I received my miracle…sight to the blind that they might see! Juuuuuust not in the way I had thought. It was June 1st 2018 and we had just gotten back from a trip to Texas. I had the thought to stop wearing my contacts. I listened and wore my glasses for over 2 weeks. It was then that my husband had 6 days off in a row (hard to come by as a pilot). We had wanted to go back to Korea since we lived there in 2007-2009, and we thought this 6 day window might be our chance. Flying standby you go where it is open. We did not know what would happen for these 6 days, or where would be open, but Korea was on our list.
I had known they did LASIK when we lived there, and for cheaper than the States, but I never got it done. The PRK option is what I wanted, but I did not know if Korea offered this. I also I did not know if my eyes even qualified for any of the surgeries at all. So I started looking into some things. I found out they do offer the PRK option that I wanted, