Personal Health Tracking – Part 01

We now live in a world where measuring and tracking your health is accessible to everybody, not just ‘health freaks’ or the ‘diet obsessed’, all walks of life now have the opportunity to take control of their health. In this series of posts I’m going to show you how.

For me it started off simple, ‘I want to know my heart rate’. So I got an Apple Watch, I loved it, I loved checking my heart rate, getting accurate data for work outs as well as a visual rundown of my activity for the day. Combo this with many years of consistent sleep tracking and an interest grew into borderline obsession. Now I have a vast array of affordable, personal health devices that I use on a regular basis to measure my health metrics. They say ‘what is measured, is managed’, so if you want to manage your health, you have to measure it. This post will take you through what devices I use to measure my Heart Rate and Blood Pressure as well as everything I have learnt along the way.

Heart Rate

There are a plethora of devices on the market now that measure your heart rate. Some apps can do it on your phone using a combination of the flashlight and the camera (not very accurate), many health watches measure heart rate including the Apple Watch, the Fitbit and various Android Watches, there are also dedicated heart rate monitoring devices which often get bundled with other forms of body measurement such as blood pressure or blood oxygen level. I have a few of these in my tool kit but what I am going to focus on here is the Apple Watch.

I’ve had an Apple Watch since they launched, then when the Apple Watch Series 2 came out I upgraded to the latest and greatest (the Faster CPU and Water Proof Rating really makes a huge difference). Recently Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 3, for me this wasn’t a huge hardware upgrade so I’ve decided to skip this generation and see what happens next year with the Series 4. But alongside the launch of the Series 3, Apple launched iOS 11 and watchOS 4 bringing with it what I would consider major updates to the Health Platform.

AppleWatch_01

Heart Rate App on Apple Watch Series 2 running watchOS 4.

As you can see in the image above, now when you check your heart rate on the watch you not only get a current heart rate measurement but you also get a graph of how your heart rate has varied throughout the day. By default the Apple Watch takes a heart rate measurement roughly every 5 Minutes, sometimes it will give or take a few minutes and the interval of measurement will be slightly longer or shorter. Unfortunately there is no way to alter this frequency, I wish there was as I’d set it to every minute. Apple control this frequency to keep battery life in check as the more you use the heart rate monitor the more the battery will drain, also for most people the stock measurement frequency selected by Apple is more then adequate and keeps ridiculous amounts of heart rate data from accumulating.

 

These frequent heart rate measurements can be accessed within the Apple Health App on iOS. Above you can see how the raw data is presented. Basically it gets broken down into a category for each day, 10th Oct, 11th Oct, etc. When you click on a day it will show you each individual piece of heart rate data that has been saved that day, it tells you what time the measurement was taken and what your heart rate was. Pretty neat. I find this way of viewing your data is handy if you want to go back and check your heart rate at particular times. Sometimes I am powering up a hill with a heavy trolley at work and later on want to see where my heart rate was at while exerting myself, I can quickly navigate to the day and rough time and get an accurate readout of how fast my heart was beating.

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Apple Health App Graphing Out Your Heart Rate Data.

All of this data is great but what is even cooler is how it gets graphed out on iPhone with the Apple Health App. Take a peek at the image above and you’ll see what I mean. You can break down your view into hours of the day, days of the week, days of the month, etc. It then gives you your maximum and minimum heart rate of that particular hour/day, visually displaying your heart rate range for the time period in question. This is a great way to see in a graphical sense how your heart has been functioning over a period of time. New in iOS 11 is the calculation of your ‘Resting Heart Rate’ and your ‘Average Walking Heart Rate’ as well as heart rate range while ‘Working Out’ or using the borderline meditation app called ‘Breathe’ on Apple Watch. These features have been around in 3rd Party Apps such as ‘Cardiogram‘ for a while but it often has trouble processing the large amounts of stored heart rate data and I never found it particularly useful as it was a bit cumbersome to use, now this heart rate data is processed in the background by iOS rather then when you open an app like ‘Cardiogram‘ so you can have results instantaneously and presented in a more logical way.

AppleWatch_05

Viewing an Apple Watch Workout on the iOS ‘Activity’ App.

