ICL Surgery: What I Wish I had Known
It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve had my first round of ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens) surgery and oh my. I wish I had gone in more prepared; wish I had known a few things before hand. So this post is for those who are thinking of ICL Surgery and some things to know before hand.
**This has been my experience, I cannot say that your experience will be exactly like mine**
So what is Implantable Collamer Lens Surgery (ICL)?
“ICL is a type of refractive procedure to help correct the most common visual problem, myopia. Simply put, ICL is a removable lens implant that is an attractive alternative to LASIK and other refractive procedures.” – Visian ICL website
ICL Surgery: What I Wish I Had Known
The surgery is performed one eye at a time. On the 16th of May, I went in for ICL surgery on my right eye; the following Monday, I went in for the left eye. Here, in Singapore, they perform the surgery under general anesthesia, so the night before I was no longer allowed to drink any liquids from midnight on wards. And the Saturday before the surgeries, I was asked to start using these eye drops once every four hours until the day of. I was totally on it for that first surgery, but the following Saturday, I kind of almost forgot. Oops. But!! I was already dealing with two other eye drops…
Anyway! Let me back up to the day of surgery #1..
I went in on that Monday, calm as one can be. Checking in to the ward was pretty seamless and before I knew it, I was laying flat on the hospital bed and the anesthesiologist was telling me to say “Good night.” Alright then, “Good night!” And I was out. I have to admit, I do find general anesthesia to be quite fascinating – the concept – that you can be totally lucid and awake one second but then out like a light just like that! Ah-mazing!
ICL surgery is a pretty quick procedure; takes about 15 minutes to perform. And for those wonder, I did Visian ICL as apparently there are different kind of lenses that you can have inserted and the surgical procedure is slightly different.
Since the surgery is fairly quick, next thing I knew I was being woken up and being asked how I felt. That’s when the pain hit me. I replied, “My head hurts,” oh fck me, it did. I guess that’s better than saying, “I have to pee?” Anyway, seriously. It felt like the right side of my head had partied all night long and I was suffering from one wicked hangover. My eyeball felt like it was stuck to my head and too big for its socket. And oh! My eye was stinging like a motherfckr! I was lying on that bed wondering what the hell had I just gotten myself into? And where was my mommy?
But alas, I was all alone on that hospital bed and I literally cried myself to sleep. At some point, the nurse came in and gave me some pills. Those pills! Lifesavers! Within 20 minutes, all the pain subsided; my eye felt like it was normal size again and not pressed up against my skull. The hangover was gone. Happy fuckn days! But really, did I need to go through this again the next week? SIGH.
Once I had slept it off some more, I was sent down to do a couple of eye checks – mainly to check the pressure in my eye and also to see if the lens was implanted correctly. I was told to put 2 types of eye drops every 3 hours – an antibiotic eye drop and a steroid eye drop. I was also told to wash my eye area each morning with saline solution and sterile cotton balls. And do not get it wet with water. As all checked out as normally and I was soon out on the street, trying to not get into a fight with my Uber driver. Yeah, thanks, Uber, but maybe next time someone asks for pick up at the National Eye Center, could you kindly go there instead of the parking lot by there? Um, ok, thanks. But I kept my cool and was home soon enough. Luckily I had meal prepped the night before, so all I had to do was heat up my soup and off to sleep I went.
I honestly thought I would wake up on Tuesday with crystal clear vision in my right eye. Oh, how badly mistaken I was! I could see. But it was one hot mess. I wasn’t blind, but I was seeing dark halos which apparently is normal as your pupil is healing and readjusting. Ok, so I knew the darkness would clear up, but holy crap. I couldn’t see. It was so blurry, when I had my follow-up exam that day, I could not read the top line, much less the second or the third. Not being able to read the top line was eye opening. Ha. I was seriously getting emotional at this point, wondering if I had made a grave error. And was I going to not see forever?!?!
The Wednesday brought clearer vision in my right eye and with the aid of a contact lens in my left eye, off to work I went. Well, that was super fun! My doctor definitely thought I was a little crazy for going to work and would have preferred I had stayed at home and rested my eye. But well, work pressure.. It was hard to stare at the computer screens and really, come 3pm, my eyes were shot and the headaches were starting so I went home and slept. I also noticed that my perception of depth was totally skewed, especially in super bright environments with artificial lighting like malls, etc. The right eye was definitely seeing things a lot further off then what my left eye was telling me, so that was a little trippy.
By the end of the week, I was ok. I’m not going to lie, I still don’t have crystal clear vision with my right eye. Things are still blurry and I was definitely not expecting this. I had just paid for bionic eyes and it was malfunctioning. Can I get a refund?!?!
Stay tuned for Part II because you know what? This post is getting way too long and you may think it would be similar to this story, but nope. My eyes have a mind of their own, who knew?