The treatment I got at Ultralase was much better than the way they have treated me at Optical Express. They have offered me tea or coffee when I arrived; I was early so I loitered about the reception area for a longer while and the general first impression was very good; none of the dingy darkness, none of the ripped armchairs. Staff was all friendly and nice including one Polish girl who took the time to chat with me while I was waiting for my appointment.
Then, I got to see the ophthalmologist. She was absolutely lovely and immediately explained to me what the plan for the consultation is, and then invited me into a dark room for tests. They were many test machines, all pretty much the same though with chin rests and things to look at inside. Some red blinking dots, pictures of mountains etc. Then, there was the usual test with letters on the wall and various lenses, as well as the eye muscle and nerve test. All very extensive, very detailed. It appears that my eyesight has deteriorated slightly over the last three years, now I have -3.75 on my right eye and -3.25 on the left - at least that's what she said. She explained to me the eye structure and the reason why I can't see clearly in the distance and told me as well that I have developed slight astigmatism, just like my mum only milder. All these issues were common and were not something that I should be worried about, she said, all very normal. She has tested my eyes in and out, including the tear production, muscle function and the lot. Then I was handed over to another girl who once had the same prescription as me and actually had it corrected three months ago; she took digital photos of my eyes with three different instruments, including one that looked like an Austin Powers Hypnosis Machine - the side I was facing was painted in black and yellow concentric circles and had a red dot in the middle, that kept on flashing along with the stripey area as I was trying to look at it unblinking. Not easy, and it left me with after images of the concentric circles before my eyes.
Some drops were put in my eyes were supposed to dilate my pupils so that they could have a good deep look into them. It felt like having shampoo poured in, it was stingy and unpleasant, but the girl joked with me about it and made me feel at ease.
I was left to myself for about 15 minutes as the drops were taking effect. I wasn't sure if it was just the fact that I spent half an hour in the dark room, but all of a sudden everything seems SO BRIGHT! at first it was a pleasant surprise, the sun came out as well and it was purely lovely, but after few minutes it started to annoy me slightly: my eyes didn't adjust to the brightness as they normally would. Fortunately it didn't last long, I was called back into the dark room for some more tests and by the time I had to leave it got cloudy and darker.
I think this part was the coolest of all, even better than the Austin Powers Hypnosis Machine: very bright light was shoot into my pupils and I could see the reflection of the inside of my eye. Seeing all the little veins inside my eye was probably one of the most surreal experiences in my life. I then had a chat about the treatments that are suitable for me and what can be expected from each of them - I was seriously impressed with the amount of information that I have received and have even been shown the pictures of my eyes that were taken by all of the machines and explained what they mean. Then I had a chat about the risks and then at last the prices.
I left with a bunch of brochures and further details including the medical consent form that I would need to sign if I went for the surgery. The bright light hurt me so I made my way to the Luas and then back home in the shortest time possible; I couldn't read as everything was blurry and couldn't look into distance because I had to squint away from the light - this wasn't nice, but then again, it was worth it.
Now all I need to do is to procure four and a half thousand euros.