LASIK 101 with Dr David Chan

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How long have you been an ophthalmologist?

I’ve been an ophthalmologist for over 20 years.

What is the most interesting fact about the eye?

I think not a lot of people realize is that the old saying that ‘the eye is the window to the soul’. In some ways, there is some truth. If you look at the eye alone, it has got about a million nerve cells that connects it to the brain.

LASIK is a popular procedure, how safe is it?

Well, if you compare it to all surgeries in general, LASIK surgery is considered as very low risk.

Can someone go blind from LASIK?

I think if you leave it to a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answer, the answer has to be ‘yes’. With all cases of surgeries, there is always a potential for complications that can lead to loss of vision. But I am glad to say that as far as LASIK is concerned, the likelihood of that happening is very low.

What is the biggest misconception people have about LASIK?

I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about having their eyes lasered is that after laser, they will not have to wear glasses ever again. The fact is that once they reach the ages of the late 40s or 50s, just like everyone else, they will need to rely on reading glasses.

Is LASIK for everyone?

I think to put it simply, LASIK is not for everybody. We spent a lot of effort trying to help patients assess their eyes to see if their eyes are healthy. For example, if their corneas are healthy or whether they have any other eye problems. And in those situations, we may advise patients not to have LASIK.

How do you relax your patient before LASIK?

Well, right before LASIK surgery, what we do is we play music in the theatre, to calm the patients as well as ourselves. And we also serve the patient a little bit of oral sedative. And during the whole process, the patient is given topical anaesthesia as well, to take away all the pain.

You are a LASIK surgeon, why do you wear glasses?

Well, it’s a fair question and I do get asked about it a lot. For me personally being in my late 40s already and starting to feel the effects of having to wear reading glasses, lasers can help for me to see far, but I will still have to rely on reading glasses. As you can see that my life is surrounded by lenses, either on my machines or on my other instruments. So, I am not going to be free of lenses either way.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to people considering LASIK?

I think it is good to get advice from other people, and friends who have gone through the surgery, and also do your own research. But I think at the end of the day, it is also very important for you to analyze for yourself what your need are. I think if you have already decided for yourself, that your life would be much improved without having to wear glasses and contact lenses, in that sense, LASIK would definitely be of added value to you.