How Laser Eye Surgery Helped Me

January 27, 2010


click here

I was a teenager when my eyesight started to go. There is so much you’re painfully conscious of at that age without adding glasses to the mix but by 18 I had to wear them full-time.

I hated glasses.

I didn’t feel like a glasses person. They didn’t suit me, even the coolest frames I could afford made me look like Corrie’s Reg Holdsworth (in my head at least) and with my prescription deteriorating every year or so, it cost me a fortune.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I tried to get contact lenses. I was partly sick of being speccy, but also worried that a baby would make short work of my wire frames just as soon as her tiny fingers could grab them.

The lady in the optician’s that day was very kind and patient as I sweated and had to put my head between my knees (which was rather difficult given I was five month’s pregnant).

I was so scared of fiddling with my eyes that the very idea of it made me faint. In the end, she put them in for me and I felt amazing. Until I had to try and take them out, and couldn’t do it without heaving.

She took them out for me and I decided against contacts.

I tried again a few years later. Again the optician’s assistant had to scrape the lenses out, that time with spangly acrylic fingernails. That day I did faint. And then I was sick.

I knew I’d never get my head around contacts, not with all the practise and patience in the world but I was desperately unhappy wearing specs.

When my husband and I got married, I refused to wear them, and lurched down the aisle holding onto my dad for dear life. The photographs from the day are beautiful, which is lucky, as at the time I didn’t really see the cake or my new husband looking smart and gorgeous.

I’d danced around the idea of laser eye surgery for years, but always talked myself out of it due to the cost, the grossness or the pain.

Eventually, with my 30th birthday looming I faced my fears.

The cost? Yes, it costs money, but I was spending about £200 every two years on glasses, never mind prescriptions sunglasses. So that one didn’t really stand up…

The grossness? The pain? I’ve given birth to three children.

All three births were a lot longer, more painful and icky than anything a laser could do. Yes, the idea of things happening to my eyes made me feel faint, but I kept telling myself it was a few minutes on either side for the benefit of no more specs.

I spoke to friends that had been treated, and every one of them raved about it. The  pain, they said, was more discomfort, and you were given plenty of drops.

There was nothing to lose. I went for a pre-surgery appointment at Optimax in Croydon. Realistically, it was little more than a normal eye test just with the chance to ask lots of questions (which I did).

Has anyone ever gone blind? No.
How soon can I drive? Soon after, maybe even the next day.
Will it hurt? A bit, but not for long.
What if I move? The laser shuts off instantly.

And so on… They were answered at length, with patience – I suspect they’re the same questions everyone asked.

The only person rolling their eyes was my daughter, brought along for moral support.

I was given bumf to read, terms and conditions to go through, and a date… the all important date. The surgery date.

It rolled around quickly, and several times I nearly cancelled. The truth was, for all my fear, there was never a reason to cancel that was more compelling than the idea of a glasses-free life.

On the day of surgery, I arrived with my husband and youngest child and started to go through the pile of paperwork detailing every possible – if very unlikely – side effect. I wanted to ignore them all, close my eyes and just scrawl my signature across the top but I had to go through and initial every point, to show I really had considered it.

I met the doctor, a softly spoken older gentleman who has been fixing eyes since way before I was born. He answered all my last minute (largely ridiculous) questions and I was given a cup of tea.

The ‘LASER IS ON’ sign pinged into life above an airlock-style door and I was called through.

Perhaps it was all the questions, or the slightly-green complexion, but despite my faux protestations, one of the receptionists came in and held my hand throughout the treatment. That human touch helped to hold me in my chair, and – slightly shaking- I followed all the instructions: be still, look up, look down, stare into the light.

Yes, at times, it was weird. My eyes were numbed but the skin around them wasn’t, so I could feel the outside of the contraption holding them open, but couldn’t feel it touching my eyes.

Because every detail of the surgery had been detailed to me, I knew when they were doing the ickiest bits – like making a tiny flap of cornea. That was the only time I nearly bolted.

About 15 minutes later it was over. I was led into a private room, brought a cup of tea and left to relax with my eyes closed. When I opened them, while stinging slightly, I could see. I could see better than before. I could see my husband and baby coming in to cuddle me.

I went home by taxi and slept for a couple of hours with eye shields on and that night I watched a film, without my glasses. It was breathtaking.
The next day I returned for my after care appointment and drove home, perfectly safely, with better than 20-20 vision.

A few months on and I can honestly say it has changed my life. Things that were completely out of bounds to me are feasible, sports, going out and being able to see my friends on a night out rather than staggering around, squinting; swimming with my kids.

But more than practical stuff, the effect on my confidence has blown me away. In fact, I feel pretty sad when I realise how ragged my self-image was before. Without glasses, I would feel vulnerable and stumbling; wearing glasses I would feel so out of place and frumpy. Either way, I wasn’t able to be myself, and throughout my twenties I missed out in ways I didn’t even realise before.

Since surgery, I have changed my wardrobe, wearing the clothes of a 29-year-old rather than a frumpy middle-aged woman.

I have gone out for dinner with my husband far more in the last three months than in the previous five years and I’ve even quit my job to set up my own business and work for myself. I’m not sure I would have done that six months ago.

It isn’t cheap, and it isn’t pain-free, but the discomfort and cost are minimal compared with the reawakening laser eye surgery helped me to find.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

click here


Article by  


What do you think of this health article by ? Join the discussion...