• My LASIK exprience

    Sitting down to write this post I realised that I hadn't actually shared any of my LASIK journey on the blog. I have spent quite a bit of time on social media talking about wanting to get it and then sharing my LASIK experience on there, but somehow it just didn't make it to the blog.  This is going to be a long post so if you are interested, grab a cup of coffee / tea and get comfotable. So let me play catch-up quickly for those of you who had no idea that I was interested in getting LASIK done.
    First off, I have been wearing glasses for just over 2 years now.  The "strange" thing with me is that only my left eye is weak - what that means for me is that I struggle constantly with vertigo / lightheaded feeling and headaches.  At the end of each day the left side of my head would always feel so sore and my eye would sometime ache.  I had trouble seeing far so it meant that I always had to wear glasses to make sure I could see clearing around me - so there just was no way for me to give my eye a break during the day to help ease my headaches.  Anyway, long story short - I just had enough and decided to book an appointment to see if I am a candidate for LASIK surgery to correct the vision in my eye.  To keep this from being a too long a post, I will add a link where you can read up on all the medical information (Click here). I want this post to be about my experience of the operation and post-op care (which is a point that I personally wasn't actually 100% clued up on).

    Okay, so this brings me to the beginning of January, I did some googling of the top LASIK surgeons in Cape Town and booked my appointment to have the necessary first tests done to see if I can have LASIK - the screening checks the size of your pupils, thickness of your cornea and if the shape of your eye is suitable for the operation. The screening appointment is free of charge and if you are a suitable candidate you are told about the procedure in detail and the various LASIK options.  Now again, I want to keep this short so in layman's terms - Option 1 - they use a blade to cut a flap in your cornea and the LASIK machine is pre-programmed to correct your vision based on the weakness of your eye. This means your vision is corrected in a similar way to which your glasses or contact lenses correct your vision (this option was R10000 per eye when I was quoted).  Option 2 - similar to option 1 however, the LASIK machine is programmed with your eye's specific information and corrects your vision in a customised way (this option was R11000 per eye when I was quoted). Option 3 - involves no cutting, the machine corrects your vision through the cornea (this option was R17000 per eye when I was quoted).  I decided to go for option 2 because of cost and my cornea was more than thick enough to ensure good recovery.

    After my first appointment I booked a second more thorough round of testing.  They do the same tests as per the first session to make 100% sure that I am a suitable candidate for the surgery and once that is confirmed there is a battery of machines they put you through.  For this appointment someone needs to be with you (to drive you home) as your eyes will be dilated to allow the machines to properly record your eye.  This means that your pupils cannot contract or tighten to adjust the amount of light that enters your eyes - you cannot see properly when you are the light, everything is VERY bright and blurry. You can still see around you but it is blurry and uncomfortable in the sunlight. So book this appointment for a day where you don't have anything to do. When I booked the second appointment I wasn't aware that I would have my eyes dilated.  I had booked mine for late in the afternoon to not disrupt my work too much - but I didn't have a ride home which meant that I really struggled to get myself home safely.  That appointment is about an hour long - they take many scans of your eyes, do pressure tests, check the weakness of your vision and do a whole other hosts of checks - but none of them are painful. The machines do have bright lights which can be a little bit overwhelming because your eyes are dilated, but there isn't any pain.

    So after all that and confirming all was good, I booked my surgery date.  This took me into March already because the surgeon was away on international conference trips for most of February.  The wait was rather frustrating because once I set my mind on getting something done I want it done as soon as possible, I don't like "prolonging agony" so I am the type that will be the first to jump off a diving board or the first to go for presentations, because I just want to get it over with. Sitting waiting in agony for my turn is something I hate. Anyway, my appointment was booked for the end of March, the Wednesday before the Easter weekend, which I specifically chose because you need 3 - 5 days of staying out of bright light and because your vision fluctuates initially, you can't drive a car.

    Leading up to the op, you can do basically anything you want, the main thing is that you may not wear your contact lenses up to 2 weeks before the operation.  Otherwise you can eat or do anything you like pretty much. The first thing you need to be aware of is that you are awake throughout the procedure.  You will see everything that is done to your eye, the only short time where "the world goes dark" is when the laser machine does its zapping - for me that was 9 seconds of a 10 minute procedure.

    Arriving for the operation you have to hand in a signed indemnity form, this is given to you when you have your second session. This form is SCARY as hell, it explains what you are getting done and absolutely everything that could potentially go wrong. You have to acknowledge that you understand the risks and are willing to take them...basically signing your eyesight away, is what it feels like.  If you are not prepared to sign it, they will not operate on you. Once that is handed over, you are given some Valium to calm you down and that is it - no other medication.  You are then covered in gowns, special socks and have to wear a hair net. They clean the area around your eye and a few drops of numbing eye drops are applied as well as a sterilising eye drop.  If you aren't comfortable with people putting eye drops in your eye, you are going to have a tough time. This op is on your eye so they are going to be putting drops in and even toughing your eye - be prepared.  I am okay with my eyeball being touched because I have worn contact lenses previously so it doesn't bother me.

