Local fishing boats on the Indian Ocean at Tanga, Tanzania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Tanga City, Tanzania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Dar es Salaam on March 8th.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Eye surgery... all the details

On Monday afternoon we went back for a follow up appointment regarding our eye surgery. Bottom line, everything is proceeding exactly the way it should be. But there is more to it, so for anybody considering the same thing, here are ALL the details...

What we had done is called Refractive Lens Exchange.

It's exactly the same surgery as cataract surgery, with one difference. We didn't have cataracts.

However, we did have to wear glasses. And we were tired of wearing them. So we started exploring all the options.

And there are a LOT of options available to correct your vision, but you really can't start doing research into all of this until you can figure out what options apply to your situation. And the only way to do that is that you need to see an eye specialist to narrow down which options are best for you.

We knew that eye care (and dental work and plastic surgery) are typically less expensive in Turkey, so we made an appointment at the Dünyagöz Eye Hospital in Antalya. There, we paid 817 lira ($136 CAD, $110 USD) for some tests and a consultation with an ophthalmologist. 

We found out later that this eye hospital chain is known to be expensive. What we paid for the tests and consultation should have been half of that. While I'm sure they do good work, they are too expensive.

We ended up at the office of Dr. Fersat Muhacir. (He speaks perfect English, by the way!). And the prices were, let's say... more Turkish.

The results of our consultation with Dr. Muhacir were that I could have Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery done for both eyes at a total cost of 18,000 lira ($3,000 CAD, $2,500 USD) using Tecnis Symfony Extended Range Intraocular Lenses (IOL).

Ruth was not a candidate for those lenses, however she could use the Tecnis Eyhace IOL at a lesser cost of 15,000 lira ($2,500 CAD, $2,000 USD) for both eyes.

Having this surgery done now would solve several problems. It would allow me to enjoy life without glasses, probably for the rest of my life. So with any luck at all, perhaps another 25 years. No more glasses, no more annual prescription eye tests. It would also mean that I would never have to undergo cataract surgery in my later years, when I would be unlikely to recover as well and be able to enjoy the benefits of the surgery.

For Ruth, she would be able to see at distance and intermediate, but may need reading glasses.

I want to talk a little about insurance.

Many folks have cataract surgery done, normally later in life. In fact, cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in Canada and the United States! 

And most people wait until their cataracts are affecting their eyes bad enough that their insurance will pay for the costs of the cataract surgery procedure. But even when insurance will pay, they will only pay for the most basic type of IOL replacement.

The basic corrective lens will only fix your distance vision (or your reading vision, whatever your choice) but you will still need glasses for either option. If you want the upgraded lenses, you would be paying out of pocket for the upgrade. In discussions with a lot of people who have had the procedure done, it seems that many people in Canada are not given information about all the choices and their options. They also don't do enough research of their own. We definitely get the impression that when you get insurance payable cataract surgery done in Canada, you are just a number and there is very little personalized service from your ophthalmologist.

We had a LOT of problems finding out accurate information regarding the costs in both Canada and the U.S.. I can't figure out why the industry keeps it such a secret. It seems to me that there is a WIDE variety of pricing done by the individual doctors, and that it pays to shop around. The problem is that most people don't shop around. Suffice to say, that in Canada and the United States, if you want the same types of lenses that we had installed, you could pay what we paid... on top of what the insurance has already paid for the basic procedure!

In Canada, each province is different... however there is generally a six month wait for cataract surgery. In other words, from the time your doctor says you need the surgery, and the insurance then agrees to pay for it, you will wait another six months to have it done. Some people will wait as long as a year. In British Columbia alone, there are currently 22,000 people on the waiting list. Here in Turkey, we waited six days. 

Our Doctor, with his assistants!

Now, back to our situation.

As I said, we went for another follow up on Monday afternoon. The actual surgical procedure and recovery is fine... no issues at all, and everything is the way it is supposed to be.

It's getting used to our new eyes that is taking some time.

