25 May 2013

epi-LASIK Eye Surgery

I finally did it! If you read my confuzzled blog post that I posted in March, you'd know that I was contemplating on whether I should do LASEK or LASIK. A few of you commented expressing your confusion, so I thought I'd continue on from that post and share my experiences.

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).
As I said before, I felt absolutely nothing but I was absolutely terrified being able to see what he was doing to my eyeballs. However, about 2 minutes post-surgery, it really started to hurt. The "pain" was like an eyelash stuck in your eye but worse (if you're a contact lens wearer... like accidentally putting on a broken lens). One of the assistants put the eyedrops in my eyes... one eyedrop per eye every 10-15 minutes... There were three different types! So that was about 30 minutes of pain... and then I was given a pair of sunnies that completely blocks out all UV rays. Those sunnies are EVIL. They refuse to stay on my face, although it's probably because I have a lack of nose. Anyway, the pain stayed with me all through the 15-20 min cab ride home, until I managed to fall asleep with the pain. When I woke up, I was pain free! HURRAY! Mike then administered eye drops. I had four different ones - a lubricating one, antibiotic, antibiotic/steroid combination, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. The first three eye drops needed to be administered once every 3 hours, except at night, when I'm sleeping. The last eye drop needed to be administered once every 4 hours (thankfully only for the first 3 days). Each eye drop had to be spaced 10-15 minutes apart, so you can imagine (well, calculate) how long the eye-drop-routine took.

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
The first two days post-surgery, I slept... A lot. I could not read my phone without feeling nauseous, and the backlight had to be set on the lowest setting. The third day got better, I could use my phone for about 15 minutes before getting nauseous and having to sleep it off. The fourth day onwards, my vision started getting clearer (but still blurry), and I could use my phone longer and more frequently.

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!

38 comments:

  1. I have wanted to go for an eye surgery like this for a long time but I am too much of a scarecrow! Reading this gave me a knot in my stomach. I applaud you for being so brave!

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    1. Well it was either this or the potential to go blind when I get older! But thank you :)

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  2. Wow your prescription is so high O___O but mine isn't all that much better... The experience sounds quite daunting with the whole being able to watch what the doctor's doing and smelling the burn. I would not know how to organise myself with all those eyedrops either. Thanks for sharing!

    Louise
    dreamdustx

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    1. The burn wasnt all that bad... I was far too distracted by the laser I think. My prescription was bloody ridiculous! I've got crappy genes :(

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  3. So exciting, Abigail! I'm so glad you were able to do it. You've just reminded me to go put my glasses on so thanks! AHaha. x

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  4. WOW i have to say I was so scared reading your post the entire time, you were so brave to go through the memory again for us, thank you!
    I want to do it in the future sometime, but 24K in Aus? thats crazy i don't have that type of money!

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    1. Oh man! I'm going to have to change my font. It's meant to be $2400, not $24000. lol I don't have $24000 to spend on epi-lasik either!

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  5. Wow, that's sounds scary! That's really good sharing :)

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    1. It was so scary! I was contemplating taking a valium to calm my nerves, but the assistant said i'd be fine...

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  6. That's lovely that Mike was there with you.
    I smiled at the photo of the surgeons with their thumbs up haha!
    Glad it all went well <3

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  7. Wow I am so amazed that you were brave enough to go through with this. However I think the benefits of this will be epic! I am thinking about doing this in about 5 years...

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    1. Thanks! I still find it weird waking up and being able to see, although my sight is still annoyingly blurry at times :( Hopefully it stabilizes and improves soon!

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  8. Oh wow Abby that sounds so scary! Being able to see what's going on! I already hate having to be awake when being at the dentist (even though not feeling anything) so I can't imagine how awful it would be to see what's happening to your eyes!
    I'm happy it was successful though! :)

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    1. Not going to lie... I nearly pissed my pants.

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  9. Thank you for this great post. My boyfriend is in a similar situation where his eyes are terrible and degenerating and at some point he would go blind if he doesn't do something about it soon! :-)

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    1. My pleasure! It honestly wasn't too bad, and I would do it again in a heartbeat (ok maybe a few heartbeats... it was quite scary). The benefits definitely outweighs the risks for people with a high prescriptions like your boyfriend and I.

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  10. Hi Abby! That's a really nice post.. You had me hooked to every word. I too underwent Lasik at Advanced Eye Hospital in India. I was as scared as you and I kept asking the doc if I just couldn't be put off to sleep! I wish we could just sleep with our eyes open! That would make it so easy. lol.

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  11. Very well written!!I never heard about this,Very informative about epi-LASIK Eye Surgery..Thanks for discussing..

    Cost of lasik surgery in Hyderabad

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  12. Congratulations on your LASIK surgery! My friends thought that this is one of the most detailed blogs we've ever seen. My custom lasik phoenix wishes you good eye health in the next years to come.

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  13. hi, may i know how much did it cost in total? how long did you have to wait for the surgery. (appointment time) which clinic did you do it at?

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    1. I think it was about SGD$3k. Did not have to wait long at all. I think I could have booked a week later, but I went to Maldives instead and got an appointment straight after. I got it done at Clear Vision

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  14. Hi Abigail, may I ask which clinic did you have this procedure in Singapore? I'm thinking of getting too. Thank you :)

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  15. What was your degree for your left and right?:/ cus my both my eye is 600 :( what is your age anyway?(:

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    1. My contact lenses were around the 800 mark. I'm 23.

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  16. Hi I got my epilasik on Nov 22nd, its more than a month from now. still double vision is there ..so annoying some times. how are you feeling now?

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  17. Hi Abby, this is very useful. How are you feeling now, do you see halos?

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    1. I'm great. Eyes are fantastic. No halos and no more dryness.

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  18. Hey Abigail, this is a really thorough account of how it went. I wish to know the long term effects. Is there anything different now after doing it. Also, how much didlasik cost

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    1. My eyes are perfectly fine. When I went to the optometrist about two months ago, he said that I still have a bit of astigmatism left, but I haven't really noticed it.

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  19. Hey, I got it done in Nov 22nd, its been 2 months, worth going for it, there was some double vision initially, but now its clear... happy..

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  20. Nice one! I like the outfit of the characters. Wish i could do the same thing too but I am not that techie. i like the outfit of “from farmer to warden”.. really interesting.
    San Antonio Lasik Surgery

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  21. What an experience. How’s your vision after you've recovered from the surgery? I hope the result was worth all of your expenses from travel to surgery. It’s truly terrible not being able to see without prescription glasses and contacts. Take care! Bruce @ NCEENT

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  22. Hi, do you recommend Epilasik at clearvision? :)

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