Laser vision correction

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Laser vision correction

Post by DreamensioN » Sun 15 Feb, 2015 3:14 pm

I thought I'd do a write up on my recent experience with getting my eyes lasered. For most of my adult life I've had to wear glasses to correct short sightedness and astigmatism.

For a while now I've been wanting to get my eyes fixed using a permanent corrective procedure. I promised myself the last set of glasses I bought, would be the last pair I ever buy - at least until much later in life. The 3 main reasons I wanted to get my eyes lasered were so:
A) I didn't have to wear/buy glasses anymore
B) I could buy off the shelf sunglasses
C) I no longer had to deal with the issues of owning glasses (such as salt spray, finger prints, fogging up, grease splatter from cooking in the kitchen etc etc)
D) While this isn't an immediate reason - laser corrected vision can't stop the natural degeneration of your eyes as you get older. However, when you do get older and if you do need glasses again, the glasses you do get won't have to be as strong as if you never had the corrected laser treatment.

After a couple of consultations back in November, it was determined that the PRK procedure would be the best (which is good because that's the procedure I wanted - more on this later), and a booking was made for Feb 6th to get my eyes zapped.

There are 3 forms of laser vision correction. Lasik, Lasek and PRK. Lasek is not that common anymore and not many people do it. It also has the slowest of the recovery times (which is another reason it's not popular). Lasik is a procedure where they cut a flap on your eye, move this out of the way, zap the inside of your eye, and replace the flap. It has a very fast recovery period (24hrs). The procedure I had is called PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). This procedure is where they use a laser to basically re-sculpt your cornea by removing layers of cells - effectively changing the shape of your eye to focus the light properly onto your optic nerve. It has a much longer recovery period than Lasik (6 days for discomfort to go away, 3-4 weeks for the majority of your vision to kick in, and up to 6 months for your full corrected vision to kick in) but it is also a longer lasting (and better resulting) procedure than Lasik. People who get the PRK procedure done usually end up with better vision than those with Lasik.

The Procedure
The day of my procedure started off with going to the clinic at my allotted time. After filling out the usual paper for a day surgery procedure, I was taken into a comfortable room, and given a valium and some numbing eye drops. The numbing eye drops stung for about 30 seconds - like if you can imagine someone putting lemon juice in your eyes. But it was a short discomfort and then nothing - the eyes were numb.

About 30 mins later (once the valium done its magic), I was taken to another room where they asked me some verification questions (name, age, what procedure I'm getting done etc) - I'm guessing this was to make sure that the person/paper work/settings on the laser all matched and a mistake hasn't been made along the way. The nurse took a look into my eyes through a machine to ensure the numbing agent had worked, and they used a special pen to put ink dots on my eye. I couldn't feel a thing and just saw something blurry move infront of my eye.

I was then taken to another room where the laser was, and I lay down on the machine and an enclosure was moved around my head. They put something on my eye to hold my eye open, and during this time I was just looking up at some lights and a green dot. They did some swabs of my eye ball (I know it sounds icky but trust me, I couldn't feel a thing), and then I was told to just keep looking at the green dot, and no matter what - just don't look away from it. At this point I could hear the laser machine turned on, and slowly (from the outside in like lens vignetting on a photo), my vision fogged up until the last thing I saw was the green dot right in the middle until that fogged out. That was the last pulse of the laser. All up the laser only went for around 20-30 seconds. They did some stuff to my eye, then washed it with cool water and I could see once again (I later found out that what they did was basically wash away the material that was removed from my eye). They then placed a bandage contact lens on my eye (basically an oversized contact lens), and that was it.

The exact same procedure was done for the other eye, and then I was asked to get up and look around.

Immediately I could tell that my vision was better.

I was helped out of the machine and taken to another room where they explained the eye drops I needed to take over the next 5 days, emergency contact numbers, and the some basic do's and don't's.

I was then walked back out to the waiting area were Jo was waiting to take me home. The whole time from when I walked in, to when I walked out was 2hrs. But the actual time on the laser machine itself was only 10-15min tops.

