In Which I See The Light : My Laser Eye Surgery Consultation

I have been rather short-sighted for most of my life. It hasn’t really bothered me all that much, but still, it’s a bit inconvenient, and I’ve always had a hankering to get my eyes fixed. Back when I first looked at it, it was a rather new thing in the UK, and I decided that I’d pass, with it not being worth that chance of something going wrong.

A few weeks ago I was wandering through Norwich when I saw a sign outside Optical Express offering laser eye surgery at a vaguely affordable price, and on the spur of the moment I popped in to get some written information. Having talked it over with my friends and family, I finally decided to book a consultation, which I’ve just returned from.

It was all fairly painless. A bit of form-filling, and a lot of staring into various machines for a couple of hours. Also much chatting with the absolutely gorgeous and intelligent optical technician doing the scanning, who did a great job of putting my mind at ease (though the same could not be said for my pulse).

I was given some eye drops to dilate my pupils, and wow, I have had awesome bedroom eyes ever since. The drawback is that everything is far too bright, and my close up vision became terrible, with or without glasses. That seems to be wearing off now, but it made for a slightly squinty walk home.

After all the scans, I was reluctantly passed on to another optician who explained all the various laser surgery options to me. The actual procedure will be done by a laser-surgeon, whom I’ll meet on the day.

I’m going for the Advanced CustomVue Wavefront option. They do a basic laser surgery option that’s a lot cheaper, but I am deeply reluctant to skimp on something like my eyes. The Wavefront system not only deals with your short-sightedness, but also fixes up all sorts of other little defects in your eye. As it turned out that I have a fair few of those, it seems worthwhile, especially as most people who use Wavefront end up with better than 20/20 vision. As everyone’s eyes deteriorate with age anyway, having that extra wiggle-room seems like a good idea.

The part of the operation that scared me is the very beginning, where they have to cut your cornea to lift a flap, making the hole through which to shoot the lasers. I’d imagined that this was going to involve a doctor poking my eye with a knife. As you might know, I’m massively phobic of knives and blood, so I was very worried I might not be able to keep my eye still. Actually, I was also slightly concerned I might freak out, dive out of the chair, knock the doctor to the floor, and run screaming down the corridor. That would be an extreme panic response, but well within the realms of possibility for me and pointy objects.

Turns out, it doesn’t involve anything obviously knife shaped. A little circular suction device goes on the eye, it whirs a bit, and you’re done. I should be OK with that.

There is actually a more advanced option where they make the flap using another laser instead, but that costs an extra £300 an eye, which seems utterly unreasonable to me. It obviously would not cost them anything like that to use their laser rather than the mechanical thing, and I do get a bit annoyed when things are given a premium price for no good reason, especially where improved clinical outcomes are concerned.

In a similar vein, even though the laser part of the operation is going to take about 20 seconds per eye, if that, it turns out that my left eye is going to cost £200 more than my right, because it’s weaker. I am deeply doubtful that there is any good reason why my left eye should cost more to do.

Anyhows, it’s going to cost me a fair bit more than I expected. The costs quoted in the prospectus seem to be a very best case scenario, so you should expect to end up paying over that. I decided to go ahead with it anyway. I’m worth it! If I take into account all the glasses and contact lenses I won’t need to buy, maybe it’ll actually save me money in the long run. I keep telling myself that! The price includes a lot of after-care, so I guess it’s not too bad.

I saw no point in not having it done as soon as possible, so at 12:30 pm on the 7th of June, I’ll be getting my eyes zapped by Optical Express. I’ll let you know how I get on. I’m terribly nervous, but also rather excited. The last year has been full of life-changes for me, and this will be yet another positive step, I hope.

In some ways I’m going to rather miss wearing glasses. They’ve been a part of me for so long, and are kind of part of the geek uniform. I might pick up some nice sunglasses in a similar style, of the sort that adjust to light levels. That’ll give me something to hide behind when I feel the need!

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