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Lasik Surgery

November 26th, 2008

Today, a day before my 18th birthday, I went for Lasik surgery. Quite possibly one of the youngest to do so, at 17 years and 364 days.

Being under 21, there’s a 3% chance that my vision will return to its original state of myopia. After 21, the probability drops to 1%.

And for all Lasik patients alike, there’s a 95% of success of achieving a 6/12 vision at least. A 6/12 vision isn’t perfect vision, but it’s pretty good already. It’s the minimum for driving in Singapore.

So, this is to say, things could go wrong.

Lasik surgery is one of the coolest surgeries for a few reasons.

1. No pain! But like many other forms of surgery, this is due to the amount of painkillers and anaesthetic eyedrops loaded into your eye.

2. You are fully conscious.

3. And being conscious, you SEE everything. Yes, you SEE the surgery as it is being performed on your eyes.

Of course, you’d be interested of how everything feels and looks like from my eyes. So let me take you through.

LASIK SURGERY FROM MY EYES

First, I was ushered to the preparation area. Then came the anaesthetic eyedrops. It’s pretty much the same as any other eyedrops. And then they cleaned my eyelids with alcohol and finally I was made to wear a gown and that cap. Like in hospitals. Uh.

Facial expression at this point in time: o_O

Uh, without the facial mask and glasses.

And then I was brought to this very comfortable chair, and was given two pills.

“Painkiller and sleeping pills.”

Facial expression at this point in time: O_O

Around the chair, the staff closed the curtains as the drugs set in. This went on for 5~10 minutes.

Facial expression at this point in time: o_o

Another staff, fully dressed in the surgical gown and all, opened the curtain and pointed the way into the operating zone. Oh crap, this was it. By the way, the sleeping pill had almost no effect.

Facial expression at this point in time: >_<

…There was more waiting around to be done, as the staff added more eyedrops and cleaned my eyelids another time. Probably as an assurance before the operation. A final check done by the doctor.

And finally, after a lot of waiting around, I was brought into the first operating theatre. Here, the Intralase laser will create a flap in my cornea. I think it would help if I explain how Lasik works.

In normal Lasik surgery, the doctor uses a metal blade to create the flap in the cornea. After my mom and brother went through that, my mom decided that I should try the more expensive bladeless surgery. Where, instead of a blade cutting my cornea, another laser is used instead.

I thought that this was probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole operation. The doctor held my eyelids open with a device I couldn’t quite make out. I was made to lie flat and this machine approached my right-eye.It was slightly larger than my eye, and had a circular pattern of white lights around it.

The middle was hollow, as if a small mirror was inside, and I was told to look at it.

Of course this device was covering my right eye and I still could see other stuffs using my left.

The device was lowered… and device… and suddenly, my vision changed. Suddenly. I couldn’t see that hole I was supposed to look at anymore.

In a second or two, I came back back to my senses. I was somewhat half-blind at the point in time. The machine was cutting my cornea in my right eye, and I couldn’t even use it to see. It wasn’t darkness, like when you close your eyes. It wasn’t bright and full of light either. At that point in time, my only vision was in the left eye. I couldn’t say what I was seeing with my right eye because I couldn’t see with it at all.

While my right-eye couldn’t see, it could FEEL the machine. I don’t know how, but there was pressure.

After 10 seconds, the machine was done and backed away from my eye. The pressure was released and tears automatically flowed from my eyes. Relief.

In this time, the machine had used its laser to cut and create a flap in my cornea.

Everything was a total blur in my right. In fact, worse than a blur. I couldn’t make out anything except for visible light.

Facial expression at this point in time: o_X

The machine moved on and repeated the process with my left-eye. The thing about Lasik that I really disliked was that it is used to correct both eyes. So after going through the discomfort with the first, you know you’re in for another round with the other eye.

Facial expression at this point in time: X_X

After a few blinks, the flaps settle in properly and I could see my surroundings. Very blur though. Like in a mist. Although the flap has been create, it is not opened yet and I could still blink my eyes.

And I went back to the preparation area for rest, for 15-20 minutes to allow the bubbles under the flap to clear. I just closed my eyes during this time.

Finally, after all that waiting, I was guided to the operating room for the laser treatment to correct the power of the eye.

It wasn’t much, even though it’s the main part of the treatment.

The doctor held me down and covered my entire face, leaving only a small opening for the eye he is operating on. Some tape-like thing was used to hold up my eyelashes. And another springy device was used to hold open my eyelids.

And, similar to the Interlase laser, the machine had a few lights. It was only green and red this time, though. Could make them out despite everything being blur. These were lasers. I was made to look and focus on the green light in the middle.

And the doctor says, “Now just hold your eye as still as possible. I am going to move it.”

WTF?

And he did. Not quite, but somewhat.

He basically uses some device to open my flap. My eye doesn’t move, but the flap does. And since that flap is my cornea, my vision actually moves. The red and green lights rotated wildly around. I think this is the correct photo.

As the doctor lifts the cornea flap, my vision gets a bit weird. If anything, I thought it looked like frosted glass.

And finally, the red lasers comes in and does it job. I lost sight of the green light and the entire vision was red and black. This is the whole process:

The red laser shaped the interior of my cornea such that it corrects for my astigmatism and myopia.

How it looked like while it was does? I couldn’t find a perfect photo, but it was something like this:

Except, the red laser was more diffused and there was no ‘concentrated’ centre as shown.

It was totally painless, and no pressure on my eye. Much better than the Interlase flap creation. However, it was longer and took about 30 seconds. Imagine keeping your eye and body still for that long, and you can’t even swallow. Easy? Try that when you’re in an operating room.

Then, the doctor closed back the cornea flap and smoothen it out. And it was on to the next eye.

After a while… done!

The doctor flushed my eye with a liquid and I could blink and all. Everything was a blur, but I could make my way around.

The whole procedure ended about 1pm or so. My parents took me home from there, and I’ve been dropping 3 different chemicals into my eyes every hour since. I also took a short 4-hour nap in the afternoon when it should have been the whole day. I was prescribed sleeping pills and painkillers.

So how my vision looks like now? Since it was done, it hasn’t changed much. I can see text from afar, so I know my myopia has been corrected for sure. But everything’s still a little blur and whitish. It’s like a haze covering everything. Colours appear whiter too. A true red colour looks pinkish to me.

It’s post-lasik review tomorrow, where the doctor will check on my recovery. I think I’m done here.


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