    It feels like an eternity waiting to be called into the operating room (the surgeon was also running late so I waited over an hour for him), when he arrived, I walked myself into the room which was quite dark. I climbed onto a very comfy chair. The room is really cool so the nurses covered me in a blanket and my head was gently clamped still - it is however a beanbag type of clamp so I found it very comfortable.  Your eye area is cleaned again, a few more numbing drops are given into the eye and then it starts.  My lashes were taped back and then a clamp was inserted into my eye to keep it open - it isn't sore but rather just a weird feeling. They get it in quickly so as long as you don't fight it, I am sure it is okay.  Then the doctor applies some stuff to the eye ball - I was so nervous that I didn't ask what was being done - and they bring a thing in that goes very snug against the eye ball. I could feel pressure on my eye but no pain at all.  This was the attachment for the blade and I could actually see when the blade slid across my eye - yes, I saw it cut into my eye...ha ha. And no it did not hurt at all.  When that was removed from my eye the doctor then flapped my cornea over so that the laser machine could come in. When my cornea was flapped open, my vision went VERY blurry.  When the laser machine was over my eye everything was black and I could here it working - it only took 9 seconds to correct my vision.  After that, the surgeon flapped my cornea back and a lot of time was spent ensuring my flap my flap and aligned.  It looked like a little spatula over my eye.  I could feel some light pressure on my eye but again, no pain whatsoever. After they were done with eye a protective contact lens was placed in my eye to make sure that my flap stayed flat.

    I had a cup of tea in the waiting room and the nurse brought me my post op care kit.  She also put some more drops in my eye to disinfect it again.  Post op care is really extensive.  On the day of the op and the day after it, you have to apply eye drops to your eyes every 10 minutes. This gets very tiresome, one doesn't realise how frustrating it is until you have to keep your eye on the time to apply it.  I eventually was just adding every few minutes to avoid living on a timer.  The eye drops are VERY important because the flap has to be kept moist to ensure it doesn't dry up and "crinkle up". If that happens it can't be reattached.  So out of fear of that happening, I made sure I applied my eye drops more than suggested - I wasn't prepared to take any risks.  I use normal Cellufresh "tears" eye drops as well as two medicinal ones - one is an antibacterial and the other an anti-inflammatory. These medicinal drops have to be used 4 times a day to ensure that my eye doesn't get an infection. I haven't had any problems with my eye and experience very little swelling.  I did have a tiny bit of bleeding during the op but that has all cleared up now.
    For two weeks you have to sleep with a protective cup over your eye to make sure you don't rub your eye during the night - this can also cause the flap to be pulled loose.  Basically as a rule of thumb, I just didn't touch my eye and made sure that I applied eye drops all the time.  My eye healed very well, it was sensitive but I never experienced much (if any) pain. Some discomfort on the first 2 days but I honestly can't complain.  The best thing is that driving home after the op, I could actually already see better, I couldn't believe it and JP was quite amused by my reactions.

    It is going on 4 weeks since my operation and I am absolutely thrilled with my results. I still have to use my eye drops every day but now I apply them 4 times a day instead of every hour.  I also have some of my medicinal drops left and have to use them until both bottles are empty. But otherwise, I am doing well and my eye no longer feels sensitive when I wash my face or touch my eye lid. I however am mindful of not touching my eye and don't rub it at all.  I have to continue my "tears" drops for another 2 weeks, then it won't be necessary to use them.

    All the costs came to just over R12000 and I feel it is money well spent.  My quality of life has improved significantly and just the whole novelty of being able to wear sunglasses again makes me so happy.  I did this to improve my headaches and vertigo - I am so happy with my results.  I was due to get a new pair of glasses and roughly worked out the costs of the glasses as well as prescription sunglasses - the costs were hitting around R10000 for an average pair - for R2000 more I could get the surgery and not have to worry about glasses at all.  The thing to keep in mind is that medical aid will not pay anything towards the surgery so if you want to have LASIK you have to be prepared to cover ALL the costs yourself.  If both eyes are weak, you have to double the costs - I was "lucky" that only one of my eyes was weak.

    Anyway, that is my LASK experience. It was mostly painless and improved the quality of my life in such a substantial way.  I wish I had done it sooner!  If you have any questions please leave a comment below or you can pop me an email.

    Big Hugs,
    Charlene XXX

    PS. I had my LASIK done at the Tygervalley Eye and Laser Clinic.

    9 comments:

    1. I've been wearing glasses for 7 years or more... can't really remember. I've been seriously considering some sort of surgery, but oh my word, your account freaks me out. Not your fault! Just imagining actually seeing the procedure done on your own eye must be insane and I'm the sort of person who hates my eyeballs being touched. Thanks for all the information - definitely something I had to read before embarking (if I ever do) on a surgery like this.

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      1. Honestly, it was the best thing that I could have done. I am so happy I did it. I was trying to upload my Snapchat stories that captured me "in the moment" after the op and the day afterwards. I wasn't trying to put people off by the detail, but I thought it best to share the details that aren't very clear. The thing to remember is that the operation is very short - so you'll get through it :)

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    2. Ah I am so glad you took the time to explain the process. I have been considering it for some time now as I too only started wearing glasses two years ago. Never had any issues until one day I sat in front of the TV like squinting like Clint Eastwood. I hate wearing my glasses!

      I have to admit, it is quite gory and scary but it does seem well worth it in the long run.

      If you would'nt mind - will you send me the details of the doctor / practice you decided on?

      Thanks again for sharing!

      L*

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      1. It is definitely well worth it. I did include the name of the clinic at the end of the post but will see if I can pop you an email :) Glad I could help some people with this post.

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    3. I'm glad you are doing so well after the op. I also agree it was money well spent😀

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      1. Thank you so much Sibahle. It was definitely money well spent. Already saving money on pain meds as I don't get daily headaches anymore.

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    4. Well done on doing the OP! Went for mine 2 years ago, and it was so scary that you are awake while the laser is busy...but SO WORTH IT! Enjoy!

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      1. I am still so in awe of the fact that I can see things clearly all the time. And people are noticing my eye makeup now...hahaha

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    5. Thanks for sharing this. I'm trying to decide if I should get Lasik at home or in Los Angeles. Seems like it's the same price. Thanks for sharing tour experience. Very helpful

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