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My Lasik surgery experience in Optimax.

Following my previous post on why I decided to laser my eyes, now I’m going to blog about my experience at Optimax Eye Specialist, TTDI.

I decided on going with Optimax due to three reasons, (1) friends who have had good experience there (2) good online opinions (3) 100% safety rate.

After making one phone call to find out more about the procedures that they provide, I found reason number (4) – incredibly professional and knowledgeable customer service.

Before going through with the surgery, one must undergo a full eye check-up to determine whether his or her eyes are suited for the procedure.

I scheduled my full eye check-up appointment on the day after coming back from Pulau Weh.

I arrived at Optimax in Bangunan AHP, Taman Tun Dr Ismail in the morning with a bundle of nerves in my belly. I was worried that I might not be a suitable candidate for Lasik as I neurotically suspected that I might have very thin corneas. Don’t ask.

# – Bangunan AHP.

Optimax occupies a large portion of the building’s ground floor.

There was an eye specialist clinic operated by Dr. Chuah Kay Leong for various eye treatments as well as a dedicated centre for eye examination and Lasik.

# – Optimax.

# – The reception area.

I was introduced to a friendly optometrist who conducted all my tests. First, he gave me eye drops which numbed my eyeballs & dilated my pupils.

As dramatic as that sounded, it was nothing of that sort…my eyeballs didn’t roll uncontrollably.

The eye drops will cause one’s vision to blur temporarily, so please do arrange someone to pick you up after the check-up as you won’t be able to drive.

# – Getting the eye drops.

Next, I was led to a room with several machines. Those 4 or 5 machines checked for things like eyeball size, pupil size, eye health, eye pressure & corneal thickness.

# – I believe this one was to see the size of my pupil. Apparently I have pupils that are above average in size…about 7mm in width each.

Next, my eyesight was checked. It is not much different from the kind of eye check you get at optical shops before buying prescription glasses.

# – Getting my eyesight checked. I have forgotten my eye power (sorry, bad with numbers) but I believe I was about 200 myopic with about 150 astig on both eyes.

All the check-ups took about 1.5 hours. Then it was time for counselling.

During the counselling session, the benefits and risks of every procedure were explained very carefully.

It was during this counselling session that I also I learned about customised Lasik procedures and standard Lasik procedures.

The best analogy to describe the difference between the two is this; custom Lasik is like buying a tailored, bespoke dress while standard Lasik procedure is like walking into a shop and choosing the dress from the shelve that fits you best. And yes, of course there’s price difference.

# – During the counselling session.

I also learned that everyone should take the Comprehensive Eye Examination annually. With the examination, apart from finding out one’s Lasik Suitability; it is also a thorough eye health examination to check on the healthiness of the eyes.

In fact, WHO recommends doing the Comprehensive Eye Examination regularly as a prevention measure against vision impairment and blindness. Nobody really knows if he or she is suffering from serious eye diseases like Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy and Cataract until it’s too late :(

Anyway, at the end of the counseling session, we narrowed down to 2 surgery options to correct my vision; the Custom All Laser Lasik & Custom Epi Lasik.

Since the Custom Epi Lasik has a longer recovery period due to removal of cornea epithelium (requiring time to grow back) and is suited for people who are extremely active in contact sports or have thinner corneas, I opted for the former – Custom All Laser Lasik, as it is the fastest, safest, and most accurate.

At this point, if you still need time to consider about the surgery after the full eye check-up, you could go home already.

However, I chose to get surgery done right away as Optimax is the only centre that can perform treatment on dilated eyes the same day.

Yes, I couldn’t wait to ditch my glasses!

No point going back another day. I want to get it done and over with on the same day.

# – A nurse helped me put my Smurf suit on.

Surprisingly, at that point I was no longer nervous. I think my excitement about having clear vision totally outweighed my fears.

The counselling session really helped a lot too in understanding what I was going to put myself through. My doctor was Dr. Stephen Chung.

A quick googling revealed that he has performed the highest number of Lasik procedures in South East Asia. I was in excellent hands.

# – Dr. Chung explaining to me what he’s going to do and what to expect in the surgery room. I looked freaked out but I wasn’t. That’s how my face is like whenever I’m concentrating.

A nurse gave me a couple more numbing eye drops. Then, I was led into the surgery room.

Sorry, I didn’t have any picture taken so I will try my best to describe my experience inside.

There were two laser machines in the room. They looked kind of like MRI machines, you know with a flat bed and a machine attached to the end.

