Every now and then I get a message about my laser eye surgery experience in South Korea. I figure maybe someone reading my blog would be interested in this information as well, so I’ve written about my experience. I broke it up into two parts, read Laser Eye Surgery (LASEK) in South Korea: Part 1.
That next week seemed to go by so slowly. I had worked myself up into a bit of a frenzy thinking about what could go wrong. I had the foresight to stop myself from watching a Youtube video of a laser eye surgery, or else I think I would have chickened out. Finally the day arrived. The clinic had advised me to bring someone along because it would obviously be difficult to see after the surgery. My then boyfriend offered to come with me to make sure I got home okay.
I arrived at the clinic and waited until my name was called. They did another round of testing to make sure that everything was in good condition before I had one more sit down with the Dr. Lee. We discussed the surgery for the final time, he asked me if I had any questions and confirmed that I wanted the LASEK procedure.
Afterwards, the English speaking nurse came over and told me she would help me out again that day. She put in some numbing eye drops and gave me a robe to wear over my clothes for the procedure. Honestly, I was pretty freaked out. I was thinking about worse case scenarios but I got a hold of myself, took a deep breathe and forced myself to calm down.
A few minutes passed before I was called over to the operating room. In the room with me was the doctor, two nurses and a laser technician. I was asked to lay down under a huge machine, and the doctor gave me some words of encouragement.
Then they began.
First they used an eye speculum to keep my eyes open during the procedure. When I looked up into the laser there was an image of green crosshairs. Dr. Lee told me to try my best to focus on the crosshairs during the entire procedure. He then placed a few drops of alcohol solution into my eyes to loosen the epithelial layer of my cornea. Next he made a flap and drew the flap back. Then the lasers did their magic. This part was painless, although there was a faint smell of burning hair. Dr. Lee then put the flap back into place and put some drops of mitomycin C solution for 15 seconds, before cleaning it off. The same procedure was repeated on my other eye.
The entire surgery took less than 10 minutes and was completely pain free. Dr. Lee had talked me through every step of the surgery while it was happening, even telling me how long each stage would last. I found this very comforting and it helped me stay calm throughout the surgery.
When I got off the operating table, I could already see better than before. I had read that this was temporary and that my vision would probably get worse before getting better, and this proved to be true later that evening.
The nurse led me to a small room with a bed, and put some more eye drops before leaving me alone to rest a bit. After about 10 minutes I was led out into another area of the clinic where I paid for the procedure in full. Before I left, they gave me lots of eye drops and instructions on things I should and shouldn’t do to help my eyes heal as quickly as possible.
I got back to my apartment at around 10PM and promptly went to sleep. I slept pretty well that night, although I had to get up every 3 hours to put in antibiotic eye drops to prevent an infection.
During the first 48 hours, I would say I was asleep for at least 35 of those hours. Other than a low shining light in the bathroom, my apartment was complete dark for the first two days (my windows were covered to prevent light from coming in). I think the lack of light and all that sleep helped me heal much quicker than I anticipated.
I was anticipating pain and a slow recovery process like I had read on different forums and blogs. However, I guess I was really lucky because my healing process was completely pain free, although it took a few days to get used to bright lights.
It probably also helped that I had a pretty low prescription to begin with. I had my surgery on Friday evening, and was back at work on Tuesday morning. At that point my eyes weren’t 100% healed, but I had only mild discomfort when looking at bright lights.
Three Years Later: My Vision Now
Since having my LASEK surgery in July 2011, I haven’t had any problems with my eyes. I am actually more conscious of making sure I don’t rub my eyes and keeping them moisturized. I have had two check ups in the past 2.5 years, with my latest check up being last month. The doctor said my eyes are in perfect health, I have 20/20 vision and that she couldn’t even find the cuts from the procedure.
My eyes are in great health but LASEK doesn’t stop my eyes from aging. This means I may have to wear reading glasses when I get older, but that’s normal. It’s a great feeling to be able to see clearly as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, and not having to worry about bringing contact solution or my glasses everywhere I go. I have never regretted my choice to get LASEK in South Korea. I hope if you are thinking about getting it done, my experience has helped you make a decision.
Pricing and Clinic Information
My type of LASEK surgery (the highest quality one they offered) regularly cost 1.5 million Korean won (KRW), about $1595 Canadian dollars (CAD). However, the original poster from the waygook board referred me, so I was able to get a 200,000KRW discount.
Final price: 1.3 million KRW, about $1380CAD
Laser eye surgery normally cost $1,940CAD PER EYE in Canada at that time, so I think I got a really good deal on my surgery.
St.Mary’s Bright Eye Center www.oklasik.com (only available in Korean) 02-2202-1515
Have you every had surgery while abroad? What are your thoughts on medical tourism (traveling to another country for medical reasons like getting surgery)?
Featured Image by Pete Prodoehl
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