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Ophthalmology

Questions and Answers of Emenders

The questions below were raised by visitors to the STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print) website in the AskST section of the website. eMenders doctors provided the answers to the questions raised as a public health education project. The information provided below is of a general nature and should not be treated as a replacement for medical advice. You should seek consultation from a medical or healthcare professional about your specific medical condition.

Q: What do you call the dried-up secretion from the eye sometimes found on waking up?

A: There is no special name for it. The most 'fancy' you can get would be "Ocular Discharge" or "Ocular Crusting". In simpler terms just, "Eye Crusting" or "Dried up Eye Secretion."

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.

Q: Is there a way to correct/ perfect my eyesight naturally? I'm short-sighted, my prescription is about 225-250?

A: The short answer to your question is nounless you have a miracle cure.

The basic problem in the vast majority of short-sighted eyes is over-lengthening of the eyes (increased axial length), i.e., the eyes have grown too long. Therefore the perfect way back to a normal eye is for the eye to be shortened back to its correct length.

There is no known 'natural' way or even surgical way to achieve this. The common method called LASIK does not shorten the eye back to its normal length but instead, it reduces the focusing power of the cornea by the required spectacle degree, not affecting the axial length.

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.

Q: I've got dry eyes. It worsened after LASIK surgery. Can Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) help?

A: Having dry eyes is common after LASIK surgery. Postoperative symptoms vary widely from having none to actual blurring of vision. The solution is to use lubricant eye drops, which are normally routinely prescribed by the surgeon after LASIK.

Not all eye drops suit everyone. You may need to try alternative eye drops should the one prescribed be inadequate. Use of an eye gel may be necessary.

Most lubricant eye drops and gels can be bought over the counter. In some cases, the oral intake of Flaxseed oil (2000mg-4000mg per day) may be helpful.

We are unable to comment on whether TCM can help your problem.

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.

Q: May I know if there's cure for double vision? My doctor told me that one of my eye muscles is weak and the double vision will usually resolve in 6 months. I was not given any medication. I have been very worried as I'm the sole breadwinner.

A: Whether there is a cure for double vision depends on the cause. Sudden onset double vision is usually due to nerve weakness, which results in weakening of the supplied muscle and the inability to pull the eye in its line of action. If the double vision is due to diabetes, hypertension or viral infection, etc, this usually resolves itself spontaneously in a matter of months.

In the meantime, a Fresnel lens used with spectacles may correct your double vision. It is prescribed by an orthoptist only after an orthoptic examination in consultation with an eye specialist. Sometimes, Fresnel lenses are unable to correct the condition fully. Taking vitamin B complex supplements like Neurobion might help.

If you have not been given any medication, it is likely to have been diagnosed as a temporary condition.

In some circumstances, where the cause is 'surgical' like a brain tumour, it will have to be dealt with very differently, beginning first by consulting a neurosurgeon.

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.

Q: Is lasik surgery safe?

A: From a safety point of view, Lasik Surgery is very very safe.

From our own experience with the present Mt Elizabeth Lasik Centre, there has been zero incidence of surgery-related infections or significant flap problems.

Every patient is first assessed for suitability for the operation, by scanning the cornea using Orbscan.

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.

Q: My mother was recommended by an eye specialist to go for a cataract operation for her left eye. However, she is skeptical about the procedure and outcome of the operation. Is it really necessary to go through the cataract operation as there are risk factors such as eye infection and blindness? Please advise.

A: Generally, cataract reduces vision. Although cataract usually occurs in patients over 60 years old, one may also suffer from cataract in their 30s or 40s.

In early stages, the timing of cataract surgery depends on whether the visual incapacity compromises the patients own safety, eg. ability to cross the road and do her work properly. Most significantly, cataract will gradually worsen the patients vision progressively, and surgery will be necessary sooner or later.

The safety of modern cataract surgery (phacoemulsification with foldable lens implantation) is extremely high and results are usually excellent. This is presuming that there is no other ocular disease, such as retinal scarring, present. The cataract surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis and the actual surgery time, when in good hands, can be under ten minutes. It is usually painless and bloodless. Visual recovery is quick and the patient needs to apply eye drops for about a month. Blindness or infection resulting from the surgery, although possible, is extremely rare.

Contributed by Dr Lee Chin Piaw, eMenders Ophthalmologist.