Hey guys! Finally blogging my experience since I get so many inquiries about my Lasik / Laser Treatment. Hope this helps you to learn more about Lasik or with your final decision on whether or not to undergo one.
For as long as I can remember, my eyes have always been dry and sensitive to light. Many years ago, during my early years of wearing eyeglasses, I was given a test by an ophthalmologist to see how dry my eyes were. I remember him putting something on my eyes to irritate them, and still, no tears would come out (this does not mean I don’t cry, though, cause reading Chicken Soup or something similar can easily make my eyes water, haha). True enough, I had a very hard time finding a brand of contact lens that would somehow fit me, and until very recently, I was only using one brand: Biomedics.
Having dry eyes meant that wearing contact lens was not “a breeze” for me. It really was a “job” I had to do in order for me to be able to do things without the hassle of wearing eyeglasses – to scuba dive, to birdwatch, to hike, and to travel for starters. Using graded scuba masks was not an option; not only was it expensive – but imagine what would happen if my grade changed (which did every few years or so) – then I’d have to replace them and pay again. Wearing eyeglasses while birdwatching can be one of the most painful experiences ever – imagine finding a rare bird in the middle of the rainforest, only for your glasses to turn foggy and hazy because of all the moist (trust me – even those anti-glare coatings don’t work, and yes, that exact thing happened to me in Borneo, which really made me sad hehe!). The same happens for hiking. And even for watching movies that make my eyes watery and my heart sad. And the list goes on. And for travelling, honestly, wearing eyeglasses instead of contact lens is a big HASSLE. Having sensitive eyes as I have mentioned, means I easily get blinded by light – hence, if you noticed, I like wearing sunglasses a lot (even when it’s not that sunny, actually!).
But I was willing to deal with all of that since eye surgery was out of the question. First of all, eye surgery sounded so expensive. Secondly, I wasn’t sure I was brave enough for such surgery.
And then it happened again – on our recent trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, I got an eye infection in the middle of our two-week trip. After having experienced one just a few weeks before my wedding, I knew what it was already and even brought the prescribed eye antibiotics for me wherever I went just in case I’d have it again. I knew the infection was caused by my contact lens, so I replaced my relatively new ones (was wearing them for about a week) with new ones. Still, my eyes did not heal. They were painful, itchy, and red. I would close my eyes for long periods and still, it felt like arrows were being shot directly to my eyes. I would sleep even if I was not sleepy just so my eyes could rest, and still, they were as red and painful when I would wake up. Suffice to say, I spent half of the trip just wearing eyeglasses, and I felt so bare. I realized my sunglasses serve as my security blanket, and not being able to use them because I wore my eyeglasses all the time really bothered me.
And that’s when I decided to learn more about lasik. When I got back in Manila, I called up a friend and asked for her help because I knew her grandfather and mother both had eye surgeries. She referred me to Shinagawa Lasik Center. I honestly had no idea about Shinagawa but since I trusted her judgment, I agreed to go there and had my eyes checked.
And so, I found myself in a room full of high-tech machines. I was expecting to find about 4 or 5 machines for my eye tests, but was surprised to see this much:
Full screening is the first step in getting lasik at Shinagawa. Remember that I am only talking about my experience with them, because that’s where I did mine – so I am not sure if this is the same first step as the other clinics. The full screening takes about 2-3 hours and will make you undergo a series of tests to determine if you are eligible for the procedure. Some machines estimate your grade, some show the contour of your corneas (and if I remember correctly, give a count of your corneal cells), some estimate the pressure of your eyes, some take measurement of your eyeballs, some check the condition of your pupils at night, etc. Your optometrist will also do a manual test of your grade which will be used as reference for your laser treatment. S/he will also test you in a bright room, and a dark room. And for the final step (which I will never forget), they will put drops on your eyes that will eventually give you blurry vision to weaken the built-in focusing mechanism of our eyes which enables us to adapt to different lighting conditions. This test is important so that they can obtain the real grade of your eyes. Anyway, here’s the catch: this blurry vision will last for about 5-6 hours. I honestly found it kind of cool that slowly, I could feel my eyes getting more and more blurred. But of course, when I stepped out of the clinic and walked on Makati’s streets (to get to our parking), my eyes felt far more sensitive than usual, and if I remember it correctly, my eyes were shedding tears! Thankfully, my friend was there to drive for me, and when I got home, I just slept the discomfort away (Blurry vision was making me dizzy already. Blurry vision with my eyeglasses on was killing me hahaha). I think it was the 6th hour since the drops were given to me that my eyes were back to normal.
