From birth I had bad eyesight and had to wear very thick and unflattering glasses all through school. My prescription for my eyes were -9.00 and -10.00. When I got to 16 I started to wear contact lenses, which were great, but also expensive because of the high prescription, and the various care solutions. It also still meant that I was almost blind before and after having lenses in.
So I looked into laser surgery and went to the usual high street opticians. One company offered to try, if I was prepared to travel, and stay over in London or Manchester, but most said my eyes were too bad and suggested permanent fitted lenses. Then a friend of my husbands recommended Accuvision. I was immediately impressed by the standard of customer care and consideration on my first consultation. I was assured that they could repair my eyes, but it was recommended that I try some different contact lenses which could improve years of damage caused by my other lenses. They were correct, at further consultations my eyes, although still poor, actually got better and better.
Finally the improvement settled and I was ready for the surgery, which would now be less severe than initially diagnosed. I had the whole procedure explained fully to me, including what could possibly go wrong, before I finally consented to the procedure.
My hand was literally held at times all the way through the procedure, and all the staff I came into contact with, both during and after the procedure, were courteous, helpful, reassuring and considerate, and always willing to explain fully everything that was going on. My treatment was a resounding success and I have perfect 20 : 20 vision!!!!!
I write this almost a year after my procedure and just before the last of my regular post operation consultations. When your operation is done you are not forgotten by Accuvision, they see you regularly and they are always at the end of the phone if you have any concerns or worries.
My consultation with Accuvision started with the scans, after which the optometrist asked if I had been told I had Keratoconus before. I had never heard of it, so he explained that it is a degenerative eye condition that can cause blindness. He compared my scans to scans of Keratoconus to back up his diagnosis. He asked if anybody else in my family had Keratoconus, as he said it ran in families. He said it was stable but that it may deteriorate, and need cross linking, at any time, with or without the surgery.
I asked why nobody had diagnosed this before (Optimax said I was fine) and he said Accuvision were experts in Keratoconus, and so they were better at diagnosing it. He later emailed that comparing them to Optimax was like comparing apples and pears. He quoted a price for surgery, and another for cross-linking, but he wanted to check the surgeon was happy with his plan. As I left he gave me an Accuvision leaflet on Keratoconus so that I had more information on my condition.
The main focus in my consultation was Keratoconus. The only warning I remember him giving was that there was no guarantee I would be able to read the bottom line of the chart after surgery, but that the second lowest should be fine. He was very confident and I was left convinced I had Keratoconus. I was so worried about my eyes that I refused to risk going somewhere with less experienced in Keratoconus.
He emailed to say the surgeon was happy to do the surgery, but that due to the shape of my cornea (which he had said was Keratoconus) it would cost £1000 more. There was a new price for cross-linking too. He stated that there was no guarantee I would have perfect vision after surgery but it would be much improved.
I only had a few weeks free so I asked if I should delay the surgery until later, but they gave me extensive confirmation that my eyesight would be better within the time I had. Their emails state that, though my eyes would still be recovering, by the time I had my bandage contact lenses removed (a few days after surgery) my eyesight would be better than it was prior to surgery. Their patient care promise says they "will be honest about potential outcomes for your vision", and they claimed to have a cautious approach, which made me believe that they were being realistic about my recovery. At no point was I told that for months after surgery my eyesight might be worse than before.
Even when signing to accept that I might need a 2nd surgery, I had a staff member saying that it did not really apply to me, as my prescription was so low.
At my 2nd check-up after surgery I was told that my eyesight would improve within 72 hours, but after this one eye was still far worse than before surgery, and so I emailed Accuvision. They admitted later that they saw something was not right but they did not say this at the time, and just left me not taking drops and with no check-ups for 2 weeks.
Finally they admitted that it might be months before my eyesight returned to its pre-surgery level, let alone improve. If they had said this before I would not have had surgery: so much for their patient care promise. I was left rearranging my plans and my work, and being kept away from my family.
