Thursday, April 11, 2013

The One About My Eye Surgery

Eye Surgery

I am typing this blog post, silently thanking my high school typewriting teacher for making us memorize the qwerty keyboard, and for ordering us to spend hours typing with our heads covered by masks... a more creative way of blindfolding (my mask of choice was a "Polgas" paper mask -- the dog from my fave Filipino comic book, Pugad Baboy).

It has been almost a week since my Eye Surgery at Asian Eye Institute, and I am still visually incapacitated. In fact, I may as well still be wearing my Polgas mask right now because I'm typing with my eyes closed. I am peeking every now and then to check for spelling errors. None so far. Woohoo!

Anyway... nothing to fear though because all of this is expected and pretty normal. As I have mentioned in my previous post, my doctor, Dr. Ang, recommended that I do the Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) surgery instead of LASIK because of several issues surrounding my eyes.


PRK is a type of refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. The difference between that and LASIK is that in LASIK, they create a thin flap on the cornea to access the treatment area, whereas in PRK, the cornea's entire outer layer is removed, and no flap is created.
The upside to PRK (in my case) is that since my cornea has a very irregular shape, not creating a flap is safer for me... Plus, since I do a lot of contact sports (like Boxing and Muay Thai), there is less risk for "flap complications". Dr Ang also said that if he did LASIK on me, because of my eye situation - there would have been a possibility that 5 years down the line, I might start losing my eyesight again... 

I read up on Dr. Ang. He is the only doctor in the Philippines to have finished two sub-specialty programs at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School.

Harvard Med.

OK. So whatever Dr Ang says, goes. End of discussion!

The downside to this is that my recovery time is longer. If I had LASIK done, I'd be typing with both eyes open by now, enjoying my perfect vision. Since I have to wait for my "epithelial cells" to regenerate, they say it might take several weeks or even months for the full effects of the surgery to manifest. I suppose it's a good thing I have a month of bumming around to do here in Manila anyway...  might as well use it to heal and recharge!


Pre-Surgery Look
Me, pre-surgery looking like a public school
lunch lady.
I'm not gonna lie. I was pretty freaked out while waiting for my turn at the surgery room. I was dressed up in scrubs and a hair cap, and I was with two other people, comfortably propped up on one of those massage chairs.
I heard it wasn't going to hurt at all... but I mean they're my EYES. The windows to my soul!!! The thought of having them poked and prodded would make anyone nervous, right?

I went into the surgery room, and I was helped into the little bed where the "laser" was. I honestly thought they were going to give me some Valium or Diazepam beforehand, but I was wrong! I guess I got so used to being in the states where they give you a drug for everything!

Dr Ang warmly greeted me, and said he was going to talk me through everything while it was happening. He explained once again why he thought PRK was the best and safest route for me, and I appreciated the reminder. It helped calmed me down, knowing I was in good hands.

Then as he was giving me some anesthetic drops for my eyes, he said, "OK! You are on your way to having perfect vision for the rest of your life!" My heart jumped to my throat and my hands gripped my sides. Here we go...

First, there was an instrument that was placed over my right eye to keep them open. Dr Ang asked me to focus on the red light. Then he placed an instrument over my eye and I felt a little pressure... like he was pressing down on it, but it didn't hurt. Then they counted down 30 seconds - I have no idea what for. Afterwards, he took out the instrument, and I vaguely saw him take out what looked like a contact lens from my eye -- I guess that was the outer layer of the cornea.


Laser Dr Evil

One of the things I was nervous about was - what if my eyes moved around? Will the "laser" zap the wrong area of my eye? What if I shifted around because of nerves? I just thought so many things could go wrong... but here's a tidbit I read from Asian Eye's website:

Asian Eye Institute uses the latest technology to ensure the highest level of safety for its patients. At present, it is the only eye care facility in the country that uses Active Control Eyetracker (ACE) and Iris Registration (IR). 

Active Control Eyetracker – Eye movements are unavoidable during surgery. Asian Eye uses a multidimensional eyetracker that detects movements and adjusts the laser several hundred times a second to ensure that the laser pulses are fired at the correct location on the cornea. It is best used for high grade and astigmatism treatments.

Iris Registration – The iris has different patterns that differentiate one eye from another. At Asian Eye, the patient can be sure that someone else’s treatment will never be applied on his or her eyes. This equipment also detects the change in the eye position due to a change in body position. The iris registration, combined with the active control eyetracker, automatically aligns the treatment pattern once it detects the change in eye position, increasing the accuracy of laser pulse placement.

It pays to do research - and this information definitely made me feel a lot more at ease. In fact, everything about Asian Eye Institute was very comforting and professional. Everyone was so nice and accommodating. :)

Before the "laser" started, Dr Ang said it was going to smell like there was something burning, but that it was normal. He really wasn't kidding! The burning smell was pretty pungent. My heart was beating really fast and it was a little scary, but it didn't hurt at all. In fact, I didn't feel anything. The "laser" was over pretty quickly, I don't even know if it lasted a minute. After that, my eye was doused with cold water --- and that one I felt. It was fine... just felt, well, cold!

They repeated the exact same process on my left eye, and it was over in a jiffy. Doc placed a bandage contact lens over each eye and they're still on at the moment. He takes them out on Saturday, a week after the surgery.

And that was it! Tadaa! Surgery finished! Didn't hurt a single bit! I don't know what I was nervous about! They sent me home after explaining some post-op reminders and that was that! Voila! Piece of cake!


I am going craaaaaazy!!!!
I can't swim, I can't do any exercise, I couldn't go out much... AAAGH!!!

Alas... it is all part of the healing process. The first night was very uncomfortable, I couldn't really do anything else but sleep it off. The next three days got better, but it still felt like there was something stuck in my eye, like a contact lens not put in properly... or a piece of sand that won't go away. It's better now, but I still can't really see that clearly yet. It's like everything is illuminated and bright and scattered. I mean I can walk around fine and I can see, but it's difficult to read a book or write on my computer or watch TV. I have to constantly protect my eyes with these super cool glasses they gave me... I even have to wear them to sleep to prevent accidental sleep-poking! Oh and I also have to keep lubricating my eyes with these drops they gave me every four hours.

Again... this is all apparently very normal. It will take a while for me to achieve perfect vision, but I have to be patient and take it one day at a time. I am sooo looking forward to being able to work out again. If I can't see properly, I'd like to be able to punch or kick something (or someone) at least!

I have a follow up appointment on Saturday (a week after surgery), and then another one right before I leave for Australia (a month after surgery). I am crossing my fingers that my vision would be significantly better by then! I take comfort in the fact that I see an improvement everyday so far... Hopefully my next update about my eyes will be crystal clear!

**Click on the poster below to see about what Asian Eye Institute offers! :)

(**Read about my Lasik Screening at Asian Eye Institute here)

Hi There! Have we met before? You look familiar! Those shoes look great on you, by the way! I’m Eartha and I recently decided to quit my job to travel the worrrrld! Join me in my adventures by checking back on my blog, and leaving me a comment or two!
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