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LASIK in Singapore

Hindsight, so they say, is 20/20, and for too many of us in Singapore, hindsight is the ONLY time we’ll be seeing 20/20. Whether you are rocking the classic plastic framed glasses that are so popular across Asia, or decide to go for an exotic look with colored contact lenses, the fact that you need them at all is a constant reminder that our vision is consistently degrading as we get older.  Fortunately, over the past couple of decades the world has seen the advent of laser-assisted corrective vision surgery, commonly referred to as LASIK, which has brought clear vision back to the lives of millions upon millions of people across the globe. Here, we explore vision health trends in Singapore, the LASIK surgery procedure, and how people in Singapore can address the costs associated with it.

Singapore’s vision

The worldwide average of people with myopia (nearsightedness) is about 20% of the global population, and so it is reasonable to assume that about 1 out of 5 people in Singapore are also suffering from the condition.  Even more concerning, though, are reports with astounding figures like 90% of Asian schoolchildren being affected by myopia, which dwarves the rate of 20-30% seen in a Western country like the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the particular report linked to above noted that in Singapore specifically, the rising tide of myopia was seen equally among multiple ethnicities, including Chinese, Malay, and Indian. What this troubling fact means is that vision problems are increasing due to environmental factors and are affecting Singaporeans equally, and not only among one particular set of people. Up to 20% of Asian school kids even experience ‘high myopia’, which puts them at greater risk of developing serious vision problems in adulthood, including blindness.

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What is LASIK?

LASIK can be a valuable tool in improving a person’s vision, but it is not a one-size-fits-all miracle cure for all vision problems. Would LASIK be right for you? Well, that all depends. If you are suffering from myopia, hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism, which causes blurry vision, then LASIK can be a viable option to return your sight to being virtually perfect.  Additionally, in middle age people commonly develop a condition known as presbyopia that makes it difficult to focus on nearby objects, a condition that will continue to worsen until approximately the age of 65. LASIK can potentially be of benefit here as well.

The actual LASIK treatment may itself sound gruesome, but in the majority of cases the patient feels no pain as a result of surgery, and the whole procedure can be performed on both eyes in as little as 15 minutes. Traditional LASIK surgery will see the surgeon cut the cornea of the eyeball to create a ‘flap’ that can then be folded back. Excess corneal tissue is then removed with a laser in order to reshape the cornea and ensure that light entering the eye is precisely focused on the retina inside, thereby improving vision.

In Singapore, LASIK, or other similar vision corrective procedures, can be received at any number of locations.

LASIK risks and costs

Despite the numerous stories of successful LASIK treatments, the procedure is not without risks, and covering costs can be a concern too. Here are some of the biggest risks associated with LASIK surgery:

  • Chronically dry eyes

  • Irreversible procedure without many treatment options should complications occur

  • Double vision, halos, glare, or starbursts can occur, especially at night

  • The permanent flap created by LASIK allows microorganisms to pass into your eyeball. This can cause corneal infection

  • Conditions like flap dislocation, corneal haze, epithelial ingrowth, biomechanical instability and retinal detachment can all occur well after the LASIK treatment has been done.

Furthermore, there are ranges of at risk people that will definitely want to get a doctor’s approval before arranging for LASIK treatment, or simply will want to avoid it altogether.  These individuals include:

  • People with chronic dry eyes

  • People with conditions that impair their healing

  • People with glaucoma

  • People with problematically shaped corneas (too thin, too thick, irregular shape)

  • People with rapidly changing eye sight

  • People breastfeeding or pregnant

  • People with extreme myopia

  • People who play a lot of contact sports

  • People who already have good vision

  • Children under the age of 18, as their eyes have yet to have fully developed

So beyond these medical issues, what about addressing the costs of LASIK? Well, depending on where you go, it could cost over S$3,000 to have the procedure performed on both eyes, which is not an amount to scoff at. The problem for people in Singapore is that (except for in extreme cases) people are not allowed to use funds from their MediSave account for LASIK. Of course, expats in Singapore often do not have MediSave accounts any, but nevertheless, most health insurance plans will not provide coverage for LASIK.

It’s not all bad news though! There are health insurance plans in the city-state that do cover LASIK, and Pacific Prime Singapore can help you find them. Just contact one of our knowledgeable brokers today, and they can give you plan specifics, as well as a free price quote.

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