The Apple Watch is also great for tracking workouts, be it a walk, run, swim, cycle or stint on some gym equipment. When you are running a workout on the Apple Watch it is constantly monitoring your heart rate which gives you a pretty solid overview of your training session. Above you can see an ‘Other’ Workout that I recently completed, it was a session in the gym that involved some Gymnastic Strength Training, Kettlebell Swings, Push Ups, Chin Ups, Crunches, etc. It shows my Average Heart Rate for the workout but also a graph of it’s ups and downs in the session. This data is helpful to see just how hard I was pushing myself at various times. The variability is pretty standard for the type of workout that I was doing as I started with a warm up and alternated between high intensity exercises like the Two Handed Kettlebell Swings and low intensity exercises like Myotatic Crunches.

One little note that is worth mentioning, sometimes during workouts I will notice sluggish responses from the Apple Watch in terms of my heart rate read out. For example, I’ve just finished a sprint leg of my morning run and dropped my pace back to a jog, I check my watch and it says 74bpm, what? I feel my neck and I can feel my pulse and it is pumping fast, at least 120bpm, why isn’t my Apple Watch detecting that? I’m not sure, but I have found that if you leave it for a minute and then bring your wrist back up to check the heart rate again it sort of starts the reading fresh and will then yield an accurate heart rate measurement, in this instance it was like 134bpm. My only explanation is that it’s a connection issue between the Apple Watch Heart Rate Sensor and my wrist, I have experimented with various levels of tension on the wrist strap which doesn’t really change the result. Usually when I pull the watch further up my arm so that it isn’t dead on my wrist it works flawlessly. But when I wear it normally, bang on my wrist, this issue of an incorrect heart rate readout shows up from time to time. Not all the time, just some of the time, which is slightly annoying but totally manageable.

When I first got the Apple Watch my motivation for buying one was a mix between wanting a good heart rate monitor and a desire to have the newest technology. I quickly found that it was pretty much a bonus item, I mainly used it to check the time/date and I could totally function without it. People asked ‘Do I Need An Apple Watch?’ and my answer was no, it’s nice to have but not essential. Nowadays my value for having regular heart rate measurements has grown in importance, I’ve gotten used to having that data, I think it’s beneficial to look at from time to time and I would consider the Apple Watch an essential part of my toolkit.

Blood Pressure

My next venture into the wide world of health tracking was blood pressure. Whenever you visit your GP they generally take a blood pressure reading, if you’re in health trouble and rushed into hospital your blood pressure is a vital sign that the doctors use to help determine what is wrong with you. The sheer weight of importance given to this vital sign is paramount, it makes total sense to track it on a regular basis. With regular measurements you can detect changes early, act early and prevent problems before they become catastrophes. Even if you are young and healthy it’s still helpful to have regular measurements of your blood pressure over time, then if something were to happen you have some facts to assist with the problem solving. Is your blood pressure high, low or in a normal range? Do you know what your regular blood pressure is? If not, I think it’s about time you find out.

When I began researching Blood Pressure Monitors one consistent thing kept coming up, that was the brand Omron. Most GP Offices have an Omron Machine for every consulting room, if you ask your doctor what BP Monitor they recommend they usually say get an Omron, it’s an industry standard. So while I did look at some other brands I stuck with the tried and true Omron Blood Pressure Monitor. They come in many different flavours and can vary in price quite a bit depending on the extra bells and whistles of a particular model. I wanted something up to date and reasonably tech savvy, having it integrate with my phone was important to ensure a fluid tracking experience. The model that I settled on was the Omron MIT5 Connect (HEM-7280T-E).

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Omron MIT5 Connect (HEM-7280T-E).

This is a great Blood Pressure Monitor. I have used it consistently for over a year and never had any problems. I stumbled across this particular model by the way of reading many reviews online, the more I read the more I felt like this was for me. It was Omron which has the industry backing behind it, it featured Bluetooth for wireless connection to your phone, it supported multiple users and it was portable. I’d never purchased a BP Monitor before and one particular point of friction was that it didn’t ship with a mains power supply, I thought this would be a deal breaker but it seemed to be consistent across the board with many models that I looked at. I thought I would setup the BP Monitor in one place and just leave it there for it’s entire life, I was wrong. I often find myself taking it to the kitchen to do readings, packing it up and storing it in my bedroom, there have even been times that I’ve taken it to family gatherings and done group readings where one by one I have taken everyones blood pressure and got them to log it in their phone. You definitely don’t need mains power, I have run mine off 4 AA Batteries for over a year now and it’s still going strong, portability is key. Below is what you will get in the box alongside an instruction manual:

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What’s In The Box of the Omron MIT5 Connect (HEM-7280T-E).

