06:30. The clock across the room tells me.
A miracle has happened. For the first time in more than two decades, I'm able to read the time from a distance without glasses or contact lenses.
Thanks to the intraocular contact lens (ICL) implant surgery, my vision has gone from worse than -10.00 in both eyes (plus astigmatism) to nearly perfect.
An impossible mission has been made possible by the amazing doctors at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London.
Like many people who have had their vision corrected, I wish I had done it sooner. Except in my case, an earlier operation could've meant a horrific and irreversible consequence.
The Truth About LASIK
Not everyone is suitable for LASIK surgery, the popular technique that permanently thins and reshapes the cornea by removing selective tissue with laser. There is a limit to how much corneal tissue can be safely removed in refractive surgery, and people with higher refractive errors (usually -10.00 or worse) generally would not benefit from LASIK, as they tend to have very thin cornea with not enough tissue for the surgery to be successful.
A few years back, I almost fell victim to a misleading promise from a high street vision clinic which could've left my cornea permanently damaged.
The doctor at the high street clinic who examined my eyes briefly mentioned about the lens implant option during my consultation. His assessment was that LASIK would be just as effective and much more affordable, therefore even though my prescription was outside the safe zone, I was booked in for the LASIK surgery at its Harley Street location for about £2,000 per eye.
On the day of my surgery, a different doctor saw me for a pre-operation chat and surprisingly contradicted his colleague's evaluation and advised me against getting LASIK, because the result wouldn't be satisfactory and worse - the prescription would return within a year or less.
Later I learned that some patients with thin corneas may even come out of LASIK surgery with visual disturbances or swollen and bulging eyes. It gives me the chills just thinking about what my vision would've been like now had this honest doctor not come along.
What Is ICL?
ICL is simply an "implantable contact lens" surgery, where a specially made contact lens is inserted into the eye through a small incision and anchored in front of the natural lens. It's generally the preferred procedure for correcting higher refractive errors, and the result is permanent and fully reversible.
After the devastating experience at the high street clinic, I halted my mission to pursue better vision and started researching further about my options. One place that kept coming up in my search for high success rate and excellent aftercare was Moorfields Eye Hospital.
A couple people I know had LASIK surgery there and were perfectly happy with the outcome. Moorfields has been around since 1805 and is the largest specialist eye hospital in the world. "Moorfields Private" is the fee-paying division that specialises in laser eye surgery, ICL, cataracts and etc. The fees at Moorfields are on a higher scale compared to most eye clinics, and you definitely get what you pay for.
My ICL Surgery
Unlike LASIK where both eyes are done on the same day, ICL is performed on one eye at a time with the second eye usually done five or more days after the first one.
This was my one and only surgery in life (fingers crossed!!) and my inexperience was evident. I was fascinated by everything that happened around me, from the implementation of local anesthesia, getting into a hospital gown, being on an operating table, the sedation process, blanking out on the entire surgery, and the hospital room exclusively for my use where I was served a very tasty lunch.
Once the anesthesia wore off, I was sent home with a few bottles of eye drops to stablize the eye pressure and prevent infection. I was instructed to wear the protective eye shield at night, avoid swimming or any contact sport for a month and avoid straining the eyes.
It was a smooth and painless operation, and the vision improvement was almost instantaneous. I was thrilled beyond belief when the doctor told me that one eye actually achieved 20/20 vision, while the other was not much weaker.
For a girl who'd been as blind as a bat for most of her adult life, the ICL operation at Moorfields is life-changing. Modern technology is simply, and clearly, miraculous.