My ‘Eye-Opening’ Experience

As I’m typing this I’m sat by my desk looking through my window, admiring the view. I’ve never really appreciated the pretty sight that I’ve had right in front of me this whole time, up until now.

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On Friday 21st October 2016 I underwent a procedure that has changed my life for the better..Laser Eye Surgery, and just one day after, my vision was already better than 20/20.

So, those of you out there who are as fed up as I was with having to rely on glasses or contact lenses constantly to be able to see, those of you who have actually thought about undergoing Laser Eye Surgery, but you’re still unsure about it, or even if you’re simply intrigued about what it involves.. read on.

What is Laser Eye Surgery?

“Laser eye surgery involves the precise reshaping of the cornea, the transparent window that covers the coloured part of the eye. For eye treatment to be permanent, it must take place beneath the thin, protective outer layer. This layer is gently moved aside in order to let the laser do its work.”

(Pretty cool, right?)

Why did I want Laser Eye Surgery?

It was around the time when I started to learn how to drive that I realised my vision was actually not perfect. When it got to the point where I needed to be constantly wearing glasses to do pretty much everything; such as watching the TV from my sofa or to see where I was going, that’s when it really started to bother me. I absolutely hated wearing glasses, so I tried contacts which were a lot better, but I was still unhappy with the fact that from this point on, I would need to rely on the help of glasses, or be poking my fingers into my eyes every day and night in order to see. So yes, I know it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it was really bringing me down because I knew I couldn’t really do anything about my crappy vision…for the time being.

Planning my Surgery

Coincidentally someone I knew happened to be having Laser eye surgery soon, which only persuaded me even more into getting it done! It was very reassuring to be able to speak to someone about it all before I’d be experiencing it for myself.

The Consultation

Not long after I’d spoken to my friend about Laser Eye Surgery, I arranged for a consultation with the place they’d recommended to me.  During the consultation they carried out all of the usual tests you’d undergo at your Opticians (apart from having to have these strange drops in my eyes which caused my pupils to dilate and my vision to go a little funny and blurry for a few hours after, haha). All went well as they reported back saying that my blurry eyes made me eligible for the surgery, yay!

They then spoke to me about the two different procedures I could choose from.. “LASIK or LASEK?”. From what they described to me, ‘Lasik’ sounded like the better option for me as it had a quicker healing process and there’s no pain at all, and if there is pain, it would be minimal and not last long at all. So from this it was pretty clear which one I’d be going for: Lasik eye surgery plus Wavefront!  But don’t worry, because whatever you’ve been advised to have you’ll still get the same results in the end, just the healing processes are different and possibly the side effects (again, don’t worry about side effects, the only side effects I had, were obviously the red bloodshot eyes, but it clears up after about two weeks!).

I brought my Mam with me as we were planning on booking it there and then (plus she had to drive me back home due to the eye drops effect), but I honestly didn’t expect to be able to have it as soon as in three weeks time! I was expecting some sort of waiting list or something, so I was very excited about the short amount of time left I’d have left of dealing with crappy eyesight! You could even have it as soon as in 48 hours time after your consultation, which is amazing.

Meeting with the Surgeon

I met with the Surgeon about a week before I was due to undergo the surgery. My slight anxiety from reading through the risks and complication pages was put to rest after meeting with this guy. He was very friendly and was telling me how succesful he was in carrying out the procedure. It was clear that he knew what he was doing, which is always a plus seeming as he’d be the main guy in charge.

The week before my surgery I was also told to not wear contacts, so I had to put up with my glasses. I was pretty happy on the last day of needing to wear them!

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The Day of my Surgery

Although my appointment wasn’t until the afternoon, I woke up at around 8 am – which, may I add, is SUPER early for someone who isn’t a morning person such as myself! At this point I was feeling extremely excited and very much awake down to the fact that it would be the last morning of being practically blind.

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Before the day of my surgery my Mam had mentioned to me that we’d go into town for a few hours before my appointment to do some shopping, with the bonus of her also treating me to a TGI Fridays (best restaurant ever)! Even though I didn’t feel nervous at all, all of this pampering was a perfect distraction from the fact that I would be having ACTUAL surgery on my eyes in a matter of hours!

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My Mam looking forward to a TGI’s!

These distractions made time fly by to the point where we found ourselves rushing out of the shopping centre, into the car park and making our way over to the Surgery.

From the moment I buzzed the button for reception to let me in, I started to feel slightly anxious. From that point onwards it was suddenly becoming more real to me. I signed in and took a seat holding a pen and a consent form (basically giving the Surgeon permission to operate on my eyeballs!).

Then the wait began. My Mam was quite fidgety and bored whereas I was pretty preoccupied by reading all of the comments from people who’d undergone laser eye surgery – all of them being very positive comments! Although I noticed a few similar comments about them wishing they’d had done it years ago, which made me feel really good about having it done now rather than later.

