Today, I’m writing this blog post with better vision; at least on my right eye for now. And I’ll be forever grateful that I finally had the courage to undergo Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery with Dr. Archie Agahan at the QC Eye Center.
My Struggle with Poor Vision
Let me “briefly” tell you my story first about my almost a lifetime struggle with my vision. I have always been a gamer. No one expected that at a very young age of 9, I’ll be suffering from poor eyesight. But, I loved our Family Computer (shoutout to my fellow 90s kids!), playing for hours, sitting closely to the TV screen as I kick and jump my way through the games I enjoyed back then. It wasn’t until my then Grade 3 adviser noticed how I couldn’t see the notes on the blackboard without squinting my eyes.
I was diagnosed with near-sightedness and, to my mother’s shock, I started wearing eyeglasses with a grade of 350 on each eye, again, at the age of 9. Looking back now, I couldn’t believe how long I waited to finally undergo the surgery to fix my eyesight.
I almost had LASIK surgery before (I consulted a different doctor), but just the thought of it made me queasy even at this very moment that I postponed it for years. It was also very scary because the chances of me going blind after the surgery is something you couldn’t ignore.
My Path to Better Vision
Thankfully, last year, my dad underwent cataract surgery. It was when I decided that 2013 is the year I’ll finally do it. And after some research and talking with friends who underwent LASIK surgery, especially with my friend and fellow blogger Iris of Pinay Ads, I brushed aside all my worries and faced my fears for the rewards were surely going to be all worth it in the end. 🙂
Iris and other fellow bloggers highly recommended Dr. Archimedes Lee Agahan, or as most of his patients fondly call him, Doc Aga. 😉
I added him on Facebook initially so I can ask a few questions, to which he gladly responded. We set the date for my screening and checkup at the QC Eye Center – the morning of May 11th.
Since my mom is a nurse, I’m not scared of doctors, but I admit, I had fears on that very day of my screening. I was afraid I won’t pass the screening and I’ll have to grow old and blind. 🙁
Eye Screening at QC Eye Center
And there we went. Dr. Agahan had surgeries lined up that day. We talked to some of his patients, mostly elderly, and they were all singing praises about him. 🙂
I was advised to not wear my contact lenses for at least 3 days before the screening so they can get more accurate results on the condition of my eyes. I heeded. I initially was concerned since I’ll be coming straight from spending 8 hours in front of the computer for work, but Doc Aga told me it’s all okay.
I can’t remember exactly what the screening tests were called, but they had me read a pamphlet and I underwent a visual acuity test.
They also tested the dryness of my eyes. This was the most uncomfortable test of all, and it did sting a bit since they stuck a piece of paper (I don’t know what that’s called 😀 ) in the bottom part of my eyes. It was meant to make you all teary-eyed, and I tell you, it did its purpose. 😀
Then, they checked the thickness of my cornea. They applied anaesthesia eyedrops on my eyes before the examiner started lightly poking my eye. I didn’t feel a thing.
There were a couple more done on their machines. After all these screenings, I waited for a few more minutes to finally consult with Doc Aga to find out if I’ll be suited for LASIK surgery. My fingers were crossed and I was hoping and praying for positive results.
Consultation with Dr. Archie Agahan
Initially, I thought LASIK surgery would do the trick. However, after Doc Aga checked on my eye exam results, he told me my eye grades were too high for LASIK. I remember feeling discouraged after he uttered those words, but he quickly followed it up with a better solution – Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery or RLE.
First, let me tell you what my eye grades were. My right eye was at 1,200 and my left eye was at 1,100. And I thought I was still at 900. Sheesh.
He explained to me why he strongly recommends RLE over LASIK for my condition. He said that with LASIK surgery, he can only guarantee to take out 1,000 from my eye grades. That’ll leave me with 100-300, which means I’ll still have to wear glasses. I thought what’s the use of undergoing surgery if I’ll still end up wearing glasses?
LASIK Surgery vs Refractive Lens Surgery
Obviously, I had to go with RLE, aka Lens Replacement Surgery. It’s more invasive since what will happen is he’ll be removing the natural lens of my eyes and he’ll replace it with artificial intraocular lens (IOL). With this surgery, he said he can guarantee a 20/40 vision for me.
