Atlas Eye: My ReLEX SMILE Laser Treatment

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Back in July, I had the opportunity to finally correct my eyesight with the well-esteemed Dr. David Chan from Opthalmology Specialist Centre, Atlas Eye located at Paragon Medical Centre.

Having "suffered" from myopia and astigmatism since I was 8 and wearing contact lenses since I was 10, it was quite a no-brainer to decide on refractive surgery.

I headed down for my first Refractive assessment appointment with Atlas Eye where they got me to first fill up an assessment form on my medical and visual history before they conducted a Visual Acuity Test. Thereafter, I was brought to this room with numerous eye machines lined up where I had to undergo a series of diagnostic tests:

1. Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP) 
2. Auto Refraction 
3. Atlas Topographer 
4. Pentacam

How can I forget this machine... it gave a (frightening) puff of air in my eye!

And then there was a refraction test to measure my eye power/refractive error, similar to what they do when you visit an optician.

After which, I had my consultation with Dr. Chan to reveal the answer I had been waiting for - my suitability for refractive surgery. I swear I was holding my breath when he was about to speak but thank goodness it was a green light after assessing all my eye test results. Hooray!!!
He then went on to introduce me to the different types of surgeries available; Surface Ablation/PRK, LASIK and ReLEx SMILE.

I voiced out my concern of dry eyes post-surgery so Dr. Chan recommended me the new surgical method, ReLEx SMILE - a third generation laser strategy after LASIK and Surface Ablation/PRK. ReLEx SMILE melds the best qualities of both techniques, which include, doing away with stripping off the surface of the cornea (as in surface ablation) or creating a flap (as in LASIK). For ReLEx SMILE, there would only be a key hole incision and hence the chances of dry eyes was slimmer.

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Here are the advantages of ReLEx SMILE:

  • Increase corneal and refractive stability (flapless technique with small incision)
  • Gentle yet rapid treatment (24 seconds laser time)
  • Less dry eyes (key hole/ small incision of 2–4 mm)
  • Rapid healing (incision sizes 5 times smaller than LASIK)
  • Wide treatment range for myopia and astigmatism
    • Myopia:–0.50 to –10.00D,
    • Astigmatism: 0 to 5.00D

I was convinced and assured by Dr. Chan's explanation on the techniques and decided on ReLEX SMILE. Dr. Chan also did one last test on my eyes which was the Slit Lamp Examination just to make sure every part of my eyes were normal/fine (including the back of my eye).

We then went on to discuss the dates on when I could come in for surgery - I was so determined to have it as soon as possible and was actually up for it immediately if they allowed me to!
I settled for the following Friday after work at about 6pm which Dr. Chan and the team had very kindly agreed to extend their clinic hours just to fit my schedule. This was because I wanted the whole weekend to rest before I got back to work on Monday as I had some urgent things at work to clear.
Ideally, the recommended rest time should be at least 3 days though you would have already been able to see clearly after the 1st day.

So I went without contact lenses to work the next entire week and remember counting down to that particular Friday.

When Friday finally came, I couldn't quite believe it was my last day in glasses!
I left work early that day to Atlas Eye where the nurses first got me to watch a few videos on the procedures to mentally prepare myself and thoroughly went through the aftercare procedure post-surgery. There was also a detailed instruction sheet given to me to note down the intervals on when I had to put my antibiotics eyedrops and they also provided me with plastic eye covers to put over my eyes when I went to bed (this is to prevent me accidentally rubbing my eyes in my sleep).

Now the part that you must be waiting to know about - the surgery itself...
The nurses first cleaned my face with antiseptic especially a round the eye area before I was escorted to the Operation Theatre where my nerves started to kick in.
Nevertheless, I still remember Dr. Chan and his nurses greeting me with huge smile across their faces and telling me that it was going to be just fine and all over before I know it.

They laid me down, covered my right eye first so that Dr. Chan could first start on my left eye.

Honestly, the most nerve-wrecking part of the whole process was actually the preparation right before the laser operation.

