Piercing gaze: A surgeon measures the thickness of a patient’s cornea with an ultrasound probe in preparation for Lasik surgery Image Credit: Corbis

I had been wearing glasses since the age of ten when I was diagnosed with astigmatism (a condition, in which the cornea is the wrong shape, resulting in blurred vision). As an active teenager it was a big hindrance. I eventually switched to contacts, but they came with their own problems. I would regularly get eye infections. It was also very expensive. My eyesight got worse and every year I would have to invest in new glasses and contact lenses. By the time I was 25 I wanted a change. I researched a number of places in Dubai that offered Lasik surgery and Atlanta Vision Clinic came up frequently.

Lasik stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, a refractive surgery, which reshapes the cornea. During the procedure, a small flap is cut in the top of the cornea and underlying corneal tissue is removed using a laser. The flap is then put back in place. According to Dr Farooq Ashraf of Atlanta Vision Clinic, the success rate is 98 per cent.

I went for an initial consultation where a number of tests were performed to see if I was suitable for the operation. Dr Edmondo Borasio, Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai, says that people unsuitable for Lasik include those with eye diseases, severe dry eyes or excessively thin or weak corneas.

The patient’s eye number should also be below six or maximum at eight if they are near-sighted and below 4.5 if they are far-sighted.

Anybody more than 18 years old can be checked for suitability.

Quick relief

What surprised me was how quick and painless the operation was. For having both my eyes corrected, I was in the surgical suite for about 15 minutes. Dr Ashraf says the laser treatment is usually performed in less than a minute but the entire procedure takes a 
little longer.

The operation is done under local anaesthesia using medicated eye drops, so I felt nothing at all. The only slight discomfort was the pressure of the apparatus being put into place. I was told to look at the red light and not move while the surgery was being carried out.

When I left, my eyes were slightly blurry and felt scratchy but I could see. I was told to have someone drive me home. When I woke up the next day and automatically reached for my glasses I realised that my vision was perfect. I was amazed at how simple 
it was.

I was told that after the surgery I would need to wear sunglasses for a couple of weeks due to their sensitivity. I also needed to put drops in every hour for a few days and another lot of drops once or twice a day for a few months to ensure they didn’t get infected or dehydrated.

After a month I noticed the eyesight in one of my eyes had gone down. I was warned this might have happened due to how bad my eyesight was before going in. Dr Ashraf says that around 5-10 per cent of patients need another follow-up enhancement laser surgery three months later to adjust the vision.

I underwent surgery for a second time to correct one eye. After going through the after-care procedures again, both my eyes were perfect and I haven’t had a problem since.

Cost

At the Atlanta Vision Clinic prices range from Dh4,000 to Dh7,000 per eye depending on the type of procedure.