Advanced Surface Ablation at KPJ Tawakal Centre for Sight

I  wanted to blog about this since June but I never did come to it. A lot has happened since the surgery, so I wanted to wait for full recovery before I actually took time to put these into words! Why was it so important to be meticulous about? Because when I was researching on lasik treatments for my brother in KL or PJ, I found very little on the topic – especially reviews and experience from other patients who had undergone the procedure.

My brother came to KL last May/June during the school holidays (because he’s a teacher) and decided that he wanted to go for lasik eye surgery to correct his eyes. I personally know people who had done the surgery in Optimax and KPJ Tawakal. So, I had these two centres high on my list beforehand. I didn’t really consider others – simply because an eye surgery is no small matter and I really wanted a centre that was recommended by someone and a place I could trust. I decided then to settle with KPJ Tawakal at Jalan Pahang because of an on-going promotion (credit card discount of over RM2,000!) – and because it was a specialist private hospital.

Before I begin, let me stress that KPJ KL Centre for Sight is NOT in the main KPJ Tawakal hospital building over at Jalan Pahang. It is actually a separate shop lot about 1-2 minutes walk from the hospital. I would recommend you park at the hospital and cross over to the other building as finding a parking space opposite the centre is near impossible. Here’s a map below taken from Google:

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Make sure you make an appointment beforehand! They are usually very busy, even on weekdays.

We came in the morning and had a couple of tests done before deciding on the treatment. My brother’s eyesight was at -7.00 and -6.25 ( or we fondly know as power 700 and 625) and he had been wearing glasses since he was 9 or 10. While my brother doesn’t wear contact lenses at all, his nearsightedness had always been troublesome to him. (PS: I wear lenses and even I find wearing glasses or lenses annoying…).

FIRST VISIT
Most of the time spent during the first visit was for the eye examination and the waiting in between. It took about 2.5 hours in total.

The types of eye test done include: (more or less as I could remember)

  • Reading the eye chart and machine to determine myopia/astigmatism (like the ones at the optometrist
  • Corneal thickness
  • Pupil measurement
  • Tear duct function
  • Eyeball pressure
  • Wavefront analysis
  • Discussion on medical history and lifestyle and more
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Checking tear duct function and eye ball pressure

These tests are important to determine the type of lasik treatment suitable for you – especially corneal thickness. It was here when we found out that my brother’s cornea was quite thin (it would be thinner after the treatment so an ideal thickness should be maintain after) and the ONLY choice of treatment suitable for him was – ASA or Advanced Surface Ablation.

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Counselling session: suitable treatment and what to expect

After the tests above, we were brought into another room to be counselled. The counsellor was the one who asked about the medical history and suggested the appropriate treatment. After that we were ushered into the room to see Dr. Norazlina Bachik.

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Dr. Norazlina technically repeated what the counsellor said and the potential side effects from the treatment – gray and halo vision, longer recovery, tearing. She also explained the course of treatment and what could be expected out of it.

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Another check by Dr. Norazlina Bachik

Technically, ASA is the most basic of lasik treatments. It doesn’t require any laser to cut the surface cell layer to expose the cornea (the part that gets laser off) which is removed with alcohol solution instead. The reason why ASA was suggested is because it doesn’t remove much of the cornea layer – hence, perfect for those with thinner corneas. I can’t actually explained this very well – I suggest you Google or watch some videos on Youtube.

NOTE: With Optimax, there is two options for ASA flap removal – laser or alcohol.

Now, the main factor you should take note of when it comes to ASA is the recovery time. As opposed to Relex Smile treatment (which by nightfall, could result in clear vision), the recovery time for ASA would take a week or two – by this I meant, the time to achieve clearer vision. But the timeline to achieve optimal vision for ASA could take up to 3 months – with the eyes improving gradually. According to my brother, his vision was clearer after the 2 weeks of recovery and it gradually improved over the months (especially because he had an eye infection and the scarring only reduced overtime).

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As of May 2017

One advantage to take note of: IT IS THE CHEAPEST TREATMENT AVAILABLE. Half the price of Relex Smile, ASA costs about RM6,090 in total. We arranged for the surgery the next day as it was only available on Tuesdays (we came in on Monday).

 

2. DAY OF SURGERY

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All lasik surgeries are practically day care procedures. As such, you could be done and discharged after noon. Before the surgery, my brother was told to sign an admission and consent form: which merely states that the surgery doesn’t guarantee you perfect 0.00 vision and the potential side effects

We were briefed roughly on what should and would be expected after the procedure such as:

  • after surgery, contact lenses will be inserted to protect the eyes during the recovery (flap regrowth).
  • may feel discomfort for 2 days or more
  • to use eye caps to sleep (to avoid scratching) as your eyes will be mega itchy
  • to avoid cooking or contact sports
  • to ensure preservative free drops and steroid drops are administered as required
  • to take pain killers as needed

I was not allowed into the room during the procedure but here is roughly what my brother said happened:

  1. doctor explained the procedure again before surgery.
  2. his head was placed in a machine used to mark his eyes and he was told to look at a red light.
  3. anaesthetic is dropped into the eye and vision is blurred. The only thing visible is the red light.
  4. At one point, he can feel ‘water’ and scrapping (I assume this is the part where the doctor pours the alcohol and scrap off the cell flap).
  5. told to look at the light and laser treatment starts. No pain or discomfort but there was a burning smell.
  6. more water was felt, like washing the eye after the laser.
  7. Move to next eye and repeat process.

