Laser surgery: lyin’ eyes

Like many four-eyed people, I really don’t like wearing glasses. Sadly I’m stuck with them. I used to wear contact lenses, but I had to stop a few years back when my prescription changed: I’m slightly astigmatic, but I’m on the borderline – and that means I’m too astigmatic for normal contact lenses and not astigmatic enough for toric lenses, which are designed for people whose eyes are shaped like rugby balls.

On paper, contact lenses are just fine; in my eyeballs, they’re not. If lenses enable me to read, I can’t wear them for driving a car at night; if they enable me to drive at night, I can’t use them for reading. Again and again I’ve tried lenses which all the tests say are perfect in my eyes, but which don’t give me perfect vision.

I still hate wearing specs, though, and a few years ago laser surgery started coming down in price to the point where it wasn’t the preserve of millionaires. I looked into it, looked into the side effects and looked into what’s considered a success – and I discovered that what a laser clinic would consider 100% successful wasn’t necessarily 100% successful from my point of view. As with contact lenses, it’s entirely possible to have a successful treatment that doesn’t give you perfect vision. Side-effects can be quite serious, and even if the correction is acceptable it’s a short-term fix, not a permanent one.

That put me off a bit, but the main thing that put me off is the risk of it all going wrong. My late grandfather, a keen reader and writer, had laser surgery many years ago (for medical reasons) and it went wrong, essentially blinding him. Being unable to read, to write… that’s pretty much the worst thing imaginable for me.

That doesn’t mean laser eye surgery is dangerous. Lots of people get it and are delighted with the results. But the worst-case scenario is too scary for me, and my experience with contact lenses suggests that it wouldn’t work for me anyway.

Which brings me to Which? magazine, whose researchers have been in a few high street laser clinics.

clinics played down the level and possible duration of risks and complications, which can include permanently poor night vision or some loss of sight in extreme cases. The spokeswoman said that almost half of Which?’s researchers were not told that even if they had laser eye surgery, they would probably need glasses when they were older.

Optical Express say the article is “misleading and poorly researched”, but Which?’s comment seems sensible enough to me:

people need to be aware of the potentially serious and long-term risks, so that they have realistic expectations and commit to the procedure with their eyes open.

I’m quite sure the pun is intentional.





0 responses to “Laser surgery: lyin’ eyes”

  1. I had it years ago and never regretted it. The clinic I chose did a lot of patient education, reminding people that laser eye surgery is just that, surgery – a part of your body being cut open and worked on – and that if you pay someone in a strip mall £200 to do it, don’t complain when you go blind.

    The only side effect I experience is extreme sensitivity to smoke, fumes, etc (if something is burning on the hob, my eyes know it before my nose does.)

  2. Gary

    > if you pay someone in a strip mall £200 to do it, don’t complain when you go blind.

    I do believe you’ve just hit the nail on the head.

  3. What Heather said, mostly. I had it done about 18 months ago, and I’ve never regretted it. I looked at all the main clinics and went with the most expensive one.

    I’m no more sensitive to smoke than before (which is handy, what with me being a sm*ker), but I’m not great in low light and see halos around candles and street lights (something lens-wearers are used to anyway).

  4. Squander Two

    Used to have a colleague who’d had it. The problem she ran into was that her eyes simply healed, so the correction lasted just a few days till she was back to wearing her usual prescription. Apparently, they are aware of this possibility, so the contract she’d signed beforehand stated that they got to keep all her money if this were to happen. So that was a lot of money for her to have spent on absolutely nothing.

    Me, I like wearing glasses. If I ever were to have the surgery, I’d still wear glasses most of the time. I think I look pretty stupid without them, to be honest.

    What I would consider would be plastic surgery to have my ears and nose lined up so that all glasses would fit perfectly.

  5. I do admit it was a bit weird lying on the operating table and feeling something splash on my hand, and realising it was eye juice.

  6. mupwangle

    I really wish I hadn’t just read that.

  7. Hey Gary,

    If you didn’t find any Eye Surgery clinic yet, get my program with natural vision improvement techniques. At list it works long term and treat the cause of the vision problem not just the symptoms.

    If you already did the big step and undertook the procedure, get the program anyway, it will help you to prevent your vision from decreasing.

