A taste of our own medicine…
As a member of the team at London Vision Clinic, you are surrounded by experts in their field and witness the life-changing effects of laser eye surgery on a daily basis. Of course, besides Mr Alastair Stuart who is lucky enough to have 20/20 vision, both Mr Glenn Carp and Professor Reinstein have had laser eye surgery, performed on one another.
Perhaps that’s why it comes as no shock that it’s often not long until staff members who have a prescription are looking into surgery for themselves…
We spoke to some of the team who have had surgery, read about their experiences below.[staff_mobile][/staff_mobile]
Cindy – Administrator
I decided to have laser eye surgery because I had to wear reading glasses on top of my contact lenses.
It changed my life – I had worn glasses since I was 10 and contact lenses from the age of 16. For me, the huge difference is waking up in the middle of the night and being able to see! Swimming and scuba diving are no hassle at all. It feels as though it has corrected Mother Nature’s mistake and I still love it 14 years later. It is still amazing and wondrous and I can bore people with that time and time again – if they let me!
Zuzana – Senior Nurse
I had my first LASIK treatment at London Vision Clinic almost 13 years ago for fairly high short-sightedness – I was the happiest person on earth the day after surgery and I could not believe how good my vision now was! It has made my life so much easier in many ways. On top of that, I still find it very helpful to answer a multitude of questions about the surgery to our patients based on my own experience.
Just in the last few years, the effects of presbyopia started to make reading more and more difficult. When my arms became too short to hold the newspaper any further away from my eyes, there was only one solution- PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision surgery. I underwent this treatment in early 2018 and everything is perfect again. No more struggles with reading or computer work. My reading glasses that has helped me in the interim before my enhancement surgery, ended up in the glasses jar in reception, to help the less privileged.
Emma – Optometrist
I had high myopia with a prescription of -9, and my motivation to have surgery was freedom for the outdoor life. I love climbing, hiking and skiing… It certainly achieved that! I went from having to fumble my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, to taking on any outdoor pursuit without having to think of my eyes. As a specialist optometrist who has worked in the field of refractive surgery since 1999, it was a very considered choice. Hand on heart, it wasn’t until I started to work at London Vision Clinic in 2006 that I felt sufficiently confident to consider treatment for myself. Clearly, it has been invaluable in managing my patients, as I not only have first-hand experience but also was a more challenging case myself. Not only did I have a high short-sighted prescription, but the combination of this with high astigmatism meant that I was able to truly understand the treatment and recovery process. Admittedly, 12 years on I almost take it for granted… but not quite. I am still delighted to wake up and see, and that my outcome is so stable this many years on.
Sharon – Optometrist
I started wearing glasses aged 8 and my prescription rapidly deteriorated during my teenage years which fuelled my interest in a career in Optometry. After qualifying, I was working in a laser clinic in Aberdeen and it was established that my cornea was too thin for treatment, I was disappointed, but carried on with contact lenses as I had no other option at that time. As technology advanced and I moved to London Vision Clinic, I became optimistic that perhaps I would be able to have laser surgery after all! So in 2012 Professor Reinstein treated my eyes and it has been life changing!
It took months to stop looking for my glasses in the morning when I woke up, and I always felt like something was missing if I was packing for a trip as I didn’t have contact lenses and glasses at the top of my list! Having had treatment myself has significantly helped me in my role as an optometrist as I can now discuss first-hand what to expect both during and after surgery. Of course, everyone has a slightly different personal experience but broadly speaking I can empathise with patients having experienced dry eyes and night time glare for a period of time after my surgery.
Pollyanna – Diary Coordinator
I started wearing glasses from a very young age. I remember noticing that I couldn’t see the board when I was in primary school and had to sit at the front of the class in order to read it. I really didn’t like how I looked in my glasses and started wearing contacts as soon as I was able to. I went through many different lenses as I was constantly getting dry eyes/ eye infections- daily’s, monthly’s- you name it and I tried it! My prescription was relatively high and meant I couldn’t do any activity without wearing glasses or contact lenses which really knocked my confidence and was one of my main motivations to have laser eye surgery.
I had my surgery with Professor Reinstein in February 2019. I can’t even begin to describe how much it has changed my life! I can just wake up in the morning and not have to reach for my glasses. It has not only increased my confidence but has also given me so much more freedom.
Having the surgery myself means I can completely understand all the feelings patients are going through. I now know exactly how the surgery and whole process feels- I personally found speaking to colleagues who had the procedure already so comforting! The surgery was so quick and completely transforms your life- I have told everyone I know who wears glasses to get it done!
Tuuli – Lead Patient Care Coordinator
Riding my scooter to and from work, I needed glasses driving in the dark. As my prescription was not very high I would never wear my glasses otherwise. This means that even though I had a low prescription I was walking around blind – not being able to see toilet signs in restaurants was an awkward one!
When talking to patients, I am most excited to tell them about what to expect. I like talking to them about my own experience if they ask. Patients are also instantly more relaxed and trusting knowing I have been through it myself.
Tim – Research Manager
I didn’t know that I needed glasses until I was 15 when I tried on my brother’s brand new pair of specs. He had gone to his first driving lesson and wasn’t able to pass the vision test, so had visited the opticians instead. It turned out that we both had nearly identical refractions with mild short-sightedness and astigmatism. I put on his glasses and realised for the first time that objects had very sharp and defined edges! So my vision was in the range where I was able to get by without glasses by sitting near the front of the class at school.
