My Experience Of Laser Eye Surgery: Part One

Thursday, August 22, 2019
I'll give you a bit of background information on my vision to begin with! I had to start wearing glasses for distance at around the age of fourteen and then at seventeen I decided to switch to contact lenses as I hated the way I looked wearing glasses, for the most part. I was very happy wearing lenses up to about two years ago when I started learning to drive and my eyes became very dry so I started vaguely thinking about laser eye surgery while trying other contact lenses to help with the dryness.

Looking For A Clinic 
Last year I went through the process of trying three to four different contact lens brands to find one that would suit my dry eyes more than the lenses I was used to wearing for years but over time they became more and more uncomfortable so I then started looking at various laser eye surgery options near me. Places like Optimax are the most common where I live in Manchester so naturally I looked into those first and they seem like great places to go to but I still wasn't sure.

*I would like to note that the best contact lenses options I have found for very dry eyes were the daily moist lenses from Acuvue via Scrivens which I cannot recommend enough*

Eventually I came across LaserVision which is a private clinic within Manchester Royal Eye Hospital - one of the best eye hospitals in the UK. For me, a private clinic within a fantastic eye hospital seemed like the most ideal (and possibly the safest) option for laser eye surgery so I booked in for a consultation which was £75 but that amount can be taken off the price of the surgery if you go ahead with them.

Consultation, Tests & Price
I feel as though the tests I had were very detailed and other clinics might not be quite as detailed or as comprehensive. The first test involved measurements which was very quick and non-invasive. Then I went to the optometrist who gave me a basic eye test (similar to the one you'd have at a high street optometrist). They then added dilating drops into my eyes which was necessary for further tests, however, they sting so much and made me eyes look very alien as well as red and sensitive to light.

After the optometrist, I was passed onto the nurse who explained the two types of laser eye surgery available (LASIK and LASEK) as well as testing the 'quality of my tears' which is a selection of words that I never thought I'd hear together. She applied anaesthetic drops and placed pieces of paper in my eyes to measure the dryness. It turns out that my tears aren't very good and my eyes are extremely dry which would explain why my usual contact lenses felt so uncomfortable in my eyes. Again, if you do want lenses then I can't recommend the Acuvue Moist lenses enough and the Scrivens contact lens program!

Lastly I visited the surgeon who confirmed that I was suitable for both LASIK and LASEK but he recommended that I use drops, night ointments, an eye mask and antibiotics to alleviate the dryness before the surgery which makes sense as you'd want to start with your eyes in the best possible condition beforehand so you will have the best outcome. I didn't expect a two month wait or antibiotics after the consultation but I'm glad that they were focused on care and ensuring the best outcome rather than just focusing on money and the number of patients they get through the doors, which was very reassuring.

The surgeon also recommended adding flaxseeds to my diet as they are a vegan source of omega 3 which is essential for eye health. I also received a price for my surgery which was definitely much more than the average prices I've seen online (or heard from others who had already experienced laser eye surgery) as mine was £3,800. The price will differ per person as it depends on which clinic you go to, the type of laser eye surgery you want and your prescription, so if you are looking into laser eye surgery then your price will probably be different to mine.

Drops, Ointments & Eye Mask
I started using eye drops every day along with a night ointment every other night and a heated eye mask. I used the drops four times per day and I feel as though they made such a difference after only a week of using them. I also bought the night ointment the surgeon recommended which contained lanolin (fat from sheeps wool) which naturally being vegan I didn't want to use but being vegan is about minimising harm to animals as much as you can and sometimes compromises have to be made when it comes to medication and your health. Although thankfully I've now found an eye gel (Viscotears) that doesn't contain lanolin and it's far better.

Surgery
The surgery I had was Bilateral Intralase LASIK with wavefront which sounds quite complicated but I believe that it's just an accurate, up to date version of LASIK. I had the surgery on the 31st July at 5:15pm at the LaserVision clinic in MREH. It was the last appointment of the day and I'm so glad
 I chose that option as it meant that there were less people in the hospital and clinic, it was less stressful and I didn't have to rush to my appointment. The first step on the day was filling out the consent form and having a final consultation about the risks involved as even though it is a common procedure, it still carries numerous risks (as any surgery does) that need to be fully considered beforehand.

Firstly, my hair had to be covered and my face and eyes cleaned by one of the nurses with iodine to prevent infection then aesthetic drops were dispensed into my eyes. Next up, the walk to the ominously sounding 'laser room' in which I had to lie down, more drops were added and then the procedure could begin. I have to admit that up to this point, I was quite anxious but as with most things, when I'm in a situation, I become quite calm which is thankfully what happened.

Skip ahead to the aftercare section if you are a little squeamish!

The first step in the LASIK process is to create a flap which the surgeon can then lift for the second laser to reshape the cornea that in turn corrects your prescription. The booklet I received explaining the process wasn't as detailed as I'd wanted it to be (I'm the kind of person who needs to know every little detail beforehand, whether it's an event, an exam or an operation) so I was a little confused initially as a plastic ring (that's the best way I can describe it as I couldn't really see it) was placed on my left eye. I believe it's a template for the laser the cut the flap but I might be wrong.

