Thursday 3 November 2016


We were up betimes this morning to be at the hospital for 9 a.m., so I could be punctured. The general idea is that my eye-balls, being a slightly odd shape, make me (and other long-sighted people) a bit more susceptible to acute glaucoma, which is definitely not something you want on your medical history. This happens, apparently, when the fluid in the front part of the eye can't drain out because of its normal pathway becoming blocked. So they drill an extra hole between the front and the back, through the iris, just in case. And to drill the hole they use a laser.

Up to a point it was a bit like going to the optician. You put your chin on the chinny thing, and rest your forehead against a bar to hold everything steady while gazing close-up at a complicated piece of optical equipment. But that was where the likeness stopped. The surgeon had already already put some drops in my eyes to shrink-stretch the iris, on the same principle as a balloon being easier to pop when it's blown up and tight. By the time I got into the darkened room this was causing quite an eye-ache. Then he put another drop of something in to anaesthetise the front of the eye. The problem with anaesthetics, of course, is to do with insertion before they numb the respective part (as every dentist knows). He kept issuing more and more tissues from his box, while I reminded myself that I am a man, and have faced many worse things on a hockey pitch. Then it was time for what the explanatory leaflet had called a "special contact lens". This turned out to be a large plastic object, lubricated with a layer of some gooey stuff, to be attached to the eye and tucked in top and bottom. After that came the laser.

I had thought, in my innocence, that he would aim the gun, fire, and that would be that. The leaflet said nothing about target practice. 28 shots it took in my left eye. With the right, which he did first, I hadn't known I would want to count them. His comment, when I asked, suggested that he had created a hole and now needed to enlarge it. Meanwhile I was feeling each one and seeing stars and fireworks in the red colour that shows up on the shirt of an assassin's target just before the deed is done. I was riddled!

Ah well, all good things come to an end. He issued me with a third type of eye-drop, to be used 4 times a day for a week. That makes one drop for each time he pulled the trigger. They're corticosteroids, and therefore almost certainly on WADA's list of banned substances. Just as well I'm not in training for something for which I would have to submit to doping tests.

I had three thoughts about this. First, whoever analysed the aetiology of acute glaucoma was a genius. Second, whoever dreamed up a procedure for shooting you with a laser to pre-empt the condition was (or is) a mega-genius. Third, I am truly grateful for the NHS, which makes the process of getting from optician's general check-up to being laser-riddled today as complication-free as it has been.


  1. Hmm. When I clicked on the title of this post I got this message: "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist." But clicking on the blog title allows me to read the post.

    I take it you can still see!

    1. I noticed an error, went to edit it, and accidentally created a second version of the post. I immediately deleted it, bit that would have been too late for some readers which are set to snaffle them up immediately. I had both showing up in my own feedly feed.

      Put it down to the aftermath of the procedure, if you will. It's left me feeling a bit wobbly as I walked round to our church's worship band practice tonight. But yes, thank you, I can see!