10 lessons from laser eye surgery

I was doing fine until I saw the chair. It looked like a dentist's chair, except the surgeon would be operating on my eyes, instead of my teeth. This did not make me feel comfortable, in fact it made me want to run. But how could I back out now? I'd spent years thinking about laser eye surgery, and with a friend's help, I'd finally found a surgeon I liked, who was also going to do the procedure for half the normal price (May seems to be the month for discount eye surgery vouchers in Ireland).

Even two days later it is hard to remember the procedure in detail. It was very fast and my surgeon talked me through each stage, but the noise, vibration, pressure, and bright lights combined with firm instructions to stare at the lights, stay still and not talk (which is what I do when nervous) were pretty stressful, but not painful. My biggest fear was that I would cough or sneeze at the wrong moment and ruin the operation.

Afterwards a taxi was flagged down for me and, despite eyes covered in goggles and blurry from drops, I was able to text my daughter and a couple of friends without too many spelling errors. I came home and collapsed on the bed, and there I lay for a number of hours, fitfully dozing with one ear on the radio and the other on the noises floating up from the kitchen, and despite my best laid plans I did have to venture carefully down the stairs a couple of times to reassure the children. Those hours were quite painful and nauseous and sleeping through them would have been better. But soon after 10 I found myself sitting in my usual chair in the living room with Netflix for company, and I could see it! The following day the pain gradually lessened and my near vision improved so fast that I was sewing by mid afternoon, and it was easier than it had been for years.


Two days post op and I'm back driving and going to meetings and appointments, but on the downside I currently bear a passing resemblance to Miss Havisham and I can't wait for the makeup embargo to be lifted!

That's the potted version of what happened. I also learned a lot and in case you're considering this procedure too, here are the lessons so far:

Sunglasses


If like me you've been wearing prescription sunglasses for years, you might want to get a pair of cheap glasses before the op: your eyes may be sensitive to glare post op and you may want to hide them for a bit too. I wish I'd bought a pair with pale lenses as well, for indoor use against bright lights.

Check your social calendar


I'm banned from wearing eye makeup for a week. So ideally I would have gone into hibernation or at least worn dark glasses all day (see above).

Sensitive Eyes


I was asked about allergies, but never thought to mention that I always use hypoallergenic make up and skin products, which I should have as it seems I may have a slight reaction to one of the eye drops that you need to use afterwards. Luckily it's the least important one.

Smoke and dust


This is an excellent excuse to give up the cigarettes as a smoky atmosphere will not help the healing process. Nor will lots of dust, so maybe check that the neighbours are not planning to gut their house, as happened here last year.

The last meal


Have a nice meal before the appointment. Otherwise you will be starving later, but may feel too ill to eat. Also I was offered valium pre-op, but only if I'd eaten. Luckily I had. Though two valium would have been even better!

Plan a staycation


Two days off work are recommended and I would agree. You will be able to do very little for a number of hours after the operation: just as well I had a babysitter booked, and I also felt quite shaky and sick on day two as I recovered from the procedure and my eyes learned to refocus.

Also there will be regular follow up appointments, so it's probably not good to book a week in Spain until your eyes are fully healed.

Driving


You should not plan to drive home from the operation - staff at the clinic that I attended flagged down a taxi for me and made sure that I got into it safely. I had to go back in for a check up the following morning and I did not drive then either until my surgeon told me that my eyesight was okay.

Plan your fitness schedule


Swimming, martial arts and any contacts sports will be banned for 2-4 weeks as well as relaxation activities like steam rooms and saunas.

Washing


Afterwards you may smell a little odd, at least that's what my honest children told me, but I'm thinking that had to do with the surgery and the eye drops.

But washing everything else presents a different kind of challenge, one that involves preventing water from getting anywhere near my eyes.  I may need a solution like this:


In fact a more stylish version would be ideal for leaving the house until I can get my fringe and make up back to avoid scaring the locals with my pale ghostly appearance.

It's never too late


I thought I was too old, that there was no point in trying to do something like this when you're the wrong side of 50 and mostly stuck at home. But then a few things happened:

...My lovely Dad left me some money in his will, and I believe that he would've wanted me to spend some of it on myself.

...Neither my glasses nor my contact lenses were working for me properly anymore, so something had to change.

...Life is getting more challenging, and I always feel more confident when I am not wearing glasses, so I think the boost will help me to cope with whatever lies ahead.

...I promised myself that I would be brave this year.

And I was, and it was worth it. Being able to see properly without any lotions, lenses or specs feels like an absolute miracle. I should've done this years ago, and that's the biggest lesson of all.

So this happy post is my contribution to this week's reasons to be cheerful, see below for more...


