I’m going to say this straight up: I don’t know a single person who’s done LASIK and doesn’t think it’s the best decision of their life.
As most of you know, I made the life-changing decision to undergo epi-LASIK early last month. It was a long time in coming – I’ve been thinking about it for a long while, it was recommended by my childhood eye doctor, and I’ve been speaking to many different people about it. And when people talk about lasik, they don’t just talk, they gush. I am proud to say that I have now joined their ranks – and can honestly say that despite all my pre-operation fear, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
For those of you who don’t understand why I feel so damn strongly about this, I’ve actually blogged about my eye problems extensively before. In more recent memory, there has been The Accident, The Operation, and my Pre-epilasik post. Long story short, I’ve been plagued by eye-related problems, like, forever.
The decision to undergo the epi-lasik procedure wasn’t so much a question of if as it was a matter of when. I already knew that it was necessary given my medical eye history, but two things were holding me back – firstly, it’s a lot of money upfront, and secondly, I was scared.
The first pickle resolved itself when Sophie introduced me to Jolene of Clearvision, who in turn extended a sponsorship offer to me. In retrospect it was less a sponsorship offer as it was a gift from God… but more on that later.
The second pickle was a little more complicated. I’m going to put it out there right now that I’m a little (read: very) paranoid about my eyes, and for good reason. I dont like the idea of undergoing any sort of eye surgery, and I’m inexplicably convinced that if anything were to go wrong, it would go wrong for me: that I’d be that 0.01% of the population statistic that they claim the procedure doesn’t work for, etcetera etcetera. Being offered a sponsorship took my mind off worrying about the price, but it just redirected all my excess worry towards panicking about what could or might go wrong.
I thought it over for a long time and my conclusion was: just because it’s a sponsored procedure doesn’t mean i should go for it. I’m not risking my eyes over saving a couple of grand. And thus commenced two months of intensive research..
It took me approximately three months from the time I was diagnosed OK for epi-lasik (you have to undergo a pre-procedure evaluation test to determine if you’re suitable for the procedure) to say OK to actually undergoing the procedure. I had to know everything about it first – risks, complications, and survivor stories. The risks and complications are relatively easy to read up about online, and besides just taking whatever was on the web wholesale, I actually went down to the Singapore National Eye Centre to speak to several doctors to get an unbiased idea of what risks the procedure entailed. The bottom line I got from them was: it’s best for your eyes if you stick to glasses, but epiLASIK is a tried and tested procedure that is very low-risk – the doctor will tell you if you’re suitable for the procedure even before allowing you to do it, minimising the risk of post-op complications.
One of the things I didn’t like initially was the idea of a human being operating on something as delicate as my eyeball. What if the doctor was in a bad mood, or just came from a quarrel with his/her spouse?! But I clarified this with the Clearvision staff, and everything is actually pre-calculated with a machine – the only thing the doctor does on the day itself during the actual procedure is make sure your head stays in place. The machine does all the work. Even though I do trust Dr Ho’s 25 years of field experience, this fact made me feel infinitely better.
So yes, moving on. Survivor stories.
I’m the kind who needs to know everything before I go into any major-decision making. Am I going to go to Universal Studios? I need to know the details, waiting time, and story line of every single ride available so i can plan my theme park route. Am I going to go for dinner at a particular restaurant next week? Give me the menu, prices, and ingredients used in each dish so I know what I want to order before even stepping into the restaurant. You get the idea… I’m that kind of person.
So if I’m going to do something as major as epi-lasik…. I need to know every thing there possibly is to know about it.
This was done three ways.
1. Speaking to people who have done epi-lasik before.
2. Reading forums on the clinic that I was considering for the procedure.
3. Reading online post-lasik diaries from people who did epi-lasik at Clearvision, the same clinic I was going to.
For 1. speaking to people who have done epi-lasik before, I spoke to people who had theirs done in Singapore, regardless of what clinic they went to. I basically asked every single person I knew who had it done (about 50+ people?) – so that included people who did theirs 8 years ago (still problem free) to those who just had theirs done as recently as last year (also problem free). Everyone agreed that it was the best decision they’ve ever made. I’ve never gotten such a unified response before on any topic, not even to the question of whether FRIENDS is the best TV show ever made (It is).
Reliable people I spoke to on this includes my producer and her sister, Gillian and Genna, both of whom I 100% trust. Also, Sarah from my church, who paid to have hers done 3 years ago with the same doctor at the same clinic I was going to – she said her procedure was fuss free and that she had zero regrets.