Then when I asked another optometrist if Keratoconus was the cause of my problems he replied that I had never had Keratoconus. Before going to Accuvision I had not heard of this condition, and it was why I paid an extra £1000 and why I chose to have surgery with them. Now hearing I had never had this condition seemed unbelievable.
For 3 months I took the drops I had been put back onto and I used a contact lens in one eye (which I had never done before). When I first ran out of drops they said to still use them and a new bottle was sent to me. When I ran out again I emailed Accuvision but I got no reply.
With promises having gone unfulfilled, so much conflicting information (including whether I had a serious eye condition) and also emails regarding my aftercare being ignored I was left very disillusioned. I sent a complaint to them, but they just asked me to attend a check-up.
The check-up showed that my eyes had improved but were still not right. As they could not do a 2nd surgery until my eyes were stable they promised to send me some new lenses. They repeatedly promised that they would order them straight away as I was going abroad shortly after.
As I left they asked me to have a meeting about my complaint, but I said I did not want to. I had come about my eyes, and I was not prepared for anything else. Despite this I was pressured into it. At this point if Accuvision had apologised and really addressed my complaint I would have been happy, but they did not. The head of the surgical team (also founder of Accuvision) led the meeting. He was the one who had decided to charge me the extra £1000. I found him condescending and insincere, and he made me feel very uncomfortable by touching my arm.
He said that I had never had Keratoconus, and that they had never said I did. He said he knew my case, and as I had not thought about how focused on Keratoconus my consultation had been for ages I felt unable to defend my point. I just felt bullied by him, but as I have said I had not heard of Keratoconus before my consultation with Accuvision.
He also said the extra £1000 was so cross-linking could be included in the price, which directly contradicts the emails they sent prior to surgery. Whether he was lying to me, or whether he had forgotten why he set that price I was left disgusted when I reread the emails and saw this contradiction. They have still not even acknowledged this discrepancy.
After this he asked what Accuvision could do to make things better and I asked them to return the £1000 I paid because of Keratoconus. He then promised they would write soon.
Despite their promises they had still not been in touch after 10 days, and no contact lenses had arrived. I emailed them, and they called to say they would write soon. They also said the lenses had not been ordered yet so they would not arrive before I left the country, despite all the promises. He said they would post them to me abroad. Obviously they had forgotten all their promises. Later in emails they even claimed they had posted the lenses abroad at my request, which is ridiculous given it was due to these forgotten promises.
The letter arrived with a small contribution towards refunding the extra I paid. Combined with the broken promises, and their attitude in the meeting, the amount reinforced the feeling of insincerity that I had been given.
They claim to have maintained their professionalism, despite using disproportionately aggressive and threatening language, and making accusations against me, including claiming I have written things that I have not. One website even asked if I had said I would post negative reviews if I did not get more money. This had to be Accuvision, as they have made similar claims to me directly. I have even re-read every email to make sure I have never said anything inadvertently, and I can honestly say there is nothing like this anywhere. I asked them to show me when I had said this, but I have had no reply. They have the same emails I have so I cannot see how they can defend their position on any level. This has caused me a lot of stress, and the loss of lots of sleep, especially as I have to go back to them, as my eyesight is still not right.
So I agreed to surgery, and paid an extra £1000, based on the fact that they said I had a degenerative eye condition, when I just had a strangely shaped cornea: a big difference. I have repeatedly been given conflicting, and contradictory information, and I have been faced with unfounded accusations made by senior members of staff. I wish I had gone somewhere trustworthy (whatever the cost), but I fell for a great sales pitch, and claims of superiority, with no substance behind them. They still refuse to explain, or justify my experiences.
Laser eye surgery has been around for twenty years, longer than you might think, but I had never met anyone who had had the treatment until I moved to Bermuda just over two years ago. For some reason, perhaps the outdoor lifestyle, it is incredibly popular there and in my admittedly small office a quarter of my colleagues had been treated. I still never seriously considered it until May this year when yet another colleague went under the laser and was so enthusiastic that I was finally inspired to look into it for myself.
