No looking back: MM take the plunge with laser eye surgery to sack off the specs

By James Toney

There’s a club I will now never join. I’ll never get to nibble crudités with Vanessa Feltz, make small talk with Lulu or discuss the merits of the Spice Girls’ back catalogue with Mel C. 

I will never get to gossip about the dubious sexual habits of the 1970s comedians with Dame Edna or discuss why the only way is Essex with Rylan Clark. 

It’s a time to admit that I will never be friends with that guy out of McFly, the one who didn’t win Strictly or triumph in the Jungle.

Next year when the invite arrives to join my fellow Z listers at the Spectacle Wearer of the Year awards – a star-studded glamorous event (according to the press release) – I will be washing my hair.

That is because I’ve finally sacked off the specs or binned the bins. For the first time since the age of 12 maybe girls will now make passes at this boy who wears glasses.

If you ever cringe when a footballer talks about giving 110%, when all the laws of mathematics and common sense suggest 100% should be enough, then look away now.

Because my vision now isn’t just 20/20, it’s even better than that. OK, it’s not quite x-ray vision standard but I’d be worried about staring at a polar ice cap too long in case it started to melt and I inadvertently killed some penguins.

For years I’d avoided corrective eye surgery. I thought the laser was hot (it’s not). It hurt (it doesn’t). I worried about trusting my eyesight to companies whose emails usually go straight to my spam folder.

When I first popped into Optical Express – the UK’s number one laser eye surgery provider who have also reassuringly completed more than two million procedures worldwide – it was just like any other trip to the optician.

When I went back a few weeks later, the friendly optometrist had been replaced by a surgeon. There were nurses in gowns and an operating theatre. Someone pointed out a recovery room. It suddenly worried me and reassured me in equal measure.

UNDER THE LASER: Laser eye surgery in action

I didn’t ask too many gory details about the treatment, I sort of switched off when someone started talking about reshaping my cornea. I simply tried to take confidence in the fact that anyone whose job title was an ophthalmologist must have had to study pretty hard.

The LASIK procedure is the most popular, is quick and painless, though some discomfort followed for a few hours afterwards. Imagine being locked in a confined space while Jamie Oliver made French Onion Soup for Wembley Stadium.

However, it was easily solved, with the welcome excuse of going to bed at 4pm and shutting my eyes for 16 hours for the first time since my student days.

The following day and my vision was spot on, which was the nicest thing I’ve woken up to since Santa brought me a snooker table and Spectrum computer.

The eyes felt a little gritty but that sensation soon subsided. And while they were dry for a couple of weeks, drops soon brought them to life and one month on there are now no side-effects.

Life-changing is a phrase that’s too easily bandied around, especially when watching X-Factor, but not having to scrabble around for your glasses when you wake or pack contact lenses when you travel is indisputably life-enhancing. 

There are some downsides to laser eye surgery though. When ski jumping loser Eddie the Eagle ditched his trademark specs he saw his success with the opposite sex go downhill much quicker than he ever did.

And, of course, I will now never win spectacle wearer of the year. 

Never mind, there’s always the nose of the year awards – unless my vanity now extends to rhinoplasty.

Optical Express is the UK’s number one provider of laser eye surgery, performing more procedures than any other provider. LASIK surgery starts from £795 per eye.   

Optical Express offer a range of treatments at two clinics in Manchester.Trafford Centre: 0845 555 8182, St Johns Street: 0800 023 20 20


12 laser eye surgery myths busted!

As laser eye surgery continues to increase in popularity, we look at 12 myths that continue to surround the procedure in order to separate the fiction from the fact.

More than 95% of patients are suitable for a refractive procedure.

However, many feel that due to a myth they have heard from someone along the way, the procedure is not suitable for them. Outlined here are some myths that people often researching the procedure come across.

