My laser eye surgery experience

I had laser eye surgery on Friday and quite a few people have asked for more details or to hear of how I got on. I thought a blog post would be the easiest way to do that! And while it’s not strictly about running or weightloss, the results of the surgery will mean that I’ll be able to run and exercise without contact lenses or glasses and that will be completely brilliant – so it’s kind of related in a roundabout way.  

WARNING – in this post I’ll talk about what happens during laser eye surgery and post some pictures of my eyes post surgery. If you’re at all squeamish about eyes you’d probably be best to give this particular post a miss!

I have needed glasses for a long time, I can’t remember exactly when I started wearing them but I think it was sometime during my early teenage years. I didn’t make the move to wearing contact lenses until I was in my mid twenties – I tried them once in my late teens and found them too fiddly and time consuming so I gave up and didn’t go back until many years later.

I have (or should I say had) astigmatism which basically means that my cornea is irregularly shaped. A ‘normal’ one is shaped like a football and mine are shaped more like rugby balls

It means that when light comes into my eye it isn’t focussed as it should be, with the result meaning that things look blurry. I was also mildy short sighted. Nothing too remarkable but the combination of the two meant that I couldn’t see well enough to leave the house without glasses or contact lenses.

I have contemplated laser surgery for years but have always been a little scared of having it done – what if it were to go wrong? Initially I was also concerned that it was a relatively new procedure and that not much was known about the long term effects. But that was years ago and as time has passed I have seen more and more friends and colleagues undergo the procedure and have amazing results. Not one person that I know who’s had it done has a bad thing to say about it. So when I knew I was going to be having some time off work I decided that my time had come.

On the recommendation of a friend I booked myself an appointement with Optical Express. Before you can have surgery done you have to have a consultation to see whether or not your eyes are suitable. I was at the clinic for a couple of hours and underwent a number of different tests, the outcome being that I was a suitable candidate for surgery – hurray! However, due to my particular prescription (a pronounced astigamatism) I was only suitable for their most advanced, and therefore most expensive procedure – boo!

While you may see eye surgery advertised from ~ £300 per eye the reality is that very few people will pay that little. I paid a LOT more, but I’m sure it will be worth it. Tests over I booked in for my surgery date and was given and information pack to take away and read and a consent form to read and sign.

For the week before the surgery I had to wear glasses only and in the 24hr before the surgery I was also advised not to wear any makeup. On the day itself I also couldn’t wear any purfume. So on Friday afternoon a slightly dishevelled looking me made my way to the clinic on Shaftesbury Avenue for my procedure.

I hadn’t been feeling nervous about it at all until the previous evening when I’d read the consent form that listed pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong! It was the equivalent of the saftey briefing before a flight – I don’t really think about the possibility of a plane crashing until they start showing you how to adopt the brace position – then I get really nervous. But I’d had lunch with Mr J who in his calm and logical fashion had convinced me that everything would be just fine. I thought about all the people who had achieved such brilliant results, took a deep breath and made my way to the waiting room.

On arrival there were more forms to fill in and more tests to be done to confirm that my eyes were definitely suitable to be treated. And then eventually I got to meet my surgeon who greeted me cheerfully – “Hello Rebecca with the rugby ball shaped eyes!”. He talked me through what was going to happen, what he needed me to do and re-assured me that women generally make very good patients in comparison to men. When I asked why he basically told me that it’s because we’re better at giving up control of a situation and doing as we’re told than men are! Before I’d had a chance to protest at his somewhat sexist comment I was ushered back out into the waiting room and then very quickly called into the treatment room.

Once on the room I had a net put over my hair and was asked to lie down on a bed which was inbetween the two machines that would be used to perform the operation. It looked a bit like, but not identical to this set up.

A patch was put over my left eye while anaesthetic drops were put into my right. At this point I was feeling quite nervous so decided to pretend that I was in savasana, a relaxation pose in yoga and concentrated on keeping my breath deep and long to try and relax. Thankfully it worked and soon the surgeon was talking me through the first part of the procedure again.