The first machine is for creating a flap on the cornea. I lied down and positioned my head under the machine.

My one eye was closed and my other eye could see was a ring of light, illustrated as best as I could below:

# – The ring of light.

I was told by Dr. Chung to look straight into the middle of the ring and then he put something down onto my eye, I believe it was some kind of clamp to stop it from moving.

Then I was told to relax my eye. During the session, my vision in that eye became blur and sometimes colourful. I also felt some sensations in the eye but no pain at any point.

Within minutes, it was done. Next, to the other eye. Same experience, blurry colourful vision, some sensations but no pain.

After that, a nurse helped me to get up and walked several steps to the 2nd machine. This was the machine that would repair my eyesight.

I lied down and positioned my head under the machine. One eye was closed and what the other eye could see was this:

# – Green light.

Dr. Chung told me to look into the middle of the patch of green light, which I obediently did until he told me to relax my eyes. Like the previous machine, a sort of clamp was also put on to restrict my eye movement.

During this time, my vision turned quite colourful. Kind of like seeing someone vigorously using the Microsoft Paint spray-paint brush. Again, absolutely no pain, just feelings of having your eye touched, that’s about it.

I was also expecting to smell something like burning flesh but I am happy to inform you that I smelled no such thing. In fact, I didn’t smell anything at all!

It was all done within 15 minutes. Gareth who was waiting for me outside was also surprised at how quick it was.

I walked out of surgery room and already I could see further than before. Only it was like looking out of a speckled window or noisy filter.

I was given a bag filled with antibiotic eyedrop (every 4 hours for a week), eyedrops (every 2 hours for a week), eye shields (to be worn during sleep), painkillers (just in case but I didn’t need it) and after care instructions.

I thanked Dr. Chung, and that’s it. Done.

I got home by 5pm, ate a McDonald’s apple pie, put on the eye shields and then hit the sack.

I woke up at around 3am finding Gareth watching TV in our living room. My eyes felt a little sore but I could make out his features all the way from our kitchen.

Then, we both skipped out of the house and started reading out car number plates all the way down our street. Without my glasses.

I was in disbelief. It felt AMAZING!

Next post will be about my recovery process and how getting Lasik has changed my life :)

Optimax Eye Specialist,
Unit 2-2-1, Bangunan AHP,
Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad 3,
Taman Tun Dr. Ismail,
60000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : 603-7722 3177 Fax : 603-7726 0207
GPS : N03° 08.466′ E 101° 37.710′

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Why I decided to laser my eyes.

It started innocently enough, in the 2nd year of college, I found myself having to move my seat to the front row because I couldn’t make out what’s written on the whiteboard.

I started watching television from the distance of an arm’s length rather than several feet away. I began falling asleep in the midst of supposedly good movies in cinemas (which pissed Gareth off :P). I dreaded driving in the rain. I gained a reputation of being arrogant because I didn’t smile at people!

All thanks to my deteriorated eyesight. Mostly genetics, but definitely accelerated by long hours in front of the computer.

Mom was crushed when I had to start wearing glasses. To begin with, I couldn’t be more of a disappointment of a daughter for my mom. I already didn’t take care of my appearance as much as she believed a girl should. I would go out into the sun and came home ghastly tanned. I would step out of the house with frizzy, uncombed hair. And now her one and only daughter had to wear glasses. I bet she was thinking, “She’s not getting married, ever”. Hahaha.

I didn’t really care to be honest. I was already experimenting with those douchebag glassless spectacles before so I was rather thrilled that I now had a legitimate reason to wear one. So I went with Dad to an optical shop near home and a week later, I got my first pair of prescription glasses.

The novelty of wearing glasses quickly wore off. It sucked! It kept sliding off my face, didn’t help that I was born with flat pudgy nose. It kept fogging up when I exited my car. I kept having to clean the smudges and fingerprints.

# – A rare picture of me wearing my first pair of glasses eating Super Rings. Must be around year 2004 here.

Thanks to all the hassles, I only wore it for driving at night. My glasses were pretty much untouched the rest of time. Till I went for a job interview where having good eyesight was a prerequisite.

The doctor told me to get contact lenses, otherwise he would have to leave a remark on my medical report about my eyes and he told me point blank – I wouldn’t be hired. I’d never worn contact lenses in my life then and the thought of it freaked me out. I think that was the first time I ever felt truly disappointed by my problematic eyes.

