Laser surgery

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.


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.