. I had to kept remember I couldn't rub my eyes. Touching could dislodge the wound.

Here is a photo of my eye, I am including it as a link as it's not the prettiest photo http://imgur.com/jHXvFAk Don't click if you are a bit sensitive!

I had to apply eyedrops at regular intervals - it may have been every 2 hours. They had to be refridgerated and you had a separate one for each eye to stop cross contamination. Although you are probably not supposed to, I watched tv and went on the internet that night, I felt as good as normal.

The next day, I had to go back for a check-up. Everything was progressing normally and I had better than 20:20 vision. I was cleared to drive again. There was no discomfort and everything was normal.

One highlight of surgery - wearing normal sunglasses
The day after that, I decided to get my hair washed. You are not allowed take any showers at all over the first few days as water can contaminate the eye. I had had a bath but my hair felt yuck. I drove myself to the salon. I explained to the hairdresser that I had to wear sunglasses inside and no water could get in my eye. They let me put a towel over my face while washing my hair which must have looked absolutely crazy to the others and then I kept my sunglasses on while they blowdried my hair. I felt much better after this.

I was scheduled to have Monday off work but I saw no reason to take the day off so I went in. I wore my sunglasses all day which made me feel like a total idiot as I worked in a huge company where a lot of people had no idea I had the surgery and probably thought I looked crazy. Everyone was interested in hearing the story and also recoiling when I showed them my bloodshot eyes.

I still had to keep my eyedrops refridgerated which was a little annoying as the only fridges were in the canteen. I had to go there every few hours to top up my eyes. Thankfully this was only for a week.

It was amazing, I could now work out who was approaching my desk and the view out the window was fantastic, I could see details I never could before.


Enjoying cities without glasses
A week later I went back for another checkup. You are not allowed wear make up for three weeks after the surgery. I asked was there any way I could start before that. They said my eyes had healed perfectly so far and there was a good seal on the wound so I could wear some light make up - foundation, eyeshadow etc but no three coats of mascara or lining my inner rim just yet! It's not the make up itself, it's more the removal of it that is the problem.

A few weeks after, I was able to slowly progress back to normal make up. My eyes were still great - perfect vision and no dryness which so often happens. There was a small glare when driving at night but it was lessening.

The bloodshot-ness was veeeery slow to recede. I saw no noticeable difference day to day but week on week it did seem to be getting better. This is supposedly normal. About a month after it was basically gone.

I was eventually signed off by the clinic who told me I was better than 20:20. My eyes had healed perfectly. The night vision was fine again and no dryness had occurred. I never even opened the artificial tears!

I was noticing all sorts of detail where I never saw it before. Trees had leaves and people had faces.

Now, 2.5 years on, everything is just as good. I have had no issues since then. No dryness, no blurriness.I feel so liberated. I don't need to worry about where my glasses are, or getting freaked out when I don't have them. I have perfect sight ALL the time, not just when my glasses are on.

I believe that Ultralase has now closed in Ireland and that company has been bought. It's a pity as I had a good experience there. I had a lifetime guarantee which is apparently still in effect in the Belfast office.

Overall, this was one of the best things I have done. I would recommend it to everyone.

Have you thought about Laser Eye Surgery? Are you freaked out about the idea?


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