LASIK at Laser Vision Centre @ Singapore National Eye Centre, SGH – Feb 2014

This is probably my first entry in my (travel) blog not dedicated to travel. I’ve decided to label it as ‘Lifestyle‘, for now.

Well, I started this blog with an intention to share my experiences with others. If I find something useful and I have a couple of friends wanting to know about it, I’ll just blog about it. Saves the trouble of repeating my story n number of times 🙂

If you do know me personally, you would have most probably been puzzled about why I interchange between spectacles and no spectacles frequently. This has been going on for about 10 years of my life, since I’ve started this corrective lens known as Orth0-K lens.

Overnight Visual Correction aka Orthokeratology is the wearing of a special hard lens to sleep. Ideally, when you wake up in the morning, you remove the lens and you can have clear vision in the day. Then, the cycle repeats itself every night.

The main benefit of the lens (ten years ago) was that it was able to stabilize the myopia in young children. Furthermore, it would be very useful if you’re doing contact/water sports as wearing soft lens might not be very safe. Anyway, the sunk cost was slightly steep (cheaper than LASIK) and I was trapped with wearing the lens for TEN years.

I have been wanting to do LASIK for a long while as the maintenance of the lens is really very troublesome especially I am at an age which doesn’t get sufficient sleep every night. This brings about my wearing spects (if I do not have sufficient sleep or the lens doesn’t position properly at night) and not wearing spects (if I have enough sleep and the lens work well) dilemma. The worse case scenarios always happen on days where I do not want to wear spects – the rare days that I actually have to dress up + make up (e.g. Prom, Grad, Weddings etc.). I always end up having a blurred vision or just wearing my spectacles which never look good with make up.

So, you might wonder.. why did I wait so long to do LASIK? The reason lies with my Ortho-K lens! To go for my LASIK eye assessment, I had to not wear hard lens for one whole month. As I have not worn my 600+degree spects for 10 years, I had no spectacles to tide me through this transition period whereby my degree will gradually increase from somewhat perfect to 600+ Throughout the years, I couldn’t find a right time in my life which I can sacrifice having blurry vision for months and finally the right time came in December.

Finally in December 2013, I stopped wearing my lens for about two weeks and went to Peninsular Plaza B1 – New China Opticians to get a transition spectacles. I brought my own frame (bought from Look Optical in Korea) and it was only $40 (used to be $35) to get your new lens fitted. Unlike most opticians in Singapore, this shop cuts your lens in 30 mins or less! The uncle there is very friendly and sometimes you can even try your luck at haggling the already low prices =p

The lens that I eventually fitted for was only 475 and 525 degrees, which was lesser than my 600+ degrees 10 years ago. I guess the Ortho-K lens helped a bit in stabilizing and lowering my myopia for the past 10 years. There had been some lucky cases who were able to get back their perfect eye sight with the lens.

SORRY FOR THE LONG INTRODUCTION and the conclusion is that I finally decided to do LASIK last December. After a long google search + asking friends and relatives + advice from mum, I’ve decided to go with the conventional choice – Laser Vision Centre – Singapore National Eye Centre @ SGH.

Do take note that this is NOT the cheapest option available.

As I made my booking in 2013, they were able to reserved 2013’s pricing for me despite my Pre-Operative Consultation & Standard Suitability Assessment only happening in Jan 2014.

The service at the Laser was excellent! Registration was a breeze and the supposedly 3 to 4 hours tests and assessments ended up taking only 2 hours! You will have to go through a series of eye sight tests, eye pressure test, with both normal eyes and dilated eyes (with special eye drops). Finally, you will meet your doctor and he/she will tell you whether you are suitable for LASIK. I did not choose the surgeon as it would cost more and I do not have any friends who did it at SNEC recently. Furthermore, by not choosing the surgeon, the wait would be shorter. For my case, the wait was only one week!

The cost for my first consultation with a non-senior consultant came up to be $181.90 (with GST).
(Update: As at June 2014, my consultant has left SNEC for a private company…)

Thankfully, my $181.90 did not go to waste and he said my eyes were suitable for Bladeless LASIK; the second cheapest option available. If there are issues with your Cornea, there are many other options available like LASEK or Relax Smile etc., of course at a steeper price.

After the surgeon gives you the green light, you will be scheduled for your op. Apparently, the wait time for surgery is not long at all! If not for my Ortho-K lens, I could have gone for the surgery in 1 week’s time but the surgeon suggested that waiting 1 more month is more ideal for my situation.

(1 month later)

I chose to do my surgery on a Friday, in order to rest my eyes over the weekend. I came to the clinic at about 12 noon as the surgeon requested to do one final eye test before the actual surgery to check on the stability of my vision. Thankfully it was about the same and I could go for the surgery as planned. Went for lunch at Kopitiam and went back to the clinic at 1:30pm for my surgery.