As you can see you get the Blood Pressure Monitor Unit, an Armband with attached air tube and a little carry case to package it all up for storage and travel. I find it works best if you coil up the air tube, place it on the armband and then fold it up till it is roughly the size of the case, I then place it at the bottom of the case with the BP Monitor Unit on top, zip it up and you are good to go.

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The Armband plugs into the Air Socket on the BP Monitor Unit.

To take a BP Reading it is super simple. I put the Armband on correctly (details of how to fit it correctly are located in the user manual), plug in the Armband to the Air Socket on the side of the BP Monitor which is depicted above, it just slots in smoothly and easily. Then I select ‘User 1’ or ‘User 2’ which is depicted below, press the Start Button and it begins taking your reading.

BP_04

Select between User 1 and User 2.

I use ‘User 1’ for myself and ‘User 2’ for my Mum, the User Options allow a history of Blood Pressure Measurements for each individual to be stored within the machine. This is a handy option should you choose not to link it via Bluetooth to your smart phone. If you wish to take someones reading who isn’t ‘User 1’ or ‘User 2’ all you need to do is hold the Start Button rather then press it when you begin a BP Measurement and it will begin taking a reading in guest mode and the measurement won’t be stored on the machine.

But now let’s get into the exciting stuff, how to streamline the measurements from this BP Monitor into your digital record keeping world. As before with my heart rate, I use Apple Health to manage my blood pressure readings and thankfully Omron has created an app called ‘Omron Connect‘ that allows incredibly easy sync and integration from the BP Monitor via Bluetooth to the Omron Connect App which automatically writes data to Apple Health. This short video details the process of taking a blood pressure measurement and syncing it to your phone:

In Apple Health your blood pressure can be displayed visually or as individual data, both are depicted below. I don’t find the visual graph to be all that helpful in this instance but I do often scroll through the individual blood pressure data, it’s easier to read this way and you can clearly identify changes over time. The format of SYS/DIA and then a timestamp means you can just look through all the data, any outliers should stand out to your eye as you begin to notice any consistencies or changes over time.

 

As you can see above I often take multiple readings in a single session, it’s best to take three as you’ll be able to then get a nice average as blood pressure does have slight natural variances depending on your heart rate when it’s taken, even if the readings are only a minute apart. The BP Monitor will also measure your heart rate which is a nice little bonus, this heart rate data is written to Apple Health through Omron Connect alongside the blood pressure data so you don’t need to worry about it. I have done tests where I’ve let my Apple Watch measure my heart rate at the same time the BP Monitor is taking a measurement and they both sync up, sometimes there is a slight difference of 1-2 Beats Per Minute but I find overall that they are either very close or bang on in terms of heart rate measurement. This is nice for peace of mind as it allows me to verify the accuracy of both the Apple Watch and the BP Monitor.

The Omron MIT5 Connect (HEM-7280T-E) works like a dream and I don’t think I could really ask for more out of my blood pressure monitor. That was until I started getting a weird little heart indicator every now and then when I would take my blood pressure. This was puzzling, I know the BP Monitor displays an icon when your blood pressure is too high or too low but what did this icon mean? I consulted the manual and the icon means irregular heart beat detected. It only happened intermittently but still I thought it was worth consulting the doctor about. I went and saw my GP who had a listen to my heart and said it sounds normal but ordered an ECG (Electrocardiogram) just to be sure. This was a pretty simple test and I quite enjoyed the experience. The results came back with a irregular heartbeat indeed, I have a Sinus Arrhythmia and Rightward Axis. The Sinus Arrhythmia is apparently quite normal and nothing to be concerned over though the Rightward Axis did require some further investigation. The doctor ordered an Echocardiogram which was awesome, it’s like an ultrasound for your heart and you get to listen to the amplified sound of your heartbeat while the examination is happening. Very cool. The results came back all clear which I was grateful for. If I wasn’t monitoring my Blood Pressure regularly I’d have never known it was an issue and would have never had it checked out. While it wouldn’t have had any serious impact on me, for many people it could make a world of difference. I think it’s better to be in the know, give a Blood Pressure Monitor a go!

