It was the happiest of days for radio presenter Ylenia Spiteri when she finally said a permanent goodbye to her glasses. She tells Adriana Bishop about the best 15 minutes of her life.
On a Thursday morning two weeks ago, Ylenia Spiteri woke up, reached over for her glasses on the bedside table and then smiled as she suddenly remembered she did not need them anymore. And that smile has not left her face since.
The day before, the 89.7 Bay radio presenter had finally seen a long-held dream come true, quite literally. After many years of dithering, Ylenia had undergone the SMILE Femtosecond Laser procedure at Saint James Eye Clinic to correct her eyesight and she immediately declared “it was totally worth it”.
Ylenia had started wearing glasses at the age of eight and now, just weeks shy of her 26th birthday, she had had enough of them. Over the years she had suffered numerous infections from long hours wearing contact lenses. Regular headaches were an early warning that her eyesight had deteriorated further, and her prescription lenses needed updating. Her popular breakfast show on the radio did not spare her from camera scrutiny which meant she always had to look her best.
“I always liked the feeling of being without glasses and it used to bother me when there were reflections on the glasses, so I always wore contact lenses,” explains Ylenia.
Opting for the SMILE Eye Laser procedure was “a really easy decision” for her but nonetheless she had to pluck up the courage to go through with it. “I always wanted to do it, but I always chickened out at the last minute. I applied for the consultation so many times only to change my mind at the final moment. When I eventually underwent the procedure I realised I had made a big fuss for nothing,” she says.
SMILE is a minimally invasive procedure performed to correct refractive errors. No blades or needles are used to carry out this procedure. As this was Ylenia’s first ever surgical intervention of any kind she was, understandably, nervous.
“I was a little bit anxious beforehand and totally overwhelmed. I had to be wide awake and lie completely still. I was always afraid that it would be painful. I was placed on a bed and saw a green laser beam come towards my eye. The machine started. Music was playing in the background, so I was singing along. I was constantly waiting for the pain to kick in, but it never did. Then, all of a sudden, I heard the doctor say ‘ready’ and that was it. The first eye was done. It was such a nice feeling when I heard the second ‘ready’ for the other eye. The procedure must have lasted between 10 and 15 minutes but in my head, it actually felt much quicker.”
As she described the procedure to me over the phone the next day, I could literally hear the smile in her voice. To say she was overjoyed would not be an exaggeration. “I am so excited. This was such a big thing for me. Last night my brain was telling me I had to take my contact lenses off. It was so weird. To anyone doubting themselves, I’d say it is literally nothing and totally recommend it. It’s the best 15 minutes of your life.”
Saint James Eye Clinic treats over 1,000 patients every year and is now one of six Zeiss accredited clinics in Europe equipped to teach prospective surgeons how to perform SMILE interventions using the very latest technology. Clinic General Manager Andrei Camenzuli described it as the “10-minute procedure that can change your life”.
“SMILE Eye Laser is minimally invasive, pain-free and offers the patient very fast visual recovery,” he explains, adding that the clinic follows all COVID-19 safety measures and all staff have been vaccinated. Moreover, patients can now spread the cost of the surgery over three, six, nine or 12 months.
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