Meanwhile, my Mam seemed to have the idea that I would sign in, go straight into the operating room, have my eyes lasered and within the space of 10-15 minutes it’d be all done and dusted! Haha, quite the opposite in fact! I didn’t have my surgery until 6 PM!!

The Blind Crew

Although we had to wait a few hours’ prior to the treatment, it surprisingly flew by. This was down to the fact that I started speaking to the other people who were also waiting. As we all went downstairs to the operating-theatre waiting room, it was then I discovered that they all happened to be undergoing the exact same procedure as me!

At first the room was silent, neither of us making eye contact – until I noticed one of the girls sat opposite me struggling to do a scratch card, so I decided to break the ice by offering her a penny to help reveal if she was a millionaire or not (unfortunately she didn’t win a single penny!).

We all soon started to chip into conversation which was great. Although we joked about things we probably shouldn’t have been right before our surgery, it was oddly comforting. (Yes, I mentioned that scene from Final Destination).

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Almost Time!

We all went in one by one, the procedure lasting around 10-15 minutes for each person. The only good thing about being the last candidate was the fact I got to see everyone coming out of the operating theatre with the same reaction – a huge fat grin on their faces, saying it wasn’t painful at all (one of them even said he’d happily go and do it again!) So yes, I was hearing all of the positive comments that I needed to hear. It was no wonder I didn’t feel nervous considering I was about to undergo a life-changing operation.

Then there was One

However, the procedure didn’t seem to run quite as smoothly for me, just my luck! From walking into the operating room feeling super confident and excited, to walking out feeling scared and anxious..here’s what went down:

As I was instructed to lie down on the operating bed and get into position, the surgeon was putting some drops into both of my eyes to numb them (this was so my eye wouldn’t be irritated by being constantly open for the next 5-10 minutes). I then had to keep still whilst the surgeon and the two assistants were setting up all of the equipment and adjusting a clamp onto my eyelids to prevent me from blinking, and surprisingly this wasn’t as uncomfortable as I imagined it would be!

Next, they had to fit on what’s called a ‘vacuum ring’ onto my eye to stop my eye from moving whilst they were creating the flap. When this was fitted on, my vision was completely blurred which was a little scary, but with my right eye it all went well. Not so much luck with my left eye!

For some reason the vacuum ring wouldn’t stay in place when it was fitted onto my left eye. I began to feel anxious and confused as to what was going on, and why that was happening. It turned out that they could only try a certain amount of times to be able to fit it into position properly, as if they continued trying it would irritate and possibly bruise my eye.

They instructed me to wait back in the waiting room for about ten minutes, so that my eye could rest to prevent any irritation to it, so that they could then try again.. But they could only try to fit it into place three more times, and if that didn’t work, the options were that;

  1. I could either have the surgery on my right eye (the one which didn’t have any problems with the vacuum ring), but be given a contact lense for my left eye for a few weeks and arrange another surgery appointment, so that one could finally get the surgery done to it.
  2. Or to have LASEK eye surgery, but I said I’d want to have the contact lense because I’d rather have both of my eyes have the same procedure done to them (plus LASEK is apparently a little more painful, and the healing process sounds like much more effort in comparison to LASIK!).

So there I was, sitting in the waiting room alone, crossing my fingers, legs, toes (pretty much every part of my body) praying that it would go right the next time I walked into the operating room. My confidence was slowly shrinking whilst my anxiety and disappointment was growing by the minute during my wait in that waiting room. Even the two assistants and the actual Surgeon were feeling anxious. They would all take it in turns to come out of the operating room to comfort and reassure me, and to let me know what was going on. I even heard one of the assistants run upstairs in a panic, informing someone that my surgery was not going to plan (fair to say this didn’t reassure me very much!). To say that it felt very strange being sat there with one flap taken off of my eye, the other still in place is the least I can say to describe the feeling haha.

As if having Laser eye surgery wasn’t enough to make me feel on edge, right!?

Success at last!

As I was finally called into the waiting room, this time with zero confidence, I tried my best to stop shaking and to concentrate onto what was going on. I wanted it to work, badly. The first try at fitting it on didn’t work, the second time didn’t work either, the surgeon and the two assistants could only try it one more time.. And it actually worked!!!

I think all of us wanted to jump for joy when it finally fitted onto my eye perfectly, but then that probably would’ve knocked it back out-of-place, so that wouldn’t have been a good idea. So instead I fist pumped into the air whilst my eye was being lasered at.

Anyway, now that I’ve spoken about the scary complication, I’ll explain my experience when it began to run smoothly! After the outer-layer flap of my cornea was finally removed from my left eye, it was now time to be moved under the other machine that would actually be doing the Laser Eye Surgery.