Just a quick note, this model of Blood Pressure Monitor comes with different names depending on which country it is sold. Some countries call it the ‘Omron MIT5 Connect’ and others call it the ‘Omron HEM-7280T-E’, they are both the same thing. The beauty of this is that you can order either model online, locally or overseas, with the convenience of powering it with 4x AA Batteries you don’t need to worry about 240V/110V Power or Power Plugs/Adaptors, it just works everywhere. This worked really well for me in Australia as I was able to order a unit from the UK which was half the price of purchasing it in Australia. Beneficial for your health and cost effective, win win!

Coming in Part 02

I originally intended for this to be a massive post including all facets of my personal health tracking, but it just became too big of a task. So I’ve opted to break it down into smaller components. Up next could be any of the following:

  • Blood Glucose / Ketones
  • Pulse Oximeter for Blood Oxygen Concentration
  • Sleep Tracking
  • Fasting
  • pH Levels

Which of these interest you most? Let me know in the comments below!

 

LASIK: A Patient’s Perspective

I’d been thinking about getting Laser Eye Surgery for a while. Looked up a bunch of testimonials online, people’s thoughts, facts and experiences. Most of them were positive and glowing with the statement ‘I only wish I got it done earlier’, others were saying they suffered dry eye for years afterwards and that there were a few surprises and complications. Heck, I didn’t even really know what dry eye is, the risks seemed risky even though they actually aren’t but in my head they were very real. So I put it down as a plausible option, but not for me right now, maybe in the future, but not now.

Then strolls in February 2017, the talk of Laser Surgery came up again one day with some friends, it re-sparked my interest and I thought fuck it, let’s take this seriously. I got back from a work trip on a Sunday Night, Monday I did some research and decided to book in a no-obligation assessment appointment for laser eye surgery. Come Tuesday I was sitting in the waiting room about to begin my examination. That same week on the Friday I was booked in the undergo a LASIK Procedure, Saturday I had my follow up and like a butterfly I spread my wings into a glasses free life. It all happened very quickly and I learnt a bunch along the way. I would like to pass my experiences onto you, others who are on the fence in regards to Laser Eye Surgery.

WHERE DO I START

I started where anyone living in 2017 would start, a Google Search. I found various clinics in Melbourne, Australia that offer Laser Eye Surgery and thankfully they have put in a solid amount of work in educating potential customers. Their websites host a wealth of information that you should all check out, you’ll learn the differences between LASIK and PRK, the recovery times of each procedure, what to expect, how much does it cost, etc. Check out any of these clinics to get a solid foundation of information:

After taking a good look at all the options I needed to pick a place to start. Being that it’s my eyes I wanted to go with someone respectable with a good reputation, that’s pretty hard to find in the world of Laser Eye Surgery. Some companies offer up their own client testimonials but I always take that with a grain of salt, they could be altered, or made up, you never know. After a solid session of internet research all that I could find was that some people had trouble with Medownick, that they had a reputation for being cheap and a few Reddit Posts that claim Dr. Noel Alpins of New Vision Clinics was a total professional. The four other clinics weren’t mentioned, Medownick was slammed and New Vision was praised. My choice was made.

INITIAL CONSULTATION

This first visit is important as it marks your first proactive action in getting rid of glasses once and for all. Though that was my goal, I did keep an open mind and wanted to keep a certain level of skepticism to ensure I didn’t get caught up in the allure of it all. On the phone I was told to bring a Medicare Card and Sunglasses, easy. I’d taken it upon myself to prepare a helpful medical history that would assist the optometrist and lay a foundation for good decision making during the appointment. I contacted Specsavers whom I had obtained my last 3 Sets of Prescription Glasses from to obtain records of my prescriptions over time, it was easy to do and could done over the phone, this is how they sat:

06/01/11 – Left and Right Eye: -1.25
30/01/14 – Left and Right Eye: -1.50
31/10/15 – Left and Right Eye: -1.75