I have required glasses since the age of seven, at first I just needed them for distance but over the years my eyes got steadily worse and I have worn glasses or contact lenses full time for over twenty years and in some capacity for over 30 years. My prescription is -7 in one eye and -6 in the other, which is a strong prescription and certainly worse than the average person with glasses.
I am not going to go into the technicalities of the various types of treatments in this review, as I feel this should be left to those with medical knowledge and there are plenty of articles on the internet written by qualified people which I would only be regurgitating anyway. Rather, I am only going to cover my personal experience.
So my initial research was into the procedure generally. I used the internet to find out about the different types of procedures that are available, success rates particularly for strong prescriptions, recovery times and I read at least a hundred personal accounts. I was encouraged. I did not find a single example of somebody who ended up worse off than before treatment. Occasionally I came across an example of somebody with a longer recovery time than average or some disappointment with the results, but the overwhelming majority of accounts I read were glowing.
Next I needed to choose a service provider. I decided to find one in London and Accuvision in Fulham fared very well on the review sites and forums and also seemed competitively priced. I was certainly not looking for the cheapest option, but some London clinics had fees averaging £4,000 to £5,000 whereas Accuvision tended to be a more affordable £2,000, give or take a few hundred pounds.
I contacted Accuvision at the beginning of June and requested a free consultation for the end of July when I was due to move back to the UK. My email was answered very promptly as were a couple more I sent with some questions. I was so surprised by the excellent communication that for a fleeting moment I actually wondered if they were desperate for my business. However the review sites feedback indicated that this was not the case and I concluded that perhaps I was being cynical and too accustomed to bad service. I decided the reason they appeared so professional was simply because they were. As my appointment approached, I contacted Accuvision again to confirm that there would be an appointment for treatment available within a few days of my consultation and I also booked a consult for my husband on what would hopefully be my treatment day. Again communication was excellent, prompt and friendly.
I arrived at the Accuvision premises about twenty minutes early and was taken through for my tests more or less straight away. As well as a regular eye test, I was checked for astigmatism, glaucoma, cornea thickness and my retina and optical nerve were examined for general health I believe. Eye drops are given to numb the eye so that the cornea can be measured and further eye drops were given to dilate the pupils so that the retina can be looked at more easily. It was a sunny day and when I left I was very sensitive to the sunlight for a few hours due to my large pupils, otherwise the consultation was uneventful.
My consultant was happy with all the tests performed and advised that I was suitable for Wavefront LASIK treatment. He also took time to explain the process to me and he wanted to discuss my motivations and expectations. It was explained to me that whilst perfect vision was the goal, it might be that I would need a mild prescription for some activities, such as driving. Additionally, my eyes could continue to change after surgery just as they could without surgery and of course as I get older I could find myself needing reading glasses.
These factors were acceptable to me. With a prescription of -7 it is nigh on impossible to function without glasses and I felt that even being, say -1, would still be a vast improvement. Some people may be surprised at that statement, glasses are glasses after all aren't they? But I think it is difficult for even somebody with glasses to understand quite what the world looks like to me. Under no pressure from my consultant whatsoever, I booked my appointment and was told that my treatment would be £2,200.
On my treatment day, my husband went ahead with his consultation. His prescription is about -3 which is more like the average short sighted person, he was also deemed suitable for surgery and was quoted a fee of £1,800. He was happy with the answers to all his questions and was told that with treatment he had a 98% chance of perfect vision and I had a 95% chance.
The clinic prefers patients to be accompanied on the day of lasering and you also should bring a pair of sunglasses, both these things will make the journey home afterwards more manageable. When we arrived at the clinic on treatment day, my husband was whisked off for his consultation more or less straight away. I was asked to settle the bill and then they were ready for me too. I was glad that I did not have much waiting around. I had read in some accounts that valium is given beforehand but there was no mention of this at Accuvision and I am glad, it isn't necessary.