Ojos World


34 comments:

  1. That's really exciting, congratulations! I have fantasized about laser surgery for years, but I'm very photosensitive and have dry eyes, and those both tend to increase with surgery, so I'm not a good candidate. Luckily, I've made peace with my glasses in the past few years and don't quite feel myself without them now.

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    1. Yes those are both difficulties and I have a touch of both now, but so far those drawbacks have been worth it. On the other hand I may have to embrace the new trend for hairy armpits as I cannot see mine very well any more! My near sight is good, but not THAT good...

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  2. How fantastic - so brave of you and at least you've done it. You're brave every day, have been for a long time and sometimes have to wait to have enough to spare. Good for you and great tips. I know I'm supposed to have something done one day, so thank you for paving the way positively x

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  3. Oh I so want laser surgery now. This post has made me want it. Maybe when I have some money! Well done for being so brave!

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  4. Not sure this was worthy of the wait, but: Well done you! My teen soon is considering this, his eyes are really bad. I'm the opposite way, I find confidence in my glasses. Funny old breed, us humans, aren't we lol xx

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    1. I had a work friend who wore specs with plain glass in for the exact same reason! Best of luck to your teen too xx

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  5. Very cheerful news! That's brilliant news altogether and great that you did spend some of the money on yourself, that is totally what it was meant for. Thanks for sharing, great tips for anyone considering the surgery. Xxx

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  6. Aw delighted for you Candi! Very brave too, I don't think I could do it then again I have perfect vision (tip wood) so I guess I don't know what I'd do if I didn't. It's amazing how quick the recovery time is, here's to no more glasses or contact lenses :D
    x

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    1. I never had perfect vision so this is a brave new world for me, and I'm really enjoying it too! x

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  7. Oh yay, that is so fabulous. I can't even imagaine what a difference it will make not to have to wear glasses or contacts. mich x

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    1. It's going to take a while to get used to as I've been wearing glasses since I was 8! x

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  8. You are very brave - I don't know if I'd have the courage to do it. I'm so glad it went well. I'd love to be glasses free.

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    1. For years I said I couldn't do it, but things change, and they may for you too x

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  9. Oh you're really encouraging me to work towards this too, I really think that my vision is getting worse and my contacts aren't agreeing with me the way they used to. Great tip on the week makeup free!!

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    1. It's definitely worth checking out, but not something to rush into either. Good luck!

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  10. I'm so afraid of even touching my eye that I can't even think about eye surgery!! So well done to you, and you're right, it's never too late. My dad just got eye surgery done and he's 73 ! He was so proud of showing me how light his new glasses were (he still need them, he was almost blind before!)

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    1. Well done to your Dad! That is impressive :)

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  11. I've often thought of doing this. but I'm a wuss. I was ALMOST convinced until someone mentioned a singeing smell during the op... (is that true?!) Put me right off (probably looking for an excuse!!)

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    1. I've heard others say that but I can categorically swear that I didn't smell anything like that at all. Also remember that I've been a wuss about this for about 15 years!!!

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  12. My mam has had nothing but infections since having her second laser surgery. My heart breaks for her because she is having an awful year. Very brave thing to do, personally I wouldn't. Delighted you had a great experience though xx

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    1. So sad to hear about your Mum, I must admit that the possibility of eye infections was not highlighted to me when I made my decision. Saying that, I am being paranoidely careful: for the first week nothing got near my eyes except the prescribed drops - no water, dust, eye shadow, hair, cleaning chemicals, sprays. I even wore goggles doing the housework.

      I replaced my mascara and eye liner and threw out the old ones just in case.

      So far so good, but it's as well to be fore-warned.

      I hope your Mum gets better soon x

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  13. Ah what a great read this is! My husband had his eyes lasered about 5 years or so ago and was amazed at the transformation. So quick isn't it? Laughed at the pic :)

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  14. Brilliant, glad it went well, and fab idea to do a list with tips! It's so amazing afterwards isn't it?! To see in the shower is just revelatory (is that even a word?!)! I try not to think about the actual op too much now, and luckily I didn't much before either :) x

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    1. I'm still at the disbelief stage where I reach for my old glasses, or go to take my lenses out! x

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  15. Well done! I'm delighted for you that you got them done and that it was successful. Helpful post for others considering the same procedure. xx

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    1. Fingers crossed: it's going well so far xx

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  16. I have always wondered about this surgery (my husband is keen to get it done). Sounds like it is totally worth it. Good on you for doing something for yourself.

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    1. Almost everyone that I have spoken to is absolutely thrilled afterwards :)

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  17. Sounds like it worked out well for you that's awesome :)

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    1. It really did, thanks so much for your comment :)

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