Friday 15 April 2011

Post Lasik results - nobody likes a wrinkled cornea

What happens during Lasik? well, if you want nauseating detail, read on.....

I decided to use the Quality Healthcare Medical Centre, mostly because it's the cheapest and I don't like spending money. So I went along to the clinic in Mong Kok (which, incidentally translates as "busy corner", fascinating fact!) one Monday lunchtime. The arrangement was that they would examine my eyeballs, and if they were suitable, I'd have SURGERY later in the afternoon.

As with all medical appointments in HK, there are maaaany stages. You sit and wait a while. Someone gives you a form to fill in. You wait a while. Someone checks your form with you. You wait a while...finally I had what seemed like a normal eye test. So far, so good. They did that thing where they puff air at your eyes, that was about the extent of the discomfort.

More waiting....

Went in to see the eye doctor man. He said that I was suitable for surgery, but that I have a medium to high risk of experiencing flare in low light conditions. There's some index that gives them an idea of your risk - usually it's below 0.2, and mine was about 0.6. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead, signed away my life, and HK$12.5k.

More waiting.....administration of eye drops to dilate my pupils. Another hour and a half of waiting...this was rubbish because with dilated pupils I couldn't read or go anywhere, and the TV which I could vaguely see was in Chinese. Booooring. Also by now I was, not to put to fine a point on it, crapping myself. As you know, I have a tendency to faint, and I came close quite a number of times. I also had a load of anaesthetic eye drops so I couldn't feel anything.

Anyway, eventually I went into the operating theatre (having been supplied with natty paper shoe-covers and a delightful Asda-meat-counter style hairnet). They drew on my eyeballs which was pretty weird, mostly because I couldn't feel anything. Lay down, tried not to faint. The dr said to keep focusing on the red light, which I did as if my life depended on it. First they stuck my eyelashes down, with some tape I guess. From this point on, I'm not 100% sure about the details, because a) it's all so close to your eye that you can't actually focus on it and b) I was delerious with fear.

Next they put something around your eye - I'd guess it's a metal frame - which they push very hard onto your face. I felt as if the bones around my eye socket were under a great deal of pressure, and it was pretty painful (obviously the anaesthetic eye drops don't numb your whole face). Then something suctions very hard onto your eyeball, to stop it moving. I never felt any urge to move my eye though! Next comes the microkeratome, a little jobby that cuts a flap of your cornea (nice!) It's a very odd sensation, kind of buzzing and tingling, but it only lasts 5 seconds.

Once the flap is cut, the doctor lifts the flap, and the laser does its work. Luckily Gareth had warned me about the distressing aroma of burning eyeball, so as soon as I detected it I stopped breathing through my nose. You feel nothing while the laser's burning, but you are unable to see for 10 seconds or so. They warned me that this might be scary, but to be honest it was the least of my worries. Then they put the flap down, and use (I think) a spatula type thing to smooth it down, because nobody likes a wrinkled cornea. Actually I think this was one of the hardest bits for me, I was totally freaking out by then. After that they put a contact lens in, which is removed the next day.

So right eye done. I had a little break, just a minute or two, then repeated the whole procedure for the left eye. This time I was a bit more prepared, and I said to myself "relax, relax, relax" over and over again, and tapped my feet too, so that I wasn't so terrified. But of course the second eye was much easier because I knew what to expect.

The whole process took about 20 minutes. The lovely nurse lady deserves a special mention - she saw how petrified I was and gave me a little shoulder and head massage and a mug of warm water. (I went back for a follow up the next day, and took her a box of Ferrero Rocher, the ultimate in Hong Kong gifting)

I left about 10 mins after the surgery was done, wearing my sunglasses. Waaaay too soon! I had to stop and sit down for a while when I got out because I was still feeling very faint. That evening I went to bed about 8pm, wearing my sexy plastic eye shields. It was still pretty painful that night and the next day, and I couldn't read or watch TV. I did a bit of work the next day, which was hard! even 2 days after the surgery work was hard because my sight was still blurry and my eyes got tired easily.

Next day I had a follow up, I was pretty disappointed with the results at that time. I now think that I was just a bit unrealistic with my expectations, and it's continued to get heaps better since then.

My vision was about -1.75 in the right, and -2.5 in the left. It's now nearly 4 weeks since I had it done, and although at the time, I was a bit distraught about how painful it was (never believe a boy who tells you that it doesn't hurt) now I am thrilled. The results are fantastic so far, I adore not wearing glasses or contacts, being able to wear my sunnies whenever I like without putting my contacts in, falling asleep without taking off my glasses / having to peel dried up contacts off my eyes....and of course it is wonderful to wake up and see the world!

So, those are all the gory details. I am still using eye drops, and will for the next few months, but then it'll all be over. Phew.

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