The payment I made that day was $3,110.49 (which included the preliminary eye check). Initially, I wanted to get the DBS debit/credit promotion of a discount of $48-$68. However, it turns out that there was a credit card having a 3% rebate which totals up to a discount of almost $90+. Always remember to check your credit limit and increase accordingly. We ended up having to use two cards for payment.

Was brought into the room and they dressed me up with all the protective gear and gave a brief explanation of the procedure. At the same time, they were constantly dripping anesthetic eye drops to numb my eyes.

Once the operating room is ready (I think there were 3 to 4 staff inside), I was brought inside and asked to lie down on one of the machine. They taped some equipment on both my eye which restricted my eyelids from blinking and closing.

The first part of the operation was to cut a flap in my Cornea. I was instructed to stare at some blinking light as the machine came closer and closer to my eyes. It took barely 30 to 45 seconds for each eye. After the flap was cut, you will be asked to walk to the other machine (which I thought was unnecessary if both machines could just work on one single bed).

My vision after the cutting-flap procedure was still blurry. I remember holding on to the nurse tightly as if I was blind. The restrainer was still on my eye thus I am unable to blink. There was so much anxiety and worry inside me. After I lied down on the second machine, this was it – I told myself. There can only be two outcomes – Success & Failure (under/over correction and a 0.X% chance of blindness).

The second procedure was slightly longer than the first. What happens is that the flap is opened up and you will be asked to focus on some light again and the laser does its job. You can hear and smell the laser and probably blank out for a second or two. I was rather fidgety as I was really worried and I kept using my hands to press the stress ball they gave me. After the laser finishes its job, the surgeon will close the flap and brush your eyelid. It’s pretty amusing because I can see the brush painting on my cornea as my eyes are wide open due to the restrainer. I guess they were trying to put some fluid which was able to lubricate the cut. After which, there would be a bandage soft lens placed in your eyes. Believe it or not, it was my first time wearing soft lens and I didn’t know it was a lens until the surgeon told me. I thought the feeling was an after effect of LASIK. Anyway, the procedure repeats again for the other eye.

After the procedure is done, my eyes were still teary. As I blinked and tried to focus, the reality of perfect eye sight sets in and I was starting to feel a little overjoyed with my newly found clear vision. The nurse then assisted to remove my surgical clothes and open up two different type of eye drops and drip them into my eye. One was yellow in colour and the other was murky white. It was probably some kind of antibiotics. I was also provided with 2 boxs of natural tears drop. On the first week, I was supposed to drip every 15 minutes and then for the next month, once every hour. To be honest, I was hardly able to keep up with the timings :/ My 1-day post op appointment was scheduled for the next day, which was a Saturday.

Finally, I was able to put on my shades (which I got off Singsale) and venture into the world of clear vision. As my eyes were still healing, exposure to sunlight is harmful and I kind of got a little over paranoid in this aspect. I wore my sunglasses everywhere =D

For the first week,  you will be advised to put on this eye shield, which prevents you from rubbing your eyes when you sleep. It was quite uncomfortable for me as I turn a lot while I sleep =/

For the 1-day post op check up, the surgeon removed the bandage lens from my eyes. He did a simple eye check and said everything looks perfect and that I’ll have to see him again in a week’s time.

The best part about LASIK is that you can finally see yourself clearly in the bathroom (the only time when we are not wearing spectacles/contact lens) AND when you wake up in the middle of the night, you don’t have to fumble for your spectacles anymore!

During my 1-week post op check up, the nurse testing my eye power actually told me ‘CONGRATULATIONS. You have 6/6 vision now!’ *For the First time in my life* celebrates!

Well, somewhere in between my 1 week & 1 month check up, i had booked a vacation to Bali. During the trip, I was rather disciplined with protecting my eyes against sunlight and dripping eye drops whenever I remember. Apart from the white water rafting, I did not have much contact with the water. I guess all these efforts paid off?

My 1-month post op check up was also a happy affair and the nurses and doctor said that things were looking good 😀

Just did my 4-month post op check up and I am officially discharged from the clinic with 2 years open-date appointment with 6/6 perfect eyesight!
The doctor said that my wound had healed perfectly and that everything looks good =)

Summary of the cost (for now)

$181.90 (First Consultation)

$3110.49 (eye test + LASIK)

$69.55 (1-day post op assessment)

$108.07 (1-week post op assessment)

$100.70 (1-month post op assessment)

$116.63 (4-month post op assessment)

*discharged*

Total: $3,687.34 

With that amount being tabulated, it might be cheaper to do it at a private clinic instead. The procedure that I have done was Bladeless but it was not epi-LASIK as I had the procedure of flap-cutting.

