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Finally no more glasses or contact lenses – my experience with Laser Eye Surgery

Making the decision and reasons why

I decided to get Laser Vision Correction done. It was not a quick decision at all though. I always thought about it a long time ago but never felt sure about it and had doubts. Also my vision always used to get worse every year and then there is no point really as eventually within a year or so after the surgery I would need glasses again. Optometrists always said, it only makes sense once the vision is stabilized and does not get worse anymore. Well that finally happened in the last 2 years and a bit, it stayed at -4.5 on my left eye and -4 on my right eye. For people who are nearsighted as well know, that that is quite a bit or better said you feel almost blind without glasses or contacts. And so sometimes it also has happened that I misplaced my glasses in my flat and was not able to find them as everything is simply fairly blurry appearing. When going outside, most of the times I was wearing contacts anyways. That worked fine mostly, just sometimes the eyes got sore when wearing them for too many hours, like longer than 14 hours usually. And especially in the morning when being tired, I had trouble getting the contact lenses in my eyes, like the eyes were so sleepy and felt sore and it took me forever to get them in my eyes.

So it was not always that easy living with contacts, but it was ok and I was used to it. Even though that was for sure a reason for the laser eye surgery. But also for me it is the freedom being able to do water sports. I love snorkeling and diving. I even had a diving mask with prescription glasses made, which was fine under water. But at the beach or on a boat I had to leave the mask on in order to see something; as when I took the mask off, everything was blurry and I could not find my friends for example. People were sometimes laughing at me why I am not taking the mask of, and then I did, but only for a few seconds as I was feeling almost blind. Changing back to the normal glasses or to contact lenses usually took a while, and without any glasses I was not able to find my bag. Funny memories, well and surfing I always wanted to try, but never did because it would probably only work with contacts and goggles as protection not to lose the contacts in the water.

So yes, to summarize, my reasons to get the laser eye surgery done were more comfort and simplicity of just waking up and being able to see without putting contacts in the eyes first, no sore eyes after extended hours of contact lenses wearing and the freedom of enjoying water sports worry free.

My boyfriend has done the eye laser surgery a few years ago and was able to see perfectly ever since, so I also went to the same clinic, the Clearview Institute in Toronto. The first appointment consisted of several eye tests to check if I am eligible for the procedure, as not every person is able to. Luckily my eyes passed the test and I got a consultation where I could ask questions. There are different procedures like SMILE, PRK and LASIK depending on different needs and different eyes. According to the eye tests the doctor has recommended SMILE for me, it is a gentle laser vision correction procedure that requires only a small incision. Most of the upper layers of the cornea are unaffected with SMILE. It is a flapless minimally invasive and gentle refractive procedure for correcting higher degrees of myopia with or without astigmatism.

It still took a few months until I finally decided to get the surgery done. Reason being is also to take at least a few days off work after, better one week, and that requires a bit of planning. Also very important to mention is that one week before the surgery no contact lenses are allowed. That seems not an issue for most people, and also the doctor only mentioned it briefly in the consultation like it’s not an issue at all and people can work normally just simply with glasses then. Well not for me and certainly for a few other occupations, being on camera often requires a certain look and if glasses are allowed is not a guarantee. So I was planning to take 2 weeks off initially, one week before and one week after the surgery to allow time to recover and heal.

One week before the surgery - no contact lenses anymore

My last day of contact lenses was a memorable one, as they were part of my life since I was a teenager and so it felt strange to not wear them anymore probably forever. Excited and nervous at the same time I was trying to take the week before surgery off, but it was not meant to happen that way.

Day 1 with glasses I was booked on a video shoot, the first shoot ever where I was wearing my glasses as I usually always wear my contacts and hardly anyone even knows me with glasses. In a few shoots I got fashion glasses for style or fun on top of my contacts, but never actually wore my glasses and being like blind without them. It did feel really strange for me to go out with my glasses as I usually never did. The video commercial for Condor Concierge Luxury Condominium Service will be a memory of my nearsighted eyes and glasses.

Day 2 with glasses felt a bit more normal, I was working at an event as model, but the client was absolutely OK with wearing glasses.

