LASIK LASER EYE SURGERY: Say goodbye to glasses
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LASIK LASER EYE SURGERY: Say goodbye to glasses

The journalist formerly known as Richard ‘Four Eyes’ Ferrer now has better-than 20/20 vision thanks to the latest innovations in laser eye surgery

Richard Ferrer has become a leading voice on Jewish communal issues since becoming editor of the Jewish News in 2009, writing about contemporary Jewish life for a national audience. He edited the Boston Jewish Advocate, America's oldest Jewish newspaper and created the Channel 4 series Jewish Mum of the Year.

Lasik laser eye surgery transformed Richard from 'Specky, specky four eyes' into Hawkman in the blink of an eye.
Lasik laser eye surgery transformed Richard from 'Specky, specky four eyes' into Hawkman in the blink of an eye.

It wasn’t the countless mornings wishing I could find my glasses so I could find my glasses, or the countless nights I slept in contact lenses and woke up looking like I’d stumbled off the red eye from Rio. What finally convinced me to get laser eye surgery was my optician uttering the dreaded B-word. BIFOCALS!

Getting your precious peepers zapped by lasers isn’t something to decide in the blink of an eye. I’d contemplated it since it became an option in the 1990s. Now, faced with wearing face furniture that’s essentially half telescope, half magnifying glass, it was time to finally take the laser leap.

I Googled people who’d had it done  – Boris Johnson, Brad Pitt, Richard Branson, Tiger Woods, Christiano Ronaldo, Taylor Swift and, it turns out, some 30 million other who couldn’t see much beyond the giant E on the optician’s chart.

I booked an appointment with Ophthalmic Consultants of London (OCL), a Harley Street surgery with 100 percent five-star reviews, opened in 2018 by top surgeons Romesh Angunawela, Ali Mearza and my guy, Allon Barsam. They have 55 years’ experience and 20,000 successful operations between them.

Looking good: Richard Ferrer (left) with his eye surgeon Allon Barsam 24 hours after his Lasik procedure.

Their spa-like white marble office is adorned with modern art, fresh cut flowers and giant eye-shaped light fittings staring down from the ceiling. As I excitedly helped myself to an OCL own-brand bottle of water my glasses could tell the game was up, sliding indignantly down the bridge of my nose as if to say: “You bastard!”

For two hours my eyes (-3 left eye with astigmatism and -3.25 right) were given a Rocky-style work out with puffs of air, flickering letters and shapes and a dye that dilated my pupils, making it look like I’d popped something I shouldn’t. 

My corneas were measured and Allon confirmed I was a suitable candidate for Lasik (Laser assist in situ keratomileusis), the most popular procedure to fix near and far sightedness and astigmatisms. My dominant left eye would be corrected for distance and weaker right fixed for reading, giving me perfectly blended monovision. 

Cue forensic research during my final out-of-focus fortnight. I watched videos of the procedure and YouTube clips of countless people thrilled with the life-changing results – and, yes, one or two who weren’t.

Each eye took five minutes. I felt a little pressure and claustrophobia as the cornea flaps were made but the rest was a breeze.

Op day arrived and I was given Valium and a bang-on-trend hair net and led into a neon-blue theatre. I lay back, my eyes were taped open and doused in anaesthetic drops. I was handed a comforting pair of stress balls to squeeze and told to focus on the green target light above my head.

The two-step 15-minute surgery began with the first laser creating a microscopically thin flap at the front of my cornea. Alon pulled back the flap and then used laser number two (which sounds like Fred Astaire tapdancing) to reshape my eye. All I could see was a foggy underwater light show – part rainy firework display, part Millennium Falcon zooming into hyperspace. Each eye took five minutes. I felt a little pressure and claustrophobia as the cornea flaps were made but the rest was a breeze.

I’ve had worse hay fever.

The computer precisely maps the eyes ahead of surgery.

At the end I was asked if I could see the time on a white clock on a white wall I hadn’t spotted on the way in. 3.24pm…the second hand just past the 20… the quartz crystal oscillating at precisely 32,000 times per second. What superhuman powers were these?!

From this day forth I shall be know as Hawkman.

Hawkman had a nice lie down and a cup of tea in the recovery room as Allon admired his handiwork. I was given four sets of eye drops for recovery and put in a cab home, where I went straight to bed in a pair of bang-on-trend eye guards (if nothing else, get Lasik for the cool free fashion).

Next day my vision was blurry and my eyes sore but I could comfortably read up close and watch the kids playing in the garden.

The Ophthalmic Consultants of London app reminds patients when to take their drops during the important week after surgery.

My 24-hour post-op check-up revealed I had 20/20 vision. Seven days later, when my eyes had settled down, I had crystal clear 20/10 vision! I could read the very last line of the chart. My sight was now better than it ever was with glasses.

Six weeks after the operation the dry eye had gone, along with occasional blurry evening vision that made me avoid driving after dark. 

I could see detail, texture, shade and shape that escaped me since childhood. Drops of dew on blades of grass; shades of orange on autumn leaves; my wife’s true beauty (her line).

In 48 years I’ve never looked so good.

Richard’s eye surgery cost £4,400. Interest free repayment plans available. Find out more about Ophthalmic Consultants of London and book an appointment at oclvision.com or call them on 0203 369 2020. Twitter: @oclvision

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