27/10/2014 10:53 GMT | Updated 26/12/2014 05:59 GMT

Laser Eye Surgery 101

I used to be short-sighted, and wore glasses for a little over 10 years of my life. This frustrated and annoyed me because:

  • I could never find frames that I felt 'suited' my face shape
  • This lead me to only wearing them when I felt I needed them, such as looking at a screen far away or being at work
  • I could never manage to keep a case for them and therefore ended up chucking them in my handbag in between seeing sessions
  • This caused them to get bent and scratched
  • I wore them anyway
  • If I was walking on the street and a friend / acquaintance waved at me from across the road, I would not recognise them
  • Any of my friends will tell you (while laughing) how much I used to squint to try and see things
  • Contact lenses would never sit comfortably in my eyes. I tried wearing them, which often lead to them either falling out of my eye, or getting stuck up in my eyelid which was a horrible experience

I could go on and on with this list. I understand that some people might not actually mind wearing glasses / contact lenses, which is absolutely fine- laser eye surgery is not for everyone. But if you can relate to any of my points above- you might just want to consider it. I decided to go ahead with the procedure because I genuinely felt like it would improve my life, giving me a new sense of freedom. This month marks 12 months of perfect vision for me.

When people hear I have had laser eye surgery I am often hit with a barricade of questions. What did it feel like? Did it hurt? Can you still see? etc. I understand that this is not the sort of decision you enter into lightly- hey it took me about one year of research to decide to sign up (and that included finding at least 5 real life success stories from people). I have broken it down into 5 main stages that anyone considering laser eye surgery should be aware of.

Stage 1- Research

Research is important for your confidence and reassurance. You also need to make sure you choose a reputable surgeon and company, and that you are getting the best deal for your money. Things you should research and compare include:

  • The procedure and after-care
  • The top local clinics
  • Unbiased external forums and reviews
  • All potential side-effects
  • Talk to someone you know that has done it
  • Different types of treatment (I had LASIK)

This research should lead you to choose your clinic. The surgeon I found had treated literally hundreds of people with genuine feedback and success stories which made me more comfortable.

Stage 2- Finances

Before you go for a preliminary test, if you are serious you should plan your finances before your first meeting.

On average it costs £3,500 - £5,000 depending on individual circumstances. Options include:

  • Pay with your savings
  • Wait for an online deal- a lot of mainstream clinics offer deals on website like Living Social and Groupon from time to time
  • Take out finance with the clinic and pay it off in monthly instalments
  • Pay for it on a 0% credit card, pay it off monthly and avoid paying the interest you would pay on a finance loan

Money is a very personal issue and these are just some of my suggestions in case you were wondering how laser eye surgery can be affordable for you.

Stage 3- Preparation

Before the actual treatment, I had an initial consultation at the clinic. This was to test if I was suitable, and involved looking through a lot of telescopes and identifying many flashing blue lights. I was then able to book a date in for the procedure.

I could not wear contact lenses for two weeks before, and certainly no make up the day before and day of the procedure. This is to prevent infection.

Stage 4- The Procedure

To shed some light on the procedure, I have shared the Facebook status I wrote the very next day, when the memory was fresh:

"I did find the procedure and following 4-6 hours quite rough, the eyelid clamp was uncomfortable and I could see the surgeon fiddling about with a flap on my eyeball. I couldn't see properly for a while (3hrs) and my eyes hurt like hell, but I had these magic anaesthetic drops that numbed the pain and helped me get to sleep."

I am not trying to glamorise the procedure itself. It lasted 20 minutes and as soon as I sat up from the chair I could read the subtitles on the television on the far wall. To make this as painless and easy as possible:

  • Have someone ready to drive you home- believe me you will appreciate this
  • Put the anaesthetic drops in before you make your way home as they may begin to wear off on the journey
  • Go straight to sleep afterwards and sleep for a good 4-6 hours at least
  • Relax!

Stage 5- Post-Surgery

Post surgery, you are most prone to infection in the first 5 days, so just lay low and stay at home using your drops. When you do leave the house wear sunglasses. You will also get protective goggles to wear at night (sexy), and you cannot under any circumstances wear make up for the first 7 days (sad that this was one of the hardest parts for me). There are 3 different types of drops that you need to use every 3 hours- it helped me to set an alarm reminder on my phone. Then for the first 3 months your eyes may be particularly dry, so you continue to use lubrication drops.

12 months on I can honestly say it is one of the best things I have ever done. That small amount of pain I went through was worth it to be able to see clearly. I appreciated it the most when I was admiring the mountains and beaches of Costa Rica earlier this year- without a contact lens in sight.

This article first appeared on