On day 3 I almost forgot that I am not allowed to wear contact lenses and out of habit almost put them in and just remembered in the last moment to not do so. It’s just so natural and normal like brushing the teeth, so I really had to be careful and concentrate to break that habit.

Day 4 and 5 felt more normal, as I just was home and chilled and then I usually always wear my glasses and not my contact lenses.

On day 6 I had a casting and a fitting for a modeling job and I felt more than awkward having to wear glasses, especially as photos are taken and in my portfolio I am a girl without glasses. Also I was getting slightly more nervous as the surgery date was approaching soon.

On day 7 I was booked on another video shoot and here I was not allowed to be on camera with my glasses. The client has booked me without glasses and wanted that look, so I was just wearing the glasses in between takes and in breaks. I was feeling like blind and it certainly was a challenge to smile and pretend to be able to see, not being bothered by the headache that developed from my eyes trying to focus without success. It was a whole day shoot with long hours, but luckily lots of breaks for wardrobe changes, make up touch ups, hair changes, set changes etc. and each time while being off camera I put on my glasses right away.

Break on set to rest my eyes and wear glasses.

Day 8 with glasses was a very sunny day and so I had to wear my sunglasses on top of the normal glasses, like wearing double glasses it certainly looked quite hilarious and also felt slightly heavy on my nose. I had castings again, and again with glasses, which felt strange again. Also final eye tests at Clearview Institute were conducted, as also at that stage not every person is eligible to get eye laser surgery done. I got to take the first eye drops that day too.

Surgery day

Day 9 with glasses was the day of the surgery, a Thursday, all day was no makeup allowed, not even a tiny bit of mascara. That may be OK for lots of people, but I usually always wear at least a bit of mascara. It basically looks like almost no makeup look, but still a bit nicer than nothing at all. Also most people who do the surgery still go to work that day, but be aware that not all occupations allow you to be absolutely makeup free. Obviously in my industry in photo and video shoots makeup is a must 99% of the time. But also in other fields like customer service for example, I have never seen a woman with a bare face. I am just saying this in case anybody is considering the laser surgery to plan this accordingly.

At 6 pm in the evening is the time of the surgery, the nurse gave me a few tablets so that I don’t feel the pain. Right before I enjoyed a few fresh made cookies from the bakery and they tasted absolutely amazing, so good that I enjoyed not just one but several. They have the cookies there in the waiting area for every patient before the surgery and for me as a sweets lover that is absolutely astounding. I got a blue protection hair net and also some blue feet protectors. The whole laser was quick, it felt like about 15 minutes or so. It was all super modern, like a sci-fi movie feeling, and the doctor was talking to me throughout the whole time.

Right before the surgery.

After the surgery

Right after my vision was foggy like underwater in the pool with blurry colors. That is absolutely normal and luckily my boyfriend was holding my hand to help me navigate, as by yourself that would be too scary. We took an Uber home and I started feeling drowsy, I kept my eyes closed with the sunglasses I have gotten, the eyes were tearing and I felt a slight pain. At home I felt like felling over, losing balance due to the tablets, so I went straight to bed and literally fell asleep right away. Just every hour I had to take eye drops until 11 pm, so my boyfriend put an alarm to wake me up every hour to put in the drops. Also I had to wear the sunglasses while sleeping to protect the eyes and to prevent any rubbing.

At 8 am the next morning, on Friday, the alarm goes again for the next drops and pretty much every hour till 11 pm again. It is a lot of drops and various different ones, mainly to prevent infection, numb the eyes and to hydrate them. I went to the clinic for the first eye test after the laser surgery and it is all looking normal. The vision was a bit better, but still very blurry. I could not read, not read from my phone either, no TV, nothing what I usually do. For most tasks you need to be able to see clearly. So I was folding some clothes, organizing my wardrobe, did laundry, cleaned my desk and took lots of naps throughout the day. The eyes felt itchy and I experienced a slight sensation of pain. I could feel that my body needed rest to heal. Also my eyes were irritated from any light, even the normal light bulbs in the flat, so I dimmed them, kept the blinds closed, and still was wearing sunglasses all day and even during the night while sleeping.

On Saturday, day 2 after the surgery my vision was still very blurry, again no phone, TV or reading at all was possible. We went outside for a walk with the sunglasses and still all lights also the ones in the subway felt too bright. I was resting the remainder of the day listening to audio books with closed eyes, the only thing you can do pretty much without vision. Also I remember that day, that I showered in the dark in the bathroom as the eyes were irritated from any light.

