So I booked my free no obligation consultation at Optimax in Swiss Cottage.
A bit of background: I am myopic (short sighted) -4 in my left eye and -4.5 in my right with a slight astimatism in the right eye that isnt corrected by my contact lenses. I wear daily disposables but have decided to have surgery because Ive lost a contact lens at every single circuit Ive visited this year and two at Brands GP (anyone who was there will have seen how frustrated I was). Seems to be worse on the longer, faster circuits (perhaps obviously). With contact lenses, I have better than 20/20 vision and can read the bottom line at the Optician’s easily.
So I went along today.
I was asked to complete a PC based questionnaire on my health, which included the usual kinds of questions about family history and things like blood pressure (my maternal grandmother had glaucoma and high blood pressure, my dad had a very strong astigmatism in both eyes). One question they did ask was: do I suffer from dry eye syndrome. I asked about this because I have never been diagnosed with such a syndrome, but I do suffer with slightly dry eyes with the contact lenses occasionally. She said that this was what was meant. I also mentioned that I had had conjunctivitis when I used to wear gas permeable lenses about 15 years ago (horrid things!). She said this was fine, too.
She recommended that I start taking the hermal remedy flax seed oil to help with the dry eyes. It also has omega 3 in it, so I dont have a problem with that. See here for more information on how this helps: http://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/flaxseed-oil.htm
So then I went in to see the surgeon. She asked if I minded her colleague there because he was from the Optimax PR department and was putting together a campaign and needed to do research from the patient’s perspective. I said this was fine if he got me some chocolate. He laughed. I never did get the chocolate.
It also happens that Optimax have their own forum in case you want to check them out (and it seems they only lock the negative threads that they are investigating): http://faq.optimax.co.uk/instantforum/
Well the testing from the surgeon was really quite thorough… and then some. I was quite worn out by the end of it. She checked my eyes out in the same way that they do for your normal eye test with a couple of extras like examining the retina more thoroughly and looking at your pupil dilation and the thickness of your cornea.
A pic for those of you that like making things look all scientific:
One thing she didn’t do, which they normally do on the initial consultation, was to put drops in my eyes. These atropine eye drops are used to relax the eye and stop it from focussing so that further examination of the eye can take place. Because I had come to the consult on the bike (Mark’s really busy today and there is no way I was taking a train) I asked beforehand if they could do that part of the exam on the day we book for the surgery because I wanted to ride home. This was fine. Incidentally the side effects from these eye drops are irritation in contact lense wear and high pressure inside the eye (notice of which should immediately result in an excursion to an A&E, preferably with an eye specialist department). So not a good idea to have them before using the bike then…
They explained the different laser treatment processes and said that I am very well suited to a couple, but we decided on Wavefront because of the astigmatism and my desire to recover as soon as possible and reduce the risk of nighttime halos in my vision. They won’t be using the kind of bandage contact lens on me with this process because my cornea should heal sufficiently quickly. I asked about having a visor open when on the bike and they said I should wait about a week before I do that. So that means I will be at home aclimitising for a week!
Aftercare will firstly be the day after surgery and then at intervals of 7 days, 2 weeks, a month, 2 months, 6 months and a year. I am advised that any corrective surgery in the low-likelihood instance of the procedure not producing at least driving legal sight will be conducted free of charge.
So then I was taken into a third room to chat confidentially about how I could pay and to have any further questions I had answered. I will be going for the 0% finance option. I was going to sell the KTM, but it will only cost me £35 more a month than my monthly Specsavers contact lens direct debit of £25 to get it done (2 year contract). They do a credit check (the kind that sees whether you have paid all of your bills rather than the kind you get for a mortgage which involves a scoring system). So the total process will cost me £3,070 with the £500 discount I get from having a friend refer me who has already had it. Incidentally they also get £50 for having done so…
I should also point out that the natural degradation of sight as I approach my 50s is still inevitable and that this process will only buy me good sight until then, but that is something I am comfortable with (particularly given that I am only 30 in November).
For more information on the different treatment processes possible, please see here (sorry, it’s in American, but a good summary):
For Wavefront, the process I will undergo, see here:
I will update you when I come back from the treatment in a couple of weeks (assuming I can actually see lol)…