We are both able to do everything without glasses. But none of it is perfect.

And we were told that going into it, but it's hard to judge what that means until you actually get it done. So here's the situation...

My first eye is really good. I can see distance perfectly and I can see intermediate distance very well. And I can see up close not too bad... I could even use my phone if I held it slightly less than arms length.

He purposely adjusted the second eye to have better reading distance. So it is not very good at distance, it is pretty good at intermediate, and it is really perfect for closeup. 

But it means that your brain has to adjust to these parameters. And it can take between one and six months for that to happen, depending on the person. So while I can currently do anything day to day without glasses, it feels like one eye or the other is constantly working a little harder to try to correct things. He tells me it will take time, and everything I have read online agrees with that.

Ruth's eyes are both about the same, and they were done to be that way. Her distance vision is acceptable, and so is her intermediate. She can use her computer without glasses. She can even read a book without glasses provided the lighting is good. Again, the brain has to adjust and get used to the new vision. The doctor says that Ruth will adapt to her new lenses faster then me.

So, considering it has only been 11 days since the first eye, and 7 days since the second eye... I think we're pretty happy! And things will only get better.

By the way, we have totally no reservations about recommending Dr. Muhacir. You could come to Turkey, have your eyes fixed, and get a free vacation out of the deal compared to what you would pay out of pocket to have this done in Canada or the United States. Just be aware that Dr. Muhacir doesn't do "tourist surgery", and that you need to plan for one month in Turkey in order to get this type of procedure done.

By the way, even paying for this outside of Canada, it is a valid tax deductible medical expense.

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23 comments:

  1. Wow,2 without glasses, are you 2 going to Disneyland? Poor a attempt at humor! That is fantastic for you 2!
    And did a hear right, that it is going to get better? Good for you 2! That a worth its price in gold! Take care, Rawn Stone

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    1. So far so good at both of us not having to need glasses but we will see, I may need them but I am going to give my eyes and brain time to adjust before making that decision. Yes, you heard right they should improve even more over the next month or two, Kevin may need even longer.

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  2. Good news! Happy the surgery went so well for both of you. Time will do the rest. Do you know if the same could be done in Mexico? What is the 'reputation' of Mexico in that regard? Would you have done it there as much as in Turkey? I doubt I'll be going to Turkey anytime soon (!!!) but there are more chances for Mexico. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, I have found several references online from people who have had the surgery done in Mexico and are happy. However, the pricing is definitely more expensive than in Turkey.

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  3. P.S. and many thanks for all this precious information you're sharing! Highly appreciated!

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    1. So glad that you are finding it helpful. :-)

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  4. How many different types eye drops post op and pre op do u have to use and for how long? thx

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    1. Pre-op we had only one... after is a different story! We are now doing three in the first eye, and two in the second. That will change to three and three on Saturday. We haven't asked how long this will go on. But every three hours goes by really quickly... and then 15 minutes between drops! On a side note, almost all of the drops were given to us included in the price. We had one that we had to buy at the pharmacy.

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    2. Thx for the reply. Just curious which eye drop is the one that you had to buy at the pharmacy.

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    3. The Artelac Advanced Eye Drops for dry eyes.

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  5. Kevin, I had the same surgery as you 3 years ago in US. My lens were $6,000 out of pocket. My part for hosp after ins was $1,400. I have been wearing reading glass for computer work and I've noticed that I'm needing them more and more. So if you can go with out the glasses do it. I have cut back on using the readers and can tell its getting better with out them. Good Luck you guys ! Cheryl

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    1. That sure makes coming to Turkey to get the procedure done a better option, a trip and the surgery for that much or less.

      Yes, we are taking your advice and will try as much as possible to stay away from glasses so that our eyes and brains will adjust to these new lenses, if after a reasonable amount of time we still have not found them getting better then, we will look at getting glasses either for distance or for close up. So far so good though! :-)

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  6. It’s all easy peasy!!??? I have had a lense (1) implanted in at no cost to me in Saskatchewan. I no longer wear glasses. My long and intermediate vision is fine. I get by without glasses for reading and computer work.

