The Journey of My Vision

    It is not hard to guess that my vision journey started long time ago. When I was 10, one of those nights my parents told me that they had seen me squinting a bit lately. They sent me in for an eye check, and the rest is history.
    Every other year, I would order a new pair of “fashionable” glasses. Deep down inside, I knew that no matter how “fashionable” are those glasses, I still look like a weirdo under those plasticky things. I also hate it when it is time to take class photos. As I eagerly show my parents my class photos, they struggled to locate me. Just like some other girls with glasses, our lenses reflect the light and hence everyone looked the same inside the photo! I thought I would be stuck with glasses forever!

    Until contact lens came about. I first heard about contact lenses when I was 17, before going into college. That being an age when you are extra conscious of your looks, I was immediately game and tried my first pair. I had difficulty putting them on at first, but the sake of vanity, I persevere. Occasionally, I had infection and itchy eyes, but nothing will stop me. Apart from the cosmetic appeal, I like how it is so easy for me to do sports and to enjoy outdoor activities. I have a total power of -7.20 short sighted on each eye, and also mild astigmatism. So you can imagine me being near-blind without any glasses or contact lenses.

    *I’m that little girl in purple shirt, in case you are wondering
    I have a total power of -7.20 short sighted on each eye, and also mild astigmatism. So you can imagine me being near-blind without any glasses or contact lenses. However, LASIK is never an option because I’ve HEARD that someone lost his/her vision completely post surgery (myth obviously). I will also never let someone touch and cut open my eyes.

    What changes my mind?

    We dropped by VISTA Eye Specialist to consider LASIK as an option to correct our vision. A comprehensive eye examination will be performed prior to the surgery. VISTA has also been around the market for the longest time, making them a reputable and reliable name when it comes to eye matters. I think I can put my trust on them. And so we thought, why not?

    We did our first eye check-up at VISTA Eye Specialist Bangsar. It is a convenient location with plenty of car park spaces available.
    I dreaded visiting the doctors and dentist – I hate feeling so anxious but I can’t shake it. Nancy, the centre manager greeted us with a warm smile. This alleviates my anxiety immediately.
    For some reason, no-blade LASIK sounds a lot better. VISTA discontinued traditional blade lasik since year 2006 and iLASIK is the latest technology available.
    Not everyone is a suitable LASIK candidate. Hence, all potential patients must undergo a comprehensive eye examination to determine their suitability for the procedure. Everyone in VISTA is very serious about that because their patient’s safety comes first.

    General Guidelines:
    • Minimum 18 years old
    • Have healthy eyes with no eye diseases or corneal abnormality
    • Sufficient corneal thickness
    • Are not pregnant or currently nursing

    *As a guide, a nursing mother can choose to have LASIK after the end of breast feeding.
    The check-up will examine our eye pressure, eye power, the structure of our eyes and etc. If you are a contact lens use, it is best to be off the lens for 2 weeks as Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea for up to several weeks after you have stopped using them depending on the type of contact lenses you wear.

    We were being assigned to Dr. Anson Teh. He has great experience and an impressive record of success. As impressive as his credentials are, Dr. Anson is also a very caring and gentle doctor.
    The staff also use drops to dilate my eyes, which allows Doctor Anson to examine my eyes more thoroughly. The drops will cause bright and blurry vision for 4-6 hours. So it is best to use sunglasses or have someone drive you home.

    In addition, he checked our corneal thickness, pupil size, tear production and stability of the refractive error. All of these factors are taken into consideration when determining if a patient is a candidate for LASIK eye surgery. Unfortunately, KampungBoy is not a LASIK candidate as his cornea shape is not suitable for the procedure.
    The great news is I’m an ideal candidate! The bad news is I do not have much room for further correction as my cornea thickness is just “borderline”.

    Do you know that VISTA offers a comprehensive lifetime commitment to achieving an outstanding visual outcome for LASIK patients? In the rare event that you require another procedure, even years later, there is no additional charge in terms of enhancement for shortsightedness and astigmatism.
    We went for a further consultation with VISTA’s helpful staff. First they showed us a video on how the iLASIK procedure is performed.

    Some of the stupid questions I asked, is also available under the frequent FAQ in VISTA’s website.

    Can I go blind?
    With over 10 million cases performed worldwide, there has not been any reported case of blindness as a result of the LASIK procedure. At VISTA, the incidence of blindness caused by LASIK is ZERO.

    Is it painful?
    No, the procedure is performed under anaesthetic eye drops and is painless. You will feel minor discomfort during flap creation which lasts for less than a minute.

