In September 2007, I underwent LASIK laser eye surgery with Ultralase in Birmingham. As a relatively active member of the Something Awful forums, I wrote an account of my experiences on the day and posted it in the General Bullshit subforum on September 19th, two days after the operation.
I spent Monday morning at work and was surprisingly not all that nervous. This carried on through to the afternoon, when my Dad and I arrived at Ultralase about half an hour early. Not being able to find a pub to get some Dutch courage down me, we sat in the waiting room until I was called through.
The optometrist there took another average measurement of my pupil size, and I was then taken through to the preparation room by the surgery technician. Here we went through some questions (my name, date of birth, what treatment I was having etc.) to make sure that they had the right person.
The technician then showed me the medication that I would need to take after the operation. Four bottles of eye drops (two types of medication, but one bottle for each eye) and two bottles of artificial tears.
The eye drops, he said, need to be taken once every two hours until the end of Wednesday, then you need to take them once every four hours for the next 7 days after that. The artificial tears are just to be taken when required, if at all.
He then showed me a pair of plastic eyeshields. I’ll need to wear these shields every night for the next two weeks, to stop me from rubbing my eyes in my sleep.
After all was said and done, I just needed to sign the consent form, put some “bin bags” over my shoes to keep the floor in the theatre sterile, and then have my eyes marked with iodine and anaesthetised.
I was placed under the laser machine, which was quite uncomfortable as it meant looking straight into a load of bright white LEDs. I noticed a flashing red LED and a flashing green LED also.
The surgeons put a shield over my left eye and put me under the “Intralase” laser which is what cuts the flap in the cornea. They told me that they were going to put a pressure ring on my eye that would increase the pressure in my eyes and that it would feel uncomfortable but it wouldn’t last long.
I saw the ring come down but didn’t feel it go on the eye until the machine started increasing the pressure – it felt like my eye was being forced into my head. It was incredibly uncomfortable, and eventually there was a sound like a can of Coke being opened. I have no idea what this sound was (I was hoping they’d tell me at every step, it would have helped me relax) but I am guessing it was a blade coming across to actually make the flap. I could see but it was very very blurry.
They then repeated the process for the other eye (swapping the shield over, natch) and then it was time for the laser correction. The surgeons told me that the worst bit was over – how wrong they were 😛 They put a clamp in my eye (to hold it open so that I couldn’t blink) and it started.
During the procedure, I could see a flashing red light and a steady green light. Again, I could see but they were telling me to focus on the red light which wasn’t easy as it was blurry and kept moving about. This meant I was moving my eyes all over the shop and they had to keep telling me to keep my eyes still – never an easy task, for me at least. My eyes’ default resting position seems to be looking straight up rather than straight ahead.
The laser itself is visible but only as a flashing blue light. This surprised me, as it supposedly fires at quite a high rate (it pulses rather than a constant beam) so I expected the “fire rate” (Hz) to be higher than I’d be able to detect. With each flash there was a cracking sound. Supposedly it smells like burnt bacon at this point because of your eye being burnt away, but I made sure to breathe through my mouth rather than my nose.
After only a few minutes, all of the correction was carried out. They repeated the process for the other eye, and then it was all over.
It was incredibly uncomfortable throughout, but it wasn’t pain. The discomfort was mainly caused by having my eye clamped open and not being able to blink, despite wanting to. Also having copious amounts of water dripped into my eye and then seeing their swabs wiping the surface of the eye clean. The urge to blink was ridiculously strong, I was hoping the anaesthetic would take care of it all.
After the procedure, I could see but it was stupidly blurry and I couldn’t keep my eyes open for longer than a second – presumably that was because they had just been clamped open for minutes at a time and wanted to rest.
The ride home with my Dad was basically just me with sunglasses on and a jumper over my head to keep the light out, with my eyes closed and a handkerchief stuck to my nose.
When I got home I had to put drops in my eyes. This was not an easy task, as I couldn’t see clearly at all, and as it was dark I couldn’t turn the light on because I was too light sensitive. I managed it though, and after managing to tape the eyeshields to my face (picture to follow) I went to bed. I didn’t sleep, but I at least rested my eyes.
Which led through to yesterday. I woke up in the morning and everything was really blurry. “Shit”, I thought, “it hasn’t worked.”.
After a moment’s panic, I realised I still had the eyeshields on and that I was looking through plastic. I took the shields off and it was like an epiphany. Fantastic. I went for the checkup yesterday and they’re healing really well and my vision should get even better in the next few days.
So, in summary, I could not go through with the procedure again (it was far more uncomfortable than I expected) but I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who needs it. So far I think I’ve gotten off lightly, I’ve not had any dryness or irritation.