LASEK diary: making the decision

Last Friday, 3rd February I had LASEK surgery on my eyes to correct my short-sightedness. I’ve been writing a little diary of my experience since, because I found others’ experiences online enormously helpful in deciding to go ahead with the procedure.

I’ve been a bespectacled fellow since the age of seven. Being able to see the blackboard in class was brilliant. No more squinting! But, of course, children are cruel, and especially in the early years, my extra pair of eyes caused much ridicule.

On the left is a pic of me in my second or third pair of glasses. I think I’m about 10, posing in the back garden with my mum before going to my aunt’s wedding. Mum chose not to wear her glasses (which we called her Deidre Barlows – now trendy again in Shoreditch) for this shot.

Thankfully this was some years before Harry Potter, otherwise I would most definitely have had a lightning bolt carved into my head by the other kids in school.

When I was fifteen I pleaded with my parents to let me wear monthly contact lenses, and as my sister had been wearing them for around four years they relented. At that point I think the prescription in both eyes was around -5. To start with it would take me a full half hour just to get the soft lenses in and out of my streaming eyes, but after a few months it became pretty natural.

Aged 28, and with a pretty stable -7 or thereabouts in both eyes, I found it increasingly difficult to wear contact lenses – I would regularly have bouts of sore eyes or blepharitis with monthly lenses, leaving me dependent on dailies (I have an astigmatism too, so they end up being at least £1.50 a pair). I run a fair bit, and go to the gym, and glasses always slide off my nose when I get sweaty, so it’s a bit of a pain.

I went for a free consultation at a local Optical Express store back in November 2011 to discuss having lasers fitted. The bad news, they told me, was that I wouldn’t be able to cut shapes in ice or levitate objects. The good news was that I was a suitable candidate for LASIK, having thick corneas. I came home unable to see properly after having a serious amount of dilating drops in my eyes. A week or so later I received a phone call offering me the procedure for around £350 less than the initial quote, and a further reduction of £700 was possible if I could be flexible about my dates. Like all providers they offer interest-free credit too.

I felt pretty excited at that point – but also a bit weirded out by the aggressive sales policy. In January 2012 I went for a private consultation at Moorfields Eye Hospital – not free this time (£100), and mostly involved the same set of tests, but the interpretation was different. The consultant explained I was not a suitable candidate for LASIK as my corneas are particularly elastic, and therefore LASEK (aka PRK) is the only option. I had already read quite a lot about the differences between the two techniques.

Later I learned that this conflicting story was the result of Optical Express practice of using non-surgeons to interpret scan results – in all likelihood, if I’d gone with Optical Express, the surgeon would have spotted this on the day of surgery and switched me from LASIK to LASEK. This happens to a small number of people, including my friend Hugh. Given that the recovery time for LASIK is generally 48-72 hours, vs around a week for LASEK, I’d be pretty annoyed to learn of the change of plan on the day.

After some thought and reading up on the difference between the procedures, I took the plunge and booked in at Moorfields on Friday 3rd Feb, and as LASEK takes some time to recover from, I also took the following week off work.

In the next post I’ll describe the day of the procedure. I’m writing this on Day 4 of the recovery and my eyes are hurting fron the strain of typing this in!

View the next post in this series


  1. Ooh I am trying to decide about this as well. Not got near optical express because I think filling in a form on their website resulted in about 20 phone calls. Aggressive overload

  2. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for your feedback and for sharing your experience.

    We can arrange for one of our clinical services team to discuss your case with you directly. If you would like to discuss further, please get in touch with us at and we will arrange.



  3. Thanks for posting, person from Optical Express (do you have a name?)

    In the end my own decision to go with a consultant at Moorfields was down to the in-depth explanation of the surface of my eye, and hence why I was suitable for one type of treatment over another. This definitely appealed to the latent science geek in me. I’d also had a strong recommendation from someone who had seen my particular consultant previously – I didn’t mention this in my initial post.

    I’d like to make it clear I also have a couple of friends who have used Optical Express for similar procedures and had brilliant outcomes.

  4. Thanks for your response Simon and thanks again for your feedback.

    I’m Sandra from the customer services team.

    I will pass your comments on to the relevant teams. It’s also great to hear that your friends had brilliant outcomes with their LES at Optical Express.

    We wish you all the best with your treatment.



  5. On second thought, these OE comments make me happier I chose not to go with Optical Express in the end. Using a social media monitor to find brand mentions, and then actively attempting to intervene, is a little too Big Brother for my liking.

  6. I’ve had the same expereince at Optical express. After the intial consultation I coughed up a £400 deposit and was scheduled for the surgery. Prior to the surgery I got second thoughts as my prescription is high. I decided to go Moorfields for another consultation (£150 this time). After I informed Optical Express they offered a free consultation with a surgeon ! This didnt exactly instill confidence in me as they hadnt offered this before. I took up thier offer and was told by the surgeon (at optical express) that this was absolutely the right thing to do as the inital treatment approach would not have suited me. He then asked for further checks before a decision could be made. I’m annoyed as I only got the consultation becuase I was switching to Moorfields. I now stand to loose my deposit as I have little confidence in Optical Express.

    Btw my Moorfields check seemed a bit more thorough and consultative. Note Moorfields is a private practice too although staffed by Moorfields consultants.

  7. Same experience here. Went with OE and procedure changed on the
    Day. I couldn’t have it sone the as I needed more
    Time off work and was due to go away at the weekend.
    Long story short I had it at5 pm yesterday.
    So sorry for ant typos!
    Eyes fuzzy and sore right now 12:00 lunchtime
    Next day but nothing compared to
    Last night I was in a lot of discomfort
    And not overly keen to shove drops
    In my eyes then…. But it has to be said the watering
    Has virtually stopped and the drops are
    Helping! Looking forward to finding out what I can see on
    Day 3 when the contacts come out:)

  8. I went to Moorfields and had mine done on 10th April. Thought about it for years and I’m cautious so wouldn’t trust anyone else with my eyes. Just over 3 weeks later and I’m very, very happy with it. Can’t lie – 1st few days were excrutiating but with a planned break of 2 weeks off work, a VERY supportive husband, a series of alarms for all the drops, the outcome is worth it. Makes me smile when I forget and find myself reaching for specs or thinking of taking out lenses 😀

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