So I went for my appointment at New Vision Clinics in Cheltenham in the morning. You get greeted by their reception staff, get asked to fill out a form and then take a seat. Shortly after you are taken into an examination room and you get evaluated by an optometrist. If you’ve ever got prescription glasses before you’ll know the drill, you look at a chart on the wall, various different lenses are trialled in front of your eyes and you’re asked to identify which option is sharper, 1 or 2, it’s a pretty easy task which I find quite enjoyable. They also take a close up look at your eyes under magnification with a light shining to evaluate the surface and general health of your eyes. My current prescription was sitting as follows:

21/02/17 – Left and Right Eye: -1.75 leaning towards a -2.00

Based upon this new measurement in combination with my previous prescriptions we could see that my eyes had only gotten slightly worse over time, jumping up one prescription level of -0.25 roughly every 1.5 Years and that it had pretty much stabilised over the past year and a half. The optometrist said that there is a very small chance that my eyes could naturally degrade over time even after laser surgery but being that I’m in my Mid 20s that it’s not very likely to happen. Being that my prescription is so low it’d be a relatively straight forward procedure with minimal likelihood of complications. She said if I was willing to accept the small chance of my eyes natural degrading over time then we’d proceed to the next step.

I went back to the waiting room and took a seat, shortly after the lady who was working at reception, who I assumed is a combo of Optometrist Nurse and Receptionist, took me to a different room where I undertook some extra tests. These are pretty straight forward and they walk you through what to do. One machine takes photographs of your eyes and the other does a 3D Scan of your eyes which details the thickness of your cornea and medical information about the eye’s underlying components.

Next up they put some special eyedrops in your eyes, these basically cause the muscles in your eye to relax causing them to dilate, aka open up and let more light in, which was the reason for needing to bring sunglasses, so you’re not bamboozled by the glare when you leave. They take about 20 Minutes to come in full effect so you watch a video with headphones on in the waiting room. It’s hosted by a well known Melbourne News Reporter and runs for around 10 Minutes. It basically covers everything that you should have read online in your initial research process, but I guess there are some people who aren’t as thorough as me and just booked in for an appointment blindly. Either way, it serves as decent revision and shows you a brief glimpse of what it will be like in the operating theatre when having the procedure done. That being said, this video felt like it was made 10-15 Years ago and didn’t really feel all that current and applicable. Once you’re finished watching you take a seat in reception and I noticed the weirdest thing, my eyes couldn’t focus properly. I was half freaking out but more intrigued by how my eyes we functioning. My glasses were off at this point, if I looked at my phone the screen was blurry and the closer I brought it to my face the more out of focus it became, but if I held it the right distance away it was okay, looking in the distance everything was blurry as usual due to my short sightedness. Upon putting my glasses on everything in the distance was sharp as a tack and felt a little bit bloomy, almost hyper real. When I looked down at my phone it was even more blurry then without glasses on, so weird. I was in this state of amusement with my eye fluctuations for around 8 Minutes until the optometrist came back to see me. I mentioned the sensation to her and she said it was totally normal, I would have loved to know about this beforehand, all I got warned about was my sensitivity to light would increase. Anyway, I was assured that it’d wear off after 3 Hours.

Back in the examination room we re-did our eye chart tests. This is because when our eyes are dilated or opened up to a greater degree our focus becomes more crucial or in photography terms, our depth of field becomes shallower. This is why at night our vision is often worse then during the day as our eyes have opened up to see better in the low light. These eye drops simulated extreme night time or darkness and lay the foundation for the perfect cross check of my eyes performance. I was told that it matched the -1.75/-2.00 Prescription that I had been given before and that I was a perfect candidate for LASIK Laser Eye Surgery. The cost was roughly $2500 per eye which was in line with my expectations based on what I had read online, there was availability for surgery this coming Friday, if I couldn’t do it then based on my schedule and Dr Noel Alpins Schedule I wouldn’t be able to get it done for like 5 Weeks. I felt pretty good about it and decided to pull the trigger and go ahead with the LASIK.

Next up was a one on one session with Dr Noel Alpins, the eye surgeon himself. He takes a look at your test results from the morning, your patient history and all other information the optometrists had gathered. He then personally evaluates your eyes under magnification and light and gives the yes or no if he’ll go ahead with the procedure. I got the thumbs up and was provided an opportunity to ask any questions. My biggest concern was my inability to focus my eyes right now but he assured me it’d be fine and that my LASIK Procedure would be a complete success. I did have some concerns about some of the side effects that were listed on the document that they get you to sign but he ensured me that they are mainly old side effects that haven’t been an issue for 15+ Years, they are mainly there just for legal reasons.

