Nov 26, 2014

My New-found Freedom

For as long as I can remember, I have been wearing spectacles. I cannot be exactly sure but I think I became four-eyed when I was in Primary 4. The thing is, it has been such a long time that the spectacles has become part and parcel of my life.

 And while some people had remarked I look better in my frames - actually I think so too - but truth be told, it was really inconvenient having to wear them. When I was in the army and had to stand still in a parade, it was utterly irritating to feel my spectacles sliding down my nose but yet I was powerless to do anything about it. When the monkies came along, the first thing that they always love to grab was my spectacles. Even when I brought them to swimming, I was rendered blind when I had to remove my frames. And don't even get me started on the wrestling matches on the mattress with the boys... suffice to say, I had to replace quite a few pairs of glasses since then.

How about contacts, you ask? Well believe it or not, I have never ever worn contact lenses in my entire life. Somehow, I did not like the idea of probing my eyeballs and inserting something foreign into my eyes. So yes, it was all rather ironic when I finally decided to do something about my myopia and allow a machine to do the probing of my eyeballs.

The thing was, I was getting tired of being restricted to wearing spectacles all the time. Well, that and the fact that I always face restrictions when it comes to buying sunglasses. So when I heard about the new LASIK technology, known as ReLEx SMILE, I grabbed the opportunity.

Over the years, LASIK has been simplified to just less than 15 minutes of surgery and everything is relatively fuss-free. Problem was, there were also some horror stories that I heard from a friend's friend who heard them from a friend's aunty's friend's uncle's friend. So my suggestion to you if you are thinking of going for LASIK is to just simply go down to the clinic and find out more on your own.

After all, that was what my first consultation at the clinic in Paragon was all about. The consultation was to assess my suitability to undergo LASIK, and also to allow me to find out more about the various LASIK procedures available currently.

After watching a video on LASIK, I was called into various rooms for my eye exam. And when I say eye exam, that is an understatement. The whole exam took about an hour and consisted of just about every conceivable thing you could ever imagine anyone ever doing to your eyes. They did the basic eye exam, where they ask you read certain lines of text.

They then examined my eyes using various machines, like blowing a puff of air into my eyes to test the pressure of my eyes. Those were pretty okay but the last part where they dilated my pupils was rather uncomfortable. As with most people I reckon, this was actually the first time I ever had my eyes dilated via some eye drops. My eyesight went blurry, and bright light was shone in my freshly dilated eyes to test for more stuff I presume.

In any case, here's a tip if you are going to have your eyes dilated on your first LASIK consultation - DO NOT drive. Having dilated eyes means your eyes will be ultra sensitive to light, so driving in the day can be extremely blinding and dangerous.

After my eye exam, I was whisked off to see the doctor and this was where things got a bit technical. Before the consultation, I never knew that there were so many different types of procedures on the market.

For the uninitiated, LASIK (Laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis) involves the creating of a corneal flap and allowing laser excimer ablation to reshape the corneal surface so that refractive errors can be treated.

While this procedure is tried and tested, and relatively safe, the main disadvantage of LASIK is that flap-related complications may arise.

As I’ve mentioned earlier about ReLEx Smile, the doctor briefed me on this new procedure which is a bladeless, flapless, and micro incision refractive eye procedure that corrects visual problems including short-sightedness & astigmatism.

Unlike other methods of laser vision correction that ablate corneal tissue, the primary advantage is that there is no need for the creation of a corneal flap. It is a less invasive procedure and there are no fears of flap-related complications.

So I guess I do not have to tell you which procedure I chose.

And so, onto the day of my surgery. The wifey accompanied me since I was told not to drive on the day of the surgery. I did not admit to her then, but I was a nervous wreck before my surgery! Let's face it - no matter how many people told me the procedure would not hurt or that it was going to be the best decision I will ever make, I was still a little scared.

Well, there was to be no backing out in any case so I bravely entered the waiting room, where I was briefed on the procedure once again and the post-surgery aftercare.

I then donned the usual surgical gown and headgear, and I was all ready! But first, let me take a one last selfie with me in my spectacles.

I was then led into the surgery room which was predictably filled with expensive-looking machines. After I made myself comfortable on the table-like bed, numbing eye drops were applied and then, a gentle suction device was then used to engage my eye.

The laser treatment was initiated and took about 30 seconds to precisely create the refractive lenticule, with a micro incision of about 4 mm being created. The eye surgeon then extracted and removed the refractive lenticule through the micro incision.

