Lasik Eye surgery

A blog about my Lasik eye surgery

Monday, June 26, 2006

Night Driving

One of the things I've been warned about is that night driving may be a problem for the first couple of months until my eyes settle down again. Actually night driving is already a problem for me due to my out of date glasses! As I try and take my contact lenses out as soon as possible when I get home if I do have to drive in the dark then usually I'm wearing my glasses, so not only do I have the problem of them being an old prescription (from memory they are at about 6 in one eye and 6.5 in the other) but I also find because they are quite old, and so a bit scratched, oncoming headlights can be glary. Anyway it will be interesting to see whether the initial halo effect is worse than this and how long it takes to settle down. In the meantime I guess BIP gets to be the designated driver for a while (although I will only be drinking for medicinal purposes I'm sure!!).
This morning I realised I am just about out of contact lens solution - ha! I won't miss having to buy some more (I have a small travel bottle tucked away with my travel contact lens kit so I will use that up to keep me going for the next 4 and a bit weeks.
My surgery date is exactly one month away. I'm back into excited mode again now and feeling very confident about the outcome. Still a bit pissed off at having to miss 2 hockey games though. The first one shouldn't be a problem as 2 days after surgery I don't suppose I'll feel up to playing anyway, but keeping off the pitch the following week may be more of a challenge ......

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I spend lots of time yesterday reading up on other blogs of people's experiences and comments posted in response. Lots of warnings and dire predictions and horror stories (from comments not blogs). By the end of the day I was starting to reconsider the whole thing, the scary warnings really are scary and as someone with bad myopia the whole fear of going blind thing is pretty much inate already.
During the evening I calmed down a bit and reassessed what I had been reading. Most of the stuff is actually positive and the tales of horror from people who've actually had the surgery done (rather than the people who know someone .....) are very very low. I've reread the risks information and also looked specifically for comments from people in New Zealand (as opposed to America where it seems that anyone is allowed to practice Lasik) and in particular for my surgeon. No reports of ongoing problems to be found there. Ok, so I'm feeling a bit better about it again. Of course I know there are risks, but then there are risks with wearing contact lenses - I've already had two incidences of blood vessel growth into the eyes which has forced me to abandon contacts for a while and then severely reduce wear time - I remind myself that this is why I considered Lasik in the first place.
In the meantime my contact lenses are driving me crazy at the moment - vision in my left eye is rubbish - even though the lens is only 3 weeks old and should have another week of life in it, I just can't get the darn thing clean. May resort to swapping the lenses over tomorrow just to give my left eye a rest! (The advantage of having symmetric eyes).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Got a Date

After much thinking, humming and hahing, considering all the possibilities (including what could go wrong!) I finally made up my mind and booked an appointment. I had to try and fit it in with the timing of hockey as I've been told I won't be allowed to play for two weeks (even though hockey is not a contact sport there is a risk of ball/stick/elbow in the eye so the surgeon recommended avoiding it for that reason - actually I've never been hit in the eye playing hockey, but have seen plenty of other people who have been so wouldn't want to push my luck!). Anyway I wanted to make sure that I didn't put myself out of finals for this round. Don't have the draw for championship round yet so don't know what games I'll be missing but it won't be the important ones at the end of the round.
My date is July 27th, at 11:30am. It's over a month away, but already I've started to worry. I read someone else's blog yesterday about their experience and they were talking about the smell of burning when the laser is activated (which I've heard other people talk about) - I think this will be the worst part of the whole thing, I was lying in bed thinking about it last night feeling quite queasy. Geeeesh, reckon it's going to be a long wait at this rate!!
I have all my pre and post op instructions. They include things like don't wear hairspray, spray on deoderant or perfume on the day of surgery. At first I thought this was to avoid allergies on the surgeon's part, but then I realised it's to avoid the patient having anything flammable on them when the laser is activated - ha now that would be an interesting way to go! Many many years ago I was fascinated by the concept of spontaneous combustion, I guess I need to ensure I don't get the real experience!!
One of the other instructions on the post-op side is that you should avoid rubbing or touching your eyes for at least 4 weeks. Now I don't know about you but that sounds damn hard to me. As a trial yesterday I decided to see if I could go all day without touching or rubbing my eyes - I failed miserably. Maybe it's just because my contact lenses irritate my eyes though?? Hmmm, guess I'll need to practice that one.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Follow Up Consultation

After being given the all clear on my retinas I rang the Lasik people to arrange to go back and talk to the surgeon and see what the possibilities/costs etc would be for me. They gave me an appointment time at the end of the week.
When I turned up the receptionist dithered about for a bit and said she was just trying to sort out what I had come in for (!) and then took me through to the waiting room when I explained it was a follow-up consultation. I hung around for 15 minutes and just as I was about to go back to reception to see if they had forgotton me, the surgeon turned up. This time it was a different guy who introduced himself as Douglas Cox. This was the person I had expected to see on my previous visit - so now I was confused - he was also confused as he explained that last time I had see Michael Merryman - the other surgeon, so he wasn't sure why I was now seeing him as I wasn't his patient. I was unimpressed - firstly the first guy hadn't even told me his name and I had been expecting to see Dr Cox (having heard very many good things about him as he's the main man when it comes to Lasik in New Zealand apparently), secondly as it was their admin. which had booked me in to see him I was as clueless as he was as to why.
Anyway he quickly cottoned on to the fact that I was pissed off and after apologising for the confusion agreed to take over my case and very professionally and in a great detail went through the procedure and all the details for me. I have to say he was very reassuring and drew various pictures to ensure I understood exactly what he was talking about and addressed all of my questions and concerns very thoroughly.
At the end of it all I signed a consent form - just as a routine it saves time if you decide to go ahead without committing yourself to anything, and went home to talk it over with BIP and decide whether or not to go ahead or not.