For 2., what I did was simply google my clinic
And for 3., there are plenty of people who have done their epi-lasik procedure with Dr Tony Ho at Clearvision who have also blogged a daily diary about their experience. I’m talking about non-sponsored, paying clientele reviews. This might come across as a bit ironic, given that I was sponsored by Clearvision – but when I decide to do something, I want to know everything, not just the rosy side that realistically, bloggers are relatively more likely to paint. I realise that this might dampen my credibility a little, but I hope my demonstration of extensive research shows you guys that I’m not the type to just accept something wholesale just because it’s sponsored… this is my eyesight I’m talking about! I’m not messing around!
Anyway. Reading netizen reviews on the procedure was actually more for me to get a realistic idea of what the experience would be like for me as well – I just wanted more info regarding the procedure and post-op experience, and reading another person’s online diary was a good way to do it. It also felt strangely gossipy and addictive, this devouring of personal information.. but that’s a discussion for another day.
So, having found nothing to the contrary, and with my precarious eye-health situation bothering me more and more every day, I decided to go ahead with the surgery – but not before requesting a re-evaluation of my eye suitability for the procedure for the second time, just to be safe.
By now, you’re probably backing away slowly thinking to yourself that I’m a crazy person, but whatever: I’m a crazy person who does her research, okay?
Despite all my reading up, I turned up at the clinic scared shitless on the day itself. An op is still an op is still an op. It’s always terrifying.
When I arrived, I had to fill in a bunch of forms that indicated that i was fully aware of the risks (this form induced another bout of panic in me) and that I wouldn’t hold the clinic responsible if anything bad happened. After this, the nurse put numbing eye-drops in both eyes, and left me to wait for them to take effect.
I have to admit – up till the point where I was lying on the bed, unable to move, I was still half-convinved that I should back out at the last minute. I mean.. what if something went wrong? But ok, hold on, it gets better.
Dr Ho did everything he could to reassure me, which I really appreciate, but the fear was still legitimate and present. He popped this thing in my eye to keep it open, making it impossible to blink while the procedure was ongoing. And then he held my head down.
Look at the green light, he said.
What’s the green light? I asked. And then I smelt it.
There’s this burning smell everyone talks about, which we all joke is the smell of your eyeball burning. That’s probably only half true. The laser itself gives off a smell when turned on, which is what you’re smelling. But at the same time, yes, your eyeball is burning. Thankfully, before you have much time to process this, it’s over.
The estimated time per surgery is about five minutes/eye, which I respectfully disagree with. It’s more like 30 seconds per eye. Stare at the green dot while Dr Ho counts down, and then suddenly it’s done – and he liberally pours eyedrops into your eye and wipes it clean with a sterilised cloth before popping a bandage contact lens on for you.
Is it done? I mumbled.
Very good, Doctor replied, which was not really an answer, You’re a great patient.
He was probably lying to me, because I was trembling nonstop. But it made me feel slightly better.
Before I could even attempt to blink, the next eyeball was done as well.
Up you go, he said, wasn’t that super easy?
And so it was.
It felt like all that worrying had cumulated in a rather anti-climatic point of perfection. It seemed too easy to be true. I took a photo with Dr Ho (which i’m not posting because I look stupid in it), and then I was ushered to a dark room, given special sunglasses, and left to rest. Nurses came in every 15 minutes to drip a different medicated drop in my eye.
It’s recommended that someone accompany you on the day of the op itself, because you’re going to be pretty non functional. After your procedure, your eyes are going to be super duper sensitive to light for quite awhile, especially right after LASIK, thus tiring you out easily. This is true: I apparently kept repeating myself and then I got super sleepy, super fast. Shane stayed with me for the entire operation, and then waited with me for the nurses to discharge me – it takes about an hour post-op. This was expected. What was not expected was this: the medicated eyedrops suddenly induced a great need for me to remember the exact storyline of Death Note I & II. I sat there, blind, and made Shane google the plot and then read it out to me while I asked incessantly: but why? Why did Light do that?
Sometimes I really wonder why he puts up with the nonsense I make him go through. +1 for tolerance levels. 10/10 recommended trait when considering potential boyfriends.
After about an hour the nurse told me i was good to go, and Shane called my dad who then came to pick us up and send me home 🙂
For a week after surgery I was self-confined to my room, though from what I read, most people go back to work after day 4. I only left the room to go to the hospital for checkups, then headed right back to sleep in my room. I didn’t want to risk anything getting lodged in my bandage contact lens, so I basically minimised contact with the outside world and its pollutants, as recommended.
A few things that stood out to me post-op:
1. My vision was pretty serviceable from day one.
Couldnt read emails or books or anything, but I could watch TV. Not bad, huh. I had expected to be blind or at least, uncomfortable, for at least a week.
2. BUT that said, I couldnt really function on the computer at all for nearly a week.
Emails were out of the question. Websites were a pain (I tried to google some things). The only thing I could do was sleep and watch Kdramas.
