(Read it all for the gory details of surgery, or skip to after the photo for just the results)
It’s been two months since I underwent surgery to fix my myopia, or short-sightedness and astigmatism. So I thought I better discuss both what it was like, and whether it was worth it.
Surgery day itself was crazy in some ways. When I tell people that the surgery fixed my vision in about 1 minute, people don’t believe me. It sounds impossible, but it happened.
During the build up (pre-surgery check up, waiting around etc. with my brilliant mum who supported me through the day) I was totally fine and calm. I knew what was happening, I WANTED this, it would be fine. I was introduced to the surgery team and issued with my compulsory surgery shower cap (ok it wasn’t a shower cap, just keeping my hair out the way, but it felt like it!). Then I went through to the operating theatre and had to lie down on the bed.
Suddenly I was absolutely petrified – what the hell was I doing? This had all happened so fast, I wasn’t ready to go through with it! Help!!
There was a woman on the surgery team who was basically there to keep me calm and hold my hand. I immediately took her up on her offer, squeezing her hand so tight I’m pretty sure I nearly broke it. The rest of the team focused on making sure I was in the right position, and soon I was being told to focus on the green flashing dot and not to look elsewhere. This all sounded to me like a lot of pressure on me to do things right, and all the horror stories of people accidentally blinking and getting scarred sprung to mind.
The surgeon talked through everything he was doing, and told me he was putting anaesthetic eye drops in my eyes so that I wouldn’t feel anything. Except, I couldn’t tell if I could or couldn’t feel anything – I asked how they could be sure they’d worked, and there was a slight chuckle as the surgeon reassured me they would. Obviously they did, because they then put a speculum over my eye and if you google that, you’ll see that it doesn’t look very pleasant at all, but I barely noticed it (and thankfully never actually saw the tool!)
The speculum holds the eye open, and stops you blinking, but doesn’t stop the eye moving. What stops that is the suction ring. You carry on trying to stare at the green dot, and the surgeon says you’re going to feel a strong pressure on your eye for a few seconds. Indeed that was what I felt, and when the intense pressure comes, you lose vision for a few seconds. I actually knew I would stop being able to see, but at that point, I forgot what the suction ring was for, and panicked that I couldn’t see the green dot any more and that my eye would be moving around trying to see it. More hand squeezing followed. (I should mention at this point that the intense pressure really doesn’t hurt, it’s just an odd sensation and, given that you don’t usually get pressure on your eye, it feels a bit uncomfortable.)
Your vision then reappears, and the surgeon reminds you to focus on the green dot (probably more for concentration than anything else now). Then the laser starts. You can’t feel it, but this is probably the worst bit, because you can hear it and you can smell it. It’s burning through your eye, so you get a few seconds full of the smell of burning eye. More hand squeezing was needed.
Then suddenly you can see various medical tools over your eye, replacing the flap, putting on a bandage contact lens and it’s over. Next eye!
As I said, the whole thing only took about a minute. Soon I was being sat up, and told how well I did. I was keen to keep my eyes shut as they felt very uncomfortable, and was led by one of the team back to my mum.
That moment sticks out to me, as my mum had barely settled herself down again, and was so surprised to see me already and immediately had that concern in her voice that only mothers can have, reminding you just how much they care. So I sat there with my mum for a bit, and my eyes started feeling really uncomfortable, quite scratchy and weeping. Beforehand I had seen other people sitting around post-op, and they’d all seemed fine. I reacted a little worse than some it seems.
Eventually I went home, with my mum leading me all the way (we had taken public transport). I spent the rest of the day in a reclining armchair with my eyes shut listening to podcasts (I nearly got through the entire first season of Serial, which I highly recommend if you haven’t listened already). I had to get up every hour to put in more eye drops, but that was about it. Actually it was quite a nice, relaxing afternoon, and I even nodded off at one point!
My eyes did continue intermittently to be really sore, like I’d got a piece of grit stuck in my eye, and they’d water terribly for 5 minutes, and then it would be ok again. By the evening I was able to keep my eyes open and eat at the table with my mum and boyfriend, although bright light was a bit difficult.
From that point, it has only continued to improve. I had the classic “halo” effect of bright lights in the dark, where they appeared to glow or have a halo around them at first. For car lights or traffic lights this wasn’t an issue, but for reading train times at dark stations it was quite frustrating! Thankfully that has now subsided.
The grit-like pain subsided after a day or two thankfully, but my eyes continued to be very tender for over a week, and I didn’t wear makeup for a good two weeks just in case. Both eyes started out quite bruised (you could see the red ring from the suction cup) but recovered fine.
I was incredibly worried about not rubbing my eyes. I rub my eyes a LOT. When I’m tired, when they’re dry, when I’m in the shower, when I’m at home and spend too much time with my elderly Burmese cat who I’m highly allergic to…basically every night I find myself mindlessly rubbing my eyes. How can you stop something that you do all the time without even realising?! Thankfully the bruising of the eyes meant anything more than touching my eyelids was not nice, so I managed to avoid it while awake, and I think the fear when I was asleep woke me up a couple of times I did try to rub them while sleeping. Now they’re fine I have sadly gone back to rubbing them again, but that’s 2 months on.
So how about vision? Well my left eye was pretty much immediately fantastic. 20/20 from day 2. What more could you ask for? I noticed pretty quickly though that the right eye just didn’t seem to be the same. My eyes would struggle to focus as my right eye was so much weaker. If I shut one eye then the other, I couldn’t read far away signs with the right which were easy with the left. It was still a lot better than when I wore glasses, but the difference was noticeable, and therefore worrying.
The eye had been bruised worse, so I wasn’t sure if that was part of the problem. Going back to the surgery, they didn’t seem too worried, but I’ve probably had more appointments than the average person. I went back the day after surgery to have my bandage contacts taken out, but because of the bruising, they left them in til the Monday. Then they wanted to see me a week later, then at the end of the month. At that last appointment, the optician told me that this does happen, and that while the eye could still be taking time to heal, it may not, so they may need to do an enhancement, but would wait another couple of months to make sure. I was actually relieved hearing this as I’d been told that sometimes surgeries wouldn’t do enhancements, because it can be dangerous cutting through the cornea further. However, still not great news, but I agreed to wait. So I went away for another month.
A couple of weeks ago I went back again and both the optician and I were pretty amazed. My right eye had come on leaps and bounds. It still wasn’t up to the level of my left eye, but I could read about 5 lines further on the letter charts than before. I now can’t perceptibly tell that my eyes have a different focus, unless I try reading in the distance for one eye, then the other.
So now I’m waiting until May, to see whether it has fully caught up, or if an enhancement could still help. I’m feeling pretty positive, and at the end of the day, I’m not wearing glasses, or needing them at all. It’s amazing not having to worry about them. I joined a gym a couple of weeks after the surgery, and it’s little things like being able to see when you go to the showers knowing which ones are clean or not, and not having your glasses slip down your nose as you work out. I don’t have to worry about dry eyes from contact lenses and over the last couple of weeks of sunshine, I’ve just been able to grab a pair of sunglasses without worrying about prescriptions or wearing contacts.
I signed that waiver that said I understood my eyes may not be perfect, and they aren’t, but they are improving and they’re amazingly better than what I had before. I’m 100% glad that I went through with this.