This machine was very loud as it filled the room with the smell of burning skin. I had to look directly at these beams of light whilst staying still. And then bam! All done.

After the Procedure

After the surgery the two assistants and the Surgeon decided to tell me that they were all crossing their fingers in the Laser room for it to go well for me. The surgeon even said that he carried out his religious prayer in his office! If I knew at the time that they were just as uncertain as I was for it to all go well I probably would not have gone back into that operating room.

The surgeon then checked my eyes and told me that my left eye (which dealt with all of the complications) would appear to be more bloodshot than my right eye, with possible pain and bruising. I had to put on sunglasses straight away and for the next two weeks outdoors or when I’m in a bright room as my eyes would be a lot more sensitive. This only made me feel like a celebrity!

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I remember the look on both the receptionist’s and my Mam’s faces when I walked upstairs and into the reception area, both with the same horrified expressions from the sight of my eyes.

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“Yikes!”

As we were driving home I felt quite sleepy, but very excited. I told my Mam all about it all and how I was close to not being able to have any treatment at all on my left eye. It was not long until my right eye began to hurt, which was strange as that was the successful eye! I remember it being extremely painful, but the painkiller drops which I was given and could use for two days became my best friend on that first night and soon numbed down the pain I was experiencing.

After getting home and telling the rest of my family about my eventful night, having my Mam help me put in the three sets of different drops I’d need to be using for the next ten days and attempting to use my phone to communicate with my boyfriend (my vision was extremely blurry and strange), I quickly settled into bed to try to sleep off the pain.

The Next Day

The following morning I woke up early to head back to the surgery for a post-op check up (2 early mornings in a row, I was pretty proud of myself!). All of the pain I was dealing with the night before had disappeared, which was a relief as I was beginning to worry because I didn’t experience any problems during surgery with that eye. Turns out that it’s completely normal to experience some pain afterwards, but it soon goes away.

I was advised to rest for the next few days and to keep using my ‘Refresh’ drops about 6 times a day for the next few weeks (these are to prevent your eyes from feeling dry as this is quite common after Laser eye surgery), and then the three other drops in a specific order for the next 7-10 days. I was also told to not wear any make up, especially eye make up for the next two-three weeks, and to try my best to minimise getting any water into my eyes.

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Oh, and I also had to wear eye shields over my eyes for a week to prevent me from rubbing them in my sleep.

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The picture to the right was taken on the first night I had to wear them (hence why I look so out of it!)

The redness of my eyes took just over two weeks to disappear and as I expected, my problem eye was slightly red for a little while longer, so I was pretty lucky with having two weeks off of work and no college for a week after surgery!

Plus, I had the benefit of having Laser eye surgery just before Halloween, so of course I took advantage of the opportunity to freak people out with my red bloodshot eyes. From scaring some guy that worked at Chessington World of Adventures, questioning “did you do that on purpose?”, to my eyes complimenting my vampire look at a friend’s Halloween party.. (Oh! And did I also mention going to a Zombie Apocalypse run?).

Although there was a disadvantage with having zombie eyes when Halloween was over. My first time going out by myself just a few days after I had the surgery done I decided to go to a lecture at the University of South Wales as Iolo Williams was presenting it, so you can imagine how out-of-place I felt being sat down in a big lecture room, sunglasses on, that was full of students.

Now

At the beginning of this month I walked out of the building where my surgery took place for the last time. It was my last check up which makes me now officially discharged! Before I left I was asked to write a little comment about my experience, and whilst I was there I also took the opportunity to donate all of my glasses (which was the best feeling ever.)

Thank You!

As I’ve mentioned previously, having Laser eye surgery has made me so much more appreciative of everything that has surrounded me throughout my life. I’d like to thank those that made this possible for me as this has truly changed my life for the better, and I 100% recommend LASIK Laser eye surgery plus Wavefront!

Thank you for taking the time to read this incredible experience I went through. For those of you who are considering Laser eye surgery, please do not let the daunting risks or possible side effects put you off. Think about the end results and also don’t let my slight complication put you off- All worked out for me in the end, and I’ve even been lucky enough to have not had any side effects whatsoever!

You’re also more than welcome to contact me with any questions about my experience, or if you wanted to know more details into any part of the procedure that I had done.

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5 thoughts on “My ‘Eye-Opening’ Experience

  1. I had eye laser surgery as well, four years ago. I chose to get PRK.
    The healing process is longer but I don’t have a flap. My eyes look under the microscope completely untouched and my vision is 15/20. Even better than 20/20.
    I did not have any pain, no horror story here to share. My healing was picture perfect and I am so glad I did it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Jemma for being so honest and informative this was an excellent read made me chuckle on many occasions so looking forward to reading more of your blogs 😊😉

    Liked by 1 person

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