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Going “HD (high definition)”

It all started when Val scratched Tay’s glasses by accident, to the extent that they could no longer be used. And then Tay refused to wear her contact lens and refused to spend money on new spectacles.  So you get a very grouchy and foul-mood Tay, knocking into things here and there, taking 8 hours to edit a video clip that would’ve normally taken half the time, argh-ing in frustration because she kept clicking on the wrong clips…because she cannot see properly.

“To speak the honest truth, I was scared, very scared. I lived 22 years with my glasses. So long that wearing glasses is the only way I know how to live. Therefore when I had to survive a day without contact lenses, the world without sight was horrifying. Life came to a standstill. Belatedly, I realized how important it is for us to not rely on glasses or contact lens for this trip. At any moment the glasses or the contact lens drops off when I’m cycling on the road, danger is the only thing I would be able to ‘see’.” – Tay

So begins Val’s quest to get us restorative eye surgery sponsorships. Or at the very least, a discount of some sort. So while most people seek out the most “cost efficient” surgeries out there in the market, Val did a google and wrote 3 emails:

One to a very very big eye clinic organisation
One to a sportsman eye surgeon
One to a Dr. Lynn Yeo; whose writings on her website, for whatever reason, felt “right”

“You know you need to get these things sorted. What happens if we are on the road, our glasses get knocked off, and we become ‘blind’? I don’t want to have to wake up in the middle of the night, having to run away from something/somebody, and then have to first search for my glasses in pitch dark blindness. But it’s a lot of money for the procedures, so we pretend to not think about it. And then something like that happens, and puts the issue in your face. I just have to give it a shot, and see if there’s any, any way at all, to restore our eyesight at minimum cost.” – Val

The later 2 replied, and we went for 2 very different meetings. Both educational in their own right. In our first meeting with the business manager of the sportsman eye surgeon, we learnt about restorative eye surgery – what it means, what they do, and the available options.

Yes, there are options beyond lasik. Some take a longer time to heal, but preserve more of your cornea for future uses; others are more expensive, but they leave your cornea untouched. And we realised that it’s silly to make a decision for something as precious as one’s eyesight based on price alone.

So many of us have opted for lasik despite the commonly known down-sides:

    Dry eyes
    Thinning of the cornea, and people who “do not have enough cornea” cannot do this procedure
    Eyesight correction is not always perfect

Because it’s common, because “my friend did the same thing”, because it’s cheap, because you can see the next day… when we should be making informed decisions about what is the most appropriate for our eyes.

The second meeting was with Dr. Lynn Yeo, and she wrote back:

“ICL” literally means “Implanted Contact Lens”; meaning, a lens is implanted into our eyes. And what stood out in that email was

“reversible” – that gave us almost immediate assurance and security. It’s reversible. If, for whatever reasons, I need to undo whatever restorative eye procedure I’ve done to my eyes, I simply need to get an ICL practitioner to take my lens out. My cornea is left untouched.

and

“I could try to get the Swiss people who make the lenses to consider some kind of sponsorship. No promises but worth a try” – we knew our intentions for this project has been heard. Whilst it is only right that sponsors make sure that they get marketing leverage through their sponsorships, we have been meeting sponsors who’ve come on board, because they believe. Because they have a dream. Because they understood what we are trying to achieve. And through us, they are trying to reach out to a deeper part in their consumers, a part that aspires to be someone better, someone greater.

And with that, Dr. Lynn Yeo arranged for us to meet the representative from the lens manufacturer STAAR Surgical, Pascal. At almost 2m tall, this huge giant gave us a wam handshake each, sat down and asked, “So you’re cycling around the world?”

*nods”

“Are you cyclists? How long have you been cycling?”

*shakes heads* and launches into what we are actually trying to achieve, and why we are doing what most people would’ve deemed a “crazy” thing.

And it turned out that we are not the only “crazy” people around 🙂 Pascal himself had done some pretty hardcore things, like swam, skated, ran, cycled through Switzerland in 7 days, 12 hours a day.

Perhaps it was the sportsman in him. Perhaps it was the common belief we had in the power of sports spirit to inspire. Perhaps we reminded him of his younger days. We don’t know. But he gave the go-ahead. “Good luck girls!”

And we were sent on our routes to perfect vision:

What was the procedure like?
Dilate the pupils – insert the lens – we are done.

Was it painful?
The most painful thing that happened was the gadget that held our eye lids up and the glare from the microscope lens on Dr Yeo’s head.

What about recovery?
Our eyesight was restored right after the surgery. We rested our eyes in the hospital for 2 hours and we went home. Was on eye drops for the next week. That’s about it.

In that 3 days (one for calibration, one for laser PI to prepare the eyes, one for the actual procedure) towards “HD vision”, we found out that:

  1. The lens being used are flown in from Switzerland, calibrated and manufactured to each individual’s needs
  2. Top Olympian Athletes use the same procedure because you get perfect vision correction – “HD” eyesight even at night
  3. Val has astigmatism, her cornea is too “oval” for any form of lasik to be performed – thank goodness for Toric ICL!
  4. You can see immediately after the procedure
  5. Lens + procedure cost up to SGD4500 per eye!

All these, simply because of a belief.

Thank you Lynn, thank you Pascal, because

We no longer need to pack these in our bags, or worry about vision on the road, in the middle of the night

We open our eyes every morning now not to grope for glasses, but to see the first ray of light with perfect sight. 

We ride on our bikes without worrying about dryness from the wind but with added confidence that we can now see further and clearer. 

We close our eyes every night without the bloodshot tiredness of a contact lens day but with deep gratitude for restored sight.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Staar Surgical, Pascal and Lynn. For you have sent us off with a gift that will last a lifetime. Thank you.

They say that with lasik, you get plasma TV vision. With ICL, you get HD vision. So very true. “It has been 3 weeks since the surgery, we just want to let you know that “our eyes are doing great – we survived a night ride with HD sight :)”