Before The iLASIK Experience

I finally went for my iLASIK 2 weeks ago. Did it at our client’s place.

I only found time recently to blog about this. Me being me, I don’t like half-hearted posts. I like to give as much detail and backstory so in case you are thinking of undergoing the same experience as I did, at least you can take heart that someone did it and someone told the actual story and someone was not paid to tell the story (that is why I don’t do paid reviews. If someone paid me to review something, I’ll only have good things to say about it. If I paid with my own money, I can say the good and the bad. I can say as much or as little as I want.)

Two Monday afternoons ago specifically. I should mark 21 June down as the day I could see everything clearly without glasses.

I wrote about 2 options for my vision sometime last year.

But at the back of my mind, I had always wanted to do iLASIK.

I’ve always wanted to wake up to clear vision and ditch the glasses/contact lenses. I’ve been shortsighted since I was 11 and was immediately made to wear glasses as I was squinting at the blackboard in class. My first pair of glasses were huge and powder pink.

I thought I was finally free of glasses when I discovered contact lenses when I was 19 (and could afford to buy them on my own).

But contact lenses were always a problem for me too.

Travelling meant packing extra pairs of lenses, you know, for those Just In Case scenarios. Also, travelling with bottles of lens solutions and contact casings. And of course, that pair of glasses just in case! It’s bloody hard being vain! (If you wear glasses and contact lenses, you will know what I am talking about.)

And don’t even talk about waking up early.

Because putting on lenses at 6am can be such a torture. The eyes are bleary and won’t cooperate. It also (sometimes) means red eyes because of a lack of oxygen. And if travelling by plane, the cabin air made it worse. More drying out.

Though I was fortunate NOT to get dry eyes while wearing contact lenses. My sisters do. So do many friends who wear contacts.

And I “trained” myself to wear the lenses for more than 12 hours per day without much issue. My lenses never did pop out accidentally, unlike my sister’s. (Once we were in Bukit Tinggi shopping mall and her left lens popped out of her eye. We headed direct for Guardian to buy a bottle of saline to rinse the lens before popping it right back in!)

Lenses were a big step from glasses. At least, I could swim while wearing contact lenses. I learnt to live with a life of contact lenses and multi-purpose solutions.

I had to.

I mean, what else was there for a shortsighted person?

Then last year, we were approached by Adventist Vision Centre to help them with their website. Actually they never had a website to begin with. They had a page within the Adventist Hospital website. Which really didn’t help to help them sell their vision correction services. Which until then I had no idea what it really was about.

As with all clients whom we write content for, we conduct research on our own as well as talk to them about what they offer. From our initial conversations, I discovered that not all laser eye surgery are the same. Yes, they all come under the laser surgery but you’d be quite surprised to know that some centres use microkeratome or blade to create the corneal flap. In Adventist, they use the Intralase which is a type of laser to create the corneal flap which is more accurate and with less lasik complications. You can read about it all if you want over at their iLASIK technology page.

So I was feeling quite convinced when I decided early this year to undergo the iLASIK surgery under the deft hands of Dr Raymond Tah and his team.

First Step: Getting Eyes Assessed

My eyes had to be assessed first because not everyone’s eyes are suitable for iLASIK. As I had been wearing contact lenses, I was requested to go without contacts for 7 days so that my eyes could normalize. So for 7 days, I was wearing my glasses. Initially it was odd as I find wearing glasses cumbersome. I would sweat and the glasses would slide off the bridge of my nose.

In the end, I wore my glasses for 10 days. When the day of my full assessment arrived, I was quite happy to go in that morning for a slew of testing which would last about 3 hours. Johan, their optometrist, checked my eyes, scanned them and all that and announced triumphantly that yes, my eyes were good for surgery!

Many people I spoke to had very high power – some 1,000, some 900, some 600 plus. Mine was “just” 450! Technically the higher your power, the more dramatic it would be as you’d go from being a totally blind bat (sans glasses) to absolute clarity (sans glasses).

It really is life-changing.

