As an active person, it is such a nuisance whenever my glasses slip down my nose when I sweat or my contact lenses come off when I wipe my face with a towel. Wearing glasses causes discomfort and pain at my nose bridge and at my ears. Wearing contact lenses causes eye irritation and dryness especially towards the end of the day. My eyes would periodically be infected by bacteria if the lenses are not adequately cleaned. I used to buy disinfectant for my contact lenses and that helped a bit. However, the lenses would soon feel rigid and uncomfortable towards the end of the monthly life-cycle. I could have opted for daily contact lenses for improved cleanliness but that's way too expensive.
I started talking to people about lasik and I received mixed opinions- some would say nay, some would say aye. Nay-sayers commented on the high cost and safety aspects of the procedure. Also, there is no guarantee that the power won't increase over time after the procedure. Aye-sayers swear by the comfort and freedom after the procedure. But they also warned about the slightly blur vision immediately after the procedure and eye dryness for the initial few months.
I visited websites of a few lasik centres to better understand the procedure and risks involved. There are a few key players to consider and their pricing is quite competitive. I've also asked former lasik patients to introduce their ophthalmologist to me.
I was keen but worried at the same time.
Enter FFB. We were enjoying our burger lunch in Bangsar Baru one afternoon and I popped the subject of lasik procedure.
"You should go see my friend. He does lasik and he previously fixed my ripped cornea. Here's his mobile number", FFB said.
After keying in the eye doctor's mobile number into my phone, I dropped him a sms to introduce myself. He replied saying I should visit his centre for a suitability check. But I needed to be off contact lenses for about a week. I was actually off contact lenses for over a month as the prolonged bad haze was irritating my eyes.
I called his centre to make an appointment. As soon as that's done, I read information on his website a few times to familiar myself with the procedure, risks etc.
Property of Mr Flabby Less
Brochures and price list from the lasik centre
The initial check was pretty quick, about 20 minutes or so. The power of my eyes were recorded and the usual eye tests were performed. After that, they announced that I qualify to proceed with the procedure. The entire procedure was explained to me clearly- all 3 steps, which are painless (yay!). They didn't promise 100% result and offered a realistic 95% improvement in my vision post lasik procedure. What I should and shouldn't do after lasik were also highlighted. They kept reminding me to look at the red light during the procedure for better results. Mental note...red for red-light district! *chuckle*
I liked them as they didn't hard sell the procedure to me. They told me to go back and consider and return only when I'm ready to proceed with the procedure. I appreciated their professionalism. I would have ran away if they had given me the old sales pitch!
Naturally, I discussed this with Wifey when I got home. She advised me to consider carefully especially the risks involved. Yes, she agreed it was affordable at slightly over RM4,000 for both eyes but I needed to be aware of the side effects etc.
A few days later on a Thursday morning when we were spending time with our kids at the Farm in the City in Seri Kembangan (it was school holidays then), I declared to Wifey "I think I'll proceed with lasik. Since I'm on annual leave tomorrow (Friday), I could do it then. I know it's very last minute. Let me call them and see whether they have an available slot. If yes, then it's meant to be". I called the centre and there was a slot at 2.30pm on Friday for me! It was a sign and I greeted it with open arms! I'm so gonna be having 20/20 vision soon!
I was out the entire Friday morning with my family and it was another great day spending time with my kids. After lunch, we rushed home and I hurriedly showered, washed my face and shampooed my hair (as instructed before going for lasik). I arrived just 5 minutes before my scheduled appointment and they immediately prep my eyes. Eye drops were applied to dilate my eyes. Then I had to wear a blue head piece to cover my hair and a blue coat to cover my body. Just before I entered the operating room, anaesthetic drops were applied on my eyes.
The ophthalmologist was a picture of calm when I saw him. He guided me calmly with his clear voice. Once I'd settled in, he told me he would give me a heads up before he did anything. This way, I would be aware of his every action and less anxious of the procedure (not too sure about the latter!). He also reminded me to keep looking at the red light.
He started with my right eye. He affixed a gadget to hold back my eyelids. This prevented me from blinking. The next gadget sucked onto my cornea. It made a terribly irritating and painful grinding sound as it cut a thin layer of my cornea. My cornea was lifted back (think opening a window!) and my vision became blur at once. Antibiotics were applied. I was told to keep looking at the red light, which I did. He then started zapping the laser beam into my eye. I hated the burnt smell! My eyes were barbequed! More antibiotics were applied after that. Thereafter, he placed my cornea back into position by flipping it forward (think shutting a window!). There was no stitching involved. Immediate a plastic cover was placed over my eye and taped up. After about 30 seconds, he moved on to my left eye and the same process followed.
I remember half way through my second eye, I held my breath for awhile as I started getting distressed. The lack of vision and burnt smell finally got to me and I felt partially numb. I think at one point I was pressing my body hard against the table trying to distant myself from the laser beam (yeah I was chicken shit!)!
The entire process was over is a matter of minutes. I would say less than 10 minutes. There was absolutely no pain throughout the entire procedure. Only my mind and my heart were racing! It was simply nerve-wrecking!
After he had covered my left eye, I was led to a dark room. I spent the next 40 minutes or so there. My eyes were mostly closed during that time. I tried opening my eyes now and then to see things but my vision was still blur.
Me with my sunglasses just before leaving the lasik centre
My ophthalmologist came into the dark room once I've adequately rested my eyes. He removed the plastic covers and put on my sunglasses for me. He reminded me not to wash my face or hair until the next day. He also assured me that my vision will improve over the next few hours. Finally, before I left, he advised me to diligently apply the prescribed eye-drops.
Property of Mr Flabby Less
With a relieved heart, I walked downstairs and waited for Wifey to pick me up. I immediately noticed my improved vision as I looked around Mid Valley. That was just an hour or so after my lasik procedure! I was amazed by the result!
Property of Mr Flabby Less
I wore protective plastic eye covers before going to bed
That night, I had to sleep with protective plastic eye covers. There could be a risk of the cornea moving out of position if anything or anyone accidentally hit my eyes. Rubbing my eyes against the pillow when sleeping could also move the cornea. It was scary shit! I didn't sleep well that night.
In the next morning, my vision was much clearer. The improvement was remarkable! My vision was still slightly hazy but I didn't have to wear glasses or contact lenses to see anymore! I was able to drive myself back to the lasik centre for check up!
Post lasik, I had to periodically return to the lasik centre for check-ups. My vision was not very clear initially but it has improved after a few weeks. My vision is now clearer and sharper. My eyes get dry occasionally and I would just have to apply some eye-drops.
I'm so glad I was ballsy enough to proceed with lasik. I feel like a new person without having to wear glasses and contact lenses. The freedom is priceless!