Left with no choice, I got myself a pair of contact lenses. I got the job eventually but I never wore them. Luckily I was never in a situation where my eyesight was truly tested! Phew.

Until this day, I still couldn’t put on contact lenses without spending almost an hour on each eye. My eyes would get so reddened and watery, it just didn’t make much sense to put myself through the hassle.

As years passed though, my eyes got worse. I just couldn’t tread along without any vision aid. At last, I made a decision to wear glasses full time. I was like, since it’s probably forever, there’s no point hiding the fact that I’m four-eyed.

So, I decided to just get the most outrageous pair I could get my hands on. Hence, the arrival of my “Chicken Little” glasses that you, my readers had either come to love or hate.

# – My glasses that should have its own fanpage.

They were converted from a pair of sunglasses. Heavy, but I loved that my line of vision was hardly obstructed by the frames. Mom, was of course horrified but by now she knew she couldn’t do much to convince her daughter when it comes to appearance.

I think it was around the same time that I stopped wearing eye makeup too, haha. What’s the point? Cannot see also!

With my large spectacles, the familiar pesky problems returned. Spectacles fogging up, sweat pooling behind glasses (gross stuff), constantly having to clean the glasses (took me 5 minutes everytime cause damn glasses were so big), kids crying cause got spooked by my abnormally large “eyes”, rude relatives making rude remarks, looking like crap cause no point wearing makeup…the list continued.

But it’s still fine. I didn’t have to fall asleep in cinemas anymore. I could drive safely. I could see my friends from far. I could function, you know. That said, it still pissed me off whenever I had to watch 3D films, man it’s hard to balance two gigantic spectacles on a flat Asian face.

Then I got itchy butt and went to get a scuba diving license. I love it! The feeling of being suspended underwater is indescribable, only fellow divers would understand. But I knew that I hadn’t truly enjoyed diving because of my eyesight.

Frankly, from my first dive till now, I’ve had pretty good luck with meeting rare creatures underwater. The operative word here being “meeting”, not seeing.

# – Diving with shortsightedness.

Everytime, my divemaster would be like, “Kim did you see that shark? Kim, did you see that trumpet fish? I’d be like, yeah I did *smiley face*. But truthfully, all I saw were greyish blueish blobs. I guess I could have gotten prescription mask but it’s already hard enough to find an ordinary mask that fits my face T_T

And that feeling of disappointment with my eyes came back, every single time I went diving!

Despite wearing a ginormous pair of glasses and still never really took care of my physical appearance, I got proposed. As in marriage. See, mom? Hehe.

Anyway, we got straight to planning the wedding and then it dawned on me that I might not see Gareth clearly on our wedding day. I won’t be wearing contact lenses cause I don’t want to have red & watery eyes but I also CANNOT wear glasses on my wedding day. I just can’t bring myself to. I don’t want to be a four-eyed bride.

I want to have fake lashes so long Gareth would spot them first before he sees my face. The glasses would bend my eyelashes. Also, I would have nervous sweat pooled behind my glasses on my wedding day. I don’t want to be gross on my wedding day. The glasses would mess with my hair. Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

# – I wore glasses on our Registration of Marriage day. Prefer not to on wedding day.

And that’s basically how I decided that I would get my eyes lasered once and for all. The most important day of my life, the most important day of a woman’s life. Getting married to the love of my life and presenting myself to him without a gigantic structure perched upon my nose.

I want to be able to bury my face into his chest without having to kill the moment by pausing to remove my glasses. I wanted to, no, I needed to laser my eyes and bid adieu to my “Chicken Little” glasses. I think I was so determined that I wasn’t even scared by the prospect of having laser shot into my eyes.

I asked a few friends who have had the Laser treatment done and the place with the most positive comments were all for Optimax Eye Specialist. My friend Celine in particular, is very, very happy and she did it 6 years ago with them.

I gave Optimax a call and was so impressed by the call operator herself who was so knowledgeable, I immediately made an appointment for a full eye checkup, which basically is a checkup too see if my eye were fit for the procedure. You must have normal to thick cornea thickness otherwise it’s not recommended and there are other procedures for people with thin corneas.

Well, at time of writing, I have already had the Custom All Laser Lasik procedure done and I couldn’t be more pleased. I don’t know how to put into words as to how happy I am and how excited I am with the future. And with the wedding, of course :)

Next post is going to be about my eye check-up and the experience of having my eyes lasered. Woohoo!

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