If you do a quick google, you will be able to find more than 5 private clinics, some of which with prices cheaper than the $3,687 that I have paid. Usually, their prices are inclusive of most of the post-op consultations too!

Maybe I should research more before I even started but oh wells, it’s already over and yes i am free from spectacles and contact lens!!

🙂

Update (2017, 3.5 years after LASIK) – Went for a checkup and realised that one of my eye is no longer 6/6. I think I got a 6/9 as I couldn’t see the second last row of the numbers during an eye test.  I have yet to do a more extensive checkup at any optician but I believe it should be about 50 to 100 degrees. The other eye is perfect. Another concern of mine is I felt that my night vision has dropped. This is not exactly a verifiable opinion, just some thoughts of mine. I have no idea if you can measure night vision in number… 

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      • hey..thanks for your detailed sharing. I am facing some prob with eye lens now…(changed from monthly to bi-monthly and finally to daily lens..n yet at times, quite frequent – I feel discomfort while using the lens. I have the same issue – on days that I am having appts/dnrs…I dread going in my specs:((
        I think I need lasik but am fearful. Your sharing helped alot..in understanding the entire procedure…thank you..pearlyn.

        • Hi Pearlyn,
          Thanks for your comment. Do consider LASIK then! You can go for a pre-assessment to check your suitability before deciding.
          I just went for my 4 months later update and I have been discharged already! The doctor said my wound healed really well and that my eyesight is 6/6 right now =)

    • I think I wore it for one night. My surgery was in the afternoon and I removed the lens the next morning during my checkup.

  • Hi. First off, thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been searching online everywhere for someone who had worn ortho k lenses for as long as I have to no avail. I’m in a similar situation. I had been wearing ortho k lenses since 8th grade (about 12 years), and just last week I took the plunge and decided to transition to soft lenses and glasses. I’m still waiting for my prescription to stabilize. I was just wondering how long it took for your eyes to stabilize going from getting off the ortho k to before getting lasik? My eye doctor told me it could take up to several months to really stabilize but it didn’t look like you waited for too long. Did you wear glasses during the transition time or contacts? Thank you!

    • Hi there! High 5 on being fellow wearers of ortho K lens! Let me try to recall the timeline.
      Early December – I stopped wearing my ortho K lens for 2 weeks and proceeded to the optician to get a new specs for transition.
      Early Jan (approximately one month of not wearing lens) – I went for consultation. Doctor advise me to wait one more month for the lasik.
      Early Feb (approximately two months of not wearing lens) – LASIK op

      I wore spectacles during my transition period.. Never wore soft lens my whole life (except the bandage lens after LASIK).
      My original eyesight was 600+ degrees; the lens that I prescribed 2 weeks after I stopped wearing the lens was about 400 to 500 degrees.
      The eyesight issue felt uncomfortable initially but after a while you should be able to get used to it.
      Anyway, my final eyesight prior to lasik was also within the 400 to 500 range which means that my eyesight kind of stabilized after two weeks of not wearing the lens but doctors will advise you to wait for at least one more month.

      Hope the information helps and Good Luck to clearer vision!

      • Thank you for replying back so quickly! I’m excited for LASIK – hopefully I’m a candidate when I go for my consultation. How is your vision doing now? Is it around 20/20? Do you/did you have any side effects (blurred vision, halos, starbursts, etc.)?

        • I don’t know if I’m 20/20 but I was 6/6 since the final checkup I did 4 months after the op.
          Haven’t done an eye check since then (1.5 years ago).
          Side effects wise – I kind of feel that my night vision is poorer but such things are quite subjective so I can’t be too sure about it.
          Various people will have different results and I do know of individuals who didn’t get perfect eyesight (less than 100 degrees) after LASIK.
          It happens but I guess its a small percentage.

  • Hi FlyHoneyStars,

    May I know how old were you when you did the Lasik and if your eyesight has stabilised for at least a year before that? Thank you very much.

    Asking cause I just did my lasik at SNEC too!

    • Hi there, I did the LASIK when I was 23.
      As I was wearing the hard lens, I had to survive without lens or spectacles for about 6 months (as I had to let my eyesight go back to my original degree without the lens). I don’t think it was for a year.
      It’s been 3 years since my LASIK and I think I’m 6/6 in one eye and perhaps about 100-150 degrees in the other eye (did a simple eye test during some checkup). I don’t have issues with my usual vision but I guess it is no longer perfect. I don’t exactly have good eye care habits as I still look at electronics all the time. The only extra effort I make is that I wear sunglasses whenever there’s strong sun. It’s kind of like a habit already. Hope all is good for you!