My Experience of Lasek eye surgery.

Many people have asked me for a a blow by blow account of my recent laser correction, so to save me repeating myself and boring everyone else to death, here’s what happened.

I did some web research, looked at discussion forums and read reviews of clinics, along with chatting to people who had been treated.  The one thing that stuck me most of all was that where people had problems it often resulted from poor prior contact with the surgeon or aftercare that did not involve the surgeon.  It seems that on the High Street, you might not see the surgeon until the day of the operation and maybe not see them again for aftercare.

So, with this in mind I chose Manchester Centre For Vision as my clinic.  Manchester Centre for Vision (MCV) is the private patient unit of the Royal Eye Hospital.  

There is a fee for assessment at MCV, the upside of this is that I got to meet with a surgeon and be sure that the treatment I was offered was the best one for me. I had read nightmare scenarios on the web where people were assessed on the High Street, offered a particular procedure only to have the surgeon disagree with this suggestion on the actual day of surgery.

After undergoing several tests I met with Khalid Ikram who explained to me that as I had thinning of one of my retinas I would be best suited to LASEK surgery.  Mr Ikram explained that LASEK had a longer recovery time than LASIK, my dream of having surgery on a Thursday and being back to teaching on Monday was over, I would need more time off.  It was also explained that LASEK can be quite painful . . . . 

When I got home I did more research, on Mr Ikram and on exactly what LASEK entails.  Here’s a summary of the difference between the two procedures.  Mr Ikram checked out to be very good and once I knew that NASA likes LASEK I was sold!

Surgery Day
My surgery was set for 12 noon, the first thing the Nurse did was to remind me that LASEK can be painful and then she prepped me with a lovely hair net, iodine and anesthetic eye drops.  Mr Ikram came in for a chat, explained in detail what would be happening.  The actual procedure is not at all painful, mainly ‘weird’ and a just a little uncomfortable when the eye is clamped open.  I’d prefer this over a filling at the dentist!

By 1pm I was in the recovery room.  The nurse went over all the various drops and pain relief I would have and applied eye-shields that I would have to wear until the next day and then each night..  She asked me if I wanted to take my first dose of Co-Codamol, I hesitated, I didn’t have any pain. but I took them anyway.  Within moments my eyes started to water, became very heavy and I urgently wanted to be at home in bed.  The pain was here, but I was ready for it!

My lovely driver, Deborah, had me home in no time, she said she didn’t want to leave me seeing that I was in pain.  However, I wanted her to go asap so that I could get in bed.  I was ready for the pain, what I wasn’t ready for was how it effectively blinded me.  At 5pm I got out of bed for more Co-Codamol and as I could not open my eyes without triggering more discomfort, I had to feel my way to the kitchen and bathroom – fortunate that I have a small flat!

Whilst wishing the hours away I was under my duvet, eyes closed and listening to Leo Laport’s Tech Guy podcasts which I’d been saving up on my ipod, I learnt a lot, thanks Leo!  

Somewhere at around 7pm the pain fell off by quite a lot and I decided to get up and make porridge, also a challenge to do without opening your eyes!  I was waiting for the Ping of the microwave and realised that I might be about to faint, I staggered back to bed for a while. . . 

Then at 9pm I got up again for third dose of pain relief, to eat the cold porridge and (at last) sleeping tablets.  I also had to administer three lots of drops, it was quite hilarious, I got a lot of this medication on my face, mouth, ears and eventually in my eyes!  In addition to steroid and anti-biotic drops I had been given anesthetic eye drops but on discovering that they only worked for 20 mins and that they can impede healing I didn’t use them at all.

Day 1
Eyes are still watering, very light sensitive, difficult to open but the pain was down and I decided that I didn’t need any more Co-Codamol.  I was in discomfort not in pain.  I spent all day hiding from the sun, under my duvet, hoodie up, sunglasses on.  Every fours hour or so I attempted to apply my drops, again very entertaining.  I could already see that things were happening with my vision, through the constant tears there were signs of improvement!

I shunned the sleeping tablets I was given in favour of a large swig of Nightnurse and slept well in my lovely eye-shields.

Day 2
Today I managed to watch some TV, post a message on Facebook and I even made this Pummelvision – I amaze myself!  I’m still hiding from the sunlight and watching TV with the screen dimmed and in sunglasses.

Day 3
My eyes are watering less and sensitivity is gradually reducing.  My vision continues to improve, its quite exciting 🙂  Still hanging out in a hoodie and sunglasses.

Day 4
Today I am getting dressed and taking a shower.

The nurse said ‘keep your eyes closed when showering’.  So I decide to go one better and fully tape on my eye shields.  Trouble is they just start to fill up like fish tanks – PANIC! 

Panic over, hair washed and Cilla comes to take me shopping and lovely catch up in Costa, it was bliss, I had a bad case of cabin Fever.

I’m feeling much better, able to face the world but I doubt I could have done much that required any concentration.

Day 5
I took this photo from my balcony, first shot with my new eyes.
Moon, Bird, Snow

Day 6
Today is my first follow up with Mr Ikram.  Deborah takes me to see him at Face and Eye, as well as eye surgery they do cosmetic surgery, alas we did not bump into any soap stars or wags.  Mr Ikram is pleased with my progress, says I’m already legal to drive (whoo hoo).  After the LASEK surgery I had been fitted with protective contact lenses and today they were removed.  I was warned that I might get some further discomfort, I did but it didn’t last too long.

Day 14
I drove myself to my second follow up, this time at the hospital.  I saw the Optometrist who scanned my eyes and gave me an eye test “hardly any prescription at all” – amazing!  Mr Ikram tells me I can drop the eye shields, wear make up and generally behave like a normal person with the exception of swimming and avoiding rubbing my eyes.  He gave me prescription for further eye drops to be taken over the next 4 weeks and an appointment to see him in six weeks time.

Considering it takes up to 12 weeks for the full effects of LASEK I’m very pleased with the result I have at only 2 weeks.  Here’s one of my post op (and photoshopped) eyes.
eye, eye!

Week 8
I headed back to MCV for a further follow up.  I was a little apprehensive because since my last visit I had become convinced that my vision had fallen off a touch.  Well, I sat in the same chair looking at the same chart and before the Optometrist even began her test I knew I could read it better than last time.  After the test she confirmed my vision had improved since my last visit.  It was all in my head, I still have my Miracle!

I mentioned to Mr Ikram that when I wake my eyelids are stuck together and I have to gently prize them apart.  No big deal but Mr Ikram sent me instructions by email on how to care for my eyes with a product called Blephasol.  I confess I am finding it hard to make myself do the little routine each morning and night, its so much easier to just prize my eyes apart and there is no discomfort.

To my surprise a further appointment is made for me, I imagined that I would be discharged, but no, they are not done with me yet.

Week 18
I had my final visit with the optometrist and Mr Ikram today.  My eye test shows I am better than 20/20, I’m thrilled!  Mr Ikram says “I dont often use the word Prefect . . .”

As I sat in Mr Ikram’s office I was once again struck by the fantastic view he has of the atrium at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.  So, when he had to step out of his office, I seized the moment to capture a little momento:

from the surgeons window . . .

Feel free to ask me any questions via the comments box, I’m happy to share my experiences.