Before I left the clinic, I was told my eyes were eligible for surgery (my grade: 4.00 and 2.50), and so, I had about a week to study the different kinds of laser treatments they offer:
1. Microkeratome (Traditional) – PHP 65,000
-corrects distance and astigmatism
-bladed but automated
-gives back 20/20 vision
-procedure takes about 10 minutes per eye
2. Intralasik – PHP 89,600
-corrects distance and astigmatism
-gives back 20/20 vision in an instant
-procedure takes about 20-30 seconds per eye
-overnight healing process
3. Z-Lasik – PHP 140,000
-corrects distance and astigmatism
-gives back 20/20 vision in an instant
-procedure takes about 20-30 seconds per eye
-limits tissue damage (no overlapping functions)
-1-2 hours healing process
*Rates based on their December 2014 pricelist.
That was also the week I spent researching on Shinagawa, and honestly, I couldn’t find a single bad review. This somehow made me trust the company even more. I mean with social media nowadays, it’s so easy to just write nasty things on the internet and yet, no one has written bad reviews about them. I also got to talk to a friend who apparently had his lasik done at Shinagawa. He did it 2 years ago and still so happy with it. My courage was building up, and I knew I had to take action before my fear overcame it.
I ended up taking the Z-Lasik procedure. I wanted the quickest surgery time and the quickest recovery time. Since it was the latest technology, I kind of assumed it had the latest features, and sort of thought it was the safest (It better be. It was the most expensive, after all!)
So, how did it go? On the day of the operation, I came to their clinic with well-rested eyes. They made me wash my face thoroughly cause I wouldn’t be able to do that for at least 24 hours. I was surprised by a plethora of beauty products waiting for me at the comfort room:
I wanted to try them all had I only known how to effectively use them, hahaha! I forgot that Shinagawa was not only a lasik center, but an aesthethic center!
Anyway, when I got to the resting room, I was given instructions as well as a run-through of how the operation will take (and what I was supposed to do-or not do) to manage my expectations. I was also handed the post-op care kit.
Dr. Dinglasan, one of the best doctors in the industry, did my operation. He did my left eye first, and while it was actually really painless, I won’t lie: there was still some sort of discomfort. Maybe it was just my eye being all sensitive to the light, and the fact that I was awake and knew that something was being done to my eyes (or that I remembered the movie Awake and was trying hard not to panic, haha). It only took a few minutes, five or ten per eye at the most, but it felt so long for me. I thought it was cool though that it felt like I was in a House (as in Dr. House) scene – with someone shouting my eye pressure (?) or something every second, and all of them focusing on my operation. Dr. Dinglasan was funny, actually. He made everything seem light, and kept on assuring me everything was going to be fine.
Then it was my right eye’s turn, and I think my right eye is more sensitive than my left. It was harder for me to focus that time. I tried my best to keep my eye open, but all it really wanted to do was to close by itself. Operation here took a little longer. It was painless, like I said; it just felt weird. But I just kept telling myself that I only needed to sacrifice a few minutes (or hours) of my life in exchange of years of clear vision.
Some clients don’t even feel the discomfort, they would tell me. I guess I was just paranoid cause this was something that was totally out of my comfort zone. It makes us wonder what more when it’s time for me to give birth, hahaha! Seriously though, am really glad the whole team took care of me the way they did – cause even though I was sort of panicking, they were reassuring and really patient with me.
Everyone was happy after the operation. I was immediately brought to a dark room so I could rest my eyes. Dr. Dinglasan checked on my eyes again to make sure everything was in check. I was also given a pain killer and was advised to drink it even before the pain came. Great advice, I must say. Yes, there was definitely some pain when the anesthesia wore off, but I thought it was going to be more painful. The “more painful pain” never came – I guess the pain killers did their work.
Going home was the hardest part for me. Since my husband’s car did not have dark tint and we went out of the building in the afternoon, my eyes were really, really sensitive. I kept them closed the whole time and wore my super dark sunglasses which I think helped a lot.