Retina Check

Following on from my initial Lasik consultation I was referred to an eye doctor to have my retinas checked. If you've never undergone such a procedure I can tell you it's not the most pleasant thing in the whole world. At least this time they told me to bring a driver with me - unlike the last time I'd had it done when I was still living in London when I ended up having to sit in the car for two hours before I could just about see enough to make the (luckily) short drive home!
To begin with the doctor puts special drops in your eyes which enlarge the pupils, they also sting like hell! You then have to wait for 10 minutes for the drops to take effect (basically your pupils dilate until you look like a serious drug user and can't see very well). Then back into the doctor's room for the examination. One of the side effects of having enlarged pupils is a sensitivity to light - this is unfortunate as the examination consists mainly of an incredibly bright light being shone into your eye while the doctor peers in through a special kind of microscope. Luckily the examination doesn't take very long, I spend the entire time with my eyes streaming and the doctor having to hold them open!
Once that was over I got the good news. The changes around the edges of my retina are just changes in the pigmentation from where the eye has stretched and changed shape due to my myopia, they are no indication of a predisposition to a retinal detatchment. In fact, not only am I no more at risk of a retinal detatchment than anyone else with my level of myopia (which does make me a higher risk than joe public) but in fact my retinas look in particularly good shape so if anything I am at less risk than you would expect. The doctor said he's pass on his notes to the Lasik people and if I wanted to go ahead with that procedure he couldn't see any reason why not too and thought it would be hugely beneficial to me.
So that was all good news, and just 25 minutes after arriving (and many dollars lighter in the wallet!!) I could go home. Luckily it was a foggy day so not too much sunlight about to aggrevate my blurry and weepy eyes, but I still kept them shut for most of the drive home.
I'd planned to work at home for the day anyway as I wasn't sure how many hours it would be before I could drive or work comfortably at a computer. In fact I didn't have too many problems with the computer after about an hour. In the afternoon I ventured outside to take the dogs for a walk which was ok, but typically the day long Hamilton fog chose that time to finally lift so it was a bit brighter outside and I was glad of my sunglasses.
By the evening my vision was more or less back to normal and my pupil size had reduced almost to normal size. My eyes were still stinging from the drops but that cleared up the following morning.

The Preamble

So after years of thinking about it, months of dithering and a few weeks of additional check ups I have finally made the appointment for lasik eye surgery.
Gulp! Firstly the stats, I have a high level of myopia (-7 in each eye) which is either severe myopia or bordering on severe depending on who you ask. Basically it means I'm blind as a bat without my contact lenses or glasses. Those of you with perfect or near perfect vision (damn you!) will have no clue what this is actually like - the rest of you you will! I've been wearing glasses for 25 years and contacts for 24 so it's pretty much normal for me. During that time I have lost countless numbers of contact lenses at all sorts of inopportune moments (just before being a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding being one of the more notable ones) and inadvertently destroyed several pairs of glasses. I have even resorted to watching an end of the pier show in Blackpool through a hole in a Rich Tea biscuit (apologies to non-Brits who have no idea what I am talking about!). A few years ago I started developing problems with wearing contact lenses which meant I had to radically reduce the amount of wearing time and purchase extremely expensive new lenses. This was really the final push I needed to start looking into Lasik.

Prior to the initial appointment I was instructed to leave my contact lenses out for 48 hours. This is to allow the eye to return to its natural shape - however it had the added effect of reminding me how hideous life without contacts is (those of you who've read my duathlon blog will know how much time I spend in the gym - glasses just drive me crazy they steam up, interfere with my headphone clips when I'm running and generally bounce around!!).

So on to the initial appointment, this involved watching a video which explained all of the many possible adverse side effects and also showed the actual procedure. If the video doesn't put you off (and to be honest it's not pleasant viewing despite all the beautiful people snorkelling and running along beaches in the sun) you then get your eyes measured. This involves looking into a machine which photographs your eye and measures things like corneal thickness. After that it's time to visit the surgeon for a sight test and to ask any questions. To be honest I was pretty unimpressed by the guy I saw, he was very uncommunicative. After testing my vision he then did and eye exam, after which he said he'd like to refer me to an eye doctor to have my retinas examined prior to continuing any discussions about lasik. He said very little about why other than there were some abnormalities he would like to get checked out. In fact I've had my retinas examined some years previously for the same reason (8 years ago in fact while I was still in London) so I wasn't too phased by this as last time it turned out to be nothing. So that was pretty much the end of the first visit, I still had unanswered questions but as the whole thing had now been taken out of my hands until I'd seen someone else about my retinas there seemed little point in pursuing it.