Who wouldn't like to be free of the burden of spectacles or contact lenses? You’ve considered getting LASIK done in Singapore, but find it difficult to make an informed decision to begin your journey to a glasses-free future.
With all the information out there, it's hard to decide which procedure or doctor is the best for you. That's completely understandable—the range of choices in terms of LASIK procedures, pricing and technologies offered by various eye centres here in Singapore can be bewildering.
Well, you've found just the right resource. With this comprehensive LASIK guide that I’ve put together, let's help you make the best possible decision.
Nowadays, LASIK is synonymous with laser vision correction. Many people use the term LASIK when what they mean is Laser Vision Correction.
You can head to this link if you want to find and book eye specialists in Singapore, as sorted by patient reviews or location.
Editor's note: The final section of this article compiles the best LASIK eye specialists in Singapore for 2020, as reviewed by patients.
Let's be clear, what does laser vision correction correct?
Most people get LASIK to correct their myopia in Singapore. Depending on your cornea thickness, anyone with low or high myopia (short-sightedness) is suitable for LASIK.
LASIK and Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA)—including TransPRK—are able to correct the following conditions:
- long-sightedness (hyperopia)
- short-sightedness (myopia)
Whereas for ReLEx SMILE:
- it only corrects myopia and astigmatism
- it is not suitable for long-sightedness correction
Am I suitable for laser vision correction?
I'm also often asked what the ideal age for LASIK is. The main consideration is that your "eye power" should be stabilised - this should be the case by the time you are 18 years old. 
Not everyone is suitable, and I've had to reject patients for the following reasons:
- Age less than 18 years old, because your eyes only stop growing when you reach adulthood
- Eye prescription was unstable in the past 12 months
- Poor health
- Presence of eye disease, including cataracts
- Women who are pregnant
- Severe dry eye syndrome
- Thin corneas
- Irregularly-shaped or steep corneas
If you are under 21 years old, parental consent is necessary. Also, if you have dry eyes syndrome, your eye doctor may advise you to go only for the no-cut ASA procedure (e.g. TransPRK & Epi-LASIK).
How will I be assessed to determine if I'm suitable for LASIK
You must stop wearing soft contact lenses at least 3 days before the evaluation, or at least 10 days for hard lenses.
To evaluate your suitability for LASIK, a process involving 3 hours will be needed.
This process includes a range of tests like:
- Checking for cornea thickness and shape
- Checking intraocular pressure and visual acuity
Dilating your eyes with eyedrops is part of this assessment. This means your near vision will be affected for 6 to 8 hours, causing some sensitivity to bright lights. Do bring along your sunglasses!
Your eye doctor will then go over your results and what options are available to you. This is the best time to ask questions to clear any doubts.
What if I have dry eyes, can I go for laser vision correction?
There are many patients out there with dry eyes who ask this very same question.
For patients who are suffering from dry eyes, cut flap procedures such as LASIK will not be very suitable for them. This is because LASIK will aggravate the dry eyes symptoms.  If you are one of them, perhaps flapless procedures such as ASA or ReLEx® SMILE® will be more suitable for you.
How much does LASIK cost in Singapore?
Between private clinics and hospitals in Singapore, the cost difference isn't too much.
For these laser vision correction procedures (for both eyes) you can expect to pay:
- Advanced Surface Ablation (Epi-LASIK, TransPRK): $3,600 to $4,000
- LASIK: $3,500 to $4,500
- ReLEx SMILE: $5,000 to $6,000
- CLX (Collagen Cross-Linking, add-on): $1000 to $4500
- Medication (Post-procedure medication is sometimes offered separately): $50 to $125
Treatment (both eyes)
Advanced Surface Ablation
CLX (Collagen Cross-Linking,add-on)
Medication (Sometimes sold separately)
You might ask, what's with the variation in pricing? Well, some packages include pre- and post-operative services such as:
- The initial eye evaluation
- Follow-up reviews and enhancements
To avoid sticker shock, it's best to scrutinize and be aware what the packages include.
Can Medisave or Insurance policies be used for laser vision correction in Singapore?
As LASIK is considered an optional/elective procedure, you will not be allowed to use your Medisave.
However, the lesser-known fact that few Singaporeans know is that you can use your Medisave for LASIK if there's a difference of 300 degrees between your eyes and you cannot tolerate contact lenses or glasses. 
Most insurance policies in Singapore do not cover LASIK procedures. For policies with higher premiums, you may be able to get it covered; some companies also offer coverage under their corporate vision care benefits. It's best to speak with your provider, perhaps some plans offer partial coverage!
What are the different types of laser vision correction procedures in Singapore?