I headed off on my drive home and gosh it was a bizarre experience. I needed to wear my prescription sunglasses as it was bright due to my dilated pupils but the glasses were also required to focus in the distance to see the road. Their was a new vision factor in the mix though, I was unable to clearly see the speedo as my eyes couldn’t focus on it. I got home safely but it ended up taking like 8 Hours for my eyes to return to normal, a lot different then the 3 Hours I was told back at the clinic.

THE LASIK PROCEDURE

One of the many things that you are asked when you arrive on the day of your surgery is if you’d like a DVD Copy of your LASIK Procedure to take home at the end. It seemed like such a weird thing to ask but I embraced and said ‘yeah, why not’ and thus paved the way for this blog post. There is no better way to give a patients perspective of LASIK then to show you, so I’ve put together this little video to educate and entertain anyone considering LASIK in the future:

IMMEDIATE POST-OP

When you are walked out of the operating room the nurses have fitted clear protective covers over your eyes to keep them safe from touching. I took this photo of myself as record of how you look as soon as you exit:

DirectlyAfterLASIK_LowRes

The optometrist examines your eyes under the magnifying scope after 10 Mins of rest to see if the flaps are placed well and bonding, if all is good you are sent home with some instructions and a little bag full of medical goodies. They also equip you with some temporary sunnies as your eyes are sensitive to light after the procedure, I opted to keep these on for the afternoon as it felt better glare wise. You are advised to get driven home by a friend or family member and to take the afternoon pretty easy. I wound up just cruising out in bed listening to music and podcasts all day. The results are pretty instantaneous, it is tricky to see through the clear plastic protectors as they add a haze to your vision but I found if you peek through the small slit between you’re face and nose you get a clear view beyond and even 2-3 Hours after the operation I could see everything in focus in the distance. Amazing! This feeling of clear vision is something I hadn’t experienced in 6 Years and it was just a taste of what is to come.

EYE DROPS

If there is one thing that you are going to need to learn and get comfortable doing, it’s applying eye drops to yourself. I was always scared of it, I hated looking up and faltering in anticipation as I gently squeezed drops into my eyes. Now as part of my recovery I needed to use three different types of eye drops in my eyes, three times a day. It’s a lot of eye drops so you need to adapt quickly and learn to trust the drop. Know that it doesn’t hurt, get your aiming right, don’t blink and just let it fall. For me it took a few days to get comfortable with the constant application of eye drops, I even made mistakes one week on where I’d go for an eye drop and get my nose instead of my eye. Rest assured, you soon get the hang of it and embrace the feeling of a fresh drop in your eye. For a breakdown of the eyes drops please see below:

EyeDrops_LowRes

CILOXAN
This is an antibiotic eye drop used to prevent infection. It’s used three times daily and is applied 10 Mins before the Flarex.

FLAREX
This is a mild cortisone or steroid eye drop used to enhance healing of the eye after surgery. As with Ciloxan it’s applied three times daily and it makes sense to partner it up with Ciloxan so that you can knock them off simultaneously. It’s advised to apply Ciloxan first, then 10 Mins later apply Flarex so that each drop absorbs effectively into your eyes.

SYSTANE ULTRA
This is a lubricating eye drop designed to keep the eye moist. After surgery your eyes won’t produce the natural lubricating film as readily as you are used to and you will be left feeling irritated with dry eye. You can use these drops as much as you like, the goal is to keep your eyes comfortable. You will most likely run out of this eye drop especially if you use it a lot, fear not, it’s a non prescription eye drop which you can pick up at the chemist for around $7.

To make it simple I called them ‘Antibiotic Drops’ instead of Ciloxan which I labelled yellow and ‘Steroid Drops’ instead of Flarex which I labelled red. I found the best way to use these eye drops in combination is Antibiotic and Steroid around meal time, so breakfast, lunch and dinner. Apply the Antibiotic Drops first, then roughly 10 Mins later which usually timed well with finishing a meal , you apply the Steroid Drops. This pattern continues for 1 Week after surgery. The Systane Ultra which I dubbed ‘Lubricating Drops’ were used in between meals. How often you’d use them depends on your environment, if I was at home I found I didn’t need to use them that much but aimed to use them at least 2-3 Times a day. Sometimes when I was at work in an air conditioned environment I’d need to use them 2-3 Times between meals to keep my eyes comfortable. I also made a practice of using the Lubricating Drops before bed so my eyes were well primed for a solid night of healing.

