I Swear By (And Swear At) The Man Who Gave Me 20-20 Vision

By Lauren Booth

Last update: 10:53PM, 26th July 2008

For the past 20 years I’ve worn contact lenses virtually every day. Recently, my eyes began objecting, painfully, so I needed another solution to my poor vision – hopefully avoiding glasses.

Last month I decided to take the plunge and have laser surgery to repair my myopia (short-sightedness).

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The condition is caused by the cornea, the protein-based tissue on the front of the eye, being too steeply curved.

Contacts and glasses curve the opposite way – concave – to correct this.

Laser surgery remedies myopia permanently by removing microscopic layers of the corneal surface to correct the vision.

Laser Eye Surgery encompasses a number of procedures but the most advanced, and most popular, is Lasik – laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis – which was what I opted for.

During surgery a flap of tissue is cut from the front of the cornea with a laser. This is peeled back and a laser reshapes the inner part of the cornea, the stroma. The flap is then folded back and smoothed into place.

The procedure is quick (less than 30 minutes) and painless, and recovery is fast, too, although some suffer ‘itchy and dry’ eyes for a few days.

My surgeon, Dr Dan Reinstein, at the London Vision clinic examines my eyes and tests my vision to determine my suitability for the procedure. People with eye infections, severe dryness, uncontrolled diabetes or very thin corneal tissue can’t have it.

The day of my surgery begins with a lesson in after-care medication. Three different eye drops are taken four times a day to lessen the slight risk of infection.

Keeping the eyes hydrated by day and protected (by plastic eye covers) at night is essential to the recovery process.

Just before the surgery, Dr Reinstein checks on the dryness of my eyes and state of the cornea. I am about to lie on the treatment table when he yells: ‘Wait! Sit up!’ I jerk upright.

‘Take a final look around with your old eyesight.’ I look at the blurred, illegible clock face above the door.

‘In just 15 minutes you’ll be seeing differently.’

Anaesthetic drops are applied to each eye and I am told to stare at a tiny overhead green light. My left eyelid is pinned back. The right is taped closed. There is no sensation in this at all.

The green light is joined by a red one and coloured swirling thumbprints. The green light gets closer and closer. There is a light pressure on my eyeball.

I push the thought ‘here comes the cut’ away. Plump fingers ferry back and forth across my eyeline.

With each pass my vision changes – blurry, darker, sharper, as if underwater, then briefly almost black. The process is repeated on the right eye.

When it’s over my vision is still blurred with anaesthetic and yellow dye.

Yet, already the difference is so profound that I swear out loud.

The next morning I have my first after-care appointment. I must not wear eye make-up for a week (eek!). My eyes are slightly dry so I am prescribed a hydrating solution. The total treatment cost is £4,900.

I take a final eye test. ‘Congratulations,’ says Dr Reinstein. ‘You now have 20-20 vision.’

London Vision Clinic

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Mail Online (Lauren Booth)