He further explained why LASIK surgery wasn’t ideal for my eye condition. He said since it’ll involve reshaping my cornea, there’ll be limitations on how much he can do to fix my eyesight since it’ll all depend on the thickness of my cornea. Which is why, with my eye grades of 1,100-1,200, I can’t achieve a 20/20 vision with LASIK alone.
Dr. Agahan continued on to tell me why it’s better for me to go with RLE surgery. Considering I have a history of cataract (my dad), since RLE will remove the natural lens, there’ll be no possibility of developing a cataract in the future.
RLE is highly recommended if you have a thin cornea, dry eyes, minor cornea problems and high eye grade / refractive error. PLUS, you can undergo LASIK in the future if, for some reason, you’ll need correction, which, Doc Aga said, is a very rare occurrence for people who underwent RLE surgery.
See, I sound like an expert. That’s how detailed Doc Aga was when he was answering my questions. And I’ve got good memory. 😉
Possible Complications and Concerns Post Op
Of course, I had concerns about the surgery, which Dr. Agahan confidently addressed. He said he’ll fix my right eye first, which was the weaker eye, and he wants me to wait for a few months so we’ll see how my eye is recovering.
During all my research about the procedure, I learned that I’ll experience some dryness, but not as much as those who went through LASIK.
Doc Aga also said I can’t go to the gym or exercise for a week, nor lift weights until after 2 weeks. He also said I should see clearly a few minutes after surgery.
Expenses of Surgery
I know you’re all wondering about the expenses. Of course, I expected RLE surgery to cost me an arm and a leg since there’ll be lens implants. However, we were able to struck up a good price for my surgery.
Here’s a breakdown of the usual expenses. Please note that these may change so check with them first:
- For eye examination: Php 2,000 (they have free screenings too, so call them to inquire)
- For Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery (the surgery I underwent): Php 50,000 per eye
- For Lasik: ranges from Php 15,000 to Php 30,000 per eye
If you’ve been suffering from poor vision, I say save up for this investment on yourself. Dr. Agahan and the QC Eye Center offers affordable LASIK surgery and other eye-related surgeries, so just consult with them or let me know if you need a referral. 🙂
Oh, and if you have Philhealth, ask if you can use it if you’ll be undergoing cataract surgery.
Day of My First Surgery
I initially had myself scheduled for June 8th, but I decided to do it earlier since I wanted to make sure that by November, I was ready to enjoy Palawan with better vision… on both eyes! 🙂 So, I changed my schedule to May 18th, a week after my checkup.
I took the day off from work before the surgery so I can rest my eyes. I admit, I was feeling anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time. I ate a light meal before heading out to QC Eye Center for my 8am surgery.
When we finally arrived, they gave me these eyedrops to dilate my pupils. Doc also did a quick checkup to make sure my eyes were ready for my surgery. They also took my blood pressure, which was normal, thank goodness. 🙂
They had me change my top, and my mom had to wear scrubs too. She accompanied me and I had her take photos during the surgery. Sadly, her efforts were wasted because my memory card got corrupted. So, I have no photos during the surgery. 🙁 I’ll post an update with photos after my surgery for my left eye in August.
Doc Aga and everyone else in the surgery room were trying to calm me down while they strapped and prepped me for the surgery. For that, I want to say THANK YOU to all of them. 🙂 I wish I still had that group photo of us.
Since my photos got corrupted, here are photos I took from fellow blogger Jen Aspacio when her dad underwent cataract surgery with Doc Aga. Same setup. Oxygen mask on, cloth on top of me to keep everything sterile while he operates on my eye.
My RLE Surgery Experience
Since I was under local anesthesia in the form of eyedrops, I didn’t feel a thing. There was this really bright light shining down on my eye and Dr. Agahan continued on to talk to me while he was doing the surgery. It helped me relax and in about 10-15 minutes, the surgery was done.
Something funny yet sweet I just had to mention: after the surgery, my mom held my hand, like a sign that she was thankful the surgery’s done. I knew she’ll be nervous, so I made sure she was taking photos of me nonstop during the surgery to keep her mind off what’s happening. 😀 Doc Agahan teased her, “Mommy, meron talagang ganyan?!” and I was like “Awwwwwwww”. 😀
After the surgery, I was able to see clearly on my right eye after a few minutes of adjusting to the lights. They had me wear these protective goggles to prevent dirt or other bacteria coming into my eye.