If you’ve never used eye drops extensively before you’ll be interested to know that the eyes and tear ducts are connected to the nasal passage and thus the throat. This whole sinus system is joined so don’t be surprised when you can taste a funny taste in the back of your throat shortly after using the Antibiotic or Steroid Drops. It’s just the flavour of the eye drops and will soon disappear.

POST-OP CARE

One day after the procedure you head back into the clinic where both an optometrist and the eye surgeon look over your eye. You’re eyes are one of the fastest healing organs in your body which means that the LASIK Flap that was cut the day before should be well and truly healed even just 24 Hours after the surgery. Of course it isn’t fully healed to 100% strength for a few weeks but it’s immediate wounds are bonded and looking good. They remove your Eye Shields for the first time since your surgery and it’s great to be able to bask in clear vision without glasses. The optometrist runs an eye test as per your initial consultation and my eyes were actually better then 20/20 Vision which is what they call a ‘bonus zone’. The goal is 20/20 Vision but if you can read lines under the 20/20 Line on the Eye Chart then you’re in the realm of bonus vision. Both the surgeon and the optometrist were extremely happy with how my procedure turned out and looking under the magnifying scope they said ‘you could barely tell I had LASIK yesterday’.

You now have a few sets of rules to follow but it’s nothing too crazy:

  • Use Medicated Eye Drops as directed
  • Wear Eye Shields while sleeping for 2-3 Nights after surgery
  • Do not rub your eyes
  • Wear sunglasses when exposed to UV Light
  • Do not wear Eye Make-Up or Eye Masks for 7 Days following the procedure
  • Avoid Soap and Water in your eye for 2 Weeks
  • No swimming or water activities for 2 Weeks
  • Avoid dusty or smoky environments for 2 Weeks
  • No contact sport for 1 Month

I chose to wear the Eye Shields at night for 7 Days following the surgery as I was paranoid about rubbing my eyes in my sleep. There are a few variations that you need to make to how you sleep so that you can lay comfortable with the Eye Shields on, mainly head position and weight distribution but I found it pretty easy to adapt.

As a general rule I decided that the only thing that should touch my eyes are medicated eye drops and my eye lids. You’ll need to be particularly conscious about soap and water while showering and cleaning yourself. In the shower I made sure my eyes were closed when doing anything near my face and always washed my hair with my head backwards and water flowing towards my back, away from my face. At night when I washed my face before bed I used a warm flannel rather then running water and splashing it on my face, this gave me control and allowed me to keep water out of my eyes.

As you’ll be using so many eye drops it’s not uncommon for gunk or goo to build up in the corner of your eyes, especially after you have been sleeping. The best way to clear this out is to soak a flannel in warm water, wring it out and then precisely wipe your eye. It works best in front of a mirror as you can see what you are doing, only go as close to your eye as you need to in order to wipe the gunk out. This only needed to be done once or twice a day.

The rest are pretty easy to follow. No swimming or water sports for 2 Weeks and no contact sport for a month isn’t a huge ask. Wearing sunglasses while outside and not rubbing your eyes are just general eye health habits that should be followed. This is a perfect way to instil the habit in your system so you can continue them long after the surgery recovery period.

One additional suggestion that I would make would be sure to utilise your diet to leverage your recovery potential. If you take a look at research online it’s well stated that Omega-3s have proven to have a direct correlation to eye health. Many people supplement with Fish Oil to ensure they are getting adequate levels of EPA and DHA while recovering from LASIK, I was no different. Pick a good brand of Fish Oil and start a daily routine of having it with your breakfast, even better, load up on Sardines, Salmon or any other fish that is high in Omega-3s. I have no comparison as to how effective this method is to healing my eyes after LASIK but seeing as 4 Months on my eyes are as good as new, I see no reason not to introduce a higher intake of Omega-3s into your diet especially with all of the other health benefits that they offer.

