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Team 21: Stuart Bedford – Team 21: My First Step On The Road To 20/20 Vision

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I’ve been powering through shortsightedness since I was thirteen and I’m now twenty six – I’m too squeamish about my eyes for contact lenses to be a viable option and I really can’t stand wearing my glasses. I’ve simply never gotten used to the feeling of having what is essentially a strip of plastic strapped around the top half of my face and so, being a stiff upper lip sort of chap, I’ve for the most part done without.

So when I was approached by my editor at WhatCulture! with an offer from the good folks at Optical Express for laser eye surgery as part of theirTeam 21 initiative, I jumped at the chance. I’d have been a fool not to – I would be able to have my cake, eat it too and get away with a cheeky second slice it seemed.

Chances like this don’t come along very often, so grabbing at it with both hands was practically a no-brainer. I know a few people who’ve had the surgery – my grandmother, my partner’s sister – and from what they tell me, their decision to go ahead with it has profoundly changed their lives for the better.

I was, of course, nervous upon accepting the offer; I’m sure I’ll get nervous once more before the procedure itself takes place, but in visiting my local Optical Express for my consultation I was put almost entirely at ease by the knowledge and professionalism of the staff.

I asked questions of course: “How long is the laser in contact with my eyes?” for example, was answered with “for around ten seconds in each eye”. “Can the surgery blind me?” was another pertinent one, which was answered with “the likelihood of repairable complications occurring is around 1 in 1000. The chances of unrepairable complications, which can admittedly lead to further vision impairment, sits at an average of just 1 in 25,000”. I don’t know about you but for 20/20 vision, I really like those odds.

I had several tests during my consultation. My prescription was retested; the inside of my eyeballs were scanned, analysed and showed back to me (which I can assure you is as trippy as it sounds); my corneas were tested for thickness in order to determine which procedure was absolutely right for me (as there are a few on offer) and after it all, I really did feel that my surgery was being custom fitted to me personally to ensure maximum safety and success.

I was also given some fairly detailed background information about the Opthalmic Surgeon – Dr. Faqir A Qazi – who will be performing my procedure. I may have enquired about his experience, his track record (after all, this man will have my vision quite literally in his hands) but I didn’t need to; in my Patient Information Folder I received a profile of Dr Qazi’s entire educational and professional qualifications, as well as a rundown of his career to date. For the most part, my questions were answered even before I had chance to ask them.

With everything I needed to know either answered pre-emptively or through further questioning, I left the consultation feeling excited about having the surgery. The date of my procedure, November 12th, is exactly one week away at time of writing. And yes, I’m a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be? But thanks to the wonderful staff at Optical Express in St. John Street, Liverpool, I’m totally ready to face the laser.

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