Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seeing the World Through New Eyes

It's been over two weeks since my LASEK surgery.  I had my first vision test last Thursday, and according to my doctor, I'm already seeing 20/20 (left eye) and 20/22 (right eye)!  I couldn't believe it, since things still look a little fuzzy to me, but he says it's true.  The fuzziness will clear up in a few more weeks as my corneas continue to regrow, then my vision will be clear with 20/20 in both eyes.  My next appointment will be my one month follow-up, so I'm curious to see how that will go.

Waking up every morning and being able to see right away has been the strangest experience.  My brain is trying to come to terms with the fact that I can see, all the time.  Not having to fumble for my glasses or worry about replacing contact lenses is awesome.  I walked by an eyeglass store the other day and had to smile, thinking how I didn't have to think about when I would update my glasses or buy new contacts.  There's a lot more freedom in my life now.  Getting ready in the morning takes less time since I don't have to spend 10 minutes preparing to put in my contacts.  In addition, my depth perception and field of vision have improved more than I could have imagined.  Now I can see everything with my own eyes, without help.

I was nervous going into surgery, as I had never had surgery before and didn't know how my experience would compare to the videos I had watched online.  When I arrived at Dream Eye, everyone was excited to see me, and set to putting my mind at ease.  It was the Saturday of the Chuseok holiday, buzzing with people there to have surgery, get eye exams, or have a consultation.

After going through some vision tests to check my eyes once again, I found out that my eyes were seeing better than they had during my first visit.  This made me happy, because it meant that I would get great results from the surgery.

I was then led back to the surgery area, where I traded my shoes for slippers and donned a surgical robe and cap.  My eyes were numbed with a general anesthetic, which makes for the weirdest feeling in the world when your eyes are numb and kind of rolling around in your head.  The nurses were all really kind and helped me get situated on the table, while calming my nerves.  Then Dr. Lee came in.

"Are you ready?" he asked.  I was as ready as I would ever be!

The nicest part of having my surgery done at Dream Eye was that Dr. Lee walked me through every step of the process, explaining what he was going to do in a calm voice.  He was sure to make sure that I was comfortable despite everything that was going on with my eyes.

I'd watched videos of others' surgeries at Dream Eye on YouTube, so I had a general idea of what to expect.  But it is a completely different ball game when it's happening to you!  There wasn't any pain, just a few mildly uncomfortable moments, like when the guide is placed on your eye to keep you from blinking, or when your eye is washed with some cold sterilizing fluid.  I'm not squeamish about touching my eyes or having people touch them with all the exams I've had in my life, but that part was a little strange for me.  The cool part was when Dr. Lee put the alcohol solution on my corneas.  Everything went from my usual blurriness to absolutely nothing until 30 seconds later when the laser had finished ablating my cornea.  (Which, by the way, smells like burning hair.)  Then, all of a sudden, I could see again!  It was an amazing feeling to witness that transition, even though I knew that my road to recovery was just beginning.

After finishing both eyes, Dr. Lee said I had done really well, and that the surgery went perfectly.  In my still-drugged and bleary state I was led to a resting room, where I lay down for 30 minutes to recover.  As I was resting, I could hear Dr. Lee talking with another foreigner who was also having LASEK surgery that day.  (Her surgery went equally as well.)

I had a quick check-up with Dr. Lee who again confirmed that the surgery had went well before I could leave that day.  In tow I had my bags of medicine:  antibiotic drops, anti-inflammatory drops, and re-wetting drops.  These would be instrumentally important for my eyes to heal well.  After the Chuseok vacation I would return to the clinic to have my bandage contacts removed and my next post-op checkup.

And so far, everything has been going well.  I am on a great schedule with all my eye drops, and they are helping the healing process go swimmingly.  The first few days I constantly felt like my eyes were on fire with something in them that I couldn't get out.  But now, I have no pain or irritation.  The best part, no more headaches from wearing glasses and contacts!  I don't miss those.

If you are considering laser eye surgery and you live in Korea, I would definitely recommend going to Dream Eye in Gangnam.  Everything about my experience there has been great, and all the staff are both helpful and supportive.  I am looking forward to my next check-up appointment in early November, where I'll get to see how much more progress my vision has made!


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