A follow up appointment was made for the very next morning, they taped plastic protective eye covers on me and then Jo took me home.

The First Night
One of the biggest problems with PRK is glare. For the first afternoon/night I found I was ultra light sensitive. In the car on the way home (at 6pm), I couldn't tolerate any light what-so-ever. I was wearing sunglasses and even then had to wrap a towel around my head. For the next couple of days, I even had to wear sunglasses indoors at home, and I couldn't look directly out any windows because it was just too damn bright.

The first night of the procedure is pretty much a write off. Full of valium all you want to do is sleep - and that's what I did. I arrived home, had enough time to do one set of drops as per instructions, and then I just crashed out.

The following morning, I removed the plastic protective covers, did a set of eye drops, and this time put on two pairs of sunglasses which almost felt like they helped a little with the glare. I literally had one pair of very dark sunglasses, then the oversized ones they gave me over the top of that.

We then drove in for my follow up appointment.

The follow up appointment
At the follow up appointment, they make sure that everything is still ok, there's no sign of infection and they give you an eye test. At this eye test, I could already read the 20/20 vision line and even make out some letters of the next line down.

My next appointment would be at the 5 day mark.

The Recovery
The first 5 days after the operation, I found my sensitivity to glare changed. On the 2nd day it wasn't as bad as the day of the operation. But on the 3rd day it was worse than the 2nd day. I also found that my vision would be good in the mornings, then crap later in the day. And it was constantly foggy with a constant irritation in the eyes. All of this was normal and is part of the recovery process from a PRK procedure - and knowing that the PRK procedure would ultimately lead to better results than Lasik - I was happy to deal with it. The way I can describe the level of discomfort best is - if you can imagine you've been in a pool too long, that had too much chlorine in the water. You know how your vision is foggy and your eyes feel a little irritated. It was basically just that. So it's not a bad discomfort, but, just a constant minor irritation.

Throughout the first 5 days, you can't swim or do any work in the garden/yard. You should avoid dusty areas, and your eyes will be too sensitive to trek outside. I found that if I really really had to go outside I could do it, but it was far more comfortable inside the house, wearing sunglasses. Things like watching the TV at night were also way to bright. Each person is different but for me, most of the time I just wanted to close my eyes to cut out the glare. The first 5 days are also a period where you should really be resting your eyes. Not doing any computer work or reading etc.

Day 5 Appointment
On the 5th day after the operation, I went in for another appointment to get the bandage contacts removed, and another eye test. They removed the protective contacts, and I had another eye test. This time I could clearly read the line that was one better than 20/20 vision, and I could just make out letters of the NEXT line down. The ophthalmologist said this is a great result, and that my vision would only just keep getting better.

For me - that is so much win.

It was explained to me that over the next coming weeks, my vision will be all over the shop. Sometimes my near vision will be good, sometimes my long vision will be good (and near vision shot), sometimes my right eye will be very clear and my left isn't good, and then it'll flip around etc etc, but by around the 3-4 week mark, it should start to stabilise etc.

The reason for this is because light has been refocussed onto my optic nerve, and I'm literally using new cells in my optic nerve that I've never used before. This is all new information for my brain, so the changes in vision is my brain trying to work out what just happened. It totally reminded me of that scene in The Matrix where Neo is like "Why are my eyes sore?".... "Before you've never used them before."

By the 4th day of recovery, I was ok not to wear sunglasses indoors, but when they removed the contact bandages, my eyes got really sensitive and I found I had to go back to wearing sunglasses indoors again for another two days.

It's now been 9 days since I had the procedure done, and my sight is good enough that I can do reading and look at a computer monitor. Right now I wouldn't be comfortable driving a vehicle, and Jo still needs to drive me around if I need to go somewhere, but that is why I took 2 weeks off work to recover for this. I was well aware of the longer recovery time.

My next eye test is in 1 month, and until then I've got to do sets of drops 4 times a day, and take vitamin C supplements. Apparently Vitamin C helps ensure that as my cornea heals, it doesn't haze up. I'm also suppose to wear sunglasses all the time when outside to protect my cornea's from UV light - at least for the first 6 months.