After the plastic ring was in place (which was uncomfortable, although not painful due to the drops), the overhead laser was lowered down onto my eye and seemed to attach to the ring with an almost suction-like feeling/pressure which again was very uncomfortable. I'd read that the process of LASIK wasn't painful but that it would cause pressure to be felt and to be honest, that's a massive understatement as the pressure was quite...intense and extremely uncomfortable. This section of the surgery also caused my vision to blur and then become fully dark - it was such an unusual feeling and more than a little disconcerting. This flap creating process felt like it took so long but it was only a few minutes for both eyes.

Before the second laser could begin to reshape my cornea, the flap that was created had to be lifted with an almost dentist-like tool by the surgeon which felt very odd and again, it wasn't painful but it was definitely an unpleasant sensation and sight, especially with my left eye as the flap had become sticky and didn't want to be lifted - this is normal and it's because the cells want to knit back together and heal. It was also very strange feeling this layer of my eye resting against my eyelashes as well as the blurred vision I experienced. This second part of the process was the least uncomfortable (surprisingly) but as the laser was working, I could smell a distinct burning scent which was the cells of my eye being burned...yeah, the technology of laser eye surgery might be amazing, the results are fantastic and it is a common operation that so many people have gone through but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is an operation with risks and it is a extremely unpleasant, very uncomfortable experience, for me at least.

After the laser had worked it's magic, my eyes were rinsed with water and the surgeon looked at my eyes with a piece of equipment you'd find at your local opticians and he said that the operation had gone well and his student also looked at my eyes, commenting that the redness would go away. I had no idea what she was talking about as I hadn't been able to see my eyes yet and I didn't until the next day.

Following the surgery, one of the sweetest nurses I'd encountered at the clinic then cleaned my eyes, face and put on the very unglamourous clear plastic eye patches for me to wear for the rest of the day and to sleep in for the next two weeks. The no-makeup, red eyes and fairly ugly eye patches made for a look I won't be re-creating anytime soon.

After being given a tonne of eye drops, sleeping tablets and painkillers, I was driven home and for the entire journey I had my eyes closed, the patches on and my hands shielding my eyes from the fading sun as the tiniest amount of light was very uncomfortable (bordering on painful) as the aesthetic drops seemed to wear off extremely quickly for me. My eyes immediately after the surgery felt like I had sand them and they felt horrendously dry and very sore so I had to spend the next few hours before bed in near darkness (including while eating which was an unusual experience). I never take painkillers (for anything) but I did take one co-codamol tablet and one sleeping tablet before getting an early night for my eyes to start the healing process.

The Next Day, After Care & Follow Up Appointments
The next morning I removed the patches and I was able to see clearly and perfectly for the first time since I was a child...it was incredible! I could see car registration plates down the street, I could see the brickwork of other houses in detail and I had no pain at all. I used the antibiotic drops, steroid drops and Viscotears before properly looking at my eyes and I did have a couple of tiny red areas in the whites of my eyes as well as a rather large red area in my right eye.

The first morning (and if I'm honest, the following mornings for the next four weeks), I inspected my eyes and then cleaned my face with the Pixi Milky Tonic as I wasn't allowed to get any water into my eyes for the first few weeks. The Pixi Milky Tonic, Rose Tonic and Bioderma Micellar Water have been the only 'cleansers' I've used for the past three weeks and I cannot recommend them enough - they've been little lifesavers since my surgery. As I'm not allowed to wear eye makeup for four weeks post-surgery, I went to my first appointment (the day after the surgery) without any makeup and honestly, it wasn't as horrific of an experience as I thought I would be - no one cares if you are wearing makeup or not in a hospital!

My first appointment was very quick and thankfully the surgeon couldn't see any issues and my vision was already (less than 24 hours after the surgery) at the 20/20 level which was amazing and such an incredible thing to hear! There are so many restrictions within the first week as well as lots of drops to use throughout the day but the aftercare was surprisingly easy. The only problems I had within the first week was the dryness (which I expected and was warned about) and the headaches I had which I think were due to the amount of screen time I need for my job and how I was straining my eyes to look at everything! Also the plastic patches I had to tape onto my face each night were uncomfortable to an extent and the tape did irritate my skin but it wasn't nearly as uncomfortable or unbearable as I thought it would be.

My second post-surgery appointment was one week later and involved having my eyesight tested and my eyes measured by the optometrist as well as a quick consultation with the surgeon. Both the optometrist and surgeon were very happy with my vision which is now 0 for both eyes so there's no distortion (before the surgery it was -2.25 for both eyes) and it's now perfect! While I do still have some redness, I'm incredibly happy with the results so far.

