I had laser eye surgery this afternoon. It was a bit magical.
Nothing was wrong: it was elective. I’ve been short-sighted since I was 10, but for the last 15 years my vision’s slowly been getting better. I was due to reach perfection in the next couple of years, then sail right through it into long-sightedness. I was improving fairly quickly so was perpetually out of focus in one eye or the other, and lockdown seemed a good time to sort this.
So today I slid under a large machine and was told to stare at a green light while the LASIK surgery worked its wonders.
If you squick about eye stuff, skip to END OF SQUICK.
They cut a FLAP in my CORNEA. This was an unusual thing to witness. It wasn’t painful, due to anaesthetic drops, but I could feel it happening and it was certainly uncomfortable. This took twenty seconds of staring at a precision laser while my eye was held open with tape and a speculum (and a surprising lack of head restraint). There were some weird visual effects: I saw red, blue and green sparkles that are hard to describe: the best I can get is ‘dead-pixel fireflies’. They were beautiful, though, and I can’t imagine I’ll see them again. This was followed by the usual apparitions you get when you rub your eyes, just a lot more eldritch.
Then they LIFT THE FLAP and fire a different laser. Let me tell you, watching somebody lift up the front of your eye is a good addition to the qualia bank. Everything went fuzzy and an invisible laser spent 4 seconds reshaping my lens. You’re meant to keep staring upwards but in all honesty heaven only knows what was going on at this point – I had sensations of being something akin to cross-eyed, entirely outside of conscious control. I just concentrated on looking in the correct direction. This whole thing was painless, and I wouldn’t have known the laser was firing if the surgeon hadn’t kept me informed.
Then that’s it. Flap down and smoothed over with tiny brushes. More drops.
****END OF SQUICK****
And then the same for the other eye. Bish bash bosh. Whole thing took 10 minutes.
I sat up, and things were foggy but…sharp. I walked out of the room, mildly dazed but fine. 5mins later the surgeon tested my vision with your basic letters on a chart, and said I already had 20:20 vision. 5mins later I was in a taxi.
It’s now 7 hours later, and things are good: a little foggy, but I can see unaided for the first time in 25 years. The fog should clear by morning. My brain refuses to parse good sight + gritty-feeling-in-eye as anything other ‘you need to take your contact lenses out’. I’m having to override that every ten minutes. It might take my subconscious a while to catch up, there.
I have a plethora of drops for the next week, a supply of artificial tears for the next couple of months, plus 2 checkups and strict instructions to avoid dusty environments / bright light / poking myself in the face. As far as I can tell this is all about making sure the aforementioned incision heals ok.
I am in awe that it is possible, as a matter of routine, to fire lasers into people’s eyes and fix their sight. In an hour. I didn’t even take my coat off.