I was convinced I had a deadly disease when vision in my right eye declined. Laser eye surgery fixed my vision and health anxiety.

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I was convinced I had a deadly disease when vision in my right eye declined. Laser eye surgery fixed my vision and health anxiety.
Adam England says that getting laser eye surgery has improved both his vision and the anxiety he was having around his health.Courtesy of the author
  • I've always been nearsighted, but my vision hasn't been too bad.
  • I typically had to wear glasses only while doing certain tasks.
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Nearsightedness runs in my family, and I had to start wearing glasses for some things when I was about 11 years old. I've always found wearing glasses slightly annoying, but I could tolerate wearing them when using the computer or looking at the board at school or college if it meant not getting as many eye-strain headaches.

I've always had almost 20/20 vision in my left eye, but over the past couple of years, my right eye has become increasingly nearsighted, perhaps partly because I work full time on my computer. This coincided with an intense bout of health anxiety.

As my vision declined in my right eye, I began to struggle with lights at night, something I was convinced was a sign of a deadly disease — or my impending blindness. Instead of putting on my glasses only while working at my computer, I started to wear them all the time.

I began to consider laser eye surgery as a solution

For the first time in my life, I began to seriously think about getting laser eye surgery. I've always been quite squeamish about my eyes — though I do use dry eye drops, I've been too nervous to ever go near contacts — so it was never something I'd imagined myself considering.

But I was tired of worrying about my eyes and assuming every symptom of nearsightedness, and their very different prescriptions, was something serious. When you search the internet for symptoms such as headaches and double vision, you're told you have a brain tumor or a serious neurological condition — I was so convinced something was seriously wrong that I even had an MRI scan.

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Despite coming across a few horror stories related to laser eye surgery of botched procedures and rare side effects, I decided to take the plunge. I had to have various appointments and tests beforehand to ensure that my eyes were the right fit for surgery before booking the procedure.

My biggest worry was that something would go wrong, however improbable, and that I'd be left with lifelong vision issues or, worst-case scenario, lose my sight. Everything went well despite my nerves. My surgeon ran me through the procedure — which I needed only on my right eye — and while the idea of lasers opening up my eye and reshaping my cornea grossed me out, I appreciated him giving me all the information I needed.

Surgery helped both my vision and my anxiety

After surgery, my eye was a little uncomfortable and sensitive to light, but I noticed improvements almost immediately. My dad drove me back from surgery, and I was surprised to find that I could read license plates on cars in front of us using only my right eye.

I went back the following day to make sure there weren't any issues and did so again a month later. It's now been almost a year since my surgery, and I recently had another eye test to check that everything's still in order with my eyes. Fortunately, it is.

My eyesight isn't perfect — I knew before the surgery that I had mild astigmatism in both eyes, which means my vision isn't quite as clear as it would be otherwise, and I have floaters, which, while not a cause for concern, can be quite annoying. Being nearsighted is a risk factor for floaters, so I've had them for a long time, and unfortunately, laser eye surgery doesn't remove them.

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Most importantly, my health anxiety is a lot better now. When I was so nearsighted in my right eye, I was thinking about my eyes and my eyesight all the time. Now I don't wear glasses, and there's not such a big discrepancy in prescriptions, so I'm not as worried.

Laser eye surgery might not be for everyone. I have other friends who've also had it, friends who are thinking about it, and friends who say they're way too squeamish. I was happy to wear glasses when my nearsightedness was mild, and I know I'll probably need glasses again for reading when I'm older. But, for me and my health anxiety, getting the surgery was a great decision.

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