Eye on the ball

05 Sep 2011

Health & Beauty
Posted on 25/08/2011
by Christine Allen


Having worn contact lenses and glasses for over 18 years, Munster rugby player, Doug Howlett, says laser eye surgery has changed his life. He tells Christine Allen what life was like before and after surgery at Optilase Clinic in Cork Doug Howlett began wearing spectacles at a young age as he suffered short sightedness. He says his emergence into the world of professional sport was always tainted because of his sight problems and his game was always tinged with anxiety about his contact lenses.


“It was really difficult at times, my contact lenses would be loose. I play a full contact sport, I could easily get a finger into the eye.”
He says he once played a game with only one contact lense in. “The other had fallen out and was lost. I played the game with one eye closed, in a bid to focus my other eye. It was terrible,” he explains.


He also needed glasses to drive and says his first moments in the morning involved wrestling with contact lenses.
“It became the norm - I’d wash my face and try put my contacts in.”


Like many people, Doug imagined the laser eye surgery as being a frightening experience and for around ten years, he considered the surgery.
He says, however, that the more he researched the modern treatment, the more he wanted to have the procedure.


“I never had the courage to go through with the surgery - I couldn’t stand the thought of anything prodding my eyes or going anywhere near them.
“But then I made contact with the team at Optilase. They were fantastic and explained each step of the procedure to me. The surgery has progressed since I first started looking into it all those years ago.”


The Munster rugby player and former All Black says he had one small window of opportunity to have the surgery.


“I decided to have the procedure in June this year, while we were off season,” he says.
After an initial consultation, Doug says his surgery was a simple walk-in, walkout appointment of under 15 minutes. He underwent the Lasik (Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) on 21 June. He says his surgeon was fantastic and the process was simple.


“Laser eye surgery has been life changing for me. I woke up the next day to a whole new world and was back at light training the following week – I just wish I had done it sooner.”


With an outstanding 49 tries in 62 tests, Howlett is currently the 5th-highest try scorer in Rugby Union history and first on the all-time highest try scorers for the All Blacks. He has a reputation of being one of the fastest wings ever in the history of the game. Now he has 20:20 vision, to add to all that.


“I wasn’t allowed play any full contact sport for six weeks after the surgery, but I was allowed to train that week. I’m back playing now, though and I don’t know myself. When I wake in the morning, I can see my alarm clock. I can drive without wearing glasses and as for my sport, I have no issues there. Some have joked even that now, I have no excuses!”


Optilase offers a full range of advanced treatments and customised procedures including Lasik, Lasek and IntraLase laser eye surgery, as well as Premier and Advanced CustomVue WaveFront laser eye technology. They also offer a Lifetime Care Guarantee as standard with all of their treatments.


Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy (LASIK) is the most common procedure and the treatment of choice for patients with higher prescriptions. Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy (LASEK) is available for patients for whom IK is not an advisable procedure and uses the laser to reshape the cornea. Both use an advanced VISX Star S4 IR laser, the most precise laser technology in the world according to FDA clinical outcome result. With both the IK and EK treatments, you have the choice of either Premier or Advanced WaveFront Treatment.


The Optilase team includes Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeons, Laser Optometrists, nurses and coordinators who are leaders in their fields, in Ireland, Europe and worldwide.


With free consultations, the price of laser eye surgery starts at only €495 per eye.
Phone Optilase at Unit 17B, Opera Lane on 1890-301302 for a free consultation or visit www.optilase.com. The clinic also offers a lifetime care guarantee addressing any patient concerns. The clinic is open seven days a week and late nights.

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