Remember our much dreaded primary school health check-ups? We would line up neatly in two rows and get our eyesight screened, among other things.
To your horror, as you squint your eyes and try to read the random letters off the snellen chart, you find that you’re stuck after the third line. You then wait sadly as the nurse issues you a referral letter to get a pair of glasses.
And that’s just the beginning of your distressed journey with glasses.
Fast forward to slightly more than a decade later. Now, you’re old enough to have your eyesight corrected with LASIK. The LASIK procedure provides a permanent solution to your eyesight woes.
You no longer need to fumble for your glasses when you get up in the morning and worry about misplacing them!
With all the benefits associated with LASIK, it’s time to get real and check out how much they actually cost: from public to private hospitals.
What Is LASIK?
LASIK stands for Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis. This is a type of eye surgery in which a laser is used to sculpt the cornea, which results in improved eyesight. The surgery is used to correct:
- Hyperopia (long sightedness) up to 300 degrees
- Myopia (short sightedness) from 100 to 1,000 degrees
- Astigmatism up to 300 degrees
The procedure is designed to correct the shape of the cornea. This is the transparent layer that lies on the front of the eye and allows light into the eye so that you can see images. When the cornea is misshapen, your eyesight will suffer. LASIK helps to correct this.
What To Expect With LASIK?
The procedure involves using a laser to cut the cornea’s surface. A thin flap is thereby created. There are three main steps involved in this procedure:
1. The first step involves the use of a femtosecond laser. This laser is used to create the flap on the cornea’s surface. This flap can be folded back.
2. The second step involves the use of a second laser: an excimer laser. The surgeon folds back the flap, thereby removing some corneal tissue underneath with the excimer laser. This is done to accurately sculpt the tissue that forms the cornea. This step is vital for the correction of refractive errors.
Is LASIK Suitable For You?
Many people assume that they will qualify for LASIK as long as they want to stop using contact lenses or spectacles. Like all other procedures, LASIK comes with a certain level of risk. The procedure is not for everyone.
You can consider LASIK if:
- You are above 18
- Your degrees have stabilised for over a year
- You are in a clean bill of health
- You have very thin corneas relative to the degree of improvement
- You have high refractive error: Hyperopia or Astigmatism above 400 degrees, Myopia above 1,000 degrees. Results tend to be less satisfactory for patients with such conditions
- You have unstable eye prescription in the past 12 months
- You suffer from severe dry eye syndrome
- You have existing eye injuries or diseases like glaucoma, cataract and diabetes
- You are pregnant or nursing
Types Of LASIK Surgery
LASIK is one of the most widely performed vision correction procedure in Singapore. The effectiveness in correcting refractive errors, the quickness of the procedure, and the comfortable recovery are amongst the top reasons why many people opt for this procedure.
There are various types of LASIK surgery offered in Singapore. These include:
1. ReLEx SMILE
This stands for Small Incision Lenticule Extraction. It is a minimally invasive procedure. It is also flapless and offers a very quick recovery. There are only two main steps in this procedure:
- The first step involves the cutting of the corneal tissue using a laser. This is done just below the surface of the cornea.
- The second step involves making a small 4 mm incision on the cornea to remove the lenticule. This results in the reshaping of the cornea and the correction of vision.
This procedure is ideal for those with active lifestyles or careers in sports. It, however, cannot be used to correct hyperopia (long-sightedness).
2. ASA (Epi-LASIK, LASEK, PRK, TransPRK)
This stands for Advanced Surface Ablation. It does not involve the making of an incision or the creation of a flap. It is a surface based procedure. It only involves the removal of a thin layer of cells from the cornea’s surface. This allows the laser to shape the cornea without damaging it.
The procedure involves the use of a protective lens that is placed over the eye. This is maintained until the cells of the cornea grow back, which may take a few days.
This is a great option if you have a thin cornea. It, however, requires a longer recovery time and the treatment takes longer.
3. Collagen Cross-Linking (add-on)
CXL is often offered in addition to other laser eye surgery procedures. This procedure is designed to help ensure that the tissue that grows back does not cause the cornea to lose shape (corneal ectasia).
This procedure can be done during surgery. It involves the administration of vitamin B12 drops and exposure to UV light for only a minute. This is done to activate the fibers of collagen and cause them to cross-link, and thus strengthen the cornea following LASIK.
