Sitting alone in a small, square room, staring at the plant pot opposite and feeling slightly uneasy about the artificially homely decor, I wondered what on Earth I had gotten myself in for. I was in the preparation room for surgery. Laser eye surgery ,to be precise. A cosmetic procedure, non-essential; an operation I was choosing to have. My brother, who had this surgery done the previous year, warned me that this was the worst part; confinement in a solitary room, with a plant pot, prior to entering the operating theatre. I imagine this stage is intended as a final hurdle, so if you plan on running out hysterically, this is your chance.
Soon, I am lead by a nurse into a bright white room full of people wearing scrubs. The procedure starts and I don’t really understand what’s happening. But this is my own doing; I had neglected researching the process, knowing that stumbling upon gory details about botch-jobs would terrify me. As it turns out, I was pretty terrified anyway; I couldn’t stop envisioning that episode of ER where someone’s eye falls out. So I’m lying back on the padded seat, at a deckchair gradient but not feeling particularly relaxed. One is generally not relaxed when suction cups are being fitted to one’s eyeballs. This is the first step, and feels like a vacuum cleaner nozzle/medieval torture device. Not that I have personally experienced either, but one can assume a similarity.
Next, the cornea ‘flap’ is cut by a laser then the eye is reshaped. This is in a word; trippy. An out of body experience and all you can see are red-flashing lights. There is a very strange smell, which I read on Yahoo Answers is the smell of eyeball flesh burning and can therefore only assume is true. However, at this point, the job is done. Mercifully, anaesthetic eye-drops mean you feel little pain, and the ordeal is over in minutes. The pain was excruciating for several hours, although you are given more of the drops which help a great deal.
Overall, I would recommend laser eye only if you exceedingly hate glasses and contacts, or if you require good vision for your career. I fall into the former: due to an eye problem, I couldn’t wear lenses and I don’t buy into the glasses trend (it’s too mainstream for me!).
If you are planning on getting the surgery, I’d give it a few years; chances are it will become safer and cheaper. If you can’t wait that long, I’d recommend the type of surgery I underwent, which is generally considered the best: ‘intralase wavefront lasik’. Always do your research (unlike myself) and for crying out loud do NOT do a Google image search. You’ll need a week off from anything strenuous to protect your peepers, and don’t make plans to look attractive– your eyes will be swollen and very red.
Laser eye has been commercial since the ‘80s, yet doesn’t seem like it can be real. More like something from a clichéd 1950s science fiction novel hover cars and robot slaves, lasers that can make people see again! But amidst the strangeness of it all and the flashing red lights and the plant pots, it is very real and an astonishing feat of medical science. In the future will glasses merely be a novelty vintage item? I imagine so, but that’s a whole other article…