There's no longer any pain or discomfort in my eyes (that all disappeared a day after the bandage contacts were removed).

I'm now just really looking forward to my full corrected vision to come in, and a new pair of off the shelf sunglasses.
Last edited by DreamensioN on Sun 15 Feb, 2015 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by DreamensioN » Sun 15 Feb, 2015 3:19 pm

I should also point out that one of the benefits of PRK is that it can also be "touched up" more readily than a Lasik procedure. So I can actually go back for multiple treatments if I decide I'd rather not go back to wearing glasses in later life. Because Lasik is "invasive", your very limited to how much further correction can be done in later life.

And with the clinic I went through - they have a program where I can go back for further corrections if I need them at a later date, for a heavily discounted rate.

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by dorift » Sun 15 Feb, 2015 8:42 pm

Great write up as always, but I have to say it's not enticing me. I'd heard that you'd had it done, but thought oh well wouldn't work for me. But as it turns out you had what I have - astigmatism. So I was interested for a minute or two, but I think I'll stick to glasses.
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by blv » Sun 15 Feb, 2015 8:51 pm

Nice write up! I have wanted to do this myself, as I wear glasses if my eyes are open (ie, all the time). I just haven't been able to afford it yet but hopefully in 5 or so years I can.

Just a question for you, how bad was your astigmatism prior to having the procedure?
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by iano » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 9:19 am

Wasn't going to mention the specific cost, but as Brendo alluded to I bet it's not cheap.

Very very interesting nonetheless. I've been fortunate with my vision and have never needed corrective lenses. I do find that I'm extremely sensitive to bright or high contrast light though. If I'm not wearing sunglasses outdoors even in overcast weather, my eyes will begin to hurt. Explains my addiction (fetish?) to good quality eyewear.
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by DreamensioN » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 9:52 am

dorift wrote:Great write up as always, but I have to say it's not enticing me. I'd heard that you'd had it done, but thought oh well wouldn't work for me. But as it turns out you had what I have - astigmatism. So I was interested for a minute or two, but I think I'll stick to glasses.
Yeah I was on the fence about it for quite a while. I started thinking I should do it about 4-5yrs ago. One of the criteria is that your eyes have to had been stable for the last 1-2yrs (2yrs preferred). Adult eyes are stable from around the mid 20's to early/mid 40's, then they start to naturally degenerate. One of the reasons I jumped on board now was that I wanted to ensure I could get it done and not miss the boat.

blv wrote:Nice write up! I have wanted to do this myself, as I wear glasses if my eyes are open (ie, all the time). I just haven't been able to afford it yet but hopefully in 5 or so years I can.

Just a question for you, how bad was your astigmatism prior to having the procedure?
I wouldn't call it bad bad, but it was causing me issues. Even with glasses, I could barely read the 20/20 vision line, and that was about as good as they could get my vision with corrective lenses (that didn't look like coke bottles). My glasses were good for what I did everyday (drive, computer screen, just being able to see more clearly) - so for me, that was always just how it was and that was acceptable, and normal.

But now that I've had the laser treatment, it seriously is (for me) like a whole new world has opened up. Just the other day, I was walking into the study, and I noticed a mark on the wall. I thought it was must be new because I had never seen it before. I said to Jo "Have you seen this mark on the wall? How did that happen?" Jo says "Are you kidding? That's been there for years." It's a mark I never even noticed, even with glasses.

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by DreamensioN » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 10:07 am

iano wrote:Wasn't going to mention the specific cost, but as Brendo alluded to I bet it's not cheap.

Very very interesting nonetheless. I've been fortunate with my vision and have never needed corrective lenses. I do find that I'm extremely sensitive to bright or high contrast light though. If I'm not wearing sunglasses outdoors even in overcast weather, my eyes will begin to hurt. Explains my addiction (fetish?) to good quality eyewear.
The cost was $5000 (at $2500 per eye). But that does include everything including all follow up visits, the prescription eye drops etc. The first consultation is free, where they just do an initial assessment (about 30min) to see if you're eligible.