This took less than 15 minutes in total and I had the chance to sit in another room to watch the surgery going on.

My brother could roughly feel the difference right after the treatment. There was an improvement in sight almost immediately but the stinging, watering and pain in the eyes was making it difficult to keep his eyes open. As soon as we got home, he had some food and went to sleep for a couple of hours. The recovery was annoying and kinda painful in my opinion (possible because of the alcohol used instead of laser).

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Eyes were stinging

We had a followup checkup with the doctor a week later (if not mistaken, hey this happened in May!) and found out that my brother had an infection in his right eye, which slowed down his recovery process and the reason why his eyes still felt so irritated and painful.

Please take note that it is unusual for ASA patients to have an infection. Dr. Norazalina was quite concern about this: partially also because my brother teaches in rural Kapit, which made another followup difficult than usual. He was prescribed more steroid drops and told to be more meticulous when it comes to cleanliness. The scarring from the infection (a line can be seen in his eye) was making his vision unclear.

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See the white cloud on his pupils? That was the scarring from the infection

Sometime during Aidilfitri school break, my brother made a trip down to KPJ Sibu for a followup and he was once again prescribed steroid drops. The drops would actually help the scarring to subside and sort of ‘flatten out’ and disappear.

Today we went for another followup at KPJ Tawakal and Dr. Norazlina said that the scarring was nearly gone! It was very minute and was no longer affecting his vision much. Based on the wavefront analysis scan, the area of his eye once infected was now perfectly clear blue (showing no vision problems).  The cloud, as you can see below, is gone!

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Perfect eyeball!

Despite the recovery taking a longer time, my brother’s vision is now 0.00 in the left eye and -0.75in the right eye which was once infected.

And guess what, I went over to Optimax to check my eyes about a month back and I was told that I had thin corneas too and the only treatment suitable for me is ASA….. -_-” geez. I asked Dr. Norazlina about this today and she said it could possible be hereditary (because one is born with cornea thickness) and in her 17 years of lasik history, it is getting fairly common these days. Maybe lifestyle? I don’t know.

Anyways, before considering lasik, you would need to go for the complete eye checkup first. And in order to do so, one must stop wearing contact lenses for 2 weeks (at Optimax) or 3 weeks or more (for KPJ). I know, it was extremely difficult for me too! I need contacts for so many things – running, shoots etc.

During the checkup, please have some breakfast (or a meal) beforehand as the checkup could take a couple of hours – more if there are lots of people. Bring a cap and sunglasses for after the checkup as the drops to dilate your pupils could leave you sensitive to light for 24 hours. Please get someone to drive you to the checkup. Similarly, you need shades for after the surgery as well as you would be ultra sensitive to everything right after. This goes without saying, you need a driver and possibly, a helper for the next week or so until you can fend for yourself.

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You need shades!

Please also have some cash as backup as additional medication (such as drops) may be needed.

This is all that I can remember and share with you on my brother’s lasik treatment at KPJ  Centre for Sight. For more information, do some research on Google and don’t forget to drop by KPJ for visit!

Official Website: http://www.kpjcfs.com

Doctor’s Profile: http://www.kpjcfs.com/doctor-profile.php?id=85

Vision Correction Services: http://www.kpjcfs.com/laser-correction.php

Contact Number: 03-4022 6222

Address: Lot 100-102, Level 4, Tawakkal Health Centre, 202A, Jalan Pahang, 53000 Kuala Lumpur.

PS: I was advised not to do any lasik treatment when pregnant, trying to get pregnant or on any hormone medication as hormone fluctuations affect sight temporarily. Well, I was all of the above at the time I had my checkup with Optimax so it was a total no no for me anyways! *curiosity kills a cat*

Sorry for grammar problems, I can’t be bothered to read it a million times! #englishnotperfect

 

 

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4 comments

  1. thanks for your sharing for ASA, your article helping me a lot on understand the procedure and possible outcome. Because I also been told by Optimax, that i only able to undergo ASA due to my cornea thinness.

    Like

    1. Hi Carolyn! I found out (prior to my lasik) that despite my cornea thinness, my power isnt too high so I could still do Femto or Relex Smile. Dr Stephen Chung (Optimax TTDI) told me this, as opposed to the optimestrist at Optimax Shah Alam! I was kinda shock and of course opted for the faster healing procedure. Have you had the chance for a second opinion?

      Like

  2. Did your brother had his ASA at kpj tawakal or kpj for eyesight PJ?

    Like

    1. He did it at KPJ Tawakal KL

      Like

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