Below is the cost comparison of such procedures. Do note that there are also additional costs such as the pre-laser evaluation, medication and post-op review.
Choosing A LASIK Option
The type of LASIK surgery you will receive will depend on various factors including:
1. The thickness and shape of your cornea: If your cornea is thinner, you should opt for ASA.
2. Your level of astigmatism: A procedure like ReLEx SMILE is not recommended for people with high astigmatism
3. Your degree of myopia: If your myopia is low, you can opt for ASA
4. Lifestyle: Your hobbies, occupation and general lifestyle.
It is important to consult with your doctor in order to understand the risks and benefits of the different options. Your doctor will examine you and help you determine which option best suits you.
Side Effects Of LASIK
Like any other medical procedure, LASIK can have various side effects. Many of these side effects, however, are minimal and temporary. They are therefore easy to bear with. They include:
1. Dry Eyes
This is one of the most common side effects. The creation of the flap during the surgery results in the cutting of the corneal nerves. These are the nerves responsible for the normal production of tears. This condition, however, should resolve in a few months.
2. Itchiness And Discomfort
This is part of the healing process. It, however, goes away a few hours following the procedure. You can easily alleviate the discomfort by keeping your eyes closed and resting them. The itch will disappear completely after a few days. You can also use artificial tear drops that are free of preservatives to help relieve the itch.
3. Issues With Night Vision
You may temporarily see halos, starbursts or glares at night time. This is especially if you had high astigmatism or high myopia. Your night vision will improve gradually between nine months to a year of having the procedure.
Where Can I Get LASIK Done: Public Hospitals vs Private Clinics
LASIK is available in various private and public institutions throughout Singapore. Public hospitals, more often that not, are cheaper options compared to public institutions. Public hospitals that perform LASIK procedures include:
Private clinics and hospitals that offer the procedure include:
- Lang Eye Clinic
- The Lasik Surgery Clinic
- Eye Clinic Singapore International
- Clearvision Eye Clinic
- Gleneagles Hospital
- Eagle Eye Centre
- Jerry Tan Eye Surgery
- Shingawa Eye Centre
- Lee Hun Ming Eye Centre
Paying For Your LASIK Procedure
Forking out a few thousand dollars from your own pocket can cause quite a dent in your wallet. So, what options do you have when it comes to achieving that perfect eyesight?
Does Medisave Cover The Cost Of LASIK?
Unfortunately, Medisave is used for medical procedures and hospitalisation expenses. While LASIK is, in a sense, a form of medical procedure, it is usually considered more of a cosmetic/optional procedure.
However, you can use Medisave to cover the cost if:
- The difference between your eyes is more than 300 degrees
- The procedure is being performed to correct an error from a previous procedure e.g. cataract surgery
- There are medical reasons that you can’t use spectacles or contact lenses.
Can I Pay For LASIK With My Insurance?
No. Your insurance policy will most likely not cover the cost of your LASIK procedure because it is a form of optional cosmetic surgery. Meaning that you don’t really need the surgery and it’s only done to make you look better. Not going for the surgery will not have an effect on your health in any way. Moreover, myopia is considered a pre-existing condition as most of us would have had it since young. Hence, the cost of LASIK will most likely not be covered by your insurance provider.
What Other Options Do I Have To Defray Cost?
Occasionally, some clinics might offer discounts, especially to students. Alternatively, certain credit cards might also offer some perks when it comes to LASIK procedures. For instance, the LSC clinic provides NUS students with discounted rates of $2,973 (U.P. $3,198) for Bladless Standard LASIK, or $5434 (U.P. $5,659) for ReLEx Smile procedures.
DBS cardholders also get to enjoy a pre-LASIK evaluation treatment at $25 nett and a $150 coupon that can be used to offset the cost of the procedure.
While LASIK doesn’t come cheap, we’re pretty sure that if everything goes according to plan, you’ll be on your way to having perfect the perfect 20/20 vision! Of course, in order to achieve this, we need to reign in on our spending in order to make paying for the procedure manageable.
The article LASIK in Singapore: Considerations and Weighing the Cost between Private Clinics vs Public Hospitals first appeared on Money Kinetics: Singapore’s definitive guide to financial literacy. Money Kinetics help Singaporeans compare and evaluate loans, deals, cards and guide them to make their money work for them.
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