Day 3 after the surgery, Sunday was the first day I was checking some messages on my phone again. I needed to hold the phone more far away than usual in order to being able to read, like usually farsighted people do. I was a bit worried first that now my vision may have changed from nearsightedness to farsightedness. But I also accepted the fact that it takes some time to heal and it is not for everyone the same. Apparently my boyfriend was recovering faster and he remembered to being able to see clearly right away. So every person is unique. We were playing some board games and it was quite funny as often times I could not read the cards properly. It was like the vision was slowly recovering, sometimes I could read properly, but all of a sudden it was getting blurry again. Also I remember I was not able to look into the TV, even with the sunglasses inside the flat it was too bright and all appeared just blurry.

Monday, day 4 after the surgery I was back posting on social media, checking emails etc.; still wearing the sunglasses though as the screen light from the phone or laptop felt too bright. Actually it felt good to have a break from the phone and laptop for a few days and I thought to myself that it would be a good idea to have a phone free day like once a week for example. At night time I was looking out of the balcony and was super happy. For the first time ever I could see the moon very clear without glasses or contact lenses, it was a very special feeling. Because during day time I still needed the sunglasses all the time as every light was irritating and too bright and also the vision was not stabilized yet. It is like sometimes I see, sometimes it is all like looking through grids and its blurry.

Tuesday, day 5 was similar, no special improvement and I still take little breaks to close my eyes throughout the day to help them recover.

Wednesday, day 6 after the surgery was the first day that I could watch TV properly and look into the screen without my eyes hurting. Also my right eye was able to see crystal clear, phenomenal compared to the days before. The left eye still felt a bit foggy though.

Thursday, day 7 after the surgery I had an acting gig and really felt like things are almost back to normal, sunglasses only outside now in bright sun light but not all the time anymore and even indoors like the days before. I was wearing make up again for the first time too, probably I could have done it earlier as it’s only advised a few days after the surgery to prevent any infections. But it is better to be very careful in the first week. So is also no swimming pool allowed or sweating in the eye area due to exercise for example. I went to the clinic for an eye test and my right eye has perfect vision, the left eye is lagging a bit behind, but it is nothing to be concerned about. Also I had to buy new eye drops, now it’s only every 2 hours and only preservative free drops just to keep the eyes hydrated. It is different for everyone, some people don’t need eye drops anymore at this stage. But mine are a bit more dry compared to the average person. And it is a normal after effect from the laser to have dry eyes afterwards for a while. Especially in my case the eyes were already more dry before the surgery, very likely due to the use of contact lenses for years.

From now on I felt very happy about my new vision and just had to be careful with bright lights and was wearing sunglasses as much as possible. Even at one photo shoot in the studio the bright studio lights were straining my eyes a bit and luckily I was just a hand model for a jewellery brand and could wear sunglasses as only my hands were featured.

One month after the surgery was the next doctor’s appointment and everything is looking great, the right eye is still stronger, but it can be normal that that is the dominant eye. I still don’t need any glasses or contacts for the left eye.

Another appointment I had 3 months after the surgery and all is looking good, my vision is perfect, even though the right eye is still stronger than the left one. I still have to take drops, I started to reduce it though. Only here and there when I feel like it as opposed to every 2 hours. The doctor told me I probably have to take the eye drops at least up to 6 months after the surgery.

Snorkeling for the first time without a prescription mask.

Now as I am writing this, it is 6 months now and I still use the drops in the morning and at night and sometimes during the day when it feels dry. I hope that it will get less dry and within a year after surgery I will not need any eye drops anymore. Apparently nutrition like taking fish oils may help too and I recently started taking them. But anyways I am more than happy, putting a bit of eye drops in my eyes is much less effort than putting in contact lenses every day and taking them out again. It is a feeling of new freedom and comfort to be able to see clearly. I just went snorkeling on Malta for holidays and for the first time ever I didn’t need my prescription mask and I could just use a normal snorkeling mask, was able to see the beach clearly, find my bag without problems and could see the beautiful fish under water. It was the best feeling ever.


Anja Meyer

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