There were four or five people in the operating room and some fairly large complex looking machinery. I was asked to lie down on a couch beneath this machinery. The eyes are treated one at a time. Eye drops are used for numbing and then my right eyelid was clamped open. I was asked to look at a light above whilst they cut a flap into the corneal tissue. This step took about eight seconds and for a couple of seconds my vision went but then the light above came back into view and I was asked to look at it again whilst the laser procedure was carried out. This step took about ten seconds, I could see lots of red and green flashing lights and could smell burning but there was no discomfort. When the laser was finished the surgeon rinsed my eyes with a cooling liquid, put on a clear contact lens as a bandage and told me to lie with my eyes gently closed. After a short break whilst the machine was re-calibrated, the process was repeated for my left eye.
And that was it. I was not sure how long I was in the room but it felt like about ten minutes and I did not feel any discomfort during the process. I had heard that there could be some pressure and discomfort with having the eyelids clamped open but this did not bother me. It is a bit scary though and beforehand I wondered what would happen if I made a sudden movement in panic, but in the event I don't think an earthquake would have persuaded me to flinch whilst my eyeball was being cut and lasered. I should add, that if a patient makes a sudden movement, the machines will automatically cut out but I still recommend keeping as still as possible!
Immediately afterwards I could tell that my vision had improved drastically, but there was also a haze that made it seem like I was looking through water. I had read accounts of people who sat up after the treatment and became very emotional, but this was not the case with me because of the watery fog that I was looking through and I did not feel elated. Just slightly dazed I think.
Progress (based on notes I made at the time) ~~~
One hour later: My eyes feel heavy and I want to rub them to get more comfortable. But I can't of course as rubbing the eyes is strictly forbidden. A lot of the initial fogginess is gone but not all. I feel like I could function quite normally, we got two buses to the hotel we had booked for the night but I couldn't read the road or shop signs. I could see people reasonably clearly on the street but at a distance could not make out facial features and probably would not recognise people I knew.
Two hours later: My eyes feel irritated. The vision no longer seems watery but there is a haze around some things, e.g. a window with light coming through. My vision seems very good, but I can't read things properly from a distance yet.
Eight hours later: I haven't noticed much difference over the last few hours. My eyes are quite sore and the vision seems the same as it did earlier.
24 hours later: I have stayed overnight in London as patients are required to attend a follow up appointment the next day. I had to wear eye shields last night but I won't need to gain. At my appointment the contact lens bandage was removed, my eye was examined and my sight checked. I was told that my eyes were healing well. I did not do as well on the sight test as I would have liked but was told that it was early days and as my cornea recovered my vision would continue to improve. I had read many accounts of people having perfect vision after 24 hours so I was worried and a bit disappointed that it was not the case for me. Later on, I noticed whilst my husband was driving that my vision was not good enough to drive comfortably as I could not read road signs until virtually at them. By the end of the day my eyes felt slightly irritated and tired, similar to having worn my contact lenses for too long doing computer work. If I had lenses in and felt like this, I would definitely take them out to rest my eyes but don't have that option unfortunately.
48 hours later: When I woke up on day two, things felt a little bit clearer as I looked around and I was hopeful that there had been some progress with the distance vision. I had to take my husband to the train station and was reasonably happy driving a route I knew well when the roads were quiet, however my vision was not as good as it would have been prior to treatment when wearing glasses or lenses. My eyes feel slightly more comfortable but a bit scratchy and I still feel like I am wearing contact lenses and have had them in a bit too long.
72 hours later: My eyes feel a bit gritty today but not as tired and my vision seems to be getting gradually sharper. I am taking a few months off work at the moment so didn't have to worry about that, but I probably would have managed to go in today if I had needed to.
One week check up: I went back to Accuvision clinic where my eyes were examined and I was told they were healing well, but were not yet healed. This was good to hear, as I don't yet have vision as good as I did with my glasses or lenses and therefore hoped that there was still room for improvement. Today I was told the healing would take longer because of my prescription. The eye test indicated 20:20 vision, previously my lenses corrected vision was better than this. We discussed driving and the optician told me that I was perfectly safe (and legal) to drive but she would not recommend it at night just yet. Glare around headlights is a common problem with people who have just had the treatment, but due to the long days (and inactive social life just now) I had not needed to go out in the dark in the last week. However I had certainly noticed a glare around the lights of those people who drive with them on no matter what time of day it is. On my way home after the appointment I was very pleased to recall that the day after my treatment I had read the train departures board at Liverpool Street Station only with some difficulty. A week later and it was as clear as a bell.
