The best birthday gift I could ever give myself… is to get my eyesight back. Here’s my blog on preparing for LASIK Surgery.
When I was younger, I only had one wish — that I would have clear eyesight like most kids my age. I don’t exactly know what age my eyesight worsened, but I remember being 13-years-old having “floormates” instead of seatmates because I could not see what was written on the board.
My actual seatmates though were kind enough to let me copy their notes as they write. But over time, I got a bit embarrassed for their extra work, so I took it to the floor. Later on because I can’t read even from the floor, I started wearing glasses.
To my teenage self’s dismay, glasses not only didn’t look good on me, it also seemed to have worsened my eyesight even more. I saw my eye grade climb from 150 to 200 to 250… Then, I would go on and off using it, since I can “see” without it anyway.
Eventually, I had to face life as a college student who commutes, so I wore glasses every day from then on.
Why I Chose to do a LASIK Surgery
A few years later, I heard about the LASIK surgery. My first thought was, if only I had the money, I would definitely splurge on this procedure. It was so expensive at the time and of course, I was still young and fresh out of college so it seemed like a distant wish.
More years passed — with more choices on fashionable eyewear, I actually didn’t mind wearing glasses anymore (thank you Sunnies Specs!). In fact, I looked cute. Though, I’ve accepted the fate that putting eye makeup is in vain because it was virtually invisible behind the lenses.
Still, my eye grade continued to climb to 400… 475. Eventually, I reached 500, but I asked the optometrist to stick to 475 because I already felt dizzy wearing glasses of that grade. This was the time when I started to panic because my eye grade was climbing extremely fast and it was irreversible. Imagine what my eye grade will be when I’m 30!
Financially, I have reached the point of having enough extra cash for a LASIK procedure. But there were lots of excuses that came to mind. What if things go wrong and I suffer the same fate as the rare horror stories? What if I just use the money for something else — travel or more investments? What if living with glasses wasn’t so bad after all? What if I wait til next year instead? The list goes on.
I’ve already read so many blogs and reviews about LASIK surgery in Manila, such as Saab Magalona‘s and even Pia Wurtzbach‘s. I’ve also heard testimonials from acquaintances who believed, “It was the best choice I ever made. No regrets. I would do it again,” or knew someone who had the exact same sentiment.
All things considered, I mustered enough courage to call up several LASIK surgery providers.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be used as a substitute to professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment
What is LASIK and how is it done?
LASIK is actually an acronym for “Laser in Situ Keratomileusis”, a laser surgery that restores better eyesight. It is a combined microsurgical and excimer laser procedure to correct myopia, hyperopia (simply nearsightedness and farsightedness), as well as astigmatism. It allows patients to be less dependent on eyeglasses.
Basically, an ophthalmologist will use either a microkeratome (a precision surgical instrument with an oscillating blade) or a bladeless femtosecond laser to make a thin flap in the cornea. Then, a second equipment is used to reshape the cornea, return the flap, and allow the patient to heal. Since the femtosecond laser is a bladeless procedure, no stitches are needed. There is less discomfort and less risk for complications such as tissue damage.
How I chose providers for my LASIK Surgery in Manila
In preparing for LASIK surgery, I did my best to do thorough research. But frankly, there are lots of blank spaces and data that need verification on the Internet. Some prominent choices are Shinigawa Laser and Asian Eye Institute.
Eventually, I chose the Lasik Center at The Medical City for a number of reasons. First, I wanted to do the procedure with a reputable hospital so that whatever complications may happen, they can address through their multiple doctors within the same building.
I also chose The Medical City because of proximity and familiarity — I have visited some patients in the hospital through the years and fairly know the quality of service.
Lastly, comparing prices between the three, The Lasik Center was actually the cheapest. I heard that both Shinigawa and Asian Eye Institute are bordering on 6-digits in Philippine Peso for the procedure.
How I chose my LASIK procedure schedule
The first step to preparing for a LASIK surgery in the Philippines is to find out one’s eligibility for the procedure. Not everyone can undergo LASIK, especially if one already has existing eye problems, such as cataracts, retinal detachment, etc., which have to be solved first, or if one does not have a “healthy eye”.
Last December 2018, I’ve already set a schedule for screening at around December 20. However, I backed out since the holidays are a slew of events and gatherings that are not conducive to recovery.
Finally on my birthday last March, I thought that the best gift I could possibly give myself is good eyesight. After all, I wanted it more than gadgets, luxuries, or flights, which are almost the same worth but not the same value. Why should I prioritize anything other than my own body?
I called up The Medical City again and scheduled an appointment for testing on March 22, a Saturday.
My Pre-LASIK Screening Experience
On March 22, I arrived two hours earlier my 10 AM appointment for the comprehensive eye exam. I ate brunch at The Medical City’s food court and then went to the LASIK Center. Since I have a company-issued HMO, I first got the recommendation from the LASIK Center before proceeding to my HMO’s office in the hospital. This process of verification took almost an hour, but thankfully, all of the testing costs were covered by the HMO and I didn’t need to pay a cent.
