Well, it’s been three weeks since I had laser surgery to correct my myopia so it’s time to reflect on what’s happened. Put simply – I don’t notice it’s been done, because the vision is perfect and discomfort non-existent. Apart from an occasional need to stop myself rubbing my eyes, I’d forgotten I’d had the surgery done until I prepared my packing list for Norway last weekend and realised I didn’t need to include ‘glasses’ and ‘contact lenses’. Is it life changing? No. Is it worth it? Yes, definitely.
It’s difficult to describe to a non-glasses wearer how vision is without them. This chart tries to show what my eyesight was like before (in fact the big letters on the left were even blurrier with one eye), in contrast with what it is now. It’s just great. I can read to the bottom line of the distance vision chart, and read to the bottom of the near-distance chart. Without trying.
I shan’t go into how I decided where to go, save to say that money was by far the least important criterion, that I wanted to go somewhere with the highest standard of surgery and patient care (which rules out popping along to Croydon High Street) and that it wasn’t because of Denise Van Outen. It came down to a tie between Moorfields Eye Hospital and Focus Laser Vision on Wimpole Street, and I went to the latter for a consultation since it was nearer work and seemed to engage sensibly with its potential clients. I went into the consultation with an open mind rather than wanting to hear a ‘yes, it can be done’, but by the end of the session I was happy to sign up for the next available appointment for surgery.
It was odd having to wear glasses for a week, indeed it was a pain in the backside as it made cycling and running rather difficult, but at least I was ready for the treatment. Can’t deny I was a bit nervous on the day, after all lasers were going to cut flaps in my eyes, but it was fine. The surgeon, David Allamby, was excellent – he had plenty of time to talk through the surgery and answer questions, was extremely thorough in checking the measurements and wore scrubs (therefore was obviously dead professional).
The surgery itself was definitely a bit uncomfortable, mainly due to pressure on the eyeball, but it wasn’t in any way painful. I needed to stare at some dots of light and made a dreadful joke about Steve Jobs’s last words which, given my eye was at that moment half open, was probably a mistake in several ways. Yep, there was a burning smell. Most impressive was how powerful the laser equipment sounded, high pitched and heavyweight. After a few minutes we were done, I walked to the recovery room, and it was over.
The vision was blurry thanks to the inflamation of the cornea, and I was grateful for the anaesthetic drops, yet things were absolutely fine. A check of the flaps to make sure they were in the right place and I was sent off home in a taxi.
I’d say that my eyes were irritable for the rest of the day despite having an afternoon snooze, and I was straight onto my regimen of drops (antibiotics, steroids and lubricant), but it wasn’t debilitating. Indeed I managed to pop over the road and get someone to fix my sticking front door, so I was fully up and with it. As you can see in the pictures below my eyes were red on that first afternoon, but that was gone in a couple of days. The most challenging part of the first week was wearing the eye cups when sleeping, which ended up stuck to a different part of my body each night. Classy.
Next day I was into work early and had a chance to take in Green Park and the streets of Mayfair with my ‘new’ eyes. Even within 24 hours of surgery, wow, the vision wasn’t just ‘as good’ as with contact lenses – it was qualitatively better. I could see things that little bit more clearly, more sharply, further into the distance. It’s as if the barrier of the contact lens had been removed from my eyes and everything was that little bit closer. Wonderful. I’ve lost that sense of difference now but remember it clearly from those first couple of days. My left eye seemed a little less sharp than the right, but that went after a couple of weeks.
It’s now been three weeks since the surgery and I’m only needing to use eye drops a couple of times a day to remove a little sense of dryness. Things are great, with no discomfort. I’ve been motorcycling, running, working, to the theatre and to gigs… nothing has been a problem, indeed everything has been better.
Was it worth the money? As I said earlier this isn’t ‘the best thing that every happened to me’ but it has and will make a difference to daily life. I ended up paying £2,300 for both eyes to be treated thanks to a useful discount voucher (it pays to look around), but this was never about the money: I’d have paid twice as much as long as it was done safely, properly and successfully.
I was super-pleased with the Focus Clinic, indeed Pop Down came along when I had my surgery and walked out with the intention to have some sort of alien eye implant, sorry, a ‘KAMRA inlay‘. Soon the entire Down family will have Terminator Vision.
It all came home to me this weekend when standing on Norwegian snow at 70 degrees North, trying to spot the Aurora Borealis. I could see thousands and thousands of stars pricking the midnight sky, I wasn’t wearing glasses, and I didn’t have to worry about falling asleep on the bus with contact lenses stuck to my eyes.
It was perfect.