    But, most people cannot afford the proper lenses and in saying that, they are unable to fly to Turkey for a month to get the (Turkey Priced) lenses. Especially with what the world is going through! As frugal as you have been in the past I’m somewhat perplexed by your new unfrugalness. Lol

    People are suffering and just happy to be able to see. They are happy they have health care with nothing out of pocket. Not all people are as fortunate as you are to spend that kind of money on their eyes. Many people cannot even afford glasses.

    Safe Travels Kevin & Ruth

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    1. Glad your vision is so good. You are also fortunate!

      I didn't write the article for the people who can't afford it. I wrote it for the people who can.. and there are lots of them, especially in Canada.

      Regarding our own frugality, this was a big expense for us, but we did it as frugally as possible! And we can only afford it because of being frugal in the past!

      I disagree with you regarding your last sentence, and especially in Canada. I would suggest that very few people cannot afford glasses in Canada. Especially with the availability of online eyewear.

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    2. And I want to add that we didn't look at this whole thing as an expense... we consider it to be an investment.

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    3. First of all, in your blog, you refer to it as a expense not an investment!

      Secondly, and the point I was trying to make in my statement. You continue to cut down Canada (cheap lenses, etc.,etc.) and it goes on and on. Just saying, It is starting to get old!

      And last, many people have lost their lively hoods and everything they have worked for, in the last 6 months many have struggled to put food on the table. So Kevin, many Canadians are indeed suffering financially.

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    4. Okay. I won't argue with you.

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  7. Glad everything is working out for your eye surgery.
    You are right about not doing research as to what is available. When you have difficulty seeing and a well established Optometrist that you trust you ask his opinion and go from there.
    When it came time for the Cataract Surgery you were given Three Choices, near, far or Both by the Surgeon. The problems of the adjustments to the brain sounded too confusing so we made the choice of distance. I can read lots of things without glasses but after hours on the Computer my eyes get tired so the quick fix is the glasses.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. Nice that you had an doctor that was able to give you options and could make the decision that was best for you. Sounds like everything worked out fine. :-)

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  8. I had both eyes done due to cataracts a few years ago. My eyes were so bad I couldn't drive at night! I had the eye patch on for a week and a week in between to second surgery. My first eye was fully recovered when I went on to the second. Both eyes see with clarity I've forgotten how dull the world looked before. The colors and clarity in both eyes are vibrant. It feels like after you clean your glasses, after a rain cleared the air, or opening the drapes to a dark room. And, the night light no longer hurt my eyes. I headlights on cars are now pinpoint to two lights instead of a flash of light into my eyes to the point it hurt. I was on eye drops for a number of weeks as the amount of drops decreased and finally no more drops. I just had an eye exam last week, my prescription remains the same but I've developed dry eye which I'm told is common with lens replacement. I was given eye drops to moisten my eyes. Lately, I've been drinking more water and I don't need the eye drops as much...maybe once a day. I read close up and see long distance fine. I can read license plates of cars ahead of me, road signs, I can see computer and cell phone without glasses. I was prescribed glasses for stigmatism which was not corrected. I only wear glasses when I think I need them. Right now, I'm typing and reading blogs on computer without glasses. My BCBS paid for the surgery and I paid the co-payment.

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    1. Sounds like it all worked out well for you!

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  9. Great detailed information about refractive lens exchange. All I can say is that I’m very happy for both of you to have had this done. You researched it well and your efforts are very well rewarded..... this makes your traveling years even more exciting to look forward to! Bravo! Safe travels!

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    1. Thank you Lynnette, we did do the research and we are happy that we found such a great doctorto do the surgery. He has been amazing with the whole process. He did a thorough exam at the beginning and explained everything the whole way through and the after surgery follow has been amazing too! We are definitely happy that we went ahead with this procedure and yes, it will make our travels even better now. :-)

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