Health Goddess

Shiny new peepers

After 20 years of looking like a lab nerd with my thick glasses, I have finally made the move to undergo Lasik and ditch my specs.

Before I took the plunge, I went online and researched extensively on the clinic and the procedure. The pros and cons. The reviews. The doctors’ take. Everything I could find, I read. I talked to those who had gone through Lasik. In the end, I decided that having perfect vision for the next 10 years (till I suffer from presbyopia, anyway) was well worth the cost.

I have to thank my salah boyfriend Trevor for this. He was the one who got the clinic to call me and was super reassuring when I rang him up numerous times going OMG OMG OMG.

I’ve been wearing contact lens since I was 18. I never had problems with it till three years ago, when my eyes started getting really dry. It was so bad that one of my lens broke into two in my eye. I was diagnosed with giant papillary conjunctivitis – my eyes had grown allergic to contact lens. My ophthalmologist told me I had to give up contact lens or risk having eye infections. Boo.

Geek alert!

The clinic
Practically the whole world looked at me and said ARE YOU MAD when I told them where I was going to get my eyes fixed: Optimax Eye Specialist. In Johor Bahru.

Yes, cost was a key factor but more importantly, it was word of mouth that swayed my decision. Trev had his done at Optimax JB and he had only praise for them. When we went for the free eye examination, the consultants were genuinely friendly, and were not pushy at all. They did not push us to go for the most expensive treatment but instead weighed the pros and cons for us. I surfed the net for reviews and most that I had found were glowing (with the exception of a poor girl whose surgery was aborted midway and was subsequently refunded. Let’s not think about her).

Plus, they had a comprehensive post-surgery followup system (you go back for checkups one week, one month, three months, six months and a year after the surgery) and offered lifetime enhancements.

Eventually I went with the Intralase Conventional treatment. Because my cornea is thicker than normal, I was given two options: LASIK, where the flap of my cornea is cut open using a blade or Intralase, where the flap is cut using laser. Then, there are two ways to correct your vision: Conventional vs. Custom.

The procedure
It was really over in less than an hour. First, the nurses will numb your eyes with anesthetic eye drops. Then your eyes will be cleaned and disinfected. I lost count the number of times they wiped my eyes down with cotton pad. Finally, I was brought to the freezing operating theatre. Brr. The staff were thoughtful enough to equip the room with a giant quilt but it was still COLD.

I was asked to lie down on one of the two beds hooked up with giant machines and the doctor told me to do two things for him: tilt my head upwards towards the laser and FOCUS ON THE LIGHT. Sounds simple but so hard to do! At a certain point, after my eyelids had been clamped, my eyes went BLANK and the good doctor reminded me to look at where the light USED to be and fix my gaze on that. That was the cutting part and it took about 20 seconds per eye. Frankly, I wasn’t keeping count because I was all FOCUS ON THE LIGHT even though I couldn’t see the light.

Then I was led to the other bed. This time, the doctor said, he would say incoming laser and there would be lots of bzz bzz bzz sounds. I was to relax, not move my head and FOCUS ON THE LIGHT. Again, that part was over pretty quickly but I was breathing through clenched teeth because I was freezing and I wanted to FOCUS ON THE LIGHT. The doctor kept telling me to relax but seriously? Relax while a laser is zapping my eyes and I had to FOCUS ON THE LIGHT?

After the whole microwaving, there was lots of washing and that was the part I really couldn’t stand (I hate having water in my eyes). My eyes wanted to close but they couldn’t because of the clamp. So they did what they could – they started to roll inwards (which is what you do when you sleep, apparently). The poor doctor was all FOCUS! OPEN UP! DON’T SLEEP!

But he was very sweet. Throughout the surgery, he kept encouraging me and telling me that I was doing great. And when it was all over, he actually said to me, “Well, your torture is over! Great job!” Hmm, thanks?

The aftermath
I wish I could tell you that I opened my eyes and tadah! A brand new world awaited me! But of course not. I could barely keep my eyes open immediately after the surgery and I was miserable. It felt like there was a strand of hair in my eyes and I couldn’t get rid of it.

When we reached the hotel, the first thing I did was jump into bed and under the covers. By this time, my eyes were tearing uncontrollably and my cheeks and chin were all wet. I popped a sleeping pill that the nurses had given me and when I woke up, three hours later, there were salt sediments at the space between my left eye and my nose. I’m not kidding.

But it was all good. Although my eyes were red around the area where the suction had been (to make the cut), I could see relatively well. The discomfort was minimal and everything was bathed in a romantic light. I could even go downstairs with husband to watch footy (stupid Netherlands).

The next day, we went back to the clinic for a checkup and it was all good. My eyesight is currently 6/6 but it’s certain to fluctuate and will only settle in a few months’ time. The doc said that the eye was healing well and I should be on my way to recovery.

Till now, I still feel strange to be looking at my surroundings so clearly without glasses. I have this funny feeling that I should be taking my contact lens off soon but no, it’s for real.

So, would I go through the whole procedure all over again on hindsight? Hell, YEAH. I was terrified and miserable but at the end of the day, I think it was worth it. Dr Yip was very nice and encouraging, and I absolutely trusted him with my eyes.

Of course, I did feel assured of my choice when he told me, “Oh good thing you went with Intralase. With blade, it’s like using a knife and cutting thousands of cucumber. No one cut is the same. I wouldn’t be telling you this story if you had chosen the blade method though.”

Thanks Doc, I feel SO much better now!

Hello, clear eyes!

4 thoughts on “Shiny new peepers”

  1. Believe it or not, my eyes are slightly watery after reading your experience. I went along with a friend when she had her Lasik done and yes, she was a sorry sight after the procedure, heh!

    Congrats on your new spec-less lifestyle 😀


  2. Hiya, i feel your joy, no more fumbling for glasses when you wake up! Like you, i’ve got GPC too, (worse, i’ve got this other conditon called blepharitis) and have been a ‘social’ contact lens wearer since. Lasik has always been at the back of my mind, but i can’t overcome the fear of the procedure :/


  3. Thanks Melly! God yes, the aftermath was terrible. I couldn’t even lift my head up cos, I dunno, my eyes were tearing and I was miserable.

    Z, I’d say go for it! It’s terrifying for that short period of time, all of 5 minutes, I reckon. But the rewards are amazing. GPC sucks!!


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