By FIONA VAN TYNE
Getting Eye surgery was something that I was thinking about before I came to Busan, not seriously but I thought about it.
The main thing stopping me before was the price. Even before I started to do my proper research I was halted to know that I would not be able to afford it later on in life.
When I came to Korea, I started playing with the idea again. I was not so worried about the cost because I was making steady money, but I was more worried about doctors that did not speak too much English shooting powerful lasers in to my eyes. Korea places such a high value on English education, and we all know that people with higher English levels are assumed to be smarter by Korean standards; its strange and horrible and I know many ex-pats do the same, of putting more confidence in people who speak better English. There is a point where everyone in Korea, just sit back and even with the language barrier, let them do their jobs.
Getting Laser Eye surgery was one of those times. I was incredibly nervous, but I am so happy I did it, it was one of the better things I have spent my money on in Korea.
I went to Neuviet Eye Clinic. The man that helped me was Mr. Seong. He is a Korean, Japanese, and English speaker, and granted, sometimes his English is a bit shaky, but our first meeting (albeit longer than normal due to my questions) went well.
As far as the consultation goes, you will meet with him and go through all the eye tests you have learned to hate at home. Look at the balloon through the machine, the focusing one with the house, and of course the hated puff of air. Though all this Mr. Song is nothing but helpful, explaining all the machines, comforting me when things were going to poke my eye. “Don’t be scared” is probably his favorite English phrase at this point. Which makes me laugh all the time, and we have to start over.
The consultation takes about 2 hours, so make sure that you secure enough time for this. The clinic is open until 7 most days and Fridays until 9. Going after school is completely possible too!
There are 2 main types of eye surgery. I am not an eye doctor so I don’t know which one is best for you, but you should know about them both, so if you do have the option to do both, you can make the best decision.
It all has to do with your corneas. If you have thick flexible corneas, you are good to go with either, if your cornea is thin or inflexible then you will most likely have to do LESEK. Before you poke yourself in the eye to figure it out, know that Mr. Seong, will tell you about half way though your appointment.
Now lets talk differences.
From what I understand about LASIK is that they take your eyes, open them, cut a flap on the area above your eyeball (inside your eye) remove a flap, LASER it and then put the flap back on. This is quick, kinda painless, and will take only about 15 minutes. Recovery time is about 24 hours to a week, and results can be seen right away.
There is little pain, and you don’t have to constantly be worried about using eye drops 8 times a day.
Before you are super stoked about LASIK the drawbacks are that there will be a cut flap in your eye which will definitely heal BUT this can cause problems later on in life if you suddenly fall in love with extreme sports. A major injury to the eye can be a ton worse because of the LASIK. How likely is it? I have no idea, but it is one of the risks.
Now we need to talk about cost!
LASIK for a LASER cutting the flap it will cost 1.6 million KRW. For the doctor cutting the flap, it will cost 1.0 million KRW. Granted the doctors are professionally trained to cut the flap, but its not really recommended, because “it has more risk”.
Cost 1.6 Million KRW OR 1.0 Million KRW *
Risk : Higher
Plus side? Not many Eye Drops, quicker recovery
Down Side: Not everyone can get it, more expensive, has “higher risk”
*prices change, but what I have found it it gets lower
Many people opt for this, recovery time is much quicker and there is little pain associated with this.
Personally I could have done both, I chose to go with LESEK though because its what I thought was the best choice for me.
With LESEK eye surgery they don’t cut a flap, so there is a different process, they still use lasers to correct your vision but since they are not directly fixing it a longer recovery time is needed.
I went with this option because I did not want to deal with things coming off later on in life if I had a terrible accident, also, I had more time to recover since I was able to work some vacation days in to recovery time.
My timetable went like this
Friday 7 PM arrive at clinic for operation.
Friday 8 PM get operation done (my doctor was super nice and supportive, and though I nearly had a panic attack with the first eye, it was smooth sailing for the second eye)
8:45 leave clinic in care of a good friend
10:00 PM eyes start to hurt, try and sleep
Saturday: All day, eyes hurt, sucks to open them, listen to a ton of pod casts, SLEEP. I could not stay awake for more than an hour this day
Sunday Spent most of it in bed, better vision recovery, still can’t look at a computer, try anyway.
Monday, first day of TV! YEY! pain has gone away, vision blurry. Eye drops suck. Tried to go for a walk this day, but got really tired about 2 blocks into it and went home.
Tuesday, feel kinda normal, went for a longer walk, got to watch more TV
Wednesday I was back to work just fine. For the rest of the week, my co teacher had to help with some things, but I did a good job recovering the rest of the time.
I did not feel 100% normal until about a week or two after, my vision has not 100% been at 20/20 Even a month later, but it gets better every time I go back to the clinic. Sometimes I even forget that I don’t wear glasses anymore and start looking for mine.
Cost 1..0 Million KRW
Risk : Lower
Plus side? Lower risk, better for people with TERRIBLE vision, lower cost
Down side? Longer recovery, some pain, and never ending EYE DROPS.
Either way I am happy I got it done, the doctors are fully trained and honestly do more surgeries than in the states, so they have more practice I feel. This clinic was amazing with the support and care. I never felt like a question went unanswered and they were all so nice. If you are hesitant, I do suggest going in for the free examination to discuss your options further.
They are good with support after surgery and you have to go in a few times to make sure everything was done correctly.
To get to Neuviet Eye clinic
From Seomyeon Station walk underground towards the Lotte Department store. Go past exit 7. Walk up the little hill past all the beauty shops. When you get to the Krispy kreme, go on the left side of the store. Keep walking until you see a staircase on your left. Go up the stairs. From there you can walk straight past the horses on your left until you get past the department store, the next building is the lotte hotel. The clinic is on the 14th floor of that building.