As the well-known saying goes, the eyes are a window to the soul. The specialists at the vision laser correction clinic Hi-Vision know this more than most as they have been assisting Westerners with their sight problems for years. The chief surgeon at the clinic Dr. Liang Qiong kindly agreed to an interview with us and gives readers some tips on choosing a clinic and on the various types of treatment available.
Q: Dr. Liang, what advice would you give to those who have sight defects (short-sightedness, astigmatism, long-sightedness) that have not yet been corrected by an operation?
A: It is very important that one should wear glasses, otherwise the brain may stop responding to signals from the corrupted vision and one could develop a ‘lazy eye’ syndrome. One thing is very important: glasses must be prescribed with great care. Wearing the wrong prescription glasses is like taking wrongly prescribed medicine as it can actually harm the patient. Unfortunately, many of our patients are prescribed glasses by insufficiently qualified staff at opticians or at mediocre clinics. This leads to a deterioration of vision and unnecessary wrinkles. The body still tries to decipher between the correct and incorrect signals from the eyes, and in order to receive the correct ones the patient will frown, raise his shoulders, tilt his head. In fact this causes the majority of cases of crossed eyes. Is it not worth two hours of your time to have the correct glasses prescribed instead of having to battle with the consequences of incorrectly prescribed glasses? The statistics are disheartening: more than 90% of patients who come to us for treatment wear incorrectly prescribed glasses. At Hi-Vision you will find outstanding professional optometrists.
Q: But if your clinic had been set up in, say, Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, then would it not enjoy much better custom, being as it would be in a hugely populated city?
A: Patients from the cities you mentioned as well as many others travel to us here in Hainan to have their sight problems corrected.
Q: What about foreign citizens? And those from English-speaking countries?
A: Yes, we receive a lot of patients every month from all over the world. Many of our foreign customers include those who are already residing in China, but also there's a steady flow of patients traveling from both neighboring and quite remote countries to receive medical services not available elsewhere in the world here. We are very well-prepared to receive English-speaking customers. We have an English-language website and information service on call seven days a week and highly qualified English-speaking staff. We also offer the same to patients from the Russian-speaking countries of the former Soviet Union. We compile an annual list of foreign customers. Last year we had visits from patients from 32 different countries.
Q: What, do you think, is the main reason why patients are willing to travel from far and wide to your clinic? Are there no optical clinics in their cities?
A: With today’s technology corrective laser surgery is no longer a dream. But your sight is a precious gift and your choice of clinic when undergoing corrective eye surgery must be an informed one. At Hi-Vision you may be certain that we are able to offer the unique expertise and guaranteed successful treatment.
Q: What are these services that you say are the best? What should a patient bear in mind when choosing an eye clinic?
A: When choosing a clinic, to which you will ‘surrender’ your eyes, it is essential to bear in mind the following. Firstly, what method or technique will be used. Secondly, the type and quality of equipment used in the procedure. Thirdly, the qualifications, experience and reputation of the operating surgeon.
Q: Could you tell us something about the types of operations offered at Hi-Vision?
A: We offer two types of LASIK (Laser-assisted in Situ Karetomileusis) operations: lepto-LASIK and femto-LASIK. These are the latest and most harmless, cornea-friendly types of operation available. And what is also very important: within two hours of having completed the operation our patients can return to work as normal.
Q: After a procedure can one still engage in sports or travel by aeroplane?
A: Yes, but one should refrain from swimming and contact martial arts for one month after an operation. But you can run, jump and lift weights on the following day! You can also fly immediately after an operation but we do insist that our patients come in the following day for a check-up.
Q: Is there no need to wear bandages or special lenses?
A: No, although that did you used to be the case for the previous generation of vision correction operations. You may recall I spoke about the latest equipment and technologies used in Hi-Vision. Thanks to a subsidy from the Chinese government we have managed to purchase the most modern French and German equipment to perform our operations.
Q: So the machines do all the work?
A: Of course not. The surgeon’s skill is of paramount importance. What advantage does the Chinese doctor have over many of his Western colleagues? Thanks to our large number of patients we at Hi-Vision have accumulated a wealth of experience for a relatively young company. For instance, I have personally carried out 66 thousand successful operations.
Q: 66 thousand? Amazing! How many would that be per day?
A: I have been practising for over twenty years. I even have registered the first patent on performing this kind of operation. I conduct all of the operations at Hi-Vision myself. Sometimes I perform twenty operations per day, sometimes forty or even more during the pre-examination peaks.
Q: How do you manage that?
A: We have a finely tuned operating system at our clinic. A whole team of nurses prepares the patient for the operation. Each nurse has an excellent and full knowledge of his/her job and each member of our staff is methodically selected by means of an exacting interview process. The operations themselves are very quick, lasting only several minutes. And then the patient is free to leave.
Q: What about your work makes you feel the most pride? The number of operations you carry out or something else?
A: It would have to be the large range of operations that we offer, some of which are unavailable even in other world prime-class clinics. Judge for yourselves: we work with patients who are short-sighted up to -27 diopters, with long-sighted patients up to +18 diopters, with those with astigmatism up to 7 diopters, with extra thin corneas up to 421 microns. We accept adult patients and post-operative patients. Last year we started to perform 'cross-link’ operations aimed at rectifying such defects as keratoconus. I am proud of the fact that we are able to help patients whose sight problems are very complicated.
Q: Have you ever had unsuccessful operations? Has anything gone wrong during one of your operations?
A: No, nothing like that has ever happened at Hi-Vision.
Q: But you are insured against accidents during your operations, I take it?
A: Yes, all our operations are insured for up to two million yuan.
Q: We know that Hi-Vision is the only clinic in Mainland China that has been accepted into the M.T.A. – the International Medical Tourism Association. How did that happen? Why have you been accepted but other reputable clinics in larger cities in China have not?
A: The M.T.A. takes into consideration not so much the publicity of the clinic in question but rather whether the operations which it provides are unique and whether services are international enough. And if the aforementioned, therefore, could appeal to international patients to travel all the way to a foreign country. We are, after all, talking about medical tourism. Only a very special kind of treatment not available in ones home city could make one want to travel elsewhere, even to a foreign country, to seek medical treatment. Of course, the number of patients from other towns and cities as well as from abroad is an important criterion. Finally, the M.T.A. assesses the level of service at the clinic, which must meet the highest standards of excellence. We were able to meet all the demands of the M.T.A. in these categories and we are very grateful for cooperation the M.T.A. carries out with us. They are real professionals and true enthusiasts at the same time.
Q: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. Dr. Liang, our final question is why did you open your clinic in Hainan?
A: We decided to open our clinic in Hainan for the simple reason that Hainan has come to be associated both at home and abroad with health. Historically, the island has been known for its inhabitants’ living to a ripe old age. The quality of the air and water, as well as the overall quality of life to be found here are among the best in China. The Chinese government is pursuing a policy to turn Hainan into China’s national healthcare hub. This much-vaunted concept of an ‘international tourism island’ is slowly being put into place by turning Hainan into one massive resort. There are plans to set up medical clusters containing among the finest clinics in China and even the world. We are probably just going two steps forward the general tendency
So, many thanks for the interview. We shall recommend all our bespectacled friends to have their glasses checked at Hi-Vision. Or even better to be free of them forever by receiving treatment at your clinic.
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