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Philip's Ravings

IntraLase LASIK (aka, laser eye surgery)

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I had my eyes lasered yesterday (3/12/2009) to correct my short sighted vision (myopia). I had an astigmatism and both my eyes were around -4.

I decided to get it done mostly because of my motorcycling. I can't wear contact lenses on a track, because the forces keep pulling them off the centre of my eyeballs, leaving me blinded for 30 to 45 second or so. Have you tried approaching a corner, braking hard, and then almost loosing all vision? You have to do the rest of the corner based on your memory of it.
Glasses are a pain. It often feels like two bits of wire being shoved in my face real hard. Glasses were not comfortable.

Playing squash was also difficult. I often found my contact lenses would drift off centre, and so in the middle of a game I would be left unable to focus on the ball for 30s to 45s at a time. Usually I just lost the round when that happened. You just can't take your eye of the ball for that long! And glasses had their own problems.

Swimming. Well I often wore goggles and contacts. But I have also lost contact lenses several times when the goggles came off or got filled with water. And you can't wear glasses while swimming.

So I decided it was time to correct these issues so I wouldn't have any more obstructions to enjoying life.

The whole process started about three weeks ago when I went along to my first visit to the Auckland Eye Clinic.

They sat me in front of a couple of fancy machines, and effectively created a 3D map of my eyes. They did a few more measurements, and then told me I was a good candidate for having my eyes lasered. They explained the risks, and what the procedure involved.
They then said to have a think about it, and if I was still interested to call back.

This whole procedure was done by someone with the job title of "technician".

About a week later I gave them a call back, and said I would like to proceed. One thing to note is that you can't wear contact lenses for at least two days prior to having the scans done, as it affects the shape of your eyes.
I had exactly the same scans and measurements done again (however the data from these scans are put onto their "production" system). This was also done by a technician.

However this time I was then sent to a surgeon (Dr Sue Ormond), who examined the scans, and did a simple eye chart test.
She then explain the risks again, the likely outcome, the procedure, and a little bit about what would happen after the operation.

So my appointment for the surgery was booked in about three weeks later.
I had pretty much decided to only wear glasses after my first appointment, but you can't wear contact lenses for at least two pays prior to the surgery.

So yesterday I arrived at Auckland Eye ready for my operation (aka, laser eye surgery).

At this point you fork over your cash ($5900 to get two eyes done).
Then you wait a short while, and a nurse comes and gets you.

You get the normal nurse check list (are you allergic to anything, ...). She explained what was about to happen.
I was given a cup with about 5 pills in it, can't remember what they all were except one. You can optionally choose to have a sedative. After surgery, till the next morning, you aren't allowed to read, watch TV, use a computer - basically use your eyes. The sedative dumbs downs your senses, so you can sit like a vegetable or sleep easier (I chose sleep).

If you take the sedative you should have someone with you for the following 12 hours. This is because your brain is not running in top gear, and you might do something dumb like burn yourself on the stove due to your slowed reflexes.
In my case, I didn't have anyone to look after myself, but I told the nurse I understood the risks, and would like to accept them anyway. I was planning on sleeping when I got home.

I also had what felt like a zillion eye drops put in my eyes. Basically they start putting bits of your eyes to sleep so you don't feel any pain.

The nurses also gives me a gown to put on, which goes over your clothes and shoes. I asked if it was to keep the filth from the operating theatre off my shoes, but apparently it is the other way around.

Next the nurse lead me into a room adjacent to the operating theatre. A short wait entailed, and then I was taken into the theatre. As expected, there is a bed you lie down on.

I was feeling a bit dis-orientated by this stage. I'm sure another zillion drops were put into my eyes.

Over the bed are two lasers. One cuts your eye, and the other does the actual zapping to fix your vision.

So they position you under the cutting laser first. I might not have the order of everything right here.

But basically they tape back your eyelids and lower eyebrow. A suction cup machine gets inserted on top of your eyeball. Thanks to all the drops, this does not hurt.
They turn on the suction cup machines, and you eyeball is sucked flat against a plate. At this point in time, you pretty much loose vision in your eye.
Next the cutting laser runs for around 20s. You can hear it working.
Then they turn off the suction cup machine (at which time I regained some vision), and remove the suction cup from your eye.

At this point in time you now have a "flap" cut into your eye.

The table you are lying on rotates, and they spin it around a little so you are now lying under the second laser.

All sorts of shit was squirted into my eye. I think they might have been cleaning it.

While looking up I could see red and green lights. They tell me to look into the middle of the red lights.
The laser kicks in, and you can hear it running. There was a faint smell of burning, but only faint.
I would guess it took about 20s, and it was done.