    In case you’ve already done the thing, wait at list 9 months before exercising your eyes…

    With love,


  8. Stephen

    I’m sure that a bunch of “eye exercises” will obviate the need for surgery. Definitely. Especially exercises being sold by a borderline illiterate.

  9. Squander Two

    I think we can spot that something’s bollocks without insulting someone for having the nerve to have a first language other than English.

  10. Yeah, whatever. Because it’s impossible to achieve fluency in any language other than your first. Obviously.

  11. Squander Two

    Sorry, what are you saying, Stephen? That because it’s possible to achieve perfect fluency in a second language, it’s OK to call anyone who fails to do so “borderline illiterate” and claim that that failure implies that they’re stupid or fraudulent or both? Nice. My French and German are both far far worse than Evgania’s English (which is actually excellent), so I must just be full-on cut-my-finger-off-and-I-can’t-read illiterate. And there was me thinking that an ability to communicate in three languages was evidence of education.

    A quick look at Google shows that, if Evgania does have a lot of dissatisfied customers out there, they don’t seem to be writing about it on the Web. Course, maybe that’s because they can’t see, but hey.

  12. Stephen

    If you used your French or German on French or German websites to try to sell stuff then I would think you were stupid or fraudulent or both, yes. Logic would suggest a company concerned about projecting a professional image would ensure its salespeople were fluent in the languages that they sell in.

  13. mupwangle

    Unless she completely went mental in the second half of that (I got bored), then you seem to be misunderstanding the word fluent. She was quite heavily accented, but still seemed clear enough to me.

    What she said may or may not have been bollocks, but it’s a bit of an ad hominem to criticise her accent.

  14. Squander Two

    I think Stephen was criticising her writing, which is actually very good. I mean, “didn’t find” instead of “haven’t found”, “list” instead of “least”, “treat” instead of “treats”, “did the big step” instead of “took the big step”… these are very minor errors.

    > Logic would suggest a company concerned about projecting a professional image would ensure its salespeople were fluent in the languages that they sell in.

    You win this week’s prize for misuse of the word “logic”. What are you, illiterate?

    Anyway, Evgania’s not a salesperson; she’s the head of her own company. Say what you like about Easyjet, but Stelios has happily appeared in his own adverts speaking his slightly imperfect English, and he is neither stupid nor fraudulent. Come to think of it, one of my colleagues is Ukrainian and speaks good but imperfect English and has just spent a few months in Canada doing important work for a major new client. No-one thinks it was unprofessional to send her. Myself, when I see that a company has employed salespeople fluent in the languages of every country they sell in, the only conclusion I draw from that is that they must have a huge budget.

    We all have fun (quite rightly) taking the piss out of Brit chavs like Shlaine and Caine Haine when they try to write in their own language and fail. That’s not remotely the same as taking the piss out of a foreigner whose English is excellent but not quite perfect.

  15. mupwangle

    >>I think Stephen was criticising her writing,

    And fluency is about being able to express ideas clearly rather than completely accurate spelling and grammar. Fluency is about flow rather than accuracy. Someone who can perfectly construct sentences and spell every word correctly cannot be described as fluent in another language if they cannot make themselves understood.

  16. Gary

    Skipping the pointless argument… You know, I looked into this a few years ago and I’m pretty sure that there was reasonable evidence to suggest that for some kinds of optical deterioration, exercises did make a difference. Dunno if it’s since been disproven, so I’ll go looking when I have more time.

    That said, i’m coming round to S2’s take on specs: this is a great time to be myopic, because there are finally loads of decent, inexpensive specs to choose from. When I was a teenager the choice was National Skelpers or Sinister Taxi Driver.

  17. mupwangle

    I’ve just got new specs and I fear that they make me look like more of a twat than the last ones.

  18. Oh, are you just myopic, Gary? You lightweight. I’m astigmatic.

    > there was reasonable evidence to suggest that for some kinds of optical deterioration, exercises did make a difference.

    Well, you’d think so. Every other muscle in the body can be made to work better through exercise. Why not the ones controlling the focus and exposure of your eyes?

    I believe the current thinking is also that giving kids glasses so that they can learn to read is actually a cause of eyesight problems — if they didn’t have the glasses, their eyesight would improve itself as they got older. Course, if they didn’t have the glasses, they wouldn’t be able to learn to read, so it’s a reasonable trade-off.

  19. This must be about the only blog where the spam commenters are defended.