When I got home, I just tried to sleep it off. The pain lasted for about three to four hours after the surgery. After that, there was just some sort of discomfort. I slept with my eye patch on to keep me from scratching my eyes. In fairness to the eye patch, I loved that they were transparent, so I did not feel blind at all. It was actually pretty cool!
The day after, OH MY GOD. I couldn’t believe I was seeing everything clearly! The recovery for Z-Lasik was quick indeed. I went back to the clinic for a quick check-up, and was told to keep on putting eyedrops! I also went through some of the machines again to test the grade of my eyes – they were 10/20! Even better than 20/20!!! I was told I could go back to doing my usual office work, watch TV/movie if I wanted to, but of course, all with caution.
In my experience, for the first week or two, I could really feel the drain. My eyes would literally tire easily. So I would stop, rest, then resume. For a time, I would get headaches, and when I researched, it seems like I was not putting on drops as much as I should so they were getting dry which caused the headache, so I started putting more drops, and it worked. My headaches were gone! Today, 3 months after the surgery, I still put on the drops, though I don’t feel like my eyes are much dryer than before the surgery. Some people say that this is what lasik does – but having dry eyes to begin with makes me weak in telling the difference!
I have not gone back since the day after my surgery, though I should, just to you know, have them checked and make sure everything is okay. So far, I feel everything still is. Seeing everything clearly without any help is my new norm.
And how did it “change my life”? Let me begin by saying I thought saying it would change my life is OA. I mean, really? Life-changing? But now I can say, it really is, for me who takes much effort to wear lenses atleast. When I hear a bird call in the middle of the night, I don’t have to look for my glasses or wear my contacts to be able to look for it. When I go camping or go on rough adventures with friends, I don’t have to worry about having to clean my hands thoroughly in the middle of nowhere so I can put contacts on before we make our way to the summit/ beach/ etc. Whenever it rains, I don’t have to worry that all I’m seeing are moist on my glasses. Whenever I go on a flight, I don’t have to worry about my contacts getting dry when I fall asleep. Even for simple and daily life, I realized it helped me a lot. I tend to wear make-up more now (just the basic, natual looking one – just to look more “presentable” when going to meetings, etc) because my face will no longer be covered by my glasses. I feel it’s easier now to go out without putting on too much effort. I also feel like I can wear my favourite sunnies anytime cause I don’t have to put contacts on just so I can wear them (PS: I love wearing sunnies, that’s why!). These are just some examples, but really, I’m glad I had lasik done. It took me a while to share this with you because I wanted to make sure it really is as worth it as I think, and to this day, months after the surgery, when I don’t even feel a trace of what my eyes went through anymore, I can honestly say, this is one of my best decisions in life!
I used to avoid it because I felt it was so expensive, but really, now that I had computed how much I spent on good pairs of glasses (more than PHP 60,000 through the years, with an average of PHP 6000 per pair), the grade of glasses (average PHP 1200 each time for those with UV coating or something – at least PHP 24,000), contact lens, contact lens solution, contact lens drops (at least PHP 30,000) – I honestly wanted to kick myself for not having it done sooner. I think I really spent more (although of course not at one time so it didn’t seem as big at that time), but you get the point. So there. Hope this blog helps you make your own decision! Let me know how you feel after should you decide to do it. Goodluck!:)
PS: I might be able to score you a little discount if you’re really serious. No promises but I requested for a little discount for my readers from Shinagawa. If you’ve decided to do it, email me at PaulaTheExplorer@gmail.com with the subject: DISCOUNT FOR SHINAGAWA and I’ll see what I can do. No promises, but probably worth your try!:)
PPS: You can also see the testimonial I wrote for Shinagawa’s website HERE. Shinagawa has 32 branches in Japan, 1 in the Philippines, and 1 in Singapore. Their Philippines branch is in Enterprise Building, Makati, Metro Manila.
I wrote another post on lasik – the facts you need to know before, during, and after surgery! Should you have concerns and questions, I say, don’t be afraid to seek the opinion of a professional (lasik center or doctor). I realized many of my worries and thoughts on lasik were not even true all because I based my belief on hearsay such as: You have to have super high grade to be eligible for lasik, or that you cannot have lasik until you’re 30. Anyway, read about the facts I’ve learned HERE. Goodluck!