To allow the laser to treat the correct part of the eye, a flap has to be made in the cornea. In the type of treatment that I had this is done with a laser. A plastic guard was put over my eye to stop me from blinking and then the laser was brought into contact with the surface of the cornea. This was the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure as pressure is applied to the eye and while it doesn’t hurt, thanks to the anaesthetic, it’s a bit uncomfortable. But it was over in 30 seconds, the other eye done just as quickly and then I was ready to have the actual treatment.

I was told to focus on an orange light above me while the laser tracked my eye until it was in position. Then in just under 40 seconds it worked it’s magic. I could smell the laser – a kind of burning smell – and hear it clicking but I couldn’t feel a thing. Before I knew it the surgeon was replacing my cornea (quite an odd thing to watch) and we were onto the other eye.

The whole thing took less than 15 minutes and as soon as I stood up I could tell that something had changed. Things were a bit blurry but I could already see unaided better than I’d been able to in years. Amazing.

I was escorted into the recovery room, offered a cup of tea and advised to put on my sunglasses and close my eyes. After a few minutes I was then taken through my aftercare routine and handed a bag full of things that I would need for the next 7 days.

Three different types of eye drops to be used 4 times a day, some goggles to be worn when sleeping and a leaflet explaining what to expect. Mr J arrived just as this was all being explained to me and we were then advised to get home as quickly as possible before my anaesthetic wore off.

I kept my eyes shut for pretty much the whole cab ride home, I was aware that my eyes were very sensitive to the light. As soon as we got home I got into bed to try to sleep, as advised by the clinic, but this wasn’t to be. As the anaesthetic wore off my eyes felt very uncomfortable, my eyelids felt heavy and I could barely open my eyes at all. They were watering as if someone had rubbed onions into them. This was all perfectly normal and I knew it would only last a couple of hours so I had to sit it out in the dark.

To try and relax myself I listened to a download that I bought from Dawn’s website Think it Change it which I have used in the past to give me relief from being bunged up with a cold. My eyes were watering so much that my sinuses felt blocked and I was having trouble breathing through my nose so I figured it might help. I listened three times and just relaxed and let it work it’s magic. Sure enough my eyes gradually stopped watering and started to feel less heavy and after about half an hour felt a lot better.

I spent the rest of that evening in my sunglasses with all the lights off in the flat as my eyes were so sensitive to the light. After a good night’s sleep I woke up to be able to see! My vision wasn’t perfect but I could see things that I would never have been able to without contacts or glasses. I was very impressed given that it was less than 24hrs since the surgery.

I went for my first check up yesterday morning and my sight was tested. It’s not quite at 20/20 yet but the optician thinks I should be there by the end of the week. She also noticed that I had the start of some inflammation – common in people who’ve worn contacts – so she’s increased one of my sets of eye drops to every 2 hours until Monday when I have to go back for another check up.

My eyes look like they’ve taken a bit of a beating. I’ve got bruises on both eyes – again very common and not unexpected given what was done to them.

Right eye

My left eye looks better than my right as the bruising is above my pupil so you can’t see it when you’re facing me straight on.

Left eye

Despite what they both look like my vision today is amazing. Yesterday things were still a bit blurred – like staring through water but today that’s gone. It really is incredible.

So for the next week I have to relax and look after my eyes. No exercise in case I get sweat in my eyes, no make up, no water splashed on my face and I generally just need to be careful when I’m out and about. I’ve been advised to wear my sunglasses for protection and also as a reminder not to touch my eyes at all for the first week. So on a dull and grey November day yesterday I worked on my rockstar pout!

It’s obviously still very early days for me and my eyes will continue to recover over the coming days and weeks. But so far I am very impressed indeed and have no regrets whatsoever about having the procedure done. I can’t wait to be able to run and do yoga without having to worry about contact lenses or glasses – the freedom is going to be amazing!

7 thoughts

  1. What a great review, thanks for sharing. Hope your eyes recover quickly so you can test out some runs without contacts or specs. I’m a big scardey cat and would love to have the procedure done (-6 prescription so quite short sighted). but I’m too much of a wuss. I had a mole lasered off and remember the clicking noise and horrible smell, it smelt like burning hair.

    1. Thanks Nadine. It’s weird – I used to feel exactly the same as you about having it done but then one day something just changed for me and I thought, yep – it’s time to get over this and take the plunge. I’m very glad I did. And yes, the smell and noise weren’t pleasant – but it was over very quickly!

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