I’m writing this from a rooftop pool in Patong, Phuket, watching the sun set over the island. I can see for miles. The beach. A small pier protruding out over the ocean. The roofs of small traditional Thai houses poking out through the trees which surround us. Cranes moving around building more tourist spots. And the mouth-watering burger station at the other end of the pool. I can see. Just over a month ago, these views would be a blur to me, an out of focus view through what seemed like constant drunken eyes. But after my Laser Eye Surgery in November, these views are now a reality. I can see.
I didn’t wear glasses in University, and over the four years of studying I slowly started to notice a change in my eyesight. Suddenly when I was driving home to visit my parents for the weekend, the road signs became less clear. I visited Las Vegas with work, and we ate at the restaurant of the Stratosphere, a 360 view over the strip which goes for miles. I couldn’t see the first hotel in front of us. When I was in Bora Bora the girls were pointing out the dolphins and puffer fish in the sea, but I couldn’t spot them. I look back and think of all the things I’ve missed out on seeing, or had to live through my camera lens to get a HD look at what was right in front of me. Going to the supermarket and forgetting my glasses was one of the worst examples for me, the bustle around, with the products being so small, the lights being so bright. It would be so disorientating and I’d leave with a headache, and usually without everything I went in there to get.
When I first considered getting Laser Eye Surgery I wondered whether my eyes were bad enough to put myself through the risk of something going wrong, but the odds of this happening are really small and I decided to bite the bullet. I visited one opticians for a free consultation, and felt pressured instantly into agreeing on the day that I would go through with the surgery. I went to the appointment alone and so wanted to discuss the surgery with my parents as it’s quite a big deal and no small feet to go through. I was asked “what discount would make you book it today?” And after that they went to speak to the area manager who was supposedly only in that day, meaning I would have to book it that day to receive the discount offered of £100. I again thanked them but said I’d think about it and let them know, they then called me on and off for weeks and it just left me feeling uneasy that this was a commission based money making scheme, rather than life-changing surgery which isn’t too be taken lightly.
I then found Optimax. Straight away Optimax made me feel a lot more at ease than the other opticians. I visited the branch in Bristol as they don’t offer laser eye surgery in Cardiff, and they informed me I was only suitable for the LASEK treatment due to my eyes being dry, which could affect the healing process and be prone to infection if I went for LASIK (more about this later!) The other opticians said I would be fine with LASIK. I again said I’d go away and think about it and they were a lot less pushy than the previous opticians and gave me space to decide and information to read over. They also offered me a discount in exchange for sharing my story which we agreed on.
You have to attend a consultation which is free, then once you decide you want to go through with the surgery you meet the surgeon who double checks you are suitable for the treatment. Then on surgery day, you visit the surgeon again who checks you’re still suitable and you’re happy with the decision to move forward with treatment. I had to rearrange my surgery day due to work commitments, and Optimax were super helpful and patient with me, and available over email when I wasn’t able to call. When surgery day did come, I attended on my own and the staff and surgeon were really helpful in putting me at ease. My surgeon was Dr Mughal and he was great at informing you of each step and making you feel relaxed, considering you’re about to get your eyes lasered! The treatment itself doesn’t take more than a minute per eye, but there’s around ten minutes of preparation ready for the laser. You have your eyes numbed so you can’t feel a thing during treatment, although as your eyes are being held open it is a little uncomfortable- the worst bit for me was flushing them out with water afterwards! When treatment is over you’re then sent away (preferably with a friend or family member who picks you up as your vision is pretty blurry from all the drops!) and booked in to come for a check up in a few days time.
As I had the LASEK, a treatment which doesn’t involve creating a flap which the LASIK does, my healing time was longer and the pain and discomfort was a lot more intense than what those who have had LASIK have told me their experience was like. I have dry eyes and so wasn’t found suitable for the LASIK as the risks of infection and dry eyes are higher with this treatment. You’re sent away with numbing drops for your eyes and eye drops to use for weeks after the treatment, along with some eye protectors to wear at night to stop you touching your eye- these are really uncomfortable and feel like what guys wear in their pants in cricket to protect their man parts are stuck to your eyes! And although they warn you that the pain the next day or so can be excruciating, I don’t think I was truly ready for how much it’d hurt. It felt like my eyeballs were falling out from the inside and I could do nothing about it. For 48 hours I sat in a dark room and binged podcasts until I fell asleep out of boredom. It was a pretty bleak 48-72 hours, but once you’re through that, it’s all up hill from here. Just make sure you dose up on painkillers!
Because of the type of treatment I had, my eyes take a little longer to heal and so 5 weeks on from the treatment my eyes still haven’t reached their full potential, but hopefully by the new year they’ll be in 20/20 shape. Every day I wake up and my vision is that little bit better, I’ve almost forgot what living through my old vision was like.
If you’re thinking of getting laser eye surgery, I would definitely recommend it as it really has changed my life. Most people are suitable for the LASIK which has a one day recovery time and less pain attached, so unless you’re a little unlucky like me your experience with discomfort shouldn’t be so bad! I can’t thank Optimax enough for changing my life and helping me see sunsets clearly again.