Recovery: Weeks One - Three
I've already mentioned a little about the recovery period but I wanted to expand on it as I think that most people might assume that once you've had it done, you can go back to a normal routine immediately but that isn't the case. I personally had to use antibiotic, steroid and normal eye drops four times per day for the first week as well as having to tape plastic patches over my eyes each night for the first two weeks - it isn't a 'have the surgery and that's it' situation. The recovery wasn't difficult but it is a little time consuming and extremely important as the first week and even up to the first two months are critical for your eyes to not only heal without getting infected but also to heal as best they can as if it doesn't heal correctly then you can experience numerous problems with your vision (such as glare and halos) so recovery is not something to be casual or flippant about.

The recovery after surgery is extremely important and most people I've spoken to about laser eye surgery (who haven't had it done or aren't doctors/opticians), are shocked to know just how many restrictions there are post-surgery such as no eye makeup for a month, no swimming for six weeks, no water in your eyes for weeks, no rubbing your eyes for two months and all of the drops involved. I would say that if you are considering laser eye surgery then thinking fully about the recovery period needs to be taken into consideration beforehand and if you can, take time off work as it might be best for your eyes to heal and to potentially help prevent infection/damage to your eyes.

I personally feel as though my eyes, especially in terms of the redness, took much longer to heal than I thought it would. I also found that for the first week or so, it was difficult for me to stay at my desk and look at my screen for as long as I need to because my eyes would become dry, I had awful headaches and I felt as though I was straining my eyes which isn't something I wanted to do while my eyes were healing. Overall, the recovery wasn't too difficult but it was definitely slower than I though it would be. However, from my experiences so far and my results, I cannot recommend laser eye surgery (in particular LASIK) and the LaserVision clinic enough!

As I'm writing the end of this post (on the 21st August), it is exactly three weeks since I had the surgery and thankfully I've been able to stop wearing the plastic patches and my vision is fantastic. I do still get headaches and I have some redness within my eyes but it is slowly fading. I've been able to get back into an almost normal routine (apart from being terrified of getting water in my eyes while showering) and my vision seems very stable. I'm getting used to my perfect vision although I still can't shake the feeling of needing my glasses (when I obviously don't need them), especially when I'm getting ready to leave the house but hopefully that feeling will pass soon. Additionally, the awful dryness I experienced before the surgery and for the first ten days or so, has gone completely and I now rarely need to use my eye drops or the eye gel which is amazing! Now I'm just appreciating my perfect vision and counting down the days until I can wear mascara again - just one week to go!

I think I've wrote enough for now considering that my word count for this post is over 2,500 words...There will be a second post before the end of the year with my experience of the final stages of recovery, my last appointment at the clinic and my overall thoughts about laser eye surgery.

Let me know in the comments below if you've also had laser eye surgery and what was your experience? Or if you haven't, is it something you want to look into? Also if you have any questions, let me know in the comments or you can email me at heathernixon4@gmail.com.

16 comments

  1. Honestly, I am so scared about getting surgery! I find that lenses hurt my eyes more


    Candice || natalyaammour.com

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  2. I've definitely consider surgery, I am definitely going to look into it more!


    Love, Amie ❤

    The Curvaceous Vegan

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  3. Oh wow, that’s incredible that this option is available.

    https://littlemissmelanie.com/

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  4. I'm thinking about this,but worried about the recovery time x

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  5. Laser eye surgery makes me cringe just thinking about it! I wear glasses but I actually love wearing glasses so I'd only opt for this if my vision got REALLY bad x

    Jenny
    http://www.jennyinneverland.com

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  6. I don't think I could do it, I'm so weary of things to do with my eyes, I can barely manage eye drops! Thankfully my prescription is really low so I don't need glasses for most things. I might consider it if my vision gets considerably worse x

    Sophie

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  7. I wear glasses for distance and couldn't bear the thought of putting contacts into my eyes! I don't think I need laser surgery yet but this was really helpful
    Em x

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  8. Oh wow this is super interesting, I didn't know much about laser eye surgery so thanks for the info! x

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  9. This is so interesting! I've never had to wear glasses so never known much about laser eye surgery x

    Tiffany x www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

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  10. I'm glad to read that the recovery period isn't painful but it must be so hard trying not to rub your eyes afterwards!

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  11. Thanks for sharing. I don't need glasses so never really knew anything about laser eye surgery.

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  12. I've worn glasses or contacts for 30 years now and I used to work in an opticians. I've seen the up side and down side as one optician there couldn't praise it enough as it worked for him. However one of the other opticians would never recommend it as it went wrong and his vision was worse afterwards so I guess I'm always going to be in two minds whether or not to have it

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  13. My friend got hers done last month and she is absolutely loving it... but I don't think I could do it... the thought of it makes me feel a tad ill :(

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  14. Such a detailed story. Thank you for sharing your experience x

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  15. I've never look into eye surgery. I suffer with dry eyes really badly to the point I have to put eye drops in my eyes but wearing my glasses makes them worse! Maybe it'll be something I'll consider these days.

    https://lucyjadewrites.blogspot.com/2019/08/a-round-up-of-my-first-year-of.html

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  16. ah im so glad to have good vision cause this sounds like a difficult experience

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If you would like to contact me, email: heathernixon4@gmail.com