The first thing I noticed was the birds. The way I could almost see each and every feather from a great distance away. The way the sunset’s light reflected off them as they flew, allowing me to appreciate their delicate movements. The way they seemed to fly in slow motion, as I took in each and every detail. Their wings glistened under the light in a way I had never seen before. And with each flap a surreal realisation burried into my brain, the realisation that this is real. Next I noticed the trees. I took in every rustling of every leaf and altogether groups of individual leaves. Details I had never seen before were now becoming alive. The trees were alive. The bushes were breathing and the colours all around were screaming louder than before. The sun set slower that day. And as it did, the shadows became deeper and the contrasts more defined. And then came the textures. Concrete walls were rougher and windows were smoother. Even the dirt looked beautiful.
And as the sun set so my tears ran and a greater realisation sank in, the realisation that life is precious, just as sight is so very precious.
And the realisation that just hours before, my life had changed forever.
Because just hours before this sunset moment on my balcony, I had had life-changing Lasik eye surgery. The best way to explain the experience to you is that before (with contact lenses or glasses) seeing the world was like watching TV on an old TV set. Now, it is like watching a 3D movie in 8K UHD or whatever the latest TV is! Not only can I see clearly, but the whole world looks different. It looks better!
At the time of my surgery, my eyes were -2.75 strength. I first got glasses when I was 12 years old because this was the first time I went to a “real” school (before that I was homeschooled) and I realised I couldn’t see the board! However, I refused to wear my glasses because the other kids teased me, so when I was 14 I got contact lenses. And it took another almost 14 years for me to finally ditch the contacts and get Lasik. My number one reason for wanting Lasik is that my contacts lenses really affect my kitesurfing. Any time water would splash in my eyes (which is all the time) it would blur my vision and irritate my contacts. And then there were other reasons too like the constant cleaning regime of contact lenses and having to visit the optometrist and buy new contacts all the time. I also dreamed of being able to wake up in the morning and see clearly.
When Dr Kruger from the Tygervalley Eye and Laser Clinic introduced me to Femto Lasik I was thrilled! Femto Lasik is also know as bladeless Lasik, since they use a laser to cut the flap in your eye, instead of a blade. So a blade will never touch your eye during this procedure. It is the most advanced eye laser treatment there is. What I also love about this approach, is that the laser that corrects your eyesight is tailor made for each individual eye. Instead of giving each prescription the same treatment, they use CustomVue technology to correct your eyes according to your individual imperfections. Each person’s eyes are as unique as their fingerprint, and need to be treated that way. In general, Lasik complications are very rare, and are mainly associated with the use of a blade, so this makes bladeless Lasik even safer.
The process is a very quick and painless one! And you only spend about half an hour or less in the operating room. The process starts off when you are in the waiting room, where they administer numbing eye drops and give you a Vicodin to relax if you need it. Since you are awake during the surgery and since it is so quick, there are no restrictions on eating before the time. They just suggest that you dress warmly, since it can be cold in the theater. You are then taken into the clinic where they prepare you for the surgery by putting scrubs over your clothes, hair and shoes. At this point the reality of what I was doing started to set in and I got very nervous! Luckily the nurses were all very caring and calming!
Next, you are taken into the operating room where they ask you to lie down in between the two Laser machines. They continually put numbing drops in your eyes so don’t feel anything, and don’t feel the need to blink. They then tape your eyelashes back and prepare your eyes for the first laser which cuts a flap in your eye. I was covered in a blanket and one of the nurses held my arm, so I felt very safe and relaxed. Dr Kruger also talks you through the entire process and tells you how it is all going. The first laser procedure is the only time you will ever feel some slight discomfort, as it gets sucked onto your eye. I didn’t mind this at all, and just felt a bit uncomfortable when they cut the flap open and all I could see was grey! They did both eyes, and then shifted me over to the Lasik machine. This goes very quickly and mine only took 14 seconds per eye. This is the time where you need to stay very still, and stare into a little red light. (Although if you move a bit it’s okay since the laser tracks your pupil) They also count down the time it takes, which makes it go by even quicker! (It can take up to 1 minute, depending on your prescription). The doctor then puts a clear contact lense in your eye to protect the flap for the first day, peels off the tape on your lashes and that’s it. You can then get up and walk out of the room! The doctor then quickly looks at your eyes to double check everything and then you can take off the scrubs and go back to the waiting room. As I stood up after the doctor had checked my eyes I started to get really emotional! Your eyesight is still very blurry the first day, but I could already see the doctor clearer than before!
They are all about care and attention to detail at the Tygervalley Eye and Laser clinic. So, as soon as I got to the waiting room after the surgery, they brought me tea and sandwiches while I processed what had just happened. They also checked if I was okay and put moistening drops in my eyes. Although I could already see clearer, my eyes were still a bit hazy (like when you get water in your contacts or some dirt on your glasses) and so the nurse escorted me back to the reception where I made my appointment for the next day. Make sure you bring sunglasses along because your eyes are very sensitive to light at first and get someone to drive you home and to your appointment the next day.
After the surgery your eyes are very red, dry and sensitive so it’s best to go home and have a nap in a dark room. You need to use moistening eye drops every 10 minutes the first day, every hour the first week or two and thereafter four times a day or whenever your eyes feel dry. You also get eye drops to help prevent infection. The evening after my surgery I had no problem watching TV, but looking at my phone too long strained my eyes. I would suggest taking a week off work (even if you work from home/for yourself) because looking at your phone, a computer or even indoor lights, make your eyes feel tired quickly. For 2 weeks following the surgery you can’t do sport, wear eye make-up or get your eyes wet or steamy. You can bath and shower, but make sure you don’t get your eyes too wet or get soap or shampoo in them. In terms of contacts sports or a sport like kitesurfing, you need to wait 6 weeks. I was also given pain killers, which I never had to use.
Oh, and your going to cry a lot, it is very emotional being able to see so clearly! (Okay so you probably won’t cry, unless you’re a cry baby like me!)
After the surgery, you go back the next day to have the clear contact lense removed and to have your eyes checked again. Then you go back for a checkup in 2 weeks and then again after 3 months.
Dr Johann Kruger
Dr Kruger is an amazing doctor! Not only because of his vast experience (see all his degrees below) but also because of his passion and care.
Qualifications: M.B.,Ch.B.(Stell.) M.Fam.Med. (O.F.S.) B.Sc. (Hon.)(Pharm.)(Stell.)M.Med.(Ophth.)(Stell.) F.C.S.(Ophth.)(S.A.)F.R.C.S.(Edin.)(Ophth.)
You can tell he truly cares about his patients! I also loved how he talks you through what is happening during the surgery, and makes you feel very relaxed throughout. He also has a charity, appropriately called The Gift of Sight.
Join me at their charity golf day:
See more about Dr Kruger here
How to get in touch:
www.eyelaserclinic.co.za / firstname.lastname@example.org / +27 21 910 0300
Dr Kruger, thank you for giving me the gift of sight!