Dr. Chan had to tape my eyelashes down so they wouldn't get in the way and place an eye holder to hold my eye wide open. I felt more uncomfortable than anything; my eye felt like it was rolling back at times but thankfully, Dr. Chan was very reassuring and calming and reminded me to just take deep breaths (it really did help) and to focus on looking straight.
The laser process itself was quick and painless, about 10 seconds and I really did not feel a thing - I mean it! Thereafter, I remember my vision being blurry after being rotated out of the laser machine and Dr. Chan starting to work on my eye. I just felt some tugging then but there was absolutely no pain at all. Before I knew it, my vision became clearer and Dr. Chan was done with my left eye.

The whole process repeated for my right eye and I was told that I might feel a little more pressure because this time my mind knew what to expect so my senses were heightened. Thankfully it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and the whole operation was over in just about half an hour!

Beaming right after the operation with Dr. Chan!

My vision right after the surgery was still blurry so my parents picked me up from the clinic. I also wore my sunglasses the whole way home as advised by Dr. Chan as my eyes were indeed very sensitive to light then.

That night, the first few antiseptic eyedrops stung quite a bit and when the anaesthetic wore off, my eyes could not stop tearing; a normal reaction post-surgery. Thankfully I was also feeling a little drowsy from the surgery so I fell quickly into deep sleep.

The next morning when I awoke, I remember how surreal it felt when I could read the time on my clock against the wall at the end of my room. It was crazy unbelievable!
My eyes felt drier than usual but it was fine immediately after I put my antiseptic eyedrops.
I then got ready and headed back to Atlas Eye for my appointment one day after surgery to check that everything was fine.

Day 1 after surgery: check-up with Dr. Chan

Dr. Chan was very gentle and thorough during my post surgery check-up, he reassured me that both my eyes were healing well and that my eyesight will keep getting better. He also mentioned that it was normal to feel that my eyes got tired easily or were sensitive to light. For that, I should just keep using my lubricating eyedrops along with my antiseptic eyedrops, rest my eyes when I can and also wear sunglasses in bright places. My next appointment with him were to be 1 week later and subsequently a month later.

I was back at work the following Monday, 2 full days after the surgery. I just had to remember to give my eyes breaks by looking around and not focusing on my computer screen all the time. I also made sure I slept early every night to give my eyes sufficient rest for the next day.
So after about a week or so, I started to get used to my eyesight and felt really comfortable as if I had forgotten I just completed my ReLEx SMILE surgery.

Today (3 months post-surgery), I still find it so surreal and every morning has been a breeze as I do not need to fumble around for my glasses nor "force" my contact lenses into my tired eyes. Deciding on correcting my vision has got to be one of the best decisions ever, I never knew how much convenience it will bring to my life and I am eternally grateful to Dr. Chan and the team at Atlas Eye.

The incredible team at Atlas Eye <3 From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything!

About Atlas Eye

Atlas Eye is an Ophthalmology Specialist Centre that is independently owned and managed by fellowship trained and fully accredited specialist eye surgeons. They are one of four (currently) in Singapore that does all 3 generations of Refractive Surgery depending on your eye suitability.

About Dr. David Chan

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Dr. David Chan has been in practice for the past 20 years. He was trained in the field of Complex Cataract Surgery, Anterior Segment Surgery and Refractive surgery at the Singapore National Eye Centre and the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada and is now also a Surgical Instructor at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and University of Calgary, Canada.

Having practiced ophthalmology since 1999, his extensive experience includes research on new cataract surgical devices utilising nanotechnology. He has published reports on ocular pathology, including ophthalmic complications of dengue and age-related macular degeneration. He has co-authored several books and publications in the field of refractive surgery and complex cataract surgery.

If you're interested to find out more about what Atlas Eye can offer you for ReLEx SMILE and other laser treatments, feel free to call +65 6737 9119 and do mention about reading this blogpost for a special surprise! 

Paragon Medical

Tower One, Lift Lobby E or F

Level 7

Unit 07-09

290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859

Operating Hours:
Monday-Friday: 8:30AM – 5:00PM
Saturday: 8:30AM – 12:30 PM
Sunday/PH: Closed


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