But get this...

During my initial assessment (with the nurse), the said that I had droopy corneas (it's a genetic condition), and that she doesn't think I was eligible for laser eye treatment, but I could get lens implants. She asked me if I would like a follow up appointment with the ophthalmologist to talk about it in more detail. Lens implants are $10k! I was thinking...I'm happy to pay $5k to correct my vision...but $10K? That's a REAL stretch. That's like 20yrs worth of glasses and frames. But I thought I'd go and just have a talk to the ophthalmologist just to find out more detail and then I'd really think about it.

A couple of weeks later I had the ophthalmologist appointment ($200), and he did a full detailed assessment of my eyes - the whole appointment was around 2hrs. Turns out that my corneas are slightly droopy, but they are well within the acceptable range for laser eye treatment. I forget the exact range, but say droopiness is measured on a scale, and if it's above "15" they can't do the laser treatment. Mine were at a 7.

That was good news for me because it meant I didn't have to get ocular lens implants, and that the much MUCH cheaper options of Lasik or PRK were available.

The place I went to (Laser Sight at Spring Hill) have different payment options. I paid cash, but you can go on a 12 month interest free payment plan. One of the reasons I went there was because I had a friend who also went to Laser Sight and it was a word of mouth recommendation.

I also found out in the time between having my ophthalmologist appointment and getting my treatment done, that the guy who was going to do my laser treatment (Dr Peter Stewart) is one of the best in the country, and is the pioneer of Laser eye treatment in Australia. He was also trained under Dr Fred Hollows (the famous Dr who restored eye sight for thousands of people around Australia and the world).

So all that together made me really confident and comfortable with getting the treatment done.

Also just as a note (and a bit of self promotion). If anybody reading this does want to go and get an assessment done at Laser Sight - feel free to drop my name (Noel Fairclough) and say I recommended you. If you do, I get a gift voucher. LOL

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by SecaBoy » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 10:43 am

Thanks for the write up Noel. i've actually been meaning to message you on FB to find out more about it.

Until recently i always thought that if you had astigmatism, then surgery wasnt an option. when i found out it could be done, i was very excited. lol
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by dorift » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 11:34 am

I'm surprised how many astigmatismists there are here lol
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by SecaBoy » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 12:39 pm

it seems to be more and more common these days. i wonder if it is actually more common these days or misdiagnosed?
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by tipper » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 1:35 pm

I looked at this also and went to the same place for the consultations. PRK was the method recommended for me as I do a bit of boxing and this method ends up with a stronger lens over the eye than other options - its cheaper also. The recovery time was an issue for me.

In the end I didn't bother with it and I wear contacts everyday in any case which isn't too bad. One warning I did receive was that being short sighted my sight will improve with age (it has already) and should I have them corrected I would more likely need reading glasses for short distance later in life and I think that would be worse.

Noel, have you been told this?

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by cGr » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 3:11 pm

I'd love laser vision, I would shoot the birds and possums which invade my home and deface my balcony, and the idea of a 'death stare' would carry a much more sinister meaning...

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by tipper » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 3:25 pm

I'd like the 911 in your avatar!

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by cGr » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 3:54 pm

Charge $5000 to shine a laser in someones eyes and I reckon you could afford one fairly quickly...

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by Ted » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 5:03 pm

Were you around Inala last night Cam? Shining lasers around.

I looked into this a while ago (back in Lasik times) and decided against it. My eyesight problems are pure astigmatism (about 4.0). This was never an issue for me till I was in my twenties. In fact, even with motor racing I didn't wear glasses while driving till I was 29. Gee it was a revelation. I still clearly remember the day I saw the apex at QR for the first time. Wondered how I got by before.

