I actually got the procedure done in Singapore, after recommendations from my uncle. I went for a consultation and loved that I only had to be without contacts for 24 hours, unlike the 72 hours that is required for Vision Eye Institute in Sydney. The doctor's assistants used several machines to measure the thickness of my cornea, and I guess my eye health in general (I'm not entirely sure what all of them do). They also did an eye test to measure my actual prescription, which was about a -10 and a -9.5 (i.e. really high).
After analyzing all the results, they concluded that even though I have a thicker than average cornea, my prescription is far too high for LASIK. In case you don't know the difference between LASIK and epi-LASIK, here's a quick crash course. LASIK is a procedure where a flap is cut so the laser has access to the cornea tissue, where it does it's thing. The recovery time for LASIK is extremely fast - clear vision is usually obtained immediately and you would be out of work for a day. From my rather limited knowledge, I think epi-LASIK is the same as LASEK. Please don't quote me on that. For epi-LASIK, the top layer of the cornea is removed, so the laser can cut the cornea tissue. The healing time is far longer than LASIK. It takes up to a year for full recovery. By full recovery, I mean no fluctuations in blurriness. The doctor told me it will take 2 months for my cornea tissue to heal up, and so I will have to be extra vigilant and make sure my eyes are protected from harmful UV rays, as they can cause scarring, which will affect my sight.
So after the consultation, I was ahh-ing and umm-ing about whether or not I should get the procedure done in Singapore or Sydney. The cost to do epi-LASIK in Sydney is about AUD$2k, whilst it was about SGD$3k, which is about AUD$2.4k. The other disadvantage of doing it in Singapore was that I would have noone to look after me. However, the advantages were the same 24 hour no contacts rule applied to pre-surgery preparations, unlike the 72 hours in Sydney. I eventually decided to get it done in Singapore, after realising that I would most likely chicken out or procrastinate if I didn't get it done now. After making my decision, Mike felt the need to take another block of work off so that he can look after me... <3
On the day of the surgery, the the assistants used a few eye machines to check my eyes. Again, I'm not entirely sure what those machines do. One of his assistants then went through what I needed to do post-surgery - which eyedrops to use, when to use them, what I shouldn't do post-surgery like not wear makeup for a WHOLE WEEK etc. We then had to wait about 30 minutes for the doctor to come down. When he arrived, he went out the back in the surgery room to prepare for the surgery. His assistant prepped me up as well. I had to wear a gown, booties, hair cap thingy, and a mask that covered my nose and mouth. She then applied numbing drops into my eyes, covered my left eye with some sort of a protective thing, and then got me to stare at a red blinking light for practice whilst the doctor finishes his preparations.
And then it was time... The scariest moments of my life... I went into the surgical room, climbed up a step to get on the bed. An assistant put a blanket over me, and then the doctor moved the laser machine into position. He put a thin long rectangular cloth around my face, which he later used to hold my head steady. He placed a ring in my right eye, which I guess holds the eyeball in place and prevents the eyelid from closing. He then proceeded to (what I assume) remove the top layer of epithelial cells. It was so scary to see what he was doing to my eye, not knowing exactly what he was doing, whilst not feeling a single thing. The items he used were what looked like cotton buds, and a pair of small scissors with pointy tips, as well as some unknown liquid. I could actually see the background darkening as he prepared my eye for the surgery... and then it was time. He held my head steady and told me to stare at the red blinking light. It was such a weird experience. There was a slight burning smell, but it didn't bother me all that much, as my mind was ... everywhere... I was wondering when it'll all be over, and how weird the red light got as the laser did its thing. It kind of looked like a laser light show? :-s There were a total of 4 stages, and I really liked how he was telling me which stage we were at, and how many more seconds we had left by counting down.
When the laser finished doing its thing, he poured a crap load of liquid in my eye to rinse it. He then inserted a protective lens (like a clear contact lens). And that was it... for that eye. He then removed the bandage thingy from my left eye, placed it over my right, and went through the whole procedure from the placement of the ring to the protective lens. I think it took about 15 minutes from start to finish for both eyes.
|That's me with the laser raping my eyeball... Although I don't think the laser was in operation at the time when this photo was taken (at least I hope it wasn't).|
I was also given six Berocca tablets to be taken once a day, and three Valium tablets to be taken once a night if required.
|My eye drops and tablets|
I went for follow-up visits to the doctor 3 days and 5 days post surgery. The first follow-up, he said the top layer had healed up 70% after inspecting it with his eye machine thing. The second follow-up, he removed the protective lens - it didn't hurt.
Before coming back to Australia, I went to see him again 7 days post-surgery. He wrote me a letter to give to an eye doctor or optometrist for a check up four weeks post-surgery, and gave me another box of lubricant and two more steroidal eye drops. FYI, the steroidal eye drops help prevent scarring when the tissues heal.
He told me that my healing time is much longer than other patients because I had such a high prescription. It will take up to 6 months for my vision to stabilise. At a week and a half post surgery, my vision does get noticeably blurry at times, but it's clear enough to fool me into thinking that I'm wearing contact lenses at times.
So that was my experience with epi-LASIK eye surgery. I'm so glad I did it in Singapore, and am so thankful that Mike was there to support me and be my eye-drops slave. It's so amazing to be able to wake up in the morning and see! I will definitely not be missing the times I had to fumble for glasses to read the time!