And that was about it really. Extremely fast, like fast food.

Throughout the procedure, I felt nothing except some slight pressure on my eyes when the doctor was removing the refractive lenticule. But it was entirely painless and I was told that the micro incision will self heal without requiring any stitches.

As I sat up, my eyesight was blurry and my eyes were tearing. But I could instantly make out the chair at one corner of the room - something that I was not able to do before that without the aid of my spectacles.

The surgeon proceeded to check my eyes using a scope to see if it was a success. And since mine was (thank goodness!), I was brought back to the waiting room. I was given a post surgery care kit which included anti-biotic eye drops, normal eye drops, some sleeping pills, and a pair of eye shields which I had to wear during sleep for the first 3 nights. I was told to take the sleeping pill once I get back home and sleep for 4 to 6 hours. This would allow my eyes time to heal and help me get through the uncomfortable phase after the numbing drops wear off.

True enough, the numbing effects started to wear off on the way home and everything seemed so bright, and I was tearing uncontrollably. So I followed the doctor's advice once I got home... not before obliging Ale for a quick selfie, who called me a giant housefly by the way.

The first morning post-surgery, everything was much clearer. My vision was still rather blurry but compared to my pre-surgery eyesight - my degree was 450 in case you are wondering - it was such a welcome change!

It has been slightly over a month since I went for the ReLEx Smile procedure and my vision is still not perfect. My eyesight fluctuates and it is still rather blurry when I try to make out smaller words on the computer screen or smartphone. At my first month review session, my doctor has reassured me that the eyes need time to heal and will take at least 3 months before normal vision resumes.

But overall, I am glad I got it done. It is so refreshing not to have to worry about spectacles! I love being able to read the time on the clock when I open my eyes in the morning, or to be able to fall asleep while watching TV without having to worry about crushing my spectacles. The procedure is definitely far less scarier than what most people make it out to be and while the recovery time for me can be a bummer for now, I still love the new-found freedom of being spectacles-free!

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Bitbit said...

Hi Kelvin,

My colleague & I were just talking about going spectacle free today! Your article is just in time to provide us with more info. Do post your recovery process & take care & enjoy your new-found freedom ^^

Tashie said...

Hi Kelvin, Was thinking of opting for this procedure as well - how has your eyesight settled after the three months?

Kelvin Ang said...

Hi Tashie,

For me, my perfect eyesight didn't quite return as I was told the success rate varies from person to person. So while it is not totally perfect, it is good enough. Hope it helps!

Nicole vu said...

Hi Kelvin,
Im planning to go to Spore to get my eyes treated and I hv just found your blog. May I ask how you decided to go with the Paragon clinic? I prefer the Relex Smile method but I found some rather negative news about A doctor there. My friends recommended some other clinics but sadly they dont have relex smile. Since you may know it better, how's the reputation of the LSC? So you think they shd be trusted??? Thank you very much. I have never had any surgery done so I am a bit paranoid

Kelvin Ang said...

Hi Nicole,

Thanks for dropping by my blog.

I cannot vouch for the overall integrity of the clinic as I only had contact with one doctor. All I can say is my experience was not a bad one. Everything was done professionally so I have no complaints.

Hope it helps! :)

Peter Chen said...

hello kelvin, hows your post surgery recovery so far? have you completely recovered?

Kelvin Ang said...

Hi Peter,

Yes, my eyesight has more or less stabilised. I didn't opt for perfect eyesight recovery due to my age as the reality of presbyopia increases with age. So if I really have presbyopia after my LASIK, then I will need to wear specs again.

Hence the doc suggested I undercorrect my vision (about 100 degrees) so as to delay the need for specs even if I have presbyopia as I age.

Hope it helps!

Ben said...

Hi Kelvin

I am thinking of opting for Relex Smile. Currently 39 yrs old.

How is your recovery process?
Any implication or blurry/foggy/starburst till now?
How is your eyesight now since it's slightly more than a year.

Thank you!

Kelvin Ang said...

Hi Ben,

Thanks for dropping by my blog!

As mentioned in a previous comment, my eyesight has stabilised. I didn't opt for perfect eyesight recovery due to my age as the reality of presbyopia increases with age. So if I really have presbyopia after my LASIK, then I will need to wear specs again.

Hence the doc suggested I undercorrect my vision (about 100 degrees) so as to delay the need for specs even if I have presbyopia as I age.

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