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WHAT'S HOT ON THE HIGH STREET.

Byline: SUZIE BREWER

I'VE had my brows reshaped, my hair-do reshaped a thousand times, but back in July, I had my corneas reshaped too. LASIK surgery at Cardiff's Ultralase clinic has had a massive effect on my day-to-day doings and I am no longer a lenses or specs-wearer.

Like most contact lens converts, I've had my share of battling to wedge open watery eyes to put lenses in. Blue and lilac tinted lenses were fun right through uni, but felt thick and got a bit crusty after late and smoky nights so I switched to thinner and more hygienic daily disposables which knocked me back pounds 60 a month.

Ultralase charge an eyebrow-raising but convincing pounds 999 per eye. If they decide that your eyes are going to respond to LASIK, and if you decide to go ahead, all the information from your tests is fed into a computer, to be programmed to supply the necessary corneal changes needed.

Within a week of my first check-up, I was back at the clinic for treatment. Anaesthetic drops are given to you five minutes before you lie down and place your head beneath an advanced laser. The microsurgeon pushes down on the cornea, creating pressure and slicing a thin flap on the eye, which you don't feel.

The blurring indicates that there's something in your eye, but that's it, thank goodness.

Then, the flap's lifted back to allow the laser, using ultraviolet light, to reshape your cornea and you just feel like you've been staring into a bright light for too long.

The flap is replaced and automatically heals itself over the next few days.

You're given bags full of take-away lotions and potions and transparent blinkers for nighttime, to stop you accidentally rubbing and shifting the cornea and you can choose from a selection of plain, not-all-that-nice non-prescription glasses, to protect the eyes against dust when you're out and about. You're to avoid getting water in your eyes - so no swimming and goggles in the shower!

As for after-effects, there are very, very few. One hour later, I couldn't open my eyes without them watering, but they were still numb. Two hours later, they were coming back to life and stinging a bit. I had a Gremlin-like aversion to bright lights but two hours of shut-eye at home sorted that.

Though it's not essential, I was glad it was my day off. And I woke up to check the digital alarm clock at the other side of the room, without having to fumble for my specs. And now, it feels like I can see everything.

No blood, no bandages and no recovery time and they insist you go back for check-ups within 24 hours, a week, then six months.

I was given a 24-hour emergency number to ring, but never used it and reckon that saving the pennies for 'laser eye' will become as normal in a few years time as 'the boob job' and the 'new nose.' You mark my words.

For your nearest Ultralase call 0808 144 2020

With reference to the Lymgym featured in last week's column, orders can be placed by calling 01463 738666 or logging on to www.lymgym.com.

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EYES RIGHT: Professionals take a close look before getting to work
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 8, 2002
Words:547
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