Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Alexandra Gorn
A lot of people say they fear the dark, but what they are really afraid of is what the darkness hides rather than the absence of light itself. Not knowing what to expect before going for a life changing surgery can be daunting. Whilst listening to successful outcomes of your peers is reassuring, having a roadmap for each step will give you even greater confidence.
The pre-procedure assessment
The assessment for suitability for LASIK or its alternatives is an extensive one. You should not be expecting to drop in for a quick 5 minute consult before proceeding to decide on the treatment needed. Be prepared instead to be in the clinic for about 2 hours. During this time, a thorough history will be taken from you including any significant medical issues or previous eye conditions that may make you less suitable for laser vision correction. Your eye surgeon will also perform a detailed eye examination to look for any eye diseases which can affect outcomes of surgery, including presence of keratoconus, glaucoma and retinal pathology. Some time will also be spent performing specialised tests to look at finer details of the eye which cannot be assessed by the naked eye, including the curvature of the cornea and the cornea thickness. In addition to the above, a trained optometrist will check your best corrected vision and the appropriate prescription you need to see well. Special eye drops are also given to make this assessment more accurate; these eye drops causes a blur for near tasks which will return to normal after 4-6 hours. During this time, driving is generally not advised.
The day of surgery
As the day of your surgery arrives, many will feel a mix of hopeful anticipation as well as anxiety. Remember that you should not be wearing contact lenses in the lead up to this point. Turn up at your appointed time slot in comfortable clothes and although the procedure itself is quick, you should set aside about 2 hours for the entire process. There are no restrictions on food and drink prior to the procedure. It is also prudent to make arrangements for transport home after the procedure. Before entering the laser suite, your eyelids and lashes will be cleaned and antibiotic eye drops will be given.
What happens next will depend on the procedure that you have decided to go for. Here we will outline the experience of a patient going for the popular bladeless LASIK. Numbing eye drops are given to make you comfortable throughout the procedure, and the eyelids are held open with a small clip. The eye is then held firmly by a machine while laser is applied to create the LASIK flap. During this time you will feel a pressure on the eye but don’t worry, it will be over in less than 30 seconds. This flap is then lifted and the eye prepared for the corrective laser. The corrective laser reshapes the cornea in seconds depending on the magnitude of the degree in the eye and the flap is then placed back on. A bandage contact lens is applied and the clip removed. The steps are then repeated for the other eye.
The post surgery care
Some mild discomfort and a foreign body sensation is common in the early post-operative period so don’t be alarmed if you feel as if there is something in your eye. Some may also find the eyes more sensitive to light and will be more comfortable with sunglasses. Protective goggles are given to prevent accidental rubbing of the eye while sleeping. Antibiotic and steroid eye drops are given for about a week to prevent infection and aid healing. Most patients experience minimal discomfort with some even going back to work the very next day. In the first week of recovery, avoid rubbing your eyes and vigorous exercise. Other activities like swimming and even diving can be safely resumed after 1 month of recovery. During this early phase of recovery, it is common to experience dry eye symptoms. Use the lubricating eye drops liberally to minimise discomfort. The eyes do continue to heal over the ensuing months and you can expect the vision to get slightly better with some time.
Overall, the procedure is fast and safe especially if selection of patients is done with care and appropriate steps are taken to ensure success during the surgery as well as post-operatively.
Call 64561000 or whatsapp 94565500 for an appointment!