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New eyesight for the Thaiger – modern lens exchange surgery in Thailand

Tim Newton

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New eyesight for the Thaiger – modern lens exchange surgery in Thailand | The Thaiger
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Tim Newton is the CEO of The Thaiger which runs an English-language website, YouTube page, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Healthy, happy, busy and no feeling that I’m actually 61 years old. But there I was, about to undergo eye surgery that would rid me of my annoying reading glasses and give me an equivalent of the vision I had when I was a lot younger. Luckily there was a safe, long-term solution available here in Thailand. A year later, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

As it happens there was a highly-skilled ophthalmologist right here in Thailand with thousands of successful procedures under his belt. I already knew of Dr. Captain, based at the Bright View Centre at Bangkok Hospital Phuket as some friends had already had a great experience with their surgery and raved about their ‘new vision’.

I’d spent the last 20 years wearing 100 baht reading glasses, of progressively stronger power. I started off, in my 40s, starting to hold menus further away and straining to make things up close come into focus. Starting off with some light reading glasses, I slowly progressed to +3.0 glasses and reading anything at close distance without the glasses was impossible. The reading glasses weren’t particularly bothersome, or expensive, and I liberally sprinkled my house and work place with the cheap solution – I had a pair sitting around in every room. But I knew the situation wasn’t going to get any better and the glasses were just part of my life in the future.

Doing daily TV news for YouTube it slowly became impossible to read the autocue without glasses. I also spent a lot of time working in front of screens for my work. They just became part of my face.

Then, in the past few years, my distance vision started getting worse, and night time driving became a blur of lights and, well, was just dangerous. I’m sure I wouldn’t have passed a vision test! Even during the day I could see my distance vision deteriorating quite quickly. I knew I had to get something done.

What my staff were looking forward to was the end of my constant call… “Where are my glasses?”

My issue was, like many people my age, cataracts. A slow deterioration of the lens inside your eyes. As we get older the lens becomes both less able to focus, and progressively more cloudy, making our brains work harder to form a quality image.

Having worked with ophthalmologists back in Australia on various conferences and marketing jobs, I was aware that there was a lot of development over recent decades on multi-focal lenses. These were an alternative to the single-focus artificial lenses put inside the eyes of cataract patients. With a multi-focal lens patients would, in many cases, end up not having to wear glasses again and have a better quality of vision for near, middle and distance.

Watch Tim talking before he went into surgery HERE.

A lot of people have heard of LASIK, a laser solution that re-shapes the front surface of the eye, the cornea. It’s a great, and reliable, solution for younger people. But it wasn’t going to be of any help to me. Like other older people the lenses inside my eyes were just worn out – they were getting cloudy (a cataract) and the muscles weren’t focussing as well as they used to when I was young.

My solution was called RLE – Refractive Lens Exchange. It’s like cataract surgery but instead of replacing my tired old lenses with a single-focus artificial lens, the doctor will remove my worn-out natural lenses and put a multi-focal lens inside my eye. These artificial multi-focal lenses would allow my eyes to focus for near, middle and far distance. This is different from the standard artificial lens used in thousands of cataract surgery operations every day around the world. The new multi-focal lenses would stay in my eyes for the rest of my life.

New eyesight for the Thaiger - modern lens exchange surgery in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: 11 months following the surgery and able to get back to doing the daily TV news without glasses or squinting

These artificial lenses, just like reading glasses, are selected to match your prescription. So they can largely correct your previous vision impairment. Even mild cases of astigmatism can also be corrected with another family of these amazing multi-focal lenses.

Having done my homework I was ready to visit the Bright View Centre and meet the doctor with whom I would entrust my vision. I was somewhere between excited and petrified.

CONTACT THE BRIGHT VIEW CENTRE HERE.

As it happened I was a good candidate – healthy, no medical complications, no other vision complications. I also had reasonable expectations about the outcome of the surgery. Dr. Captain warned me there could be some halos around bright lights at night. Indeed the doctor went through the entire procedure in great detail, including potential risks. There was also a LOT of tests to ensure the doctor had a comprehensive ‘map’ of my eyes and every aspect of my health was checked.