I’ve had friends who’d done the elective eye surgery years ago. Reason? Motherhood! Two of them grumbled that when they woke up to feed their babies at night, they had to find their glasses and put them on while they breastfed their babies. Another friend told me her husband gave it as a gift for her birthday so she didn’t have to squint all the time! And they wondered why they didn’t do it earlier.

Angine, one of the kind and patient nurses I spoke to, told me she was so amazed and inspired by her vision change (she did hers some few years ago when the centre first opened) that she decided to work at Adventist Vision Centre.

So I told Nazira that I wanted to schedule my surgery as soon as possible. Partly I was really sick of wearing my glasses! I was there on a Thursday for my eye assessment (which will set you back RM110) so they scheduled me for my iLASIK surgery on the following Monday afternoon.

Tomorrow – the part where I get my eyes zapped with laser!

Seeing Through Holes

Eyes.

Can’t see without them. 90% of what we get from the world we get through our eyesight.

When I was at St Nicholas Home for the Blind recently, I was truly grateful for my vision though I wear contact lenses. It’s like, sure, I don’t have perfect vision but these children are blind. Some of them don’t even know what a rainbow looks like.

Actually right about this time, we’re also involved with a new website development project for a new client from The Adventist Hospital. Coincidentally, this division deals with laser eye correction surgery or what we all know as LASIK.

As we’re also involved in producing copy for the website, I’ve been researching about laser eye surgeries from PRK to LASEK and then to the newest technology called iLASIK. I’ve read so much about the pros and cons of these vision correction surgeries that it’s eye-popping (pardon the pun).

I’ve had friends who have had this corrective eye surgery done and they’ve been raving over the results. Finally they say, they can see without glasses and what a change in lifestyle it has been!

I’ve been so tempted to try this laser surgery myself but I’ve still got so many pairs of disposable contact lenses. I would need to wait till my stock is finished.

But then Nic, who is all about natural healing, tells me to try the Bates Method. Apparently, your eyes can heal themselves. The issue is, they can’t heal if all we ever wear are glasses and contact lenses (which are like crutches for your eyes). Bates is the name of the man who popularised this method of training the eyes to heal by wearing pinhole glasses.

Bates pinhole glasses - not the most fashionable eyewear in town!

So Nic decided last week that he wanted to try the natural way of bringing back his 20/20 vision. He got out and bought the Bates pinhole glasses. They’re not cheap. A pair of this costs RM78. It’s just a pair of dark glasses, much like your plastic sunglasses, but with pinholes scattered on the area where the lens are.

I was a bit of a skeptic but I tried them on anyway (had to remove my contact lenses first). I could actually read the words on some books about 3 feet away!

I have shortsightedness and since 11, have been wearing glasses till I found contact lenses when I was 19. Although my prescription has stabilized at 4.5 diopter and I can use contact lenses now (and I don’t have dry eye problems unlike most lens users), I still want good vision. Vision without spectacles. I’ve done a lot of stuff wearing contacts lenses such as swimming and other outdoor activities but I still wished I didn’t have shortsightedness.

Back to the Bates glasses.

Can it cure my shortsightedness?

The idea is to train your eyes to heal themselves naturally. I’m supposed to wear the glasses while watching TV or reading.

The first time I wore them, it was a bit annoying. My eyes have to get accustomed to the pinholes. I have to focus correctly otherwise I will see overlapping images. Once I get the correct focus, I can actually see well! I can watch TV clearly and read the subtitles without squinting. I can see most objects clearly without problems.

The only thing I didn’t like was reading with the Bates spectacles. As I am shortsighted, I usually don’t read with my normal glasses on. I usually take the glasses off when I look at near objects like books. If I read with the Bates spectacles, it is also irritating. Maybe it works for people who have longsightedness.

I can’t bear to wear them when I work on the PC because it’s just too weird for close objects. For me it works best on objects about 3 feet or more away. Anything nearer and it makes me giddy looking at double images!

Accordingly, it is best to wear and ‘train’ one’s eyes for a few hours a day. This way, our eyes can adjust and correct themselves. I should be seeing an improvement in my eyesight after 2-3 weeks of using them.

Let’s see what happens over the next few weeks or whether I need LASIK surgery after all!