LASEK diary: two weeks in

This is the ninth in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Two full weeks in after surgery and things have improved a tiny bit this week, but I’m still getting headaches using a computer for long periods of time (which my job requires, unfortunately) and going back to my usual routine of cycling to work, doing a couple of runs per week and working full days doesn’t seem to have done me any favours.

I’m keeping going with the dexamethasone drops every other hour, and refresh at least once an hour. I suspect that the dexamethasone is making my skin more sensitive and scratchy than normal, which is odd, but these things happen.

Both eyes are still a bit blurry, and though eye drops bring some comfort and clarity it’s pretty short lived. If my eyes stay at this level I’ll be disappointed in the outcome.

I know I need to be patient and that this might take up to three months to be back to similar pre-op vision.

LASEK diary: day 1

This is the third in a series of posts describing my personal experience of having laser eye surgery in February 2012. To start at the beginning, go back to the first post in the series.

Despite the goggles I had a great night’s sleep, for about 11 hours (probably down to the oral voltarol, although I chose not to take the eye drop painkillers as I wasn’t in pain before bed). When I woke up my eyes were a bit sticky, but the refresh drops sorted that out. I had a minor headache, like after having new glasses, but this is to be expected. I felt pretty ecstatic as I was expecting to be in serious pain and so far it was just mild discomfort, listening to 6 music on the sofa and drinking tea. They are having a Kraftwerk weekend so lots of bloopy bleep.

Here is a big close up of my crazy dilated eyes on day one. I am less drugged up than I look in this picture.

My vision is ghostly, blurry but I can read the kitchen clock from the doorway at about 2m (this is my new benchmark) – prior to the surgery I would have had to be about 3 inches away from the clock to read this without glasses. Using my iPhone is possible with the text at 40pt, but using the laptop is very difficult indeed, probably because the dilating drops make it impossible to focus at that distance – getting a lot of double vision.

As I’m feeling fine, I’m up for a visit by some friends Pino and Peter and their gorgeous springer spaniel Daisy, and naturally to celebrate there is some more gin and some home-made pastries. It began snowing outside but I couldn’t really see it until it started to settle. That evening at about 11pm, after half-hourly drops all day, my eyelids became a bit swollen and my eyes started to feel sore and large in my head. I had the painkiller eyedrops for the first time along with the rest, and went to bed.

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!