Before treatment day
After my consultation I’d chosen to have the LASIK treatment with waveform. This was happily within my price range and after speaking to the optometrist it felt like the benefits of wavefront would be negligible for me.
Very soon before the treatment I changed my mind on the wavefront front. I’d read a study on the internet about night driving and just how bad eye surgery can make it, and how waveform actually improves night driving vision for the majority. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19344822
So I changed my mind, talked to the personal advisor and sorted out some interest free payments for the difference between wavefront and non-wavefront treatment.
Treatment day – Day 0
I didn’t have anyone at home with me on the day of the surgery. My fiancée was in Spain at the time but I needed to leave enough time for healing before a holiday (or leave the surgery another two months or so). She was due to come back on the evening of day 1.
I arranged for a friend from work to pick me up from the surgery and walk me home. The Ultralase clinic was only 7-8 minute walk from my home, crossing about 3 minor roads and 1 major road with a pedestrian crossing.
I had a good talk with the surgeon who went over the risks of the procedure and ensured that we were doing the procedure I expected.
He brought up what he considered a risk that hadn’t been mentioned before. He mentioned that my pupils were quite large and that if he couldn’t open my eye lids wide enough that he wouldn’t be able to create the flap. I asked what would happen if that did occur and he said the treatment would have to stop. As nothing would have actually started yet I would have called that an ‘annoyance’ but not really a risk.
The downside of the large pupils was that the opening of the eyelids might be more painful than normal . I found that to be very true.
The nurse double checked all the drops with me and I learnt when each needed to be taken. The instructions were written down but with no-one with me on the first night I knew that I wouldn’t be able to read the sheet of paper.
The clamps really hurt. The surgeon went from “let me know if it is uncomfortable” to “let me know if it is unbearable”. It didn’t quite get to the unbearable stage but I knew if it did we’d have to call the whole thing off. In truth I’m not sure if it would have made a difference as I couldn’t say a word during the whole surgery and I must have been pale as a ghost.
The left eye actually had the eyelid clamps removed for the cutting of the flap. I found this really strange as I thought ‘if they can do this without the clamps then why bother with them in the first place?’.
Something I didn’t know until the day was that there are two lasers that are fixed to the ground. You move between them by them swivelling the bed you lie in.
The lights in the room seemed very bright throughout. It would be interesting to see, with normal vision, how bright they were.
A red light shines in your eyes during the procedure and gives you something to look at. By looking at something fixed you keep your eyes still.
I personally found it very difficult to start at the light as it seemed to disappear. It probably disappeared because I unconsciously looked away from it, but I then found it hard to find it again. I was often told not to move my eye but I couldn’t see anything to fix onto.
After the flaps were cut I was told the worst was over. As I write this I can’t remember why, but I do remember at the time saying that I felt the second laser was more uncomfortable.
It is a very horrible sensation feeling the flaps move.
The surgeon described what was going to happen in detail and was easy to follow. He said (twice, once for each eye) that I might not see anything. This happened for the right eye but not the left. Being blinded at that moment made it a lot more comfortable.
I was still told to keep my eye very still when it was blinded. It is very, very difficult to keep a blinded eye still. What do you look at?
The best sight for the first 21 hours or so was in the recovery room, while the anaesthetic was still working.
We walked the 10 minute walk home with sunglasses on. The light was bright but, at this stage, felt fine.
I was shown by the surgeon how to wipe the water from my eyes with a tissue. The technique ensured that I placed no pressure onto the eyeball. When your eyes are streaming it is very annoying to not just be able to wipe them.
At home I very quickly felt the anaesthetic wearing off. The ‘onion eyes’ side effect was very strong and felt more like onion contact lenses.
The treatment had been at 5:30pm and by 6:30pm my eyes were sore and pouring. By 7:00pm I was in bed and trying to rest.
At 7:30pm I had to take my first eye drops. Ironically I was fine doing the eye drops but, being along, I had great trouble removing the tamper-proof shrink-wrap seals that were on the bottle. I really wish I’d been told to open them while I could see.
I was really hoping that I didn’t do anything stupid with the drops as I couldn’t read the instruction sheet. In the end I forgot to put the antibacterial drops in the fridge and didn’t shake the anti-inflammatory but nothing desperately bad.
I knew that I didn’t need to wake myself to insert the eye drops so at 9:30 I tried to get some sleep. I woke at 12am so put more drops in.
My biggest problem at 12am was trying to find out the time. At this point the light sensitivity was extremely high and any light was painful. Backlights on clocks were impossible to look at and nightlights at their lowest settings were too bright. I forget now how I did find out the time. It might have been by looking at the dim standby clock on the freeview box with sunglasses on.
I slept well with the eye guards. Before the surgery I presumed the eye guards were just like safety glasses or goggles. As it turned out they are just moulded lenses that you stick to your face with medical tape.
