No, it's not a metaphor, I can actually see clearly now! It's now been almost one week since my LASIK eye surgery and each day the world becomes a little more in focus.
I'd toyed with the idea of laser surgery for over 10 years. I had consultations in London, consultations in York, but each time backed out at the time of deposit, putting it on the back-burner for a few more years! But then recently, suddenly, I had a change of heart. I'm not sure if I became braver or less fearful as a result of this past year's events. But something shifted inside and I realised I just had to get it done.
All the eye faff
Do you ever get those re-occuring dreams that crop up often and cause you to wake up feeling uncomfortable and anxious? Well I did, and my re-occuring dream entailed me embarking on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the world, only to realise when I arrived that I had forgotten to pack my contact lenses in my suitcase! Could you imagine that - a whole new world to see and explore, but not actually being able to see anything at all!
My myopia (short-sightedness) was fairly mild in comparison to many other people. I had a -3.00 prescription in both eyes. Putting in my lenses had just become a part of my daily morning routine. In fact, it would happen a bit like this: 1. wake up, scramble around my bedside table for my glasses, 2. go downstairs to check on the boys and get a drink, 3. make my way back upstairs to shower, 4. put in my contact lenses. 5. carry on with my day. Similarly, the end of my day would involve removing the lenses and either wrapping them in tissue before placing them in the bin or flicking them on the floor beside my bed (to my husbands disgust!) if I was too tired to do the former. If anything, being able to see was just a bit of a faff.
It was a faff when it came to swimming, spinning and hot yoga - anything that caused my eyes to become wet or a bit sticky. Then, there was the risk that I might randomly lose one lense or suddenly develop really dry eyes, feeling like the lense was literally stuck to my eyeball.
I left my contacts in way longer than I should've done each day (around 14 hours) and absolutely hated wearing my glasses. The pressure of the glasses around my head gave me tension headaches and I always felt like my vision was a bit forced and no where near as clear as with my lenses in.
choosing the right eye clinic
To be perfectly honest, I originally chose AccuVision eye clinic because it was the nearest surgery to my home in Harrogate. I wouldn't need to trek into Leeds for all my consultations and it would only be a ten minute drive away.
But, I can honestly say now, hand on heart, that their service and attention to detail would be pretty darn hard to match elsewhere. From the moment I had my first consultation with Anthony, to the events during the day of the procedure and the follow-up care so far, everything has been 100% perfection. I always felt cared for, in control and well informed - 3 things that I think are vital during this process.
My first consultation consisted of approximately two hours' worth of in-depth tests and diagnostics to check the health of my eyes and whether they were going to be suitable for the laser treatment. Thankfully they were. And, before I knew it, I had paid a deposit and was booked in two weeks later for the treatment! Decision made.
For the weeks leading up to my surgery, I really had managed to block it out of my mind almost completely. And, then gradually during the few days leading up to the procedure date, I felt myself feeling a little overcome with anxiety at night and also when anyone mentioned it in passing.
When it comes to your eyes, you can't take things for granted. It's quite a big deal. And, when you are signing the consent papers, which list all the possible (yet highly rare) complications that could occur, it's hard not to freak out a little. The night before my surgery, I literally don't think that I slept a wink, but I got up and out of bed early on the day feeling ready to 'do this'.
down to the nitty gritty
For those of you who don't already know (I didn't beforehand), laser eye surgery involves using advanced laser technology to 'burn' away small sections of the eye's cornea (the clear outer layer at the front of the eyeball) to correct the curvature. This is so that light is better focused onto the retina, enabling better vision. It sound's so weird and futuristic doesn't it. An actual laser burning into your eye! But, in reality, it's not that sinister at all.
I had the LASIK eye treatment, there are other treatments available too I think. The LASIK eye treatment begins with a thin, hinged flap of corneal tissue being created at the surface of the cornea of the eye. I think this was the part of the process that was bothering me the most. However, when it happened, I was not aware of it at all. If I didn't already know this was going to happen, then I would've been none the wiser. The eye is anaesthetised with strong drops, so there is no pain whatsoever. All I could feel was a slight pressure around my eye as it was being held in place, and also a dimming of my vision where everything seemed black for a few moments.
I was also worried about what would happen if I needed to blink midway through the process. Apparently this is a common concern. But in fact my eye lids were being held open using a device and fake tears constantly added to my eyes to ensure there was enough moisture without the need to blink.
Okay, so back to the flap. Sorry to digress. Once the tiny flap is hinged and placed to the side, it's time for the magic laser part. The actual laser vision correction took only six seconds - I know this because the surgeon (or someone else in the room) counted me down from 6 to 0. Everything is completely computer controlled for speed and accuracy, so it's timed to the very second. During this stage, all I needed to do was to keep my eye looking upwards at a green flashing light above me.
The little flap was then closed back up and the surgeon placed a protective contact lens bandage to protect my eye. Again, I felt nothing here. Each eye is treated separately, by the way, one following the other. So, then it was time for my left eye.
Although the process is exactly the same for each eye, my left eye, felt really different to the right. I was warned of this before my surgery. Apparently it's called the second eye syndrome - basically cause by your brain playing tricks on you now that it knows what to expect from the first eye. It didn't hurt, but I certainly felt a little more pressure that side. Naughty brain.
The first few hours after my surgery were a bit blurry. I was in the shock/relief/exhaustion stage, kind of like the one I felt just after I'd given birth. I wore my dark sunglasses and sat in the recovery area for a while until the optician called me through to do a few tests to make sure everything looked okay. It did. Phew.
Chris drove me home and I spent the rest of the day with a silk eye mask on and in bed. It's actually pretty hard to stay in bed with your eyes closed when you're not really tired. I ended up asking Alexa lots of questions and attempting to learn holiday Italian on a podcast. Then I just fell asleep out of boredom.
I had to pop antibiotic eyedrops in my eyes every hour, which were actually nice and refreshing. There was a bit of stinging and grittiness, but nothing too drastic.
The following day, things were still a little fuzzy. I went back for a check-up and the optometrist removed the bandage contact lense as it had done its job. That made everything a little less blurry. Chris drove as you're advised not to drive for a few days until everything settles. All my checks were clear and it appeared that everything with the surgery has worked just as it should've. Whoop.
DAY 5 & Beyond
It's now Friday, 5 days after my treatment and things are becoming crystal clear. I can see detail on things outside that I'd never noticed and find myself really taking the time to look at things and appreciated them...unaided! It's quite extraordinary.
My vision, I would say is pretty much 20/20. There is some dryness and I'm still using the drops 4 times per day, but nothing to write home about. Writing this has made my eyes a little tired, but I think that's normal for the next few weeks, so I know when it's time to give them a rest.
We went out for dinner last night and it was the first time I had been outside in the dark. I did notice that there was a bit of glare and some things did look a bit fuzzy in places. Again, I think this intermittent blurriness and fluctuations in vision are normal for some time as the eyes adjust to the reshaped cornea. Last night it must've been adjusting itself for the night vision.
All in all, what I can say is - wow.
I'm not going to say 'I wish I'd done this sooner'. Because, the timing was just right at this time now. But, I am going to say that I am so so so so so so glad that I did it. It's a complete transformation and enhancement to my quality of life and one that, in my eyes (sorry), is very hard to beat.
Thank you Accuvision Wetherby. A big box of chocolates is coming your way...