After processing my HMO requirements, I went back to the LASIK Center to go through the battery of tests. There are probably 12 kinds of quick tests, mostly looking into blinking colored lights, reading distant letters, sitting in dark rooms, and putting on eye drops.
The first few tests were familiar ones whenever I got get my eye grade measured for glasses, such as the Auto Refractometer which measures my eye grade (yes, that looking at a hot air balloon on the horizon). I also was put into the Corneal Topography Oculyzer that checked my corneal surface and astigmatism level. I underwent Biometry to measure my eye size and shape. Simply, I just had to look at a certain light without blinking for a couple of seconds.
The strangest test done to me was the eye pressure test with the Intra-ocular Pressure Machine — don’t worry, they didn’t crush my eyeballs to see how much it can withstand! I just had to look into blinking lights, then a sudden air is expelled from the machine, as if someone blew into your eye to remove a foreign object. I was surprised, but it was quick so I recovered immediately. I did better on the second eyeball.
The longest test I had to take was the refraction test, which is your usual reading of letters from a distance. It was difficult to pin down my exact eye grade. At a certain point, it was already at 600 when my eye glasses went only up to 475. In the end, we were able to pin down an eye grade, which is subject to another testing on the date of my actual LASIK procedure.
The last test involved the nurse putting two types of eye drops on me. The first was to test my ability for tear production. The last was one that caused my pupils to dilate. We moved from the LASIK Center for retina screening at the opposite building. It’s slightly uncomfortable because, with dilated pupils, I was extra sensitive to light that I had to squint when we walked outdoors. After observing my eyes on various angles, the retina expert pronounced my eyes good enough for the LASIK procedure.
Whew! I passed!
Dos and Don’ts for the Comprehensive Eye Exam
After going through the comprehensive eye exam while preparing for LASIK Surgery, here are some tips:
Get enough sleep. One of the indirect success factors of both the testing and the actual LASIK procedure is the amount of sleep you get. Be sure not to stay up late and get 6-8 hours of sleep the night before. This will ensure that your eyes are fresh and well-rested, not dry and irritated.
Arrive early. Especially if you have an HMO, be sure you have enough time to process the payments before the screening. You’ll also want to have enough time to eat, buy provisions, and talk to the nurses.
Set aside enough time. Allot 3 to 4 hours for the screening. I suggest taking the entire day off regardless of your schedule so you can be there early and you’ll have time to recover from the pupil dilation.
Eat your regular meals. Before your appointment schedule, make sure you eat a heavy brunch and buy snacks and water before marching in.
Don’t wear eye contacts a month before. My research brought me that eye dryness and use of contacts is sometimes attributed to less than successful procedures. Personally, I’ve discontinued use of contacts after an ophthalmologist warned me of possible bacterial infection and even retinal detachment because of it. If you’re planning to do the testing and the procedure, please be off contacts for about a month.
Have a companion take you home. Because of pupil dilation, it’s not recommended that you drive or commute alone. Taking Grab can solve the problem, but to be extra safe, arrange for someone to take you home after the eye tests. The glare is real!
What to bring for the Pre-LASIK Eye Screening
Here are some items that you should bring for the eye exam:
- Jacket — The nurses will inform you of this. It’s really cold in the screening rooms
- Hair tie — So you won’t have to bother about hair strands falling on your face
- Snacks — If you’re like me who gets hungry easily, pack some snacks so you won’t need to rush off in the middle of the tests.
- Water — Unfortunately, I didn’t find any water refilling station, so I had to buy two 500mL bottles for the duration of the tests. Since eye dryness is a factor, I wanted to make sure I was properly hydrated.
- Sunglasses (preferably with UV rays filter) — Since the last test involves pupil dilation, you will become extra sensitive to light. So to not risk damage on your way home, better protect those eyes.
Final Word on preparing for LASIK Surgery
What this screening experience made me realize is that despite having eyes with myopia and astigmatism, these babies are still considered healthy. I had to take care of them even more, regardless if I will push through with the surgery or not.
I won’t blindly recommend LASIK for everyone. It’s a privilege for people who are healthy and have the financial resources to go through the procedure. It was a perk for me to have an overall healthy eye, having an HMO, being allowed to go on sick leaves, and saving enough for the procedure. One can still live comfortably with eyeglasses. But if you’re looking to saying goodbye to glasses, then be sure you are well-prepared to go through what it takes to restore your vision.
On my next blog, I shall detail my actual LASIK experience with The Medical City, including the procedure and post-care. Stay tuned!
- Read also: Preparing for LASIK Surgery
Lasik Center – The Medical City
Address: 2nd floor, Nursing Building, The Medical City Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City
Contact: (+63) (02) 988-1000 or (+63) (02) 988-7000 ext. 7783
Email address: email@example.com
Got questions for me? Send me a Facebook message!