Woke up at 4am, 6am and 8am so put more eye drops in.
Got up at 8am and found that my light sensitivity went from ‘any is unbearable’ to only needing sunglasses when going out in bright sunshine. It was a brilliant summer’s day outside and any normal person would need sunglasses to see comfortably.
My sight was fairly good in the morning. I could ‘see’ everything but not really see any detail anywhere I looked.
Two hours before the 1 day check-up I wrote
Expect them to say I technically pass driving standard but aren’t anywhere near 20/20. You are still technically a success so we won’t be aiming to improve it any more.
Hopefully she will say that my eyes are still healing and it will get better… but that is just a hope at the moment
At this point I realised I still hadn’t bought cotton buds and went to get some. Eyes were drying out a lot faster outside than inside, but I presumed this was normal.
Day 1 check-up
I made a few points to mention to the optometrist before I left. These were
· I left the eye drops out overnight. Are they fine?
· I can see well but the detail is missing
· Reading words are quite difficult
· Halos and starbursts are strong, obvious and annoying
· Clearer vision on strong light
· Didn’t shake the anti-inflammatory
· Eye drops taste bad in the back of my throat
The optician, after doing a quick eye test, said that everything is pretty much perfect although she did say “aww your pretty bruised” as my eyes are very, very red.
The eye test actually came out as 20/20, which I was very surprised at, but I was also told that I was temporarily long sighted and this is why I was still having trouble reading.
Despite the 20/20 vision I was reading the line below 20/20 with glasses.
I asked about the bad tasting eye drops and was told that it was normal. I gave her a look. She recommended orange juice to remove the taste, which was a lot cheaper than the mouthwash I was gargling every 2 hours.
We then checked we had a 7 day appointment and left. I felt my eyes get really dry for the first time on the walk back but just took some drops. Am yet to feel the ‘gritty’ side effect.
Day 1 evening
24 hours later I was on a computer for the first time. I was very aware of my eyes and had an egg timer to ensure I was having at most 5 minutes looking at the screen followed by, at least, a 5 minute break.
On the PC I turned on Vista’s Ease of Access features (which are great by the way, much better than XP). I settled on High Contrast with 120% magnification and used extra zoom in Firefox.
Fiancée arrived home at about 9pm.
I woke up with a fright as I was face down in a pillow without my eye guards on. The guards had fallen on the floor and I have no idea how.
Despite this my eyes didn’t feel too bad. Had my first experience of ‘gritty’ eyes but nowhere near how it was described to me. I seem to be lucky with that one.
I had decided that my vision had improved overnight but that might have been because I was comparing day vision with night vision.
On day 2 we spent about four hours in town, which was by far the longest I had been outside (by about 3 ½ hours). I took the eye drops in the shopping centres and had bought some
Carex dry hand wash to ensure my hands were clean.
I found that really bright sunshine was fine (wearing sunglasses as any normal person would) but the reflections of the sun in car windows brought out very strong starbursts. At this point I was afraid that I was one of the percentages that would be stuck with these.
Went to work for the first time (central computing services at a university) and used the computer all day with plenty of breaks.
One week follow-up appointment
In the check-up I ‘rejected’ an eye test. This was a full eye test to see what my prescription would be and they couldn’t make one that made my sight better.
My right eye now reads the same line as with glasses but my left eye is one line worse (but still 20/20).
I also received for the first time a ‘timescales until you can do things’ sheet. Apparently I was supposed to get this earlier but I had to ask for it. As it turns out it didn’t answer my question (which was when can I use tapwater again) as it the sheet said ‘Shower: Next day but don’t get water in your eyes’. In the end I just emailed the advisor.
My next email to the advisor is going to be ‘is the tape and fake tears free as part of the aftercare’ but I feel stupid asking that on its own, so I’ll wait until I have another question.
Today I finished the eye drops (after being corrected by the optician that the sheet says ‘first 48 hours then 7 days’ and not ‘first 48 hours then and day 7’)
My eyes feel a little dryer in the mornings now that I’m not putting in drops as soon as I wake up but I guess this is normal. Before the surgery I would rub the sleep from my eyes, it’s just that now I can’t rub my eyes.
Yesterday (day eight) was the first time I had turned all the accessibility features off on the computer and I was reading quite well. It is strange that the halos really affect the screen as the white background bleeds into the black text.
I’m still surprised at how I’m not getting dry eye from the PC work despite it taking up 6 ½ hours of an 8 hour work day. I am remembering to take lots of 5 minute breaks though. I’m drinking a lot more tea than I used to.
My red devil eyes are still there but slowly fading.
Hayfever is affecting me quite badly today but I need a new passport photo for my driving licence. My red eyes still haven’t gone completely so the DVLA will have a photo on file for the next 10 years of Rudolph the red nose vampire.
Today was the first day I didn’t use any artificial tears and the day I decided to write up my diary.