The procedure was done over 2 days and I’d only spend around an hour in the operating theatre each time. The surgery is very procedural. A cataract surgeon would do the same operation thousands of times a year, and have done so using much the same techniques since the late 60s.

So this is what happens, all whilst you’re fully awake, but your eyes are dilated and numbed with anaesthetic eye drops. I can guarantee I didn’t feel ANY discomfort at all. Actually the doctor and I chatted through much of the procedure.

A small incision (about 2.5-3mm) was made on the side of the eye. A phaco-emulsification tool is inserted into the eye, and using high-frequency sound waves to break up the old natural lens, then sucks all the bits out (I’m really dumbing all this down but it’s actually astonishing micro-surgery at the hands of a skilled surgeon). The new artificial lenses are then inserted through the same incision, all rolled up, and then unfold inside my eyes where the old lens used to be.

Altogether I spent about three hours in the clinic on each of the operating days. The whole process was quite stress-free considering I had a surgeon operating on my eyes, something I’d never experienced before.

The procedure is routinely done over two separate days. In my case it was one eye on one day, then the other eye on the following day, but some surgeons prefer to leave a few more days in between. The idea being that the doctor wants to evaluate the success of the first operation before moving onto eye #2.

Watch Tim chat after the operation on his first eye HERE.

So how did I feel after the surgery? Was there any pain? How long would I have to wait until I could see the result?

Patients are given some time to rest straight after the surgery. The operated eye is very watery and there’s an eye-patch over the front so you can’t see anything anyway. But, even after the anaesthetic eye drops had worn off there was still no real pain, just a mild discomfort that was easily knocked over with a paracetamol tablet. An hour later the doctor quickly checked me and the operated eye before I was allowed to be picked up and taken home. I slept overnight without any pain but eager to wake up and look out the window the next morning.

The results were immediately apparent when I woke up. I was also told that the results would continue to improve over the next few months as my brain adjusts to the new lenses. I was also told to expect everything to be lot brighter and more colourful as my brain would have been over-compensating as my natural lenses have become cloudy and dull over the years.

Watch Tim talking on the evening after his first day of surgery HERE.

Walking out onto my balcony and looking into the distance, even with just one eye operated on at this stage, it was clear there was a profound change to my sight. Yes, things WERE brighter and clearer. There was no residual pain or discomfort but I had to follow a regimen of antibacterial eyedrops and other medicines for the next few weeks. I wasn’t able to get water into my eyes for at least 4 weeks, so no swimming.

Watch Tim speaking just before he goes in for the second day surgery HERE.

The second eye, my right eye this time, was operated on the following day. After a quick check of the operated and un-operated eyes, back into the operating theatre for the second RLE procedure. More chatting during the operation (I think the doctor is quite happy if you just want to listen to music), and I was soon being wheeled out and put into the armchair for a rest before being allowed to go home.

Watch Tim as he speaks about the experience on his second day of surgery HERE.

In the following weeks I followed all the ‘rules’ and got used to doing the eyedrops – my aim did improve.

Just as it was explained to me, the vision, at first starkly different with its clarity and brightness, did ‘settle down’. I could look to the hills and see the branches in the trees, I could read without glasses, easily. I was completely unaware that I was actually ‘looking’ through an artificial lens and I was just revelling in my newfound clear vision.

For me, any side-effects were an ease trade off for the return of great general vision. The halos around bright lights at night were ‘a thing’, exactly as they’d been described by Dr. Captain. I can’t really say I’ve noticed any other side effects except still, after wearing glasses for 20 years, I still intuitively reach on top of my head for the glasses that aren’t there any more.

Really, after the first month, I stopped being astonished and just settled into the happy reality of my permanent and improved vision.

A year after the operations and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The fact that I just don’t even think about it anymore is testament to the great vision I now command – no glasses, no squinting at the autocue, no feeling useless when I occasionally forgot my glasses.