Five week check up: Last Friday I attended another appointment on the same day my husband had his surgery. I have definitely noticed my eyes continuing to slowly improve and about a week ago, my husband and I realised that my sight was better than his (with his glasses) as I was able to read small writing on a menu that was some distance from us, whereas he could not. I still do not feel that my vision is quite as good as it was wearing contact lenses before, but I think I must put this down to my corrected vision being exceptional then. Unfortunately, a couple of days before my appointment my eyes started to bother me a little bit, I thought it was excessive dryness and this did impact my sight a little bit. I was still 20:20 at my appointment but I had hoped to have bettered this and indeed I think I would of if my appointment had been the prior week. I was told that the irritation was a little bit of inflammation and given antibiotic drops. Hopefully this will clear the problem up soon.
My husband had his surgery the same day as my follow up. It was a very busy day in the clinic and we waited around for quite a while, partly due to arriving early but they were also running late, which I mention as the extra wait does not help with anxiety levels. Afterwards, his eyes were extremely blood shot and looked sore but his vision was very good almost immediately. I also realised this day that most patients were taking about twenty minutes, but it hadn't felt that long when I was in there. My husband was very troubled by the contact lens bandage they put on but the next day when it was removed, he was a lot better and his eyesight was deemed good enough for driving that day. Indeed his eyes were absolutely fine and his vision was virtually 20:20 straight away. This represents a much quicker recovery time than I experienced which we put down to the different prescriptions, him being much more the average.
Summing up ~~~
Five weeks on and I do still expect further improvements to my vision, particularly my night time vision as car headlights are quite dazzling at the moment and I would not attempt to drive on a motorway or busy road in the dark right now, although I think I would manage if the traffic was very light. Since my treatment I have had no real problems with my eyes other than some tiredness which feels much he same as it does when one had worn contact lenses for too long and also there has been some irritation which feels a bit like having some dust in the eye.
I can function perfectly just now and have been able to since very early days, before my treatment I had reasoned that if I had to have glasses for some activities then it would be fine with me. However in the first couple of days, when I thought this might be the case after all, I was disappointed but I did manage to reconcile myself to the idea of keeping a pair of glasses in the car just for that purpose. At this point, I feel it is unlikely that I will need to.
I still find it hard to believe that I am actually sat here and am not wearing contact lenses. I mentioned this to a friend last week and she asked if I ever reached to put my glasses on and I replied no, but I often try to take them off. I don't think it will really sink in that these are my own eyes until all these minor irritations go away completely. I must admit, looking back I had thought full recovery and best vision would have come to me more or less immediately, that is based upon the many accounts that I read beforehand. Also it appears to have been the case for my husband, but I will put my slightly slower progress down to my above average prescription. In any case though we are still not talking about a long time and I have been fully operational since more or less the start.
I have been very impressed with Accuvision throughout and am glad that I chose them. I feel that I have received exemplary service and treatment from the day I first made contact until now. Beyond describing my own experience such as I have here, I would hesitate to recommend laser surgery to anyone but only because I don't think it is my place to. However if somebody has decided to have the procedure, I would not hesitate to recommend Accuvision.
Tel: 0845 000 2020
Finally: I thought I will come back from time to time and update. It is now March 2012, 3.5 years since my treatment date and still a huge thumbs up from me.
Accuvision are the UK's specialist providers of laser eye surgery and laser eye treatments including LASIK and Trans-Epithelial Surface Treatment. They also provide treatments for Presbyopia, Keratoconus, Amblyopia (Lazy Eye), Cataracts and Intra Ocular Lens Implants.