I got FEMTO-LASIK laser eye surgery | Diabetes Experience
Like many people who get diagnosed late with Diabetes Type I, I have had glasses for most of my life. As glasses have become increasingly annoying to me, especially with face masks, I have made a lifelong dream come true and underwent FEMTO-LASIK laser eye surgery. Here are my experiences.
Diabetes has many effects on different parts of the body. As I am not a doctor, I don’t wanna go into that (more info here), and rather focus on my personal experiences. My eyes have gotten consistently worse until my Diabetes was diagnosed and I started my Insulin-based therapy. It’s a therapy I will have to continue for the rest of my life as Diabetes Type I is an auto-immune disease that, speaking in simple terms, dismantles the pancreas and surrounding areas that produce insulin.
Since my blood sugar is now on a steady and healthy level similar to those of people without Diabetes, I can do just about anything without having to worry. I can get tattoos, piercings and have surgeries without having to expect complications or (bacterial) infections that may occur with untreated Diabetes.
LASIK in Europe
Laser eye surgery has, for the longest time, been a really expensive procedure to undergo in Europe. Most of the people I know who have had it done went to eastern european countries to get a better deal on the procedure. However, I wanted to stay in Austria, especially during a pandemic it didn’t seem wise to go too far. A friend recommended a doctor in Vienna with reasonable prices (€ 2.600 for both eyes including all check-ups and preliminary examinations), so I made an appointment shortly after coming home from Berlin.
Before the surgery, I had to drive there twice to have all kinds of examinations. I think my eyes have never had more attention, well except maybe for the two times I got glass splinters in them and had to cover them up. After the exams, I got the news that I was able to get LASIK, which is an easier and less invasive (and slightly more expensive) type of laser eye surgery compared to other methods.
Are you afraid?
Before the surgery, friends constantly asked me if I was afraid and I always answered that I didn’t know why I should be. Was I supposed to be? Yes, of course, I would hate it if I moved my eyeball and the laser did something wrong. But since my doctor told me that the machine was using an eye tracker with a reaction time of a fraction of a millisecond, I was really chill. On another level, many things in my life didn’t go right at that point, so maybe all my negative thoughts were already busy in other areas.
The operation itself is pretty fast and straightforward. First, I was tested for COVID-19 and then escorted to surgery with around 6-8 people present. First, the eye is being fixated so you can’t blink, then it is being ‘sucked’ on by some kind of a machine. During this process, your eyesight turns black which at first is scary but completely normal. As far as I understood at that point they make a ‘flap’ of the upper layer of the cornea. This flap will be opened, so the laser can later shape the areas underneath.
The real fun begins when the laser starts working. My doctor told me that there’s nothing you could do wrong because the eye tracker is very exact. However, you should follow a green light with your eye while the laser does its magic. This is also the weirdest part of the operation because you can very well sense what the laser is doing. It doesn’t hurt though! I thought that this process smelled like a tasty barbeque – until I realized that what I was smelling was my eye being lasered!
Everyone is different, so this is just my story! After the operation, I got a contact lens that I should keep in for one day. In the first week, it is very important to use the eye drops provided, not to rub the eyes, put no lotions on the face and wash your hair carefully, so that no shampoo and ideally no water touches the eyes.
Right after the operation I already saw pretty well. My eyes were not sensitive to light and didn’t hurt – I didn’t even have to wear sunglasses even though I brought the most obnoxious ones I owned with me! The only thing that was annoying was that damn contact lens. I find contact lenses to be very uncomfortable and the whole time I was thinking that this was, hopefully, the last lens I ever had to wear. I also had a foggy layer on top of my vision. According to my doctors, this was normal and supposed to vanish over the course of around 48 hours.
After they removed the contact lens the next day, everything was getting much better. I was a little worried because I had real problems seeing things that are very close to my face. My doctor told me it could take a while for my eyes and brain to get used to the new circumstances.
As part of the aftercare, you have to continuously use three different kinds of eye drops. One of these eyedrops is cortisol-based which is always a little bit of a pain in the ass when you have diabetes. In my case, however, I didn’t notice any differences in my glucose levels because of the drops.
A week after
It’s been a week since the operation now and I don’t think my eyesight is perfect yet. However, I can do all the things I did before without having problems. For the first few days, I had major problems with looking at screens (you shouldn’t do that anyway) which is way better now, most of the blurriness has gone too. When I went for my checkup, my doctor said that my eyes healed perfectly and I could now wash my face, apply lotions, etc. again. They also said that my pupils and my brain still have to accommodate to the new situation and that any weirdness I might notice will also fade away. I know from other people who had LASIK done that it can take a couple of weeks, or in some cases even longer, for the eyesight to be completely adjusted, so I’m looking forward to my eyesight becoming even clearer. For now, I’m just happy I finally had it done and that the procedure was as uncomplicated as it was communicated beforehand.
A little backstory?