Article published in Metro Herald, June 8th, 2011.
Laser eye surgery: A short-sighted Daragh Reddin discusses his spec-wearing history upon his first visit to Optilase where he discovers he is eligible for laser eye surgery.
My tempestuous relationship with eye-wear began more than 20 years ago when I was a dopey, mildly-myopic nine year- old, who’d started to struggle more and more with making out the blackboard
(not just what was written on the blackboard but the board itself). A visit from the public health optician confirmed what I’d long suspected: I would need glasses and I would need them pronto. Now, in my wide-eyed innocence I wasn’t at all perturbed by the prospect – quite the opposite. I was absolutely certain, in fact, that my new spectacles would lend me a rakish charm and sophistication that would endear me to my class-mates in a way that would have been unimaginable were I not blessed with mole-like vision. Oh, the folly. Now I’m not sure whose idea it was – it certainly wasn’t mine – but for some reason I was encouraged to opt for (ie coerced into) choosing a pair of bargain-basement, salmon pink, horn-rimmed specs that made me look a little like the simple-minded love child of Eric Morecombe and Nana Mouskouri. Thanks mum.
Suffice it to say that the adulation and popularity I’d dreamed of did not follow. And, to make matters worse, as I progressed through primary school my eyesight regressed dramatically, so that by the time
I reached sixth-class my frames were now quivering under the weight of my jam-jar prescription. In fact, had I chosen to avenge my tormenters – ‘spec-head’ was the most frequent and galling term of abuse –
there would have been a certain degree of poetic justice in bludgeoning them to death with my glasses, which were now about as heavy as a good paper weight and just as deadly.
Thank God for the Pat-Kenny-like visors which I would graduate to in secondary school; naff as they were, they were nothing if not an improvement. And at least college was a less ignominious experience,
thanks mainly to my new, though no less fraught, relationship with contact lenses. Granted, fogged-up specs became a thing of the past, but now I had to contend with dry, irritable eyes and waking up
hungover – at least once a fortnight – with morning after- the-night-before contacts clinging to my eye balls like exceptionally tenacious barnacles.
Now that my prescription has – after so many years following a steady downward trajectory – finally stabilised (at minus eight in both eyes I’d be hard pressed to recognise my own reflection in the mirror
without glasses) I decided to take affirmative action and consider laser eye surgery.
Though I’m a tad nervous about whether or not I’ll be eligible, a preliminary consultation at Optilase, one of Ireland’s most reputable laser eye clinics, sees my fears abated. Firstly, Optilase’s handsome and light-filled headquarters on Dublin’s Ely Place feels in no way hospital-like, which is a relief for a wuss like me who goes weak-kneed at the slightest whiff of disinfectant. I’m also feeling very encouraged after flicking through the guest book in the lobby which is filled with testimonials from customers who aren’t merely satisfied with their results – but positively ecstatic.
I meet with affable optometrist Michael Rogers who spends more than an hour rigorously checking my eyes for eligibility with recourse to a series of cutting-edge equipment. At the top of the check-list are prescription (Rx) and its stability, the corneal thickness and curvature, the ocular health at the back of the eye, the intra ocular pressure (IOP) as well as general health and well-being. These results need to be within certain parameters and Optilase have no qualms about saying no to those they deem unsuitable for surgery, which is nothing if not consoling. First up, my prescription is checked through a full
standard sight test which ensures its stability, while a series of non-invasive scans check the thickness and curvature of the eye. Later, an anaesthetic drop and dilating drop are placed in my eye. The former numbs the eye and is used to check IOP and recheck corneal thickness, while the latter enlarges the pupils to study the health of the back of the eye. While this is entirely painless it will render you longsighted
for the remainder of the day so if your work involves reading or using a computer you may want to bunk off for the afternoon. The good news is that I’ve passed the test and Michael begins talking
me through the two types of surgery Optilase offers