Lasik Eye Surgery for Beginners

Since I was 15 years old I have worn contact lenses to correct my short sightedness (which my mother told me was due to reading in bed under the covers by torch). In those days (30 years ago) hard contact lenses were the only choice. They were solid plastic and you had to wear them in. On the first day, you could only last an hour. It felt like you had chunks of gravel in your eyes, you couldn’t see because you were crying so much. Gradually you built up tolerance, hour by hour, until you could wear them for a whole day. Heaven help you if you stopped wearing them for a while because you had to start all over again!

Thankfully, contact lenses have come a long way since and I have worn Gas Permeable lenses for the last few years. I didn’t mind wearing them, but there was the cleaning, the random bits of dust caught under your lens, the trouble with swimming, and just the pain of putting them in and out every day.

So on Wednesday I went to see a surgeon who performed Lasik Eye Surgery on both eyes. I thought I would walk you through the process for fun and education. If you have a strong stomach you can watch the video here.

Three days prior to surgery you have to start putting drops in your eyes —  artificial tears to ensure you have juicy eyes and a steroid (stareoid ha ha) so … I don’t know — you have strong tough eyeballs I presume.

On the day of surgery, you are offered a sedative (which I declined because I’m tough and I get so dopey on Valium I doubted my capacity to find my way home under the influence) and then prepped for surgery. You get to wear a lovely hat over your hair and little booties over your shoes. The nurse puts local anesthetic in your eye.

There are two parts to the surgery. The first is the cutting of your cornea to make a flap which is removed to allow access to the back of the eye. The second is the laser reshaping the back of the eye.

So they lay you on a table and line up your eye with the machine. More anaesthetic is applied. Then comes the part that wasn’t so much fun. The surgeon opens your eye all the way and inserts a torture like device that stops you blinking. It is very uncomfortable. He then puts tapes your top and bottom eyelashes to your head. If that wasn’t enough a suction ring is positioned on the eye. This sounds OK in theory but he pushes down really hard on your eyeball and it stays like that — there is no pain but it still kind of hurts and everything goes black. For 40 seconds the machine cuts a circle inside the cornea and then you’re done. All paraphernalia is removed and you can breathe again.

In stage two, your eyelids are held open again but not so wide and then the surgeon peels back the corneal flap making everything go super blurry. You look at the light for one minute while the laser burns your eye — you can smell the burning — but this doesn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Everything is taken off and then the whole thing repeated on the other side.

When you sit up from the table, you can’t see well, it is kind of foggy. The nurse puts eye guards over your eyes and you head home with instructions to keep your eyes closed as much as possible until the next morning.

For four hours after the anaesthetic wore off, my eyes were hot, stinging and burning. The eye guards made my face ache so I took them off (not recommended). The relief was almost instantaneous and from then on I just felt better and better. By the time I went to bed, I could see the “Tower” sign on the highrise on the other side of the bay (previously a blue blur).

I put the eye guards back on for bed and with the help of a sleeping tablet, had a solid night’s sleep.

Post-LASIK Eye
Image by Steve A via Flickr

The next morning I had an appointment with the surgeon to check on my eyes. They were still uncomfortable, decidedly red and full of gunk. I took the train with eye guards, sunglasses and baseball cap hoping no-one would notice I looked like a freak. The doctor was happy with my progress, even my extremely bloodshot eyes, and I had 20/20 vision. But the process is not over yet.

The healing of the eyes is very important and the specific allocation of drops determines the final outcome. I had some inflammation in both eyes so I had to use an anti-inflammatory drop every hour the first day after surgery. By the time I got to the next day (Friday), my left eye was sore and not seeing as well. It appears that the drops were a little harsh. Now I am doing a complicated routine for each different eye which means I have to do different drops at different times in different eyes.

When the surgeon cuts the cornea, it severs the nerves which tell the eye to produce tears. Until that nerve regenerates (up to six months) you have to use artificial tears to keep the eyes moist.

Aside from all the carry-on, I am glad to have had it done. I can see without glasses or lenses. But it is not an instant fix and you don’t walk away seeing instantly and then just get on with your life. My vision comes and goes, my eyes get tired very quickly and the drops sting and taste revolting down the back of my throat. I probably didn’t help things along by having to do a presentation on Thursday night and writing a 1200 word essay on Friday. I think I was meant to be resting …

So that is Lasik from my point of view. What’s the time again … time for some more drops!

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

5 thoughts on “Lasik Eye Surgery for Beginners

  1. Seeeee, I told you it would be fine. Interesting that you found relief by removing the eye guards. My sister had the same thing and found out later that she was actually allergic to the TAPE that was holding them on.
    Keep up the drops. I did everything recommended and have not had complications at all. Also, part of the reason I did it was that I hated feeling helpless without glasses or contacts. This proved a valid concern in the earthquake. There is no way I would have been able to find my glasses in the dark with no electricity and everything been thrown around. As for contacts in such a situation….

    1. Thanks Sara, your own experience gave me courage. Good point about the earthquake. Finding your way in the dark when you can’t see would have been terrible.

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