For those of you whose ageing parents have eye problems, TAKE NOTE: This surgery was 100% painless with hardly any downtime.
My mum has been a 900-degrees soft contact lens wearer for the last 38 years, thanks to mild astigmatism, severe myopia and presbyopia (Lao Hua). After years of perpetually squinting and buying multiple pair of spectacles, and seeing me throw away my glasses after my Lasik surgery, she finally got a permanent solution and had her eyes fixed at Dr Natasha Lim Eye Centre—where I did my Lasik surgery.
At first, she thought she was also going to have Lasik surgery, just like me. However, as my mum had a growing cataract, Dr Natasha advised against Lasik surgery (the initial procedure my mum had wanted) as it is only suitable for people without cataracts.
Instead, she recommended Cataract Surgery and Lens Replacement using a customised Toric Mono-focal lens implant that could correct her myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia (Lao Hua) and make her vision clearer altogether, spectacle-free.
In order to understand my mum’s visual requirements, Dr Natasha asked about my mum’s lifestyle, her occupation and her interests / hobbies and tailored the surgery to suit her daily work routine. For example, the lens in her left eye aka ‘master eye’ is meant for long distance—so she won’t take the wrong bus and end up in Jurong—while her right eye ‘non-master eye’ is meant for reading.
Feelings Before Eye Consultation
Here are some thoughts she had:
– Had toyed with the idea of going through an eye operation but was confused by the variety of lens implants and refractive surgery procedures in the market.
– Thick glasses are heavy, slips down her nose when she perspires and can’t wear contact lenses for too long as it makes her eyes dry.
– Have been putting up with the discomfort and inconvenience (shifting between progressive lens glasses and reading glasses). She had not been adventurous with sports and leisure for most part of her life because of her thick glasses.
Dr Natasha’s team was extremely professional and the clinic is well equipped with the latest technology. They meticulously explained her options as well as the surgery what it would involve every step along the way, and didn’t “hard-sell” any procedure.
They would be performing stitchless, micro-incision 2 mm cataract surgery that promises immediate recovery of vision just 4 hours post-op, and the whole surgery would be performed without any sedation and within 15 minutes. After which, my mum would be free to go and would be able to make her own way home on public transport.
The cataract inside my mum’s eye would be sucked out using an ultrasound vacuum probe which is only 2 mm in size. Through the same 2 mm micro-incision, an acrylic, foldable mono-focal lens implant would pass through and into the eye to replace the cataract lens which has been removed. This mono-focal lens implant is of the highest –definition (HD) index to enable HD vision post-op. In addition, it would correct all my mum’s myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia, so that post-op she won’t need to wear glasses on her face, as what she needs to wear would have been implanted inside her eye permanently.
It was amazing to see how immediately my mum saw the whole picture so clearly within a 30 minutes consultation and felt that she was prepared to do the surgery because she finally understood every step involved.
3 Days Before First Cataract Operation on Left Eye
3 days pre-op: My mum had to stop using contact lenses so her vision could return to its most accurate degree. She underwent some basic health checks: ECG (heart tracing), blood pressure and urine test at Dr Natasha’s clinic. They took detailed measurements of her eyes to calculate for the lens implant powers and put in the order for the lens implants for her surgery to take place 3 days later.
1 day pre-op: She had to use 1 drop of ‘Zymar’ antibiotics 4 times a day to “prepare” the eye by killing germs.
6 hours pre-op: Fasting begins! No food and drinks anymore.
The surgery was split into two consecutive days; one eye at a time.
On The Day of The Cataract Surgery to the First Eye
Not only does Dr Natasha Lim Eye Centre have their own Lasik machines and Lasik operating theatre, they even have their own Cataract Surgery machines and Cataract Surgery operating theatre.
I understand that Dr Natasha is the only one with her own complete set of operating theatres for Lasik and Cataract Surgery, and the OTs are licensed and accredited by MOH. She has rooms and rooms of equipment and OTs that we have never seen before.
So it was the day of cataract surgery to my mum’s left eye, her master eye! You could see that my mum was slightly nervous but still she was really motivated and keen to do this surgery.
Once she slipped into her operation gown and wore her cap, a team of nurses assisted her into the operating room. It helped that Dr Lim and team were confident and assuring so my mum didn’t freak out. They cleaned her entire face and eye and then draped her whole body with a cover.
How The Actual Cataract Surgery Process Was Like
According to her, during the actual operation, she stared into “colourful lights like a kaleidoscope, but couldn’t see what was happening to her eyes at all. Throughout the operation, she heard an automated voice from a machine with an American accent calling out the settings of the machine to the team.
The cataract operation took around 20 minutes then she got up herself and simply walked out of the operating theatre. She was fully awake because there was no sedation at all. While waiting for the counter nurse to pack post-op eye medication for her to take home, other nurses offered her milo and biscuits. She had to wear a clear plastic eye cover for the duration of the journey home, and removed it once she reached home a day.
Thankfully, a nurse at the clinic had calmly told her to expect her post-op eye to look slightly ‘strange’ for a few hours and even drew it on a piece of paper! It normalised after 4 – 5 hours post-op and when my mum peered into her reflection she said “heng ah! I don’t look like a zombie. Phew.” Her post-op vision was at first blurred from the dilating drops used to dilate the eye for operation, but the vision was already clear after 4 hours post-op.
The procedure for her right eye continued the next day!