2016 04 28
I delayed surgery for 10 years, I wish I hadn't - says the businesswoman
21 years – this is how long Gražina from Vilnius suffered from gradual worsening of her vision. She had been wearing glasses since she was 18 and was quite used to the associated inconveniences. However, when traveling home one evening she experienced a sudden deterioration, which prompted her to look for a solution.
At first, Gražina only used spectacles for driving, later she could only see well at short distances, while distant objects appeared blurry. Gražina had a busy life – she had a responsible management job, was an active communicator, and a mother of young children. When she forgot her glasses, complications ensued. “At home, I had to keep my glasses away from the children. There were occasions when I didn’t say hello to people I knew when they were waving at me – only because my glasses were left at home. Without the glasses, I could not drive, work, or watch TV,” Gražina remembers.
When Gražina turned 39, she decided to give contact lenses a try but they made her eyes even more sensitive, a few hours later she started feeling a tingling sensation and could not see well. She realized that contact lenses did not suit her and she would have to look for a different solution.
She changed her opinion through a friend’s experience
“I didn’t have a lot to choose from – it was either glasses or vision correction surgery. I didn’t know much about the latter and thought that it was very complicated. My fear was holding me back. It all changed when I met someone I knew who told me about a relative of his who had laser correction surgery. Then I thought to myself – if others are brave enough for the surgery, why aren’t I? I considered where to go to, and where to get more information. I finally chose ophthalmologist and microsurgeon Lolita Jotautienė from the Medical Diagnostic and Treatment Centre”, says Gražina.
“Of course, I was glad to hear that it was possible for me to have laser vision correction, but I was very anxious before the surgery knowing that for this surgery patients are not put to sleep. Nevertheless, everything went exactly how my doctor had told me. I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort, I was just tense. It was like a dream because the surgery itself took no more than 10 minutes,” remembers Gražina.
“I was really looking forward to the next morning and wondered how I would feel. When I got up and looked out of the window, I saw everything that I was not able to make out before – neighbours’ houses, trees and every tiny detail. It felt wonderful! I ask myself now – where was I before? Why couldn’t I do it 10 years ago? I could only say that I was busy, and that made me put the changes off. I was scared because I didn’t know that this surgery could be so uncomplicated. Now I understand that I had no reason to be afraid,” shares Gražina.
Thorough pre-operative screening
Dr. L. Jotautienė says that people considering laser vision correction often have many questions to ask. They feel anxious which is normal as people do not know what to expect if they do not have enough information. “The first question that Gražina asked was if it was possible and safe for her to have laser eye surgery at the age of 39. She wanted to be reassured that the corrective surgery was not going to increase the risk of eye diseases in the future and that her post-operative vision at night would be as good as during the day. Gražina really wanted to give up wearing glasses but was scared of the eye surgery. In order for me to answer all the questions that Gražina had, her eyes had to be thoroughly examined,” explains Dr. L. Jotautienė. First of all, we performed tests to establish the prescription of Gražina’s near-sightedness. Dr. Jotautienė asked Gražina about her job and her hobbies because all this information is important in the planning stage of the surgery. Then a thorough assessment of the cornea was performed: thickness, curvature, surface roughness, and shape were measured. After that, the exact measurements of the patient’s pupil size under different light conditions were taken. This is an especially important part of the planning, as it helps to achieve the best precision during the surgery and to ensure good day-time, as well as night-time vision.
With the help of the biomicroscope the doctor performed the examination of the surface and deeper structures of the eye, as well as the retina. This information is crucial when deciding if it is safe for the patient to undergo laser vision correction and for choosing the most suitable method. After the tests Dr. L. Jotautienė diagnosed Gražina with 1st degree near-sightedness and astigmatism, before concluding that she could undergo laser eye surgery. The best and safest method in this particular case was LASIK.
Following the surgery, Gražina had to return to work as soon as possible. Following LASIK eye surgery patients can go back to work and their usual routine on the third day. Gražina was warned that sauna, swimming in public places, sunbeds, and intense physical load should be avoided for a month after the surgery.
Dr. L. Jotautienė told us that Gražina was very worried about the surgery procedure, as such surgeries are normally associated with invasive procedures. It is important to know that during laser vision correction we only touch the outer part of the eyeball to change the shape of the cornea and that the laser beam does not penetrate or reach the deeper parts of the eye. The laser refractive surgery of a single eye takes only 6-7 minutes. The eye is completely numbed with numbing drops.
The surgeon looks at the eye through the microscope throughout the surgery. The laser eye-tracking system scans the eye, the surgeon uses a microkeratome to create a very thin corneal flap and gently lifts it. Once the eye has been prepared for laser input, the laser beam which works with great precision and speed under the control of complex computer programs, is applied. The surgery is highly accurate and the laser tracks even the tiniest involuntary movements of the treated eye. The flap is accurately replaced immediately following the laser application, and that is the end of the procedure.
Gražina returned to be examined by Dr. L. Jotautienė three days later. The doctor established that Gražina’s vision in each eye was 100%, and she could read and work on the computer. Her eyesight was good during the day and at night, and she did not experience any dry eye symptoms.
Gražina is very pleased with her good day and night vision. “I have never seen so well before,” says Gražina, who has already forgotten about her glasses and the contact lenses. Even though she hesitated before getting the courage for the change, she is now confident that vision is one of the biggest gifts that we, humans, have, and it deserves all the questions and answers as well as getting rid of the doubt when it finally leads to better eyesight by way of laser eye correction.