Discovering laser eye surgery was also a family serendipitous event; my father opted to have laser eye surgery and in the process secured a job interview for me! Once I started working, I found I was wearing glasses all the time working at the computer all day. After a year working as a research scientist at London Vision Clinic, I was very confident in the outcomes and safety of the procedure – analysing this data was my job, after all.
Having only a mild prescription, I was not expecting the surgery to be a life-changing event, compared with the reactions that I had seen for patients with high prescriptions. However, the benefits of the surgery far surpassed my expectation. Of course, I was able to work without glasses. Sport was transformed – seeing exactly where my golf ball landed (excited when close to the pin, but more often knowing where to start looking in the bushes), seeing the tennis ball in perfect focus, and being able to see my friends and read the signs while skiing. But it was all the little things that I hadn’t thought of that were the true benefit, such as being able to look under the sofa without the glasses frame getting in the way, or being able to read the flight information board without having to stand right next to it. Fourteen years later, my eyesight is still the same as it was a few days after surgery. Every now and then I remember that I used to wear glasses and always take a moment to think about the quality of life that has been given to me by having my vision corrected.
In terms of relating my experience to our patients, the main thing would be in describing the surgery itself and the healing process in the first few months afterwards. The surgery was unbelievably easy. It was uncomfortable at times, but there was absolutely no pain and everything was over so fast, and parts of it were actively enjoyable. As a comparison, I always say that I would much rather have laser eye surgery again than go to the dental hygienist. After surgery, I was actually back at my desk to finish off a couple of things less than an hour after surgery and was at work full-time the next day. I have extremely large pupils, so there were huge halos around lights at night for a few days – this is expected as the cornea is swollen after surgery. I always talk about this with patients to raise awareness of the healing process, that things like this are normal and to be patient until the end result is achieved. The other part of the healing process that surprised me somewhat was the need to “work” to see up close. Having spent my life being slightly short-sighted, mostly without glasses, my eyes never had to work to see up close so I had not built up the strength in the “zooming” mechanism of the lens. After surgery, I suddenly had to strain to keep the focus up close. I remember being in the bath the next morning and found that I was struggling to read the writing on the shampoo bottle. Over time, my eyes became stronger and within a month or two I didn’t experience any eye strain, even when still at the office after hours.
Desiree – Optometrist
Having such a high prescription from a young age, I was aware of how much it restricted my lifestyle and the additional hassle and discomfort of contact lenses. Due to my high astigmatism, the vision I had in contact lenses still wasn’t perfect so although they were fine for social occasions, they weren’t great for when I needed precise clear vision. Having to plan my day around when I would wear my contact lenses and remembering to pack solutions and spare lenses was an annoying inconvenience.
I’ve almost forgotten what it was like to “not see” and whilst that may sound very ungrateful there isn’t a day where I don’t think about how much harder life would be was I still extremely myopic. It makes you a little more carefree in making plans, you can be spontaneous and jump in a pool if you want! As I now have a young child, I couldn’t imagine the difficulties it would add if I was still having to deal with contact lenses on a daily basis…
Now I have experience from all aspects of surgery (plus that which my family members have gone through (my father having had PRESBYOND® Laser Blended Vision)) I believe it has helped me immensely in relaying the whole experience to patients. I did need an enhancement surgery which is great when discussing with patients as although we mention it to them I feel a lot of patients automatically think oh ok but that won’t be me… so I feel it’s refreshing and awakening for them to realise that yes I actually needed one. I can speak first-hand about the issues with night vision postoperatively and treating high myopia, and the slower recovery in general with higher prescriptions.
It has definitely been one of the best things I have ever done in my life.
Tariq – Technology Manager
I had laser eye surgery to correct my astigmatism. I had 3.5D of astigmatism in both eyes. The biggest change for me was the clarity that it brought me particularly with respect to my distance vision. Astigmatic lenses cause quite a lot of distortion so it was wonderful to be able to see properly without these.
I rarely deal with patients at London Vision Clinic as I am mostly behind the scenes, but when I do it’s great to be able to dispel one of the common myths which is, of course, that laser eye surgery cannot correct astigmatism.
Kate – Clinic Manager
I was a -5 and lived in my contact lenses. I really hated my glasses and so every opportunity I got I wore my lenses. I was very aware of how bad this actually was for my ocular health, my eyes felt dry and gritty towards the end of the day and would look bloodshot and tired. It was always such a hassle having to put them in and take them out and to remember to bring a lens pot and solution if you were going out for the night or staying at a friend’s house. Surgery was a solution to this problem and it seemed like the natural thing to do.
I considered myself to be quite short-sighted and the day after my surgery I remember looking up at train boards at Waterloo station and seeing the train times with crystal clear clarity. I saw the world in HD, it was incredible. The biggest impact it has had for me is the time saved now that I don’t have to put lenses in, take them out or find my glasses first thing in the morning! I enjoy lots of sports as well, so again not having to worry about lenses or glasses makes things much simpler. Surgery has made my life easier!
I can relate with patient’s anxieties lot more, I think it has made me even more empathetic, but going through the process yourself and having the same anxieties and fears about surgery means that you can put patients at ease. I think it always helps when you tell a patient that you had surgery, they relax a little, they talk to you about your experiences and the benefits, and you have a greater connection and deeper understanding.