What getting laser eye surgery is like, part 2.

Missed part 1? Catch it here.

Same-day recovery: the first four hours.

The four hours after the surgery were a trying time. Basically this is the time when the corneal flap closes up, and so it’s critical to follow the doctor’s orders to avoid complications.

So that’s pretty much what I did. I was quickly able to tune into a netcast of a news radio station — one that tells you what time it is every 10 minutes — and sat on the couch. And did almost nothing but wait and blink.

The first hour was OK. At this stage your eyes are still anaesthetized, so you really don’t feel much of anything. You quickly realize how boring and scary it must be to be blind.

After an hour, you get incredibly light-sensitive. You know you have to blink, but as soon as you open your eyes at all your eyes fill with tears and you just want to close them again. It’s a bit of a scary time too because with the tears you can’t see anything sharply anymore, and you get a little paranoid that somehow your blinking has damaged or folded the corneal flaps. I got past this stage by wearing a dark towel over my head; I could see light coming through the towel’s weave, and if I held the towel at a proper distance from my eyes I could clearly see the detail of the material sharply.

In the third hour, pain started to appear, and sharply too. It literally feels like you have a little jagged circular scar around your cornea (because, well, I think that’s exactly what’s happening). You feel it scraping against your eyelids every time you close your eyes. Tears flow freely during that time. I used Advil at that time, I found it to work very well in making the pain bearable. You’re still intensely light-sensitive too; I could look around my darkened room at this time, but only as long as I avoided any sight of my laptop screen. As soon as I saw that it felt like the light was battering my eyes.

The fourth hour began like the third hour, but things gradually got better. The eyes started feeling smooth again, and light started to not bother me so much. At the end of the fourth hour I didn’t need the dark towel anymore.

Same-day recovery: later in the day.

After those four hours you can start opening your eyes for longer periods of time, and this time gets gradually longer as the hours go by. At first you switch on the TV to listen to the shows, but gradually you start taking longer glimpses at what’s going on on the screen. Mind you, it’s still recommended to keep your eyes closed most of the time, so you end up watching a few seconds of a show, closing your eyes for 30 seconds to a minute, then watching a few seconds again. My operation took place at 12:30, and I watched the CSI episode at 21:00 in such a fashion.

I went to bed around 23:00 eagerly anticipating the moment where I could take the plastic shells off my face.


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