    What is the success rate? Do I still need to wear glasses after LASIK?
    The LASIK success rate varies between patients depending on various conditions. Generally at VISTA, over 99% of our patients do not need to wear any visual aids after LASIK.

    What if my eyes move during the LASIK procedure?
    All our LASIK Platforms employ advanced eye tracker technologies that locks to the movement of your iris and compensates for even the slightest movement – vertically, horizontally and even rotationally – with FDA approved Iris Registration and Recognition technology that significantly improves accuracy during treatment.

    Did VISTA’s doctors and staff have LASIK performed on themselves?
    Yes. The founders of VISTA are ex-LASIK patients while most of VISTA’s doctors, staff and their family members have undergone LASIK and have excellent results. VISTA has also treated many celebrities and professionals like doctors, lawyers, teachers and engineers, just to name a few.

    Is LASIK permanent?

    Yes. In most cases, shortsightedness will become stable after the age of 18 and the modification of the cornea shape with LASIK is permanent. In very rare cases if you were to be short sighted again, VISTA’s Lifetime Commitment Program offers free Retreatment for life.

    When can I resume normal activities?
    Most people return to work and can drive within 24 hours after the procedure. As a safety precaution, you should refrain from contact & water sports or water activities for a period of 1 month.

    Recovery Process
    Visual recovery is rapid after LASIK. Within 24 hours, most patients can see clear enough to drive. You will experience slight discomfort 4-6 hours after LASIK and vision generally stabilizes within 3-6 months. During this stabilization period, you may experience the following:
    • Dry eyes which can be easily solved with eye lubricants
    • Glares & haloes during night driving
    • Fluctuation of vision

    And so, I agreed to go back 2 weeks after. The procedure will be done at VISTA The Curve. I opted for the iLASIK method:

    VISTA is one of the first centers in South East Asia that offers iLASIK treatment. It is:

    FDA Approved Laser Treatment
    125x more precise measurement
    Potentially better than glasses vision
    Unique correction to each individual eye
    Unique iris registration tracking
    Additional tissue savings
    Up to 2x faster treatment time

    It costs RM 5198 for one eye, with an option for a 24 month interest free installment.
    The same familiar scene greeted me at The Curve branch. I was not as nervous as my first visit, as I know what to expect this time.
    I know I’m in safe hands when I glanced through all these awards and accolades.
    We did another round of pre-operative LASIK eye examination, just to be safe.
    This is to ensure that there are no changes to my cornea size to ensure an accurate measurements and a good surgical plan. These measurements, which determine how much corneal tissue to remove, so it’s really no joke!
    I changed into operation gown, washed my face thoroughly and walked into the operation room. Remember no make up, perfume or deodorant too. The whole process took less than 15 minutes and everything happened so fast!

    I lied on my back in a reclining chair with the laser system on top of me. A numbing drop is placed in my eyes, the nurse cleaned the areas around my eyes, and an instrument called a eye speculum is used to hold my eyelids open. I remember a ring is placed on my eyes and very high pressures is applied to create suction to the cornea. My vision when black out for 22 seconds as the flap is created. I panicked a bit even though Doctor Anson has already preempted me beforehand. That was the longest 22 seconds in my life. Instead of blade, the laser pulses light through the outer layer of the cornea as it moves back and forth across the eye to create a flap.

    Once the flap is created, my operation bed was being pushed to be under another machine for precise excimer laser. I was asked to look at a target light for a short time as Doctor Anson watched my eye through a microscope as the laser sends pulses of light to my cornea. The laser light pulses painlessly reshape the cornea based on a detailed mapping of my eye. I can smell something burning along the way, but it is not something too alarming.

    LASIK is performed on each eye separately, with each procedure taking only about five minutes. Doctor Anson then puts the flap back to its original position.

    KampungBoy who saw the whole procedure outside left feeling really impressed. “Technology is amazing”, he said. All you need is just 10-15 minutes to create clear vision.
    I put on a protective eye wear after the surgery to protect my eyes from direct sun light. Immediately after the procedure, my eyes sting and my vision was hazy or blurry. It is normal according to doctor. I went home to sleep it off immediately. I was told not to rub my eyes as it could dislodge the flap, so I wear this plastic “shield” to sleep for a week.

    It is also very important to avoid swimming for a month, not putting on eye make up for a week and avoid water going into your eyes for 1 – 2 weeks.
    VISTA gave me a post operation care kit. There are two antibiotic eye drop that I need to put on every 4 hours and every 2 hours. Dry eye usually only lasts for a few days after the procedure, so they also supply me with artificial teardrops to minimize discomfort.

    What happened the next morning as I woke up from my sleep? To be continued…

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