Then a whole lot of stuff got squirted into my eye again. More eye drops. And it felt like they were brushing my eye with a cotton bud. I'm sure it was something a bit flasher.
At this point you can see.

The whole procedure is repeated for the second eye.

Next a set of plastic "cups" are taped over your eyes. This is to prevent you from touching them.

Now your done, and they take you out to wait in another room. You're offered a tea or coffee. I was feeling a bit dis-orientated, so I asked to just still still for a couple of minutes.
After that, a nurse took me back out to meet the person who was giving me a lift home.

The whole procedure took around 20 minutes.

You can not drive home after the procedure!

As expected, when I got home I went to bed. It was easy to sleep with the sedative. I would estimate I slept for 19 hours, although I did wake up a few times in between (I was real hungry!).

I was given some pain killers (paracetamol+codeine), but didn't really need them. It felt like wearing contacts for just a little bit too long. A little irritating, but not too bad.

Anyway when I woke up in the morning I took off the taped on plastic covers from my eyes.
My vision was noticeably sharp, but a little cloudy.

During the next couple of hours the cloudiness slowly disappeared.
At this point in time I would say my vision is pretty good, but not perfect.

Next I had the follow up appointment with the surgeon (about 24 hours after the procedure). She checked my vision, and said it was close to 20/20, but would get closer and closer to it over the next week or so. She booked me in for another check in two weeks time, so she could make sure my vision was now perfect.

She also gave me an eye site certificate so I could get the endorsement removed from my licence.

I have goggles to wear to bed at night time for one week, to make sure I don't poke or rub my eyes while sleeping.
I also have to avoid swimming and sports for a week. Basically I just need to take it easy for a week while my eyes continue to heal.

And that brings me to now. One day after the laser eye surgery. Things are pretty good. I'm really happy with my investment of $5900, and can't wait to start enjoying like more without the hassles of contact lenses or glasses.

If your thinking about it - just do it!

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  1. kiwifruit's Avatar
    Thanks for the write up, keep us posted with progress!
  2. YellowDog's Avatar
    Yup, I remember the burning smell. Took one week before the scar tissue subsided and vision has been perfect ever since (5 years ago). I don't remember any clouding, but that is probably related to the scar tissue.

    As well as the vision correction and astigmatism, I had the wave front traetment to get rid of thoseannoying halos around lights at night.

    Would recommend it too.

    Good luck.
  3. p.dath's Avatar
    It's been three weeks now since my initial surgery, and just recently had my second check up.

    My left eye is perfect. My right eye (which was -4) is now -1. It appears a band of dryness has developed over the front of my right eye, which is affecting my vision. -1 is much better that the prior -4 though.

    At this stage the surgeon has said my vision in my right hand eye will probably become perfect when the band of dryness has resolved itself, and I have another check up in a month to see how it is progressing.
  4. heyjoe's Avatar
    I have been thinking about this for a while and have found your comments and blog most informative. Thanks for the write up.
  5. jono035's Avatar
    Very good write up, thanks. I'm a candidate for this treatment but my eyesight isn't bad enough to really warrant it.

    How are things now, anything else you've noticed? Has the dryness in your right eye resolved itself?
  6. R-Soul's Avatar
    I had it done when the cutting was still with a blade and the rest with a laser.

    The day after when I woke up, HELL my eyes were sensitive to light. I swear I was sitting with my head under my duvet and I could still see the bright sunshine outside.

    The first few days I was long sighted. Apparently they over coorrect, and then as it heals, it goes a bit more shortsighted again and returns to (close to) perfect. I felt like a freaking eagle with my longsightedness. I could read licence plates hundreds of meters away! I loved it! I was almost a bt disappointed when it when back to normal...
    My whole world opened up from a relatively shorts sighted bubble to a real world.

    I do howevre, recommend to any students that they complete their studies before having this done. The long nights and much reading just stuffs with your sight again.
  7. no_8wire's Avatar
    I too am considering going and getting the laser treatment done. Figure its worthwhile doing if I have the cash for the improvement in quality of life...and not having to worry about glasses!

    Has the bad eye come right yet?
  8. p.dath's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by no_8wire
    I too am considering going and getting the laser treatment done. Figure its worthwhile doing if I have the cash for the improvement in quality of life...and not having to worry about glasses!

    Has the bad eye come right yet?
    My eyesight is now perfect. I just wish I had done it 10 years earlier. It has changed so many aspects of my life for the better, in ways that I find difficult to describe.