Sunday, 8 July 2012

My LASEK Experience: How I got my 20/20 vision back

Exactly 15 days ago, I underwent LASEK eye surgery to correct my vision. Here’s my brief account for those interested in undegoing corrective eye surgery.

Before LASEK

My eye grade prior to surgery

The main consideration why I finally decided on surgery is my astigmatism. Because it was really high, my vision was blurred even with my contact lenses or eye glasses.

I decided to have it done in Korea for a number of reasons. One is because of the price. I asked American Eye Center in Shangri-la for the rates and they quoted me PHP 44,500 per eye. So that’s PHP 89000 for both eyes!

In Korea, the price ranges from 1200 USD to 1700 USD. Still cheaper than the American Eye Center price. In the end, I chose Dream Eye Center for my surgery mainly because of the good reviews from Korea-based foreigners who’ve undergone the procedures. All their nurses, doctors and receptionists speak great english so I was never worried about any miscommunication.
Also, their site is very informative, explaining everything, from the preliminary eye tests to the surgery and after-care service: http://www.hellolasik.com/

LASIK versus LASEK
Dream Eye Center offers a free comprehensive eye examination test to check if one is a candidate for eye surgery. It’s a two hour examination composed of 24 eye tests.


At the tailend of the test, the eye doctor would discuss the best recourse for you.
While I could actually do LASIK because I have thick enough corneas, I opted for LASEK because LASIK tends to exacerbate dryness of the eyes and I already have extremely dry eyes. Plus the corneal flap left by LASIK could be displaced. And though Dream Eye Center offers lifetime care for LASIK (i.e. they will correct the corneal flap in case it gets displaced free of charge) that would still be a hassle.
I chose LASEK which removes a thinner layer of the cornea and offers a lesser chance of complications. The cons are that unlike LASIK, LASEK does include a certain amount of pain. And one does not gain that promised 20/20 vision immediately unlike LASIK.

The Surgery
The surgery itself was fast. Although I had to go to the Eye Center an hour before the surgery to have my final eye examination. The surgery took only 15 minutes. They strapped me on an operating bed, and placed a contraption on my head. Throughout the surgery, the doctor commanded for me to focus on a bright red light. The only weird thing during the procedure was the smell of burning hair, till I realized it was my cornea being burned by the laser. Protective contact lenses were placed on my eyes to aid in the healing of my cornea and to avoid infection. I was also given a stash of eyedrops (Artificial Tears, Antibiotics, Anti-Inflammatory) to counteract dryness and avoid infections.

After surgery, my eyes were blurred but I could immediately notice about 60% vision improvement. I went to the surgery alone and though my vision was a bit blurred, I found no problem in going home on my own after the surgery, in fact, I was even able to drop by a nearby grocery to buy some goodies.

Pain and Discomfort After Surgery
An hour after, the anesthesia have worn off and my eyes became really heavy and teary, so I slept it off for most of the day. It wasn’t really painful, just a bit uncomfortable with the dryness and heaviness of my lids. The next day, I went back to the eye center to have my eyes checked. I was told they were healing nicely and was told to expect pain the next day as the cornea heals itself.

Sure enough, the pain came on the third day after surgery. My eyes were stinging the whole day, as if onion juice was constantly being squeezed into my eyes. I took a few Tylenols and slept through the whole day.By this point, my eyes were still extremely blurry and I had hypersensitivity to light. I could not stare at computer monitors or even watch the telly as my eyes turn teary and irritated with the light from them. On the fourth day, the pain was gone and my eyes were getting clearer. Except for the dryness, there was no longer any issues, I was just waiting for the bluriness to be gone.


Crystal
I can’t really pinpoint the exact moment when the blurriness faded since the improvements came incrementally, but a few days ago I was surprised to be able to read super small letters on a grocery item even while I was a few feet away! I realize suddenly that perhaps I’ve gained my 20/20 vision already. I’ll find out my new eye stats when I take my eye examination at the eye center next Wednesday. But, it sure is amazing to wake up to crystal vision.

Worth the Pain and Money
Sure there was the pain, and it was a major expense, but every penny was worth it. And my promise is that I’ll take care of my eyes better now so I can enjoy this vision as long as I can.


Tips for those considering Laser Eye Surgery
1. Choose a doctor/Eye Center that can provide you options (i.e. not just LASIK, or not just LASEK). Of course, do your homework and research. After-care services (after the surgery) should also be part of the consideration. Some clinics might offer cheaper prices but the package might not include the aftercare services, so always check.

2. If you’re wearing contact lenses, schedule your eye exams a week after you’ve stopped wearing contacts, so the eye readings are accurate.


3. Laser Eye Surgery is really not as scary as it sounds. It's the lack of information that scared me before, which is why I decided to blog about my experience to allay the fears of those who want to undergo LASER eye surgery but are hesitant or scared. I’ve had two prior surgeries before this (all are due to illnesses) and this is by far the easiest surgery I had. The pain after surgery is tolerable and can be slept off.

4. If you opt for LASEK, you will need at least four days of off time, unlike LASIK where patients usually go back to work the day after surgery, so consider that too.

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. hi dear i nominated you on http://aliceorionaaxelle.blogspot.com/2012/08/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  3. I always wonder how much lasik costs in Korea. Thanks for doing the dirty work for me. Time to save up for that LASEK in a year or two. :)

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  4. You guys allow it to be quite simple for all your folks available.

    ophthalmic instruments

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  5. How long did you wait after surgery before wearing basic eye makeup - concealer, mascara and eye liner?

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  6. The eye doctor told me not to use any eye makeup for three months. I don´t really wear eye makeup so it wasn´t such a big sacrifice on my part :)

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