Yesterday I had laser eye surgery, there is plenty of info around about it but it doesn't really cover what to expect, at least it didn't for me, so here is a short diary of my experience, broken down by stages.
Before the actual surgery day, there is a fair bit of eye checking done. I had appointments a few weeks out and then on the morning of the surgery day (basically going over the same tests again). If you've had eye checks before then most of them will be very similar. However there are a few extra tests that involve placing instruments onto your eye ball to measure pressure and other things. You get a local anaesthetic for this, so it doesn't hurt, but it still feel a bit wierd. Other than that the preliminary tests are pretty straight forward.
On the surgery day, I had a morning appointment to re-do the prescription part of the examinations done previously. I guess this is to check you eyes haven't changed and that the planned surgery is still the correct one. This was a very quick appointment for me,
Later that day was the surgery appointment. This took about an hour and a half all up, from arrival, having surgery and leaving. When I arrive I had to fill in some forms (and pay) and was then given some medication. A couple of panadols and valium. I've never had valium before, and to be honest, I couldn't tell if it did anything or not. I was also dressed up in a gown and hat and booties, over the top of my normal clothes and shoes, and the nurse prepped my eyes with some anaesthetic and swabbed around them with disinfectant of some sort. Once in the surgery, you lay down on a bed in between 2 laser machines, and get some more drops in your eyes ... not sure what these drops are, but probably stringer anaesthetic(?). The surgeon puts a little clamp on your eyelids to hold them open quite wide. By this stage your eyes are pretty numb, so it just feels wierd. One laser does the cutting of the cornea to make a flap, and the othe rdoes the actual modification of your eyeball. The cornea cutting laser is probably the most distressing part of the whole procedure as it pushes quite hard on your eye ball, and I felt myself tense each time it did it pushed down. It only takes about 10-15 seconds to perform the cut, but it is quite unpleasant, maybe thats what the valium is for :P
After the cornea is cut, you can feel the bed move over to the other laser and it is placed into position. The actual modifcation is over pretty quick, although it makes a nasty burning smell (fried eyeball ... yum!), and you can't really see anything for the most part. There is a green flashing light that you focus on, but most of the time you can't actually see it, or it is just a massive blurry disco light. I was told to keep the eye not being operated on open during the procedure, but this was pretty difficult and it closed a lot of the time.
Once the cutting part is over, the surgeon pushes the cornea flap back down. I had both my eyes lasered, so the above was done one after the other. Once the cornea flap is back in place the process is done and I was taken out to the surgeons office where he did a double check that everything was in place. I then had some clear plastic shields taped over my eyes and sent home with some sleeping tablets and some panadol and eye drops. At this point my vision was pretty hazy, like a fog was everywhere, but I could see that everything was in focus.
The most uncomfortable part of the whole process occurred for me on the way home, as the anaesthetic wore off my eyes sytarted to sting ... a lot. Think about getting soap in your eyes and multiply it about 10 times and that is about as painful as it is. Its not so bad that you can't sleep, but even with the valium and extra sleeping tablets, it was enough to keep me awake for an hour or so. I slept for about 4 hours then woke up with my eyes still stinging. I took some more panadol and had dinner and went straight back to sleep.
I woke up again at about 12 oclock with no eye pain at all, but with pretty fuzzy vision, even discoutning the eye shields. I was only awake for about half an hour before falling asleep again. When I woke up, at about 6:30am, my eyes felt pretty good, no pain, but they took half a minute or so to clear. I had a look out the window and could see the horizon clearly, which was pretty wierd, its usually just a blur. Covering one eye then the other, the left was pretty much perfectly sharp, the right is a little out of focus, but sharp enough to see. The right is also a little bruised (red patches) and it is expected that it will take a few days for your eyes to fully recover, so hopefully it will go into a similar state as the left one currently is.
Its only been 24 hours since the operation, but I am pretty happy with how it is working out, I'll update in a few weeks when everything is stable. I am currently on a course of drops every 3 hours, and have to wear the clear shields when sleeping for a few nights. I also can't play any sports or swim for a few weeks, but its a small price to pay for being able to see properly.