Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hello World From My New Eyes

I finally went for my LASIK (Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) corrective eye surgery last Friday at American Eye Center. My surgery was scheduled at 2pm, but they asked me to get there by noontime for the retinal scan and other pre-op procedures.

Cols and I had lunch first at Sango. Its a Japanese hamburger restaurant. I've seen it at Power Plant before but haven't gotten around to trying it. I had the beef with rice bun. The serving was very generous. They used sticky rice and compressed it into the shape of a bun. Very interesting and filling.

Anyway, going back to my eye surgery, it was a very long wait for the pre-op procedures. I went through several more eye checks before I was brought into the surgery room at around 3:30pm. American Eye averages about 12 LASIK surgeries in a day from what I heard. So its practically like an assembly line already. They say that the likelihood of something going wrong is very slim. But of course, it is never good to be that 1 in 10,000 statistic who goes blind. :P

My turn came at around 3:45pm. They made me lie down on the hard operating bed. My left eye was covered first while they put tape on my right eye lids to keep them from closing. Then they placed a forcep-like apparatus to keep my eyes wide open. That was a very uncomfortable feeling. I'm not sure exactly when they put the topical anesthesia but other than the slight discomfort, it was really not as painful as it looked.

Each eye took about 7 mins to operate on. The actual "laser" burning was only about a minute. Near-sightedness or "myopia" is caused by the eyeball not being perfectly spherical but a little bit more oval (think American football vs. basketball). Laser correction works by using "cold" argon-based laser to "flatten" the eyeball back to a spherical shape. It loosens the corneal tissue and I guess they wash away the excess.

The really weird part is they first have to make an incision to open up your cornea. They call this the "corneal flap" because they literally open a flap on your corneal surface so they can laser the tissue underneath it. I will be posting a video of my operation in the next couple of days to better explain this. Yes, the operation comes with a DVD of the whole procedure to serve as your remembrance.

I spent about another hour in the recovery area before I was discharged. Vision was very blurry and my eyes were uncomfortable. But over all, I would agree that the LASIK procedure is relatively painless. I went to sleep early since there's nothing much to do if you cannot see anything -- no computer, no tv, no books, etc. When I woke up Saturday morning, I felt back to normal already. No more discomfort.

I can imagine that for people who spend their entire lives with eyeglasses, getting a LASIK surgery is a major life-altering experience. But since I've been wearing contact lenses for a very long time, the change for me is not that dramatic. Pretty much the only thing that changed was I did not have to go through the ritual anymore of putting my lenses on in the morning and taking them off at night.

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