There are in fact, three types of Laser Vision Correction procedures offered in Singapore today:
- ReLEx SMILE
- Advanced Surface Ablation (e.g. TransPRK and Epi-LASIK)
I want to emphasize that all these are safe procedures with modern technology in place. The choice depends on your lifestyle and aversions. For example, factors include cornea thickness, dry eyes, your preference to not cut the corneal flap and so on.
This is what you need to know about the 3 types of procedures in more detail:
What is LASIK?
In the past, LASIK was correctly regarded as the de-facto procedure of choice. It has 3 main steps:
- A femtosecond laser creates a flap with a 22mm circumferential side-cut on the surface of the cornea, which can be folded back.
- A second laser, called an excimer laser, accurately sculpts the corneal tissue to correct the refractive errors.
- The flap is repositioned and will stay in place until it is fully healed.
LASIK is still popular due to its fast recovery rate and causes little to no discomfort. However, due to the cut flap created during surgery, LASIK can bring about flap-related complications (such as flap wrinkles, flap dislodgement, cornea ectasia etc) as well as the highest risk of permanent dry eye syndrome.
What is ReLEx® SMILE®?
ReLEx® SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction, Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves 3 steps:
- The femtosecond laser cuts a disc-shaped piece of corneal tissue (lenticule) just beneath the surface of the cornea. The laser then cuts a small micro-incision of 4 mm on the cornea, from which the lenticule is removed.
- The lenticule is extracted through the micro-incision created at the side of the cornea.
- The resulting cornea curvature is altered as the cornea collapses into the empty space.
The main drawback of ReLEx® SMILE® is that it can cause lenticule-related complications (e.g. incomplete lenticule extraction, lenticule tear, etc). If you are suffering from long-sightedness, ReLEx® SMILE® is not very suitable for you. Furthermore, if an enhancement is required, you may need to turn to LASIK or ASA procedures to correct your vision.
What Is Advanced Surface Ablation (ASA)?
Advanced Surface Ablation is an umbrella term that includes:
The beauty of ASA is that its a no-flap, no-incision, surface-based procedure. This means it's good for those of you who:
wish to avoid flap-related issues from LASIK such as
are into active rugged or contact sports (because there are no cuts made or flaps created)
have concerns about the resulting dry eye
have high myopia degree and thin corneas
There are three main steps to achieve vision correction:
- The thin layer of cells on the surface of the cornea needs to be removed first.
- A laser accurately sculpts the cornea tissue to correct the refractive errors.
- A protective contact lens is placed over the eye until the surface cells grow back within a few days.
Compared with the other options, ASA is notable for its inconvenience with a relatively longer downtime of 4 to 6 days. Also, there's greater discomfort for some patients.
It also typically requires a longer duration compared to LASIK and SMILE for your vision to fully stabilise.
What's the TL;DR summary of the pros/cons of each type of LASIK procedure?
Pros: Visual recovery is fast with minimal discomfort after surgery. Relatively easy for early enhancements. Flexibie in treating a wide range of eye power.
Cons: Flap-related complications are possible, and so is corneal ectasia (corneal thinning problems). Highest risk of post-procedure dry eye.
2. ReLEx SMILE
Pros: Visual recovery is also fast, with less worry about dry eye and flap complications as compared to LASIK.
Cons: Possibility of lenticule-related complications. Those with very low myopia or high astigmatism—not suitable. Not for those with farsightedness.
3. ASA (e.g. TransPRK & Epi-LASIK)
Pros: No flap means there's no risk of flap complications. Lower incidence of post-procedure dry eye. Great for those into contact sports. Best for those with high myopia & thin corneas. Flexibie in treating a wide range of eye power.
Cons: Slower post-operative visual recovery.
Which is the best LASIK option for me?
The best LASIK procedure that you are suitable for will depend on your:
- Cornea thickness and shape—those with thin corneas, advanced surface ablation or ASA may be your solution
- Degree of short-sightedness – if low or high, ASA is advised
- Degree of astigmatism - SMILE is not recommended for correction of long-sightedness and high astigmatism
- Occupation, how active you are, hobbies
After an extensive consultation and thorough eye assessment, we will be able to determine which LASIK procedure is the most suited for you.
Some doctors have a certain bias towards some procedures so they push patients to go ahead instead of what is best for the patient. I find it's best to advise patients to research more on the technology that the clinic is using before going for evaluation.
For instance, TransPRK is more suitable for active sportspeople as it does not require cutting of the cornea, and has the least risk of dry eyes among all the different procedures.
How do I prepare for my LASIK surgery?
