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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Patient Reviews

Thelma Scanlon
September 23, 2023

Great experience and great after care. Had 2020 vision within 24 hours with very minimal pain.

Amanda Mulligan
September 23, 2023

Amazing experience , amazing staff, amazing eye sight . I had lens replacement 3 months ago and would highly recommend.

Mr. O’Flynn Education
September 23, 2023

I got my laser eye surgery done on April 20th and couldn’t be happier. I had one hard day of recovery, followed by dry eyes for a small while. Sleeping with the protective goggles is the hardest part, but you’re helped throughout the process by experts. I couldn’t recommend this enough and Optilase were a dream to deal with. Even if you can’t afford the treatment now, you can always talk about a payment plan and get the vision you’ve always wanted.

Holli Burgon
September 18, 2023

I could not rate high enough, consultation was extremely informative and the staff were amazing, very friendly and answered all my questions with ease.

Roisin Byrne
September 15, 2023

I had a wonderful experience in Optilase in Ely Place, the staff were so kind and helpful and made me feel really comfortable. Would absolutely recommend

PAULA Moriarty
September 7, 2023

Couldn't rate Optilase high enough. I had Lens Replacement Surgery. My experience from the first phone call to the procedure itself and the aftercare was fantastic. All of the staff from the call centre to the staff in Carrickmines and the theatre were so helpful and friendly. Would definitely recommend .

September 5, 2023

I had my PRK done on both eyes , and im happy with the result. The post operation pain was extreme but it settled down after 4 days. Now i feel great after 2 weeks post operation no complications what so ever , other than blurry vision now and then, but its improving every day

Rebekah Lowry
August 25, 2023

Got LASIK in Ely Place only yesterday and officially had 20/20 vision just 24 hours later! Cannot recommend Optilase enough from my initial consultation with Aisling in Athlone to my trips to Carrickmines and Ely Place. The staff really look after you from the moment you walk in the door and make you feel so at ease from start to finish - 10 out of 10 experience!

Kate Oto
August 21, 2023

I highly recommend this place, reliable information and care, full professionalism.

Lisa Simcox
August 21, 2023

LASIK was so easy and pain free. It’s one week post surgery and my eye sight is wonderful. I couldn’t recommend enough.

Declan Wynne
August 21, 2023

I no longer need glasses,absolutely life changing.Great aftercare,lovely staff.

Poliana Oliveira
August 9, 2023

I have been wearing glasses for over 20 years. I always hated wearing contact lenses and I got to a time in my life that I needed a change. A friend recommended optilase, I went for the free consultation and the person that did all the exams was really nice and I felt safe and confident enough to go ahead, I was recommended the PRK. I Put on a piece of paper how much I spent and would still spend on glasses for the next 10 years, and the surgery was for sure cheaper than that. My prescription was very high, both eyes, myopia and astigmatism Optilase provided all the information I needed, in clear manner. And they always made clear that there was nothing wrong with my eyes, it was my own choice to go for the surgery. The day of the surgery I was a bit nervous, who wouldn't? But then, from the reception to the surgeon, they were all so nice and welcoming. Hernandez performed the procedure, lovely surgeon, again all information was provided the way it should. I was instructed in what I should and should not do. The actual procedure took less than 15min, I felt nothing, no discomfort or anything. The whole process is very well done by the team, if I remember well around 3 people supporting the surgery plus one other girl providing pos surgery instructions. Right after the procedure I could already see much better than before without glasses! I couldn't believe it, I cried, thanked everyone and left the clinic knowing that I made the best choice. The recovery for PRK is a bit longer, I stayed for 2 full days no phones, or any screens. In the dark. If you have a little one, I would recommend to have someone minding them, as you are very limited in what you can do for the day of and day after surgery. It is hard to open the eyes, the second day after surgery was the toughest, I thought all went wrong as the vision got worst, but again I was advised it could happen. Note that this was my experience and could be different for other people. The 3rd day I felt nothing and could see much better already. Light sensitivity was very high, and still, 6 days after surgery, but nothing that a sun glasses would not help. My vision still blurred, but I need no glasses to see, my eyes feel dry sometimes, but the eye drops provided helps with it and and am very happy with the results already, even knowing it takes a bit longer to fully recover the vision. I'm back to work (screen at 200% to make sure I dont force my eyes too much) and I have had no headaches or anything, which I would have all the time looking at screens for most of my day. I cannot recommend Optilase enough, they are amazing! If you want to do something for your self and want a place you can trust, go for it, choose Optilase. Thanks to the whole team for one of the best things I did for my self!

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