I was given these eyedrop medicines that I need to use for 2 weeks.
Along with the eyedrops, they gave me a few reminders which include the following (the list was in Tagalog/Filipino, so I translated them here):
- Use the eyedrops every 2 hours on the eye that underwent surgery, with a 5 minute interval for each medicine.
- Do not rub or wet eye/s to avoid swelling. Avoid applying pressure on the eye. To prevent this, always wear the goggles.
- Bathe/shower daily in a way where no water or any substance (soap/shampoo) comes in contact with the eye/s to avoid infection and swelling.
For this, my mom gladly helped me wash my hair and I just used a clean, freshly soap-washed towel to clean my right eye. I wanted to make sure the eye area is clean too, so I carefully wiped it with the wet, clean towel.
SALAMAT NAY! 🙂
- Make sure to use a clean towel or tissue when cleaning your face or to wipe excess medicine off the eye. Also, avoid using a handkerchief since this usually gets in contact with your other stuff and may result to bacteria transfer.
- Always wear the protective goggles when inside and outside your home.
When going out, since I experience glares and discomfort on my eye when there are bright lights or when the sun is up, I wear my sunglasses that I clean with cotton and alcohol.
- Avoid lifting heavy things or stressing yourself.
I recommend you eat lots of fruits and drink lots of water so you won’t get constipated and bowel movement will be smooth-sailing. 😉
Post Op Updates
After the surgery, I was hungry and thirsty, so we decided to head on over to KFC near QC Eye Center. I was already able to read the menu at the KFC counter from 4 tables away!! 🙂 I got so excited reading stuff that I got dizzy after a few minutes, especially after I tried checking my phone. 😀
But, after breakfast and drinking water, I was okay. We headed straight home and while inside the taxi cab, I couldn’t help but look around and read the billboard signs and even plate numbers of vehicles driving by. One word to describe how I felt at that time, albeit dizzy – AMAZING! 🙂
Once at home, I took a rest after the eyedrops and woke up around 6 hours after. And, boy, was I surprised! When my friends who underwent the surgery told me that you’ll feel like a newborn or someone who just learned how to read, they weren’t kidding!! In fact, I had to write my happiness on my Facebook wall. 😀
I almost cried, but I had to stop myself ’cause I don’t want to stress my eye. 😀 Now, I couldn’t wait for my left eye’s surgery in August!
Was there any discomfort? Yes, sure, during the first few days. No pain at all though. I might have higher tolerance for pain, but I’m sure many would agree that the whole thing was painless.
That Monday, I came back to work, wearing contact lens on my left eye. I was feeling dizzy when I stayed in front of the monitor for long hours, so I took breaks every 2-3 hours, which coincided with my eyedrop medicine schedule.
I went in for a checkup after 5 days, Thursday, and Dr. Agahan was amazed by how clear my eyesight was. 20/20 vision on my right eye!
I asked him a couple of questions based on what I’ve experienced. I had difficulty reading on my phone and my monitor. He said it was way too early to predict what’s going to happen since my eye is still healing and adjusting. Also, he said I might end up wearing reading glasses when I need to, well, read, which is actually okay for me.
I guess I was just used to seeing clear when things are near, but I wouldn’t trade my now clear sight on my right eye with my near-sightedness. NEVER. 😀
I was quite surprised with how quickly I recovered. I still see a few halos, especially when looking up, but 2 weeks in, I am seeing clearly. Dr. Agahan said my eyesight will still adjust in the coming weeks and months, and in fact, now, I can read nearby text better than last week. I’m sure this will improve very soon. 🙂
I also experience dryness from time to time, which is why I use artificial tears (pictured on the right) that Doc Aga prescribed.
Do I feel the IOL or lens in my eye? No. Not at all. 🙂 You also don’t see it when you look closely.
I now wear my sunglasses when I go out to protect my eye from the sun. Nothing new to me. Now, I have one contact lens to worry about. I’m really excited about my next surgery in August! I promise, there’ll be pictures. 🙂
Want to Undergo LASIK or RLE Surgery?
Here are a few reminders and more information for you:
- Don’t wear contacts for at least 3-5 days.
- Don’t wear any makeup at all to ensure your face is as clean as it can get during surgery.