Just like how you prepared for your initial LASIK evaluation, you should stop using soft contact lenses at least 3 days before the evaluation, and at least 10 days for hard lenses.
If you opt for Collagen Cross-Linking together with LASIK, do note it's recommended that the week before the surgery, you do not consume Vitamin C in large amounts.
Your total time at the eye clinic is expected to take up about 2 hours, with the procedure itself for both eyes taking 20 to 30 minutes.
What happens during the LASIK procedure?
In general, LASIK (or laser vision correction) involves reshaping of your cornea curvature, changing the way light bends into the eyes. You can think of it as "sculpting" the eyeglasses prescription directly onto your cornea.
Performed under local anaesthesia, there is no pain at all. You will be awake during the surgery as you will need to stare ahead at the laser light. The procedure is also brief, it will take around 15 mins for LASIK, 10 minutes for ReLEx SMILE and 5 minutes for TransPRK procedure. This is for the laser correction of both eyes.
What happens after my LASIK procedure?
Once the LASIK procedure is done, for the following 6 hours you will have blurry vision, so it's best if you can have someone take you home.
You will want to avoid rubbing your eyes too! There are eye shields provided for use during the first week while you sleep. Let's prevent any rubbing accidents, and I strongly advise you to follow all your doctor's instructions.
There will be follow-up reviews arranged for after the procedure. Just so you know, here's a rough timeline:
Review Schedule (Unit of Time After Surgery)
6 months (high myopia)
- LASIK/SMILE: Reviews 1 day after surgery, and then 1 week after, another 1 month after, and finally 3 months after surgery.
- ASA: Reviews 1 day after surgery, followed by 3 days after, 1 week after surgery, 1 month after surgery, and then 3 months after surgery. For those with high myopia, reviews at 6 months after.
As you can see, ASA has a slightly different timeline compared with the others.
What should I NOT do after LASIK to ensure the best recovery and outcomes?
In terms of which procedure has the fastest initial recovery time, LASIK wins this category, followed by SMILE and subsequently ASA.
Resuming normal activities for most LASIK and SMILE patients—after 3 days of rest. For ASA patients, it's usually about 4 - 5 days.
For the best outcome, there are precautions to note:
ASA (e.g. TransPRK & Epi-LASIK)
Avoid heavy reading, computer work or watching TV
Do not drive or operate heavy machinery
Do not apply eye makeup—sorry ladies…!
Avoid getting water into your eyes when bathing
No swimming, hot tubs, hot yoga, jacuzzi and sauna
Avoid contact sports; use a headband when exercising to prevent sweat from entering your eyes
Not advisable as the cut cornea flap will never fully heal.
Do LASIK results last forever? What are the chances of regression?
More than 95% of patients enjoy good vision many years after LASIK.  A small percentage of patients (up to 6%) may require procedures to enhance and correct for short-sightedness, long-sightedness or astigmatism within 10 years.
If required, you can still safely undergo surgery for Cataracts, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration (eye diseases typically seen in older folks) as necessary.
Can you still wear contact lenses after LASIK?
I get asked this a lot from patients. As it stands, after getting LASIK done, I understand patients still enjoy donning coloured contact lenses for cosmetic reasons, to achieve that doll-with-big-eyes look.
To answer that question, the answer is yes. Wearing contact lenses is possible in the one to three months post-surgery.
However, because your cornea shape is altered during LASIK, you will not be able to wear hard lenses as they tend to slip off the cornea surface. However, patients can still wear soft lenses even after LASIK.
What should I do now that I've decided on undergoing laser vision correction?
Now that you've done your research, google for online reviews on which clinic to go to or which doctor is good. The doctor's experience is important and so is choosing an established clinic. I suggest reading more about the real-life experiences of people who have gone for laser vision correction themselves.
- Schedule your evaluation, stop contact lens wear.
- Visit the doctor, ask away your questions and clarify your doubts.
- If you are not completely satisfied, or need a second opinion, visit another doctor.
Do note that if you are unsuitable for LASIK, it doesn't mean that you are unsuitable for laser vision correction. You can try going for ASA which helps to conserve precious cornea tissue.
Which LASIK doctor should I choose?
What should patients consider when it comes to choosing an eye surgeon for LASIK?
- Testimonials (doctor and clinic)
- Transparent pricing (without hard-selling or upselling you other procedures)
- The doctor's ability to listen and give a consultation without bias
- Reviews that discuss how many patients at the eye centre requiring enhancement after LASIK surgery
Ultimately, my belief is that you should make your decision based on who makes you feel the most comfortable. You should definitely consider getting a few opinions by sending in a free enquiry to various LASIK centres in Singapore here.
