I'm pretty sure by now everyone has heard of that wonderful technology called LASIK used to correct vision. We might even have somebody around us - perhaps a friend, colleague or relative, who had already gone through this procedure. But still, LASIK remains a mystery to most of us who haven't gone through it - a space age treatment that could alter our lives forever; yet shrouded by many 'what-ifs', if something were to go wrong, and if we, unfortunately, were to end up in that 'non-successful' percentage group.
Lucky for me, I had the chance to undergo a thorough eye examination at Optimax Eye Specialist Centre, which is the most established centre for LASIK in Malaysia. The eye examination usually costs RM120, but was given to me free of charge, as per their promotion at my company recently.
The Optimax centre that I went to is located in Island Plaza, Penang. Previously, I had also paid a brief visit to their HQ in TTDI as my best friend is working there as an optometrist.
Comfortable waiting room
The first impression that made its way into my mind was that the eye centre was immaculately clean, comfortable (with its dim, warm lighting and plentiful armchairs) and professional-looking. I felt like I had stepped into an episode of those Hollywood dramas where the divorce lawyer's/ doctor's office looked exactly like that. It had to look professional, right? To be able to gain some confidence from the many (prospective) clients that walked in those doors everyday.
Before I went for my eye examination, I was requested to discontinue my use of contact lens for a week. Leo had to discontinue his for 3 weeks because he is using toric lens (for astigmatisme). He was the first to go in to get his eyes examined, while I filled up some personal details (eye power, disposable soft lens, etc.) and a sheet to test your understanding about the LASIK procedure.
Then, my eyes went through a series of tests using various machines to find out my power, air pressure (whether I have glaucoma), cornea thickness, external examination (whether I have scars in eye), pupilary function, eye mapping, etc. I hated the air pressure machine because it was like having to endure air gun shots in your bare eye, and your eyelids are being forced open. In short, it was gym day for my eye.
What is LASIK?
After the tests, the LASIK and LASEK procedures were explained to us by the optometrist. She was very helpful, and everything was done very profesionally and our queries answered clearly. There are two types of each: conventional (RM1,688) and custom (RM2,688) LASIK, and conventional and custom LASEK. All prices are per eye, after discount. The difference between conventional (normal) and custom is the software. The generic type of software will be used during conventional LASIK while custom-made software to suit your eye profile will be used in the latter. Of course, custom is the better one as it is tailor-made for your eye.
A person becomes short-sighted if his/her cornea is too steep. The LASIK procedure basically involves cutting a thin flap on your cornea until it hinges on one end; and zapping the cornea with a laser beam to flatten it so that it is no longer steep. After that the flap is placed back, and it will start to heal by itself almost immediately.
The thin flap is cut using a small knife in LASIK. The procedure to cut the flap using laser is named IntraLASIK. There is a third procedure involving alcohol which is LASEK. Both my corneas are thick (>569 micron), so I am eligible for the LASIK procedure to cut a flap in my cornea. Thin corneas are not eligible because your vision might be overcorrected (scared cut too deep), they have to go for LASEK instead. LASEK is a procedure to soften the outer layer of the cornea with alcohol, then scrape off (not cut off) a flap, then laser it flat. After LASEK, the healing takes 4 days longer and you will have to put on a special contact lens which you cannot take off for 4 days (and nights).
Speaking of contact lens, the optometrist told us that wearing contact lens long term actually poses more dangers than undergoing the LASIK procedure once and for all, because we are prone to infection from dirty lens/ dirty solution everyday. Also, the possibility of contact lens contamination makes LASEK more prone to infection than LASIK.
Afterwards, she dripped some anesthetic eyedrops into my eye to dilate my pupils to gain a more accurate examination of my pupil size and eye power. Depending on your pupil colour, some people can dilate very fast and some very slow (~a few hours). Mine were very fast, cos I have light brown colour pupils. It took Leonard 6 drops to get his pupils to dilate. Like I tell him everyday, he has black, beady eyes.
Sorry, not the most beautiful eye in the world :P
Last of all was the real doctor's examination, consultation and recommendations. After that both of us drove back (he drove, I observed road conditions) all the way to Bayan Lepas in a hazy daze. So, if you're planning to go alone for the eye examination, better get somebody to fetch you back.
I'm positive you'll ask me whether I'll be taking that LASIK procedure. Haha... well, the answer is no. Because my eye power is only -3.50 for my left and -3.25 for my right. Not too blind. And I still want to wear those funky spectacles! But yea, Leo is seriously contemplating it. So, are you?