PROBLEMS

There were a few things that I noticed about my eyes in the days and weeks following my laser eye surgery. Thankfully these are common side effects and nothing to be overly worried about but I thought I’d run them by you anyway.

FLOATERS
Apparently everyone’s eyes have floaters but we never notice them. Floaters are little floating substances that you can see in the corner of your eye, but when you go to look at them they disappear. If I were you I would take notice of identifying them before your surgery so that you can compare it to after the surgery. I had what appeared as an increased presence of floaters in my eyes, I could see them in my peripheral vision and they were particularly noticeable when they were backlit while watching TV. They would seem very out of focus and again with a photography background, it seemed like bokeh floating around the corners of my eyes. Even my eyebrows and eyelashes would seem more prominent as out of focus elements in front of my vision. Now, almost four months later I don’t even notice them anymore and they have gone away.

GLOW/FLARING
I noticed a very intense glow or flare effect whenever looking at something that is backlit, be it a TV or traffic lights when driving at night or early morning. It would flare out quite a bit and I was confused if it was in focus or not as the glow creates the illusion of softness in focus. I was like ‘are my eyes not focusing properly, has the laser correction not worked or is it just flaring out’. I concluded that it was just flaring out as when I used my hand to cut the backlight I could see perfectly fine and everything in the distance was sharp. Again, almost four months on and this has settled down and is no longer an issue.

BLOODSHOT EYES
I never got bloodshot eyes during the day but every morning after the surgery I would wake up and my eyes would be red as. Not like exaggerated in one area type of red but general redness all over the white part of my eye. I found that if I put in my eye drops, be it Antibiotic, Steroid or Lubricating and then ate breakfast, by the time I finished eating my eyes were back to normal. This stopped being an issue around 4 Weeks after the procedure.

CLOSE FOCUS
Sometimes when looking at my phone I would find it difficult for my eyes to find close focus. Where I used to hold my iPhone or iPad to read it now no longer worked and I needed to hold it further away from me to see it in focus. I also found that it was easier to relax the muscles in my eyes and consciously drift them into a state of blurriness. This cleared up after a few weeks and now isn’t a problem.

VISION QUALITY FLUCTUATIONS
It is completely normal to have some fluctuations in your vision while your eyes a fully healing. I found that some days my eyes would be better then others, sometimes my right eye wouldn’t focus very well but the left would be fine. It went up and down over the weeks, I’d have back to back days of perfect vision, then a day of slightly out of focus vision but nowhere near as bad as when I needed to wear glasses. Some days I’d have great vision in the morning but find by the afternoon what would normally be in focus was a little soft. You’re eyes take time to heal and to adapt, it wasn’t until roughly the 2-3 Month Period that this had fully settled and I was getting consistent performance from my eyes. From time to time I’ll notice that only one eye isn’t performing as well as it should, so I’ll pop in a Lubricating Eye Drop and take a few blinks and my vision will generally back to peak condition.

RESULTS

I must say, I am so glad that I went forward with the LASIK Procedure. It’s now almost been four months and I have vision that is better then 20/20. I can see in the distance perfectly, often better then my friends. I no longer have to deal with the woes of wearing glasses such as cleaning them, swapping from normal to sunnies when going from inside to out, looking down when it’s raining to stop raindrops getting on them, steaming up whenever you open the oven, the list goes on. I now wake up in the morning and everything is super clear with no issues, from time to time I will need to use some Lubricating Eyedrops for comfort and clarity but my need for them is becoming less and less.

For the first time the other week I went to a theme park in Japan and was able to ride a rollercoaster and enjoy clear, focused vision of the thrillride that befell me. Amazing!

I also visited an outdoor onsen while in Japan and totally appreciated the fact that I could walk outside at night in the cold, make my way to the hot springs of the onsen and bathe there with my face inches from the water and not have to deal with any fogging or bluriness. Amazing!

Another nice moment is when you take a look at yourself in the mirror from a distance, I realised that I hadn’t been able to see myself clearly from a distance without glasses on for years. Amazing!

In day to day life the benefits are paramount, clear vision really is a blessing and it’s so great to see clearly again without glasses!

Hopefully this post has helped you and educated you in some way, shape or form. If you have any other questions about my experience with LASIK please hit me up in the comments below.

Thanks!