1. Laser eye surgery is painful

The procedure itself is actually painless. A patient may only feel a little discomfort as the eye is kept open throughout the 1-2 minute procedure. A small number of patients complain of itchy and irritable eyes in the first few days following surgery. This doesn’t affect everyone and for the majority is certainly not considered painful.

2. Laser eye surgery is risky

More than 20million people worldwide have undergone laser eye surgery with only a minority experiencing complications. The biggest risk from laser eye surgery is infection, however the chances of infection from contact lenses is about 10 times higher. If you are in good health and have a stable prescription it is one of the safest elective surgeries available.

3. Laser eye surgery is too expensive

As technology and methods have improved, the costs involved for patients have come down considerably. It is worth considering the amount you spend on contact lenses and glasses, and that laser eye surgery will eradicate this continued expenditure. Clinics such as Optical Express offer financing options, including 0% interest on payments.

4. I am too old for laser eye surgery

There is no upper age limit for undergoing laser eye surgery. Many patients who are over the age of 45 feel they are just too old to have the procedure. In fact the contrary is true; around 98% of people over 45 are suitable for laser eye surgery. If laser eye surgery is not suitable for you it is worth remembering that alternative treatments are available to provide freedom from glasses and contacts.

5. The treatment isn’t permanent

The effectiveness does not wear off, contrary to what some people believe. In the vast majority the results are permanent and are intended to be permanent. If you have a very high prescription follow-up treatment may be required. This is due to eyesight levels changing naturally over time which would happen if you did or did not have the surgery.

6. It could burn me if I move

Laser eye technology is extremely advanced. The last thing that the equipment is designed to do is to burn the eye or cause needless discomfort. The laser itself is a cool beam laser, meaning that contact with the skin does not burn or scold. Furthermore, the laser is fitted with an eye tracker that detects movement and will pause treatment until stability returns.

7. The results are not instant

Many believe it takes days for the results to fully take effect. This could not be more wrong, in fact results are evident within seconds of having the surgery. For some, it may take a bit longer, however the vast majority will instantly notice the difference and be able to go on with their lives.

8. There is no aftercare / follow-up appointments

Aftercare is an important part of the entire treatment, and should be treated with importance. Leading clinics will offer an extensive and free aftercare programme. Patients who undergo the surgery should have a follow-up consultation at least three times in the one year following laser eye surgery.

9. The recovery time is long

When people think of recovering from laser eye surgery – the vision of someone walking around with bandages over their eyes comes to mind. The truth is that laser technology has increased so much over the last 20 years that results are instant. Normally no more than a day or two days are required off from work, and driving is – in the majority of cases – possible after 24 hours.

10. 20 / 20 vision is impossible to achieve

The myth that accomplishing 20/20 vision is impossible is a notion that no longer exists. Life with HD vision is achievable and is within reach for more people than ever before – thanks to the medical advances in technology. 20/20 vision is, in fact, normal for a lot of people. The majority of patients can achieve better than 20/20.

11. Different treatments mean different service levels

Despite common assumptions, there are no differing levels of service for treatment. Both LASIK and LASEK eye procedures use the same laser procedure and result in the same outcome – crystal clear vision. Your prescription level is the only determining factor behind which treatment you receive. Your clinical provider should explain the best options available to you at your eye consultation.

12. Laser eye surgery could make me blind

With more than 20million people worldwide having undergone successful laser eye surgery the myth that you could lose your sight from the treatment is unsubstantiated. Diagnosis and treatment is taken very seriously in the laser eye industry. With experienced and professional surgeons, and advanced technology, becoming blind from laser eye surgery is an extremely improbable consequence.

Outlined here is a list of common mis-understood and mis-represented myths that have long been associated with laser eye surgery. Laser eye surgery has an extremely low complication ratio, and the common feedback from patients who have had it done is normally ‘I wish I had it done sooner!’ By considering the many laser eye surgery success stories over the myths, you are placing yourself in a much better frame of mind to undergo the treatment.

First picture courtesy of Sam Bald, with thanks.

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