I may have been a reluctant speccy since I was eight, but the trepidation on the way to the Optical Express clinic, where I’m about to have laser surgery to correct my vision, makes wearing my jamjars appealing for the first time since I was a 15-year-old trying to get into pubs.
On arrival, my nerves are calmed by the friendly staff. There seems little difference between this clinic and any other optician. I’m still a little apprehensive about getting a serious operation in what looks like a high-street shop.
Within 15 minutes, though, I’m in the operating theatre, which looks more convincing, with large machines and a mechanical bed a bit like an oversized dentists chair. The nurse and two surgeons make sure I’m calm and comfortable. I must be, given that it doesn’t faze me when they clamp open my eyes. I can’t help thinking of the brainwashing scene in A Clockwork Orange.
There are different kinds of eye surgery available but I’ve opted for the Lasek procedure. Although the procedure is over in minutes, full recovery will take a few weeks, during which time my eyes will most probably feel gritty.
The procedure involves having the thin top layer of my eye softened and peeled off, then having the laser fired into it while I stare at a fixed light. The more popular Lasik procedure would have been more comfortable, but since the part of the eye displaced during the op regenerates after a few weeks, leaving no trace of surgery and no potential weak point, I feel Lasek is the safer option in the long-term and right for me.
It’s all over within ten minutes. I leave the clinic and while I can see, my eyes are streaming (I had been warned) so I’m thankful I brought a friend to guide me home. My eyes feel uncomfortable and tired but over the next few weeks my sight improves and the discomfort subsides.
It’s now a year since the surgery and I’m happy to report my vision is 20/20. I still have one slightly dry eye but it’s not bad enough to require drops. Any affection for my glasses has long disappeared and since the op, quite honestly, I’ve never looked back.
The Scotsman – 20th December 2008