COVID-19 did not dampen friendship goal to see the world better, together

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With the changes and uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been easy to lose track of the things one would like to accomplish. Three ladies, however, proved that the pandemic need not get in the way of achieving their friendship goals. 

Meet young working mothers Jo-Cathrina Enad, Diane Bernardo, and Charmaine Lampa who are enjoying 22 years of friendship and counting. They met in grade school but became good friends when they were in high school.

Jo-Cathrina or JC is the funny girl but is firm and tireless. Diane, on the other hand, is competitive and zealous. While Charmaine or Mae is more adventurous and the most easy-going of the three. What they have is a “no-frills, low-maintenance and no-judgment type of friendship—nothing pretentious.”

“This is because we went through different life stages together—college, early adult life, getting married, then having kids. As we grew older, we have learned to accept each other’s flaws and strengths,” said JC.

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Last February 13, one of their friendship goals came to fruition. They had LASIK eye surgery. 

LASIK stands for Laser-Assisted In-situ Keratomileusis, used to correct vision problems. It is the most performed laser refractive surgery at the Laser Refractive Center of The Medical City (TMC) in Ortigas, Pasig City.

“We have been talking about having LASIK for years but didn’t have the guts and time to do the screening. Not until last December when JC told us that a friend had undergone LASIK successfully. We decided to do the screening together,” said Mae.

“JC’s friend recommended LASIK eye surgeon Dr. Maria Cecilia Gertrudis C. Agdeppa. We tried inquiring with other providers, but we liked how Dr. Agdeppa and the nurses took care of us during the screening,” added Diane.

With different errors of refraction prior to their LASIK surgery, all three ladies now enjoy their best vision ever at 20/20.

These three ladies attested that it was not a conscious decision to have the LASIK procedure during the pandemic. Their primary reason for undergoing LASIK was to have excellent vision for them to be finally free from wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses.

“Having the procedure amid the pandemic was not an issue. We were confident with how TMC is handling COVID and non-COVID patients,” said JC.

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The benefits of LASIK are as valuable during a pandemic as they are otherwise. Patients like JC, Diane, and Charmaine believe that one of the best benefits right now is that you do not have to wear glasses under your face shield. 

As the government requires everyone who leave their homes to wear a face shield on top of a face mask to “effectively lessen the transmission of COVID-19,” wearing spectacles behind the face shield can be cumbersome and annoying. 

Wearing a mask alone may also cause fogging of spectacle glasses more so with a face shield which may further impede one’s vision.

The doctors added that the most important benefit is that you will be able to see better than you ever have without the need to touch your face, worry about contact lens hygiene, or adjust to wearing glasses 24/7. It is convenient, it keeps your eyes safe, and you will have the vision you have always wanted. 


The three ladies were one in saying that having LASIK is one of the best life decisions they have ever made.

“No more hassles of looking for our glasses in the morning or wearing contact lenses to glam up. No more squinting when watching TV. Playing with our family has never been better.” said Mae.

Asked about what is next on their bucket list after this life-changing LASIK experience, they exclaimed, “Travel. Our families have a scheduled beach getaway, hopefully, it will happen soon!”

Dr. Agdeppa who also heads The Medical City Laser Refractive Center said LASIK is a low-risk procedure at the best of times and still holds true even during this pandemic.

“We have implemented extensive safety protocols following the recommendations from the Department of Health and The Medical City’s Hospital Infection Control and Epidemiology Center (HICEC), as our top priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff,” Dr. Agdeppa shared. 

“Though the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 is less in laser refractive surgeries as they are non-aerosol procedures, we have instituted in our Center a variety of infection control mechanisms before, during, and after surgery. Examples of which are online pre-appointment screening, temperature checks, social distancing, frequent sanitation and disinfection of high-touch surfaces and regular monitoring of ventilation and air-exchange within the Center.”

“Our doctors and staff are all fully vaccinated yet we still maintain extra safety precautions when we treat our patients. Frequent hand washing with soap and alcohol, wearing masks and other PPEs, and placing breath shields for our equipment are mainstays in ensuring patient safety and a comfortable LASIK Center experience,” added Dr. Agdeppa.


The Medical City Laser Refractive Center caters to multiple refractive errors that can be corrected by laser surgery, addressing the following conditions: Myopia (Nearsightedness), Hyperopia (Farsightedness), Regular and Irregular Astigmatism, and Presbyopia (normal loss of near focusing ability that occurs with age). 

The process begins with screening that will determine if you are a good candidate for laser refractive surgery. 

A complete and thorough eye exam will identify any other ocular conditions that may be contraindications for laser refractive surgery, issues that may complicate the procedure, or cause less than optimal outcomes. 

Your medical history will also be reviewed, to ensure that you are fit to undergo surgery, and that no systemic illness will put your eyesight at risk. 

Other surgeries such as Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) and Trans-Epithelial Photorefractive Keratectomy (TransPRK) using Streamlight® are also offered in the center. Same as LASIK, they permanently alter the shape of the cornea (the clear covering in the front of your eye) to correct refractive errors (or “grade”)—making you less dependent on glasses and contact lens for many years.

The surgery itself takes a mere 20 minutes, but preparation can take up to a few hours. It is a quick and comfortable surgery, and improved results are expected as early as the next day with LASIK. Consistent and close follow up with your refractive surgeon will ensure that you enjoy your vision for many years to come.

Aside from improved vision and reduced dependency on eyeglasses or contact lenses, the benefits of LASIK eye surgery include long-lasting results, quick results and quick recovery, cost-effective, enhanced lifestyle, and improved work performance.


Anne Ruth Dela Cruz
Anne Ruth Dela Cruz
Anne is a seasoned journalist and corporate communications specialist. After 13 years in the health care industry, she is back to where she started—print media.


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