Our gift of sight is arguably the most precious, wouldn't you do the utmost to ensure the best results?
My personal experience with TransPRK
I actually went through the TransPRK procedure myself. Below are the reasons why I chose to do LASIK and why I chose TransPRK over the other LASIK procedures:
- I am an active sportsperson
- I am someone who is risk-averse
- I don't want to cut the cornea
- I am aware of the pros and cons
In my opinion, TransPRK is a very safe procedure. It was the reason why I decided to go for it myself. If you were to consult with me, my personal experience allows me to empathise with the decision-making process that you go through, and I can discuss with you the best way to reach your goals.
Being a no-cut procedure, TransPRK has its advantage.
- zero chance of flap complications
- less worry of dry eyes
- it is versatile— doctors can utilise it in the treatment of longsightedness, shortsightedness and astigmatism.
3 best LASIK clinics in Singapore for 2020, as reviewed by patients
Have you ever asked your friend to recommend a good LASIK clinic? The Human Editorial Team has compiled the best eye clinics for LASIK in Singapore, as reviewed by patients in 2020 for your easy reference.
Note: This list is strictly not in order.
Address: 6 Nutmeg Road, Nutmeg Court, Singapore 228337
Phone: 6733 3316
- 9am – 5pm (Mon – Fri)
- 9am – 1pm (Sat)
- Closed on Sun/PH
A veteran ophthalmologist of 25 years, Dr Tony Ho is well-respected in the refractive surgery circle in Singapore. He has also published many scientific papers, presentations and even books on eye health!
An elected Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Royal College of Ophthalmology UK and a recipient of the Singapore Public Service Commission Local Merit Scholarship, Dr Ho started Clearvision Eye Clinic & LASIK Centre, which is devoted to LASIK surgery.
What's also impressive about Dr Ho is that he keeps himself updated on modern advancements in laser refractive eye surgeries. He now also performs flapless, bladeless laser-vision correction procedures.
2. Eagle Eye Centre
Address: Mount Alvernia Hospital, 820 Thomson Road, Medical Centre D, #06-57, Singapore 574623
- Mount Alvernia: 6456 1000
Mount Alvernia, Mount Elizabeth Orchard & Novena, Parkway East, Royal Square Novena:
- 9am – 5pm (Mon – Fri)
- 9am – 12pm (Sat)
- Closed on Sun/PH
Dr Julian Theng is the founder and medical director of Eagle Eye Centre (EEC). A cornea specialist, he is renowned as a high-volume surgeon in LASIK and refractive surgery.
EEC offers a range of LASIK procedures such as Epi-LASIK, No Touch Laser Epi-LASIK and bladeless LASIK, on top of other laser eye surgeries.
3. Atlas Eye Specialist Centre
- Paragon Medical: 290 Orchard Road, Paragon Medical, #07-09, Singapore 238859
- Royal Square Medical Centre: 101 Irrawaddy Road, #19-12/13, Singapore 329565
- Paragon Medical: 6737 9119
- Royal Square: 6737 0119
- 8:30am – 5:30pm (Mon – Fri)
- By appointment only on Sat
- Closed on Sun/PH
Dr David Chan, the medical director of Atlas Eye, has been practising for the past 20 years.
We are super impressed that he's been fully registered with the medical councils in the UK and Canada (on top of Singapore) for various periods, which speaks a lot about his work experience and practice in different countries.
He has also served as a surgical instructor at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) and the University of Calgary in Canada.
Even though Atlas Eye offers and performs all 3 types of refractive surgery for myopia, Dr Chan is a big advocate of ReLEx SMILE (Refractive Lenticule Extraction, Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) in particular. It's a technique which requires a much smaller incision than LASIK and PRK. It also presents a lower incidence of dry eye compared to LASIK.
The clinic also offers implantable contact lenses and performs cataract surgery. This allows Dr Chan to customise treatments based on his patients' eye condition and profile.
If you'd like to be extra geeky…
A Ministry of Health paper from 2006 compared the volume of LASIK patients and outcomes between 4 LASIK centres (in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, NUH, SNEC, and one private practice) over a period of 3 months.
All 4 LASIK centres in the study achieved excellent results, with success rates (vision better than 6/12) exceeding 98%.
The 4 centres also achieved safety rates exceeding 99%, meaning that the majority of patients had a complete recovery with no side effects.
This editorial section solely expresses the opinion of Human and is not endorsed nor commissioned by any external party. The list is non-exhaustive. At Human, we believe that your best provider of medical advice is your doctor. Please consult your doctor before undergoing any treatment or procedure. To find a comprehensive list of ophthalmologists and LASIK treatment providers, please click here.