New eyesight for the Thaiger - modern lens exchange surgery in Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Reading the auto-cue on TV became difficult, then impossible, even with glasses

I paid for the surgery out of my own pocket and have been happy to deliver an honest appraisal of the whole process.

CONTACT THE BRIGHT VIEW CENTRE HERE.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Phuket. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Thailand

Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai Airways to resume flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Phuket | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai Airways

After nearly 9 months on the ground due to the coronavirus pandemic, along with problems balancing their accounts, Thai Airways will resume flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai as well as Bangkok and Phuket later this month. The flights will start back up on Christmas day.

Flights from Bangkok to the 2 key tourist provinces have been grounded since April 1. Starting December 25, the airline will run 3 flights a week on both routes. A source told the Bangkok Post that the new schedules will run until at least February 28.

Thai Lion Air, Thai Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Smile, VietJet Air and Bangkok Airways have returned to the domestic skies since July and slowly adding frequency to their routes.

In addition to resuming the domestic flights, the Thai Airways is relaunching some international flights from January 1 to March 27 including weekly flights to Frankfurt, London, Copenhagen, Sydney, Seoul, Manila, Taipei and Osaka. Flights from Bangkok to Tokyo will be available 3 times a week and flights from Bangkok to Hong Kong will be available every day.

Thai Airways has been tackling bankruptcy throughout the lockdown and trying to make up for more than 300 billion baht in losses. Since many flights were suspended due to travel restrictions, Thai Airways has tried to make money by business ventures on the ground, like a pop-up restaurant serving in-flight meals and selling off unwanted equipment from their warehouse. There also disposing of much of their older fleet, including all of their Boring 747-400s.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments

Maya Taylor

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97 police officers investigated for fiddling Covid-19 payments | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.newsbeezer.com

97 police officers, from 41 police stations, are currently being investigated for an alleged scam involving Covid-19 payments meant for officers who worked extra shifts during the crisis. The case was assigned by national police chief Suwat Jangyodsuk in November, when it came to light that some officers may have fraudulently claimed allowances meant for others.

In one incident, an officer responsible for transferring extra payments to police on the southern island of Phuket transferred the money to his own accountant instead. At the time, the transfer was dismissed as a mistake (in his favour), with the officer in question receiving a warning, and payments then made to the qualifying officers.

Wissanu Prasatthong-Osot from the National Internal Affairs Police says the investigation should reach a conclusion within the next 10 days.

“The result of the investigation should be ready in 10 days. Currently, 97 officers in 41 police stations ranging from non-commissioned to generals are under investigation for being involved in the swindle. The bureau aims to provide justice to all policemen involved. After the investigation concludes, the victims will receive their full allowance, while the offending officers will be punished under the law and disciplinary standards.”

Nation Thailand reports that a full list of alleged offenders has been sent to Suwat, with Wissanu promising that none will escape prosecution.

“The National Police chief had also ordered the transfer of offending officers at the commander and sub-commander levels out of their areas as per the investigation procedures.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route

Caitlin Ashworth

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Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce to propose Guangzhou-Phuket tourism route | The Thaiger
PHOTO: 77 kaoded

A tourism route from Guangzhou, China to Phuket could help the island province recover from the recession brought on by the pandemic and lack of foreign travel, according to the Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The president of the organisation, Narongsak Puttapornmongkol, says they plan to submit a letter proposing the route under a travel bubble scheme to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The Thai-Chinese Chamber of Commerce is proposing a travel bubble with around 20 cities in China with no recent coronavirus infections and considered to be at a low risk of spreading the virus. Travellers from Guangzhou recently entered Thailand on the new Special Tourist Visa. It was the second flight of international tourists since travel restrictions were imposed in late-March.

“We believe that the Travel Bubble and the quarantine reduction will resolve the tourism business, which is a huge economic opportunity to recover.”

Once a vaccine is widely available, Narongsak suggests that those who wish to Thailand could also present their vaccination certificate or examination reports from the place of origin. He adds that the mandatory state quarantine period is likely to be reduced.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

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