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Team 21: Ellen Grace-Jones – If It’s Good Enough For NASA


I’m blind, well, moreover -1.75 shades of blind and have been almost all of my life. As a short-sighted specs wearer from 12 years, I graduated to contacts at 19 and have been wearing them until my now, grand old age of 30. Thus reads my potted optical history.

So… Free seeing; what’s not to love? Most proclaim to want laser eye surgery to improve their quality of life, for better sports performance or to aid driving. Not me. When I was offered to take part in Optical Express’ Team 21 campaign the thought of never waking up, hungover, crusty-eyed having passed out in my contact lenses again was what hit me like a revelation! What’s more – no more faffing with messy fluid and tiny storage cases, no more pawing around on the bathroom floor for a dropped lens and no more monthly costs. Like, where do I sign?

Breaking up is hard to do but frankly my relationship with my lenses has served me well enough and this is one ex I will not be missing.

First things first: consultation time. At the Eastcheap branch I meet with Nick, my refractive technician and Nabila, my refractive optometrist to see if my peepers are indeed suitable to be duly zapped into 20/20 vision.

After watching a video starring Steve Schallhorn, the chief medical director of Optical Express, who attempted to wow me with their skills and technology (NASA use the same lasers, apparently) I was led through a series of hardcore eye tests and had all manner of drops squirted in – including some which caused my eyeballs to dilate into a state I’ve not seen since back in the 1990′s. Ahem.

Anyway, the good news was I’m a prime candidate for lasering so my surgery (Wavefront-IntraLase LASIK) was booked for a few weeks later at their Harley Street clinic.

I’m excited. And nervous. I’ve heard scare stories of them slicing open a layer of your eyeball or that you can smell your eyeball singeing. Thankfully, the lovely Nabila reassured me there’s no scalpels involved, nor barbecued pupils. She also joked that the post-surgery goggles I have to wear to sleep in are apparently excellent for chopping onions. Err, bonus!

Reading through all my surgery literature I don’t know what scares me most: the actual procedure or not being able to wear make-up for the following seven days. I’m literally considering a self-imposed hibernation like post-pregnancy A-listers do until they’ve shrunk back down to a size 0.

I’m also advised to, “Wear comfortable clothing. Avoid sweaters or any material that consists of loose fibres.” Rats. That’s this season’s gigantic Mark Fast fringed cardi out the window then.

My consultation without doubt reassured most of my fears and it was heartening to know Nabila had gone through surgery herself and could respond to every element of my paranoia-tinged probing with firsthand experience. Naturally, I’m still anxious but then I’m someone who faints at getting a splinter. My personal post-surgery prescription includes armfuls of Anadin and a very patient other half whom I will direct to feed me red wine and chocolate intravenously. With that in mind, I’m sure I’ll be fine.

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