Friday, 19 November 2010

Should I get my eyes lasered?

Please see also the follow-up post here.

I recently had laser surgery to correct short-sightedness and astigmatism. It's now been exactly a month, and since I've had a few people ask me about it, I thought I'd write a blog post!

My prescription wasn't that bad:-
Right eye: -0.75 (sph), -0.5 (cyl), x130 (axis)
Left eye: -0.50 (sph), -1.50 (cyl), x64 (prism)

However, I did need to wear my glasses most of the time (partly because my more-astigmatic left-eye was tending to become lazy otherwise).

I decided to go to Ultralase, since I have many friends who had great experiences with them (I think I know 7 people who have used them!). I went to the Tottenham Court Road centre, partly because it's convenient to get to from home/work. 2 other friends had it done there with great success, and 5 friends went to Guildford (also with the success).

The initial consultation was free. They check your prescription, ask you a series of questions about your health, etc, and also measure the surface of your eye to find out which kind of surgery would be best. There are 2 main distinctions - LASIK and LASEK.
(I might put more detail here later, for the moment, I leave the reader to look at the differences).
I was able to have both LASIK or LASEK. Although LASIK is more expensive, I opted for it as the healing process seemed easier.
There's then the choice (as I write this) of Ultra, Ultra-Plus and Ultra-Elite. Basically, the more expensive options have a higher "success" rate. I chose the most expensive, as it's my eyes and I didn't want to regret the choice later!

Normally, Ultra-elite with LASIK on both eyes would have cost £4,795, but because I had many friends who had recommended me, and because they had kept me waiting 3o minutes for my initial consultation, they gave me a 10% discount to £4,400 approx. You can choose to pay this under interest-free credit up to 3 years, which is what I went for (so £120 a month).
Also, in theory, for any future eye-condition other than reading-glasses, you should get re-treatment for free as long as your corneas are thick enough.

The process itself involves a local anaesthetic being used on the eyes which means you can't feel any of the actual laser cutting or reshaping. However, there is discomfort when they use pressure/suction to keep your eye still. This lasts approx 40 seconds per eye, although it can feel like longer! The whole process is over in less than 20 minutes. There's then a 20 minute rest and you go on your way. After another 20 minutes, the anaesthetic starts to wear off and your eyes do get quite painful. This can last a few hours, and is the only real pain you feel in the whole process! I'd been warned about it, so I'd stayed up late the night before, and then when I got home, I took a strong painkiller and went to sleep. By the time I woke up, I felt fine!

For the first 2 weeks, there are a series of eye drops (not too difficult to apply, but annoying), and you have to tape eye-protectors over your eyes when you sleep. There's a bunch of stuff you can't do for certain periods of time, but the most annoying thing for me was not being able to wash my hair properly (you have to mess around getting your head at the correct angle, with a wash-cloth and eye protectors over your eyes!).

Anyway - your eye sight should be quite a lot better from pretty-much the next day. I was able to get on with most things fairly easily. My eyes did have a tendency to get tired after a while, and you're encouraged to rest them.
You'll have a check-up the next day, then at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months (sometimes, I think), 6 months, and then only if you require it.

The results...
Initially, I was pretty pleased in general! My night vision wasn't great, but that's been getting better. Right now, bright-lights at night time still have a halo; I think that may or may not get better with time. The vision in my right eye is pretty good! My left eye wasn't so good to start off with and I was quite concerned. At my 1 week check-up, they said it was probably dryness and encouraged me to use the artificial-tear eye-drops more. I did that, and my left-eye improved a lot.
At the 1 month check-up, my right eye is fine, but it seems my left eye still has a prescription of -0.25, which is quite disappointing. I expect it may get better with time, and will find out (I guess) at my 3 month check-up.
My eyes are also still bloodshot, although each person reacts differently and I think I just take a while to heal! I'm not concerned - it looks kind-of cool, and I know it will get better.

So ... would I recommend it? Hmm, I'm not sure. It's definitely great to not have to wear glasses or contact lenses, but I'm disappointed that my vision isn't "perfect" (even if, technically, I have 20:20 vision). The jury is still out, and I guess I might update this blog-post with my future thoughts...
I would say that there is nothing wrong with going for the initial consultation. Ultralase were very friendly, and will answer any queries or concerns you may have.

If you have any questions, please post them as a comment, and I'll try to answer them when I get around to them.