What you need to know about LASIK surgery in Singapore (2020)
When it comes to glasses and contact lenses, there is always that love-and-hate relationship amongst those who wear them on a regular basis. Sure, they can be a bold and fun fashion statement. Some people even wear them not because they needed it, but because they want to look cooler, cuter, smarter, or even more professional. But for others, glasses and contact lenses are necessities, something that they can’t live without. If you fit the latter, perhaps it is time to consider getting a LASIK surgery. Let’s talk about some of the important things that you should know about LASIK surgery in Singapore.
What is LASIK?
LASIK stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis, is a type of laser vision correction surgery that can be used to correct refractive errors in the eye such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism. These refractive errors exist when the shape of the cornea and other parts of the eye are a little off. Perhaps they are skewed too much to one direction, not bending enough, or even bending too much. When this happens, the light rays that enters the eyes will not be focused directly on the retina.
In the case of myopia, the light rays that enter the eyes are focused in front of the retina, causing difficulty to see far object. For hyperopia, the light rays are focused behind the retina, affecting near vision. Whereas for astigmatism, the light rays are focused in multiple places, causing blurry/double vision.
When you wear glasses or contact lenses, it helps the light rays that enter your eyes to be focused directly on the retina, therefore enabling you to see clearly. But sometimes, using glasses and contact lenses can be pretty bothersome.
So, that’s where laser vision correction surgery such as LASIK comes in: by reshaping your cornea so that the light rays that enters your eye will fall/focus directly on the retina without the use of glasses or contact lenses.
Should I go for LASIK in Singapore?
If you are considering having LASIK surgery in Singapore, firstly, there are a few basic criteria that you should satisfy:
- You have to be above 18 years old .
- You are not pregnant (It is also not recommended for those who are breastfeeding)
- You do not have existing medical issues (For example diabetes, cancer, etc.)
- You do not have eyes and cornea issues (For example a steep-shaped cornea, glaucoma, severely dry eyes, etc.)
The next step would be to go for a pre-LASIK consultation to determine if your eyes are suitable for LASIK surgery. Yes, not everyone could go for a LASIK surgery even though they have satisfied the basic health requirements. For those of you who are using contact lens, you will need to stop wearing them for a few days before going for the consultation. If you wear hard lenses, don’t wear it for at least 10 days; and if you wear soft lenses, don’t wear it for at least 2 days.
The pre-LASIK consultation will consist of a few eye tests to determine your eye power, eye pressure, cornea thickness as well to check for any underlying eye diseases.
When you meet your eye surgeon, do ask as many questions as you could think of. Do your research before going for the pre-LASIK consultation; it can be as simple as reading articles like this, the one you’re reading now. Don’t hold back and share openly about your medical conditions and health issues. This will help your surgeon to know whether it’s safe or not for you to get the LASIK surgery.
How much does a LASIK surgery cost in Singapore?
Another good consideration will be your budget. LASIK prices in Singapore ranges around $3,500-$4,500. The difference in prices mostly depend on the patient care and services the clinic provides for both before the surgery and after the surgery. Unfortunately, because the nature of a LASIK procedure is more towards cosmetic and not medical, chances are you will not be able to use your Medisave or expect the cost to be covered by insurance.
The good news is that there are many LASIK clinics in Singapore that offer 6 or 12 months 0% interest instalment plans if you make the payment using certain Singapore-issued credit cards! So do check with the LASIK clinic of your choice if they have the instalment plans available.
What to prepare before LASIK surgery?
There are several things you need to do to prepare for your LASIK surgery. Similar to the eye consultation, you should stop wearing your hard lenses for at least 10 days and soft lenses for at least 2 days prior to the surgery day. Your surgeon might require you to not use your lenses longer than that, depending on your specific situation. Whatever it is, follow the guidance and don’t compromise on any step.
Another thing is you should arrange for someone to go with you on the surgery day. Call your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, best friend, whoever you want — just ask someone to drive you home because you won’t be able to drive after the surgery. Plan ahead and have them to accompany you. Also, you need to stay away from deodorants, perfumes, colognes, and aftershaves. On the surgery day, do not wear any make up or skincare product on your face, especially face lotions.
How LASIK surgery is done?
The whole operation will take about 20 minutes and it will start with the application of anaesthesia – in the form of a numbing eyedrops, which will ensure that you don’t feel any pain during the surgery.
Then, a suction ring will be placed on your eye to hold it steady, preventing it from moving throughout the whole procedure.
Once the suction ring is in place, the next step would be the creation of corneal “flap”. This “flap” is a part of your cornea that will be lifted to expose the cornea tissue underneath. It is created using a femtosecond laser (or special surgical blade). So, the laser creates an incision that forms the flap which allows it to be lifted by the surgeon.
Once the cornea flap is lifted, it is time for the reshaping of your cornea curvature using a different type of laser called the excimer laser.
For near-sighted patients, the cornea will be reshaped to be less steep then before. Whereas for far-sighted patients, the cornea will be reshaped to be more steep than before. If you are getting LASIK for astigmatism, your surgeon will reshape your cornea to become as ideally shaped as possible. The main point is to reshape the cornea in such a way that when the light rays that enter your eye, it will be focused directly on the retina.
Lastly, after reshaping the cornea curvature, the flap will be carefully repositioned back into place and the LASIK procedure is now complete.
How does LASIK recovery process look like?
First things first: don’t drive yourself home (or anywhere else) during the first 2-3 days after the surgery. And don’t operate any heavy objects during this time too. Your vision will not have fully recovered yet and your eyes will still be in a very fragile state.
You will need to rest at home for a few days, at least around 2-3 days. If your surgeon suggests longer resting period, then rest longer. Listen to your surgeon and follow the instructions that you are given. You will also have to use the eyedrops as prescribed. If your eyes feel itchy, distract yourself and take a deep breath. Don’t rub your eyes, especially during the first week to prevent dislodging of the cornea flap.
After a week, you can start wearing make-up, but just be careful when you clean and remove your eye make-up.
During this first month, you need to bring your sunglasses everywhere because you need to wear them when you’re outside. Don’t do water sports and stay away from hot tubs, hot yoga, Jacuzzi and saunas. If you enjoy doing contact sports like basketball, kickboxing, and football, participate with caution. It would be wiser to avoid them altogether and just do other types of sports to minimise the risk of cornea flap dislodgement.
Make sure you take the time to weigh in all the benefits, disadvantages, and risks of doing a LASIK surgery in Singapore before actually doing it. It’s important that you educate yourself well and then make a decision from there. LASIK is a great alternative to consider because having a clear vision is obviously important for our day-to-day life. It might be the best solution to not wearing glasses and contact lenses anymore. If you choose to do a LASIK surgery, follow every step as guided by your eye surgeon and specialist. Remember, your health and safety always come first.
References: AllAboutVision.com (2020). Lasik Eye Surgery, from https://www.allaboutvision.com/lasik/