3. The bandage contact lens protects your eye, but it can also cause you discomfort.
I woke up with a sharp pain in my eye twice after the op – apparently when you sleep, your body drys up (you feel it too normally, like your mouth gets dry etc) and so do your eyes. This caused the bandage lens to really annoy me when I slept, but it was usually over in a minute or so after intensive tearing, which lubricates your eyeball enough for the lens to unstick from your cornea.
4. The amount of eyedrops you have to keep using is insane.
I had three different medicated drops that had to be put at different time intervals, and to help with this the clinic gives you a timetable to fill in so you know when the next drop is due. You also eat vitamin tablets to accelerate the healing process. (On top of this I ate a golden kiwi everyday bc they’re supposed to be chock full of Vitamin C.) Basically, your eyeballs are probably going to be the most lubricated they’ve ever been… but for me, the eyedrops were also really comfortable for my eyes. It was great!!
5. Your eyes will probably heal at different rates.
For me, my right eye healed a lot faster than my left. This didn’t have any real life impact on me, but it was just interesting to know.
6. You get paranoid when you shower.
No water is supposed to touch your eyes because that runs the risk of infections happening. So you cant wash your face (just use a hot towel) and showering takes a bit of skill. For me, I wore sunglasses to shower so splatter didnt get in my eyes. I looked and felt stupid, but hey, I have perfect eyesight now. I have friends who wore goggles to shower. Whatever works best for you, I guess.
7. The biggest issue wont be anything health related, it’ll be boredom.
You basically cannot leave the house, use your computer, or read. Unless your friends want to come visit you and talk to you everyday.. you’re going to be bored to death. And there’s only that much you can sleep! You literally cannot do anything without your eyesight, and while I healed fast enough to be “watching TV” from day one, I still couldnt really see what was going on – I think i was just following the big moving characters on screen and listening to them chatter. For some of my friends who were stricter on themselves and avoided all electronic screens altogether, they were really bored to death. But hey – boredom for a couple of days, then perfect eyesight forever. Not a bad trade off, I think.
8. The process is different for everyone.
Because I spoke to so many people before getting epiLASIK done, I was already prepared for this. I count myself quite lucky that the process was relatively uncomplicated for me – I know some people who teared up like crazy and couldnt use their phones at all. But of all the people I spoke to, no one experienced the same pain from dry midnight eyes and bandage lenses that I mentioned earlier. So yeah, while the end result is largely the same, the minute details are pretty different for each individual.
After a week, I left the house for the first time for something that wasnt related to the hospital: I went for my boyfriend’s birthday celebration. And a couple of days after that, I made a trip to Montigo with a couple of friends, and had zero eye-related issues while there 🙂 Travelling with perfect vision is a dream. More on that in a later post.
Sometime approximately two weeks after surgery… I didn’t even realise it, but I no longer had to squint to make out things. Still minimal blurring, but I was told that it’d take up to three months to fully heal. The cornea was healing, and fast.
And right now, my vision is at 100%. I would say that it’s comparable to when I had contact lenses on, except without all the complications and occasional discomfort that contact lenses come with. No more worrying about red eyes and contact lens irritation. No more worrying about my eyes looking bloodshot after a night of drinking with my friends (it happens, right? It’s not just me?). No more worrying about overwearing my contacts and damaging my eyes beyond repair. Basically, no more worries..
Epi-lasik, the procedure I did, costs 3,388SGD inclusive of pre-lasik evaluation, epi-lasik surgery for both eyes, initial set of medications, and post-op reviews for a month. After GST, the amount you pay is 3,625SGD. And of course, if you quote my name you get 120SGD off which brings your entire surgery to 3,505SGD.
The difference with regards to contact lens wear, of course, is a higher upfront cost. But the way I look at it,
– you ‘own’ your perfect vision instead of just ‘renting’ it, which is what you do with contacts
– your epiLASIK pays for itself after calculating how much contact lenses cost in the long run
– the risks are lower overall: every time you stick your finger in your eyeball, you risk infection, scarring, and in rare cases, blindness. Trust me – I’m speaking from experience.
And I’m telling you, waking up to clear vision every day – it’s priceless. Life is completely different now. I 100% would recommend epi-lasik, and I’m ever grateful to the Clearvision team for guiding me through it and being there for me the whole way despite my being completely chicken about it. 🙂
6 Nutmeg Road
(Next to Mt E, behind Paragon)
I’ll be back next time to talk more about life post-epilasik and how great it is (because it is!), but I do hope this post helped inspire you to start thinking about the future of your eye health – and I hope I answered some of your burning questions about the epi-LASIK procedure!
Thank you once again, Clearvision SG. You guys are the bomb x