But one thing that Noel says, I can back up. In the last couple of years, my eyesight has started to develop the old age syndrome. So now I am slightly short sighted. My current glasses are only just over a year old and are already the wrong prescription in that my short sightedness has worsened slightly. In the past 2 years, I have gone from having no problems, to needing reading glasses or multi focals soon (well really now). Twice in the last 2 weeks I have had to ring Jackie up while lost as I couldn't read the screen on my equally ageing iphone4. Had to again this morning out the back of Wacol, and last week when I somehow found myself on the wrong side of the new tram lines in Southport (I was trying to get to Porsche GC, you'd think this would be autopilot). When it first started going bad 2 yrs ago, I actually gave up a drive at Sandown in a 911 because I was secretly a bit worried about my eyesight.

So those of you thinking about anything like this, ageing eyes are a real issue. BTW with glasses, my long vision is absolutely brilliant and I can read eyecharts in the next room. But the transition from long to short vision now takes longer than it used to (ie reading the speedo) and I fear my chance of any surgery is gone. No problem really though, I am happy enough wearing glasses.
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by cGr » Mon 16 Feb, 2015 7:14 pm

Ted wrote:Were you around Inala last night Cam? Shining lasers around.
If I got you in the eyes, you owe me $2500 an eye.

I should stop joking, I've had very good eyesight all my life, and I've been lucky to not need any eyewear to help me see. Given the technology advancements for eyes (and knees and hips and whatever else), I'm happy that other people can ditch what is a nuisance (if you need to keep glasses clean/cant see without them), or can resolve (some) issues for others (eg transition from light to dark/near to far) more easily.

That all said, its going to be very weird seeing Noel/anyone who I've known to always wear glasses, not wearing glasses anymore. It really does become a part of someones 'look', and to a degree, their personality.

Hope the recovery continues to go well Noel, and that you don't notice too many more marks in the wall (the one near the door to your wine collection about half way up the door jam on the left was Bostock, not me).

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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by dorift » Tue 17 Feb, 2015 6:25 am

Echo what ted says; my eyes were fine until my twenties, when friends and family started giving me grief about squinting watching TV or reading. Went for an eye test and no apparent issues. Wasn't until a couple years later they diagnosed astigmatism and explained that the squinting was helping me focus. So I've only been wearing glasses full-time for a handful of years, but can't really survive without them now. I lack a depth perception without them, but can otherwise manage if I don't have them on.
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by iano » Tue 17 Feb, 2015 8:32 am

Just looked up what astigmation is. Gave sample images of how out of focus objects can get.

God that must suck :| , does it make taking photos slightly more difficult?
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by blv » Tue 17 Feb, 2015 9:12 am

I have trouble with depth perception and catching things thrown at me, even with glasses.

Because I don't have huge wraparound glasses, if an object (cricket ball, keys, etc) are thrown and aren't in the lens area, by the time I move my head and try to focus its too late.

If I don't have my glasses on, I struggle to read speed limit signs, I have no hope with actual street name signs and even riding my bike is hard, as it's difficult to determine how big and what shape obstacles are.

My astigmatism is bad enough that I struggle to find a brand of contacts that makes them powerful enough to correct it. So most of the time, contacts aren't as good as glasses for me anyway.

It was pretty cheap to have the LASIK done in the UK, converted to AU$ in 2009 it was about $3k for both eyes, but back then, they said it wasn't the best for astigmatism.
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Re: Laser vision correction

Post by Ted » Tue 17 Feb, 2015 12:40 pm

No problems taking photos with auto focus. But I don't have auto focus, so yes it can be a problem.

I have been on a rangefinder for 3years now and have had no problems. My astigmatism has actually improved/reduced since I stopped sitting in front of a computer screen under fluoro lights day in day out. However, the onset of the short sightedness has made focussing close harder. My lenses have a minimum focussing distance of 0.7m and 0.9m and at this point I NEED to pick out something with sharp distinct lines in order to focus. If I can't, then I have to guess or pick something close to focus on.

I don't wear glasses in the water, and don't have a problem after a couple of minutes unless I need to find something small. Its quite weird in that I am happy enough without my glasses on in the water and can function quite OK. Similarly if I don't wear my glasses when I wake up, I find I can read better than if I had worn my glasses and then take them off. I guess the eyes adjust slightly.
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