- Sleep before the surgery! I had 4 hours of sleep ’cause I was anxious, but at least I got some decent winks before the surgery.
- Eat a light meal in the morning of your surgery. You need this, trust me. 🙂
- Relax. I was so stressed and nervous ’cause it’s a more aggressive surgery. Good thing my excitement about not wearing prescription glasses or contact lens forever overcame my fears.
- Make sure you have someone with you during the surgery since you won’t be able to drive or see clearly during the first hours. And you’ll be dizzy.
- You need to rest for at least 3 days. I say this based on my experience. Some of you might need a longer rest period, so if you can take a week off from work, that’ll be ideal. 🙂
- You cannot go swimming for at least 2 months after LASIK or RLE Surgery.
- You shouldn’t apply eye makeup for at least a month. This is to prevent any makeup products accidentally coming into your eyes and causing irritation. I did use cream makeup, which seemed to work, but removing it was difficult since I have to apply pressure on my eyes, so, NO, I won’t recommend that either. Better be safe than sorry.
- You’ll feel some discomfort when you’re out in the sun for the first few weeks, so always make sure you wear sunglasses. No, not the protective goggles, but sunglasses ’cause bright lights seem to cause some tingling sensation in the eye.
About Dr. Archie Agahan
Before I tell you about the technical details about Doc Aga, let me tell you what I personally think of him. He is probably one of the most accommodating doctors I’ve ever met, and I can see how he treats his patients. Like what I earlier mentioned, he has many elderly patients, and he’s very patient with them and he even makes them laugh and feel comfortable.
He answered all my questions and consoled my personal fears. He made sure I had all the information I needed to make the decision. 🙂 And he’s social media savvy! He even replied to my Facebook post on the day of my surgery and reminded me to relax. 😀
He’s warm yet professional. Suffice it to say, I cannot recommend Dr. Archie Agahan enough. 🙂
If you need to contact Doc Aga for an eye exam, let me know so I can refer you (don’t worry, I don’t make money off of referrals 😀 ).
Now, down to the nitty-gritty of some of Doc Aga’s qualifications and achievements:
- Cataract and Refractive Surgeon at Manila Vision Correction Center and QC Eye Center
- Clinical Associate Professor at University of the Philippines College of Medicine at the Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH)
- Finished his Fellowship in Ocular Surface, Uveitis, and Refractive Surgery at University of Valladolid, Spain and Fellowship in Cornea and External Eye Diseases at UP-PGH
- Completed Ophthalmology Residency at UP-PGH
- Doctor of Medicine at UP College of Medicine (1995-2000)
- Residency Training in Ophthalmology at UP-PGH (2001-2003)
- Fellowship Training in Cornea, External Eye Diseases, Uveitis at UP-PGH (2004)
- Master in Ocular Surface, Uveitis, and Refractive Surgery at the University of Valladolid, Spain (2005- 2006)
You can read more about other patients who had their surgeries by Dr. Archie Agahan and QC Eye Center on the following blogs:
- Jen: Papa’s Cataract Surgery at Q.C. Eye Center (with videos of the surgery)
- Iris: Lasik Surgery Offered by QC Eye Center and Manila Vision Correction Center
If you have poor vision and you’re still having doubts about LASIK or Refractive Lens Exchange surgery, TRUST ME, you won’t regret the decision. This is a worthwhile investment because it’s for YOU. 🙂
I’ve been afraid for too long. I feel nauseated (almost fainted while caring for my mom when she was in the hospital – that’s how queasy I get) just by the thought of surgery or blood, but I went through it all.
Thankfully, with the technology we have now and with skilled and accommodating eye surgeons like Dr. Archie Agahan of QC Eye Center, you can get the best care and LASIK surgery so you can go on your path towards a clear future. 🙂
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.
Dr. Archie Agahan performs eye surgeries at the following centers:
- QC Eye Center
Anita Building Quezon Avenue
corner Timog Avenue
Main Clinic: 372-0828
Operating Room: 280- 4252
Fax number: 415-0619
Room 204: 208- 0295
- Manila Vision Correction Center (MVCC)
3rd Floor, Robinson’s Place
Manila, Pedro Gil Wing
Main Clinic: 302-6822
Mobile Number: 0926-721-5494