Why I decided to have laser eye surgery to correct my eyesight — and how the surgery actually works for patients

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I KEEP reaching for my glasses first thing in the morning – but I have better than 20/20 vision for the first time in 30 years.

At the ripe old age of 47, I finally decided to take the plunge and have laser eye surgery.

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The surgeon will use anaesthetic eye drops to numb the eye, so you don’t feel pain[/caption]

Despite having perfect vision, the ingrained habit of looking for my glasses as soon as I wake up might take me some time to get used to!

After visiting one of the high street practitioners, I was told I might need a more invasive procedure which involved replacing the eye’s lens – a procedure which carries more risks than one of the laser treatments.

But after a recommendation, I spoke to David Allamby, medical director at Focus Clinic in London, who said I would be suitable for something called ‘blended vision’ surgery.

It would correct my chronic short-sightedness but also have the added benefit of staving off the need to wear reading glasses which become inevitable for those in their late 40s or early 50s. A win/win scenario.

David Allamby, medical director at Focus Clinic in London, who said I would be suitable for something called ‘blended vision’ surgery

A world-renowned specialist in laser eye surgery, David pioneered ‘blended vision’ where one eye is predominantly used for far vision and the other for reading.

After an initial consultation and tests to make sure I was suitable for the procedure, I had the short and pain-free surgery – and like thousands before me – wondered why I didn’t have it done sooner.

As soon as I came out of the surgery room I could see the prescription letters on the wall and the television – albeit my vision was slightly blurred.

But within a few hours, I was watching the television with totally clear sight.

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Most people get some degree of temporary eye dryness in the first three to six months after laser eye surgery[/caption]

At the next day’s check-up I was given another eye test which revealed my vision was better than 20/20 – indeed Focus Clinic has a 100 per cent success rate for short-sighted patients achieving 20/20 vision or better.

The waiting room at the clinic makes it clear that Mr Allamby is ‘surgeon to the stars’ with two walls of photos featuring celebrities such as David Gandy, Denise van Outen, Brian May, Sue Barker and countless others.

What kinds of vision problems can and can’t be fixed by laser eye surgery?

CAN: Most myopic, or short-sighted, prescriptions and correct mild to moderate amounts of long-sightedness. Many patients who suffer from presbyopia, which is the requirement for reading glasses in middle age.
CAN’T: Some conditions affecting the immune system, including rheumatoid disease, SLE (systemic lupus) and other so-called collagen vascular diseases, will likely block you from having laser eye surgery.

Talking to some of the patients in the reception area who were there to have a check-up after their procedure, they describe it as ‘life-changing’.

And in the days following my treatment, I am left wondering why I left it so long. Maybe it was hearing horror stories all those years ago, but Focus – www.focusclinics.com – have performed 20,000 operations and you really do feel in safe hands with Mr Allamby.

In laser eye surgery, the lasers are in fact only active for around 10% of the total duration of the procedure

Just before the treatment, he goes through all the numbers again, not just double checking all the figures but treble checking – nothing is left to chance.

Mr Allamby said: “When it comes to Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE), there are increased risks for younger middle-aged patients.

“The main ones are retinal detachment and retinal tear, particularly for short-sighted patients.

“In patients aged 65 plus, the risks aren’t as great.

Is the treatment permanent or does the effectiveness wear off?

Your surgery should last many years – it’s a common myth that your surgery will ‘wear off’. Studies show most patients still have excellent vision a decade and longer after treatment.

“That’s why, in Vaz’s case, he was a perfect candidate for LASIK blended-vision, which has lower risks than the more invasive lens replacement procedure.

“There are upsides to RLE. Patients benefit from long lasting, often permanent, correction and it prevents the need for cataract surgery in the future.

“RLE is, however, more expensive – costing between £7,000 and £7,500 depending on the lens implant – whereas LASIK Blended Vision at Focus Clinics costs £5,400.

“And we’re delighted Vaz is so pleased with the results.”

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The treatment takes around four to five minutes per eye. You are told to focus on a green light while a slight pressure is put on the eye and there is no getting around a brief very slight burning smell but it is completely painless and feels non-invasive.

What are the potential side effects?

Most people get some degree of temporary eye dryness in the first three to six months after laser eye surgery. Others can report some night vision issues, such as glare, halos and star-bursting of light. But a recent study called, ‘Patient-Reported Outcomes With LASIK’, found that most symptoms of both dry eye and night vision problems were actually reduced compared to pre-op. Your eyes need time to heal and may feel dry and itchy after surgery, but this will soon pass, and eye drops will relieve this too

There are a few do’s and don’ts before and after the op.

In a bid to stop the eyes drying, patients are told to start taking flaxseed capsules around a month beforehand and six months after.

You are also told not to wear your contact lenses for at least a week before your treatment.

Patients are given a series of eye drops – some to be used for a week following the surgery – and one for three months to keep the eyes lubricated.


And because the eyes can be sensitive to light, you are advised to wear sunglasses outside for the first week and to also wear eye shields at night for one week to stop you accidentally rubbing them.

Certain activities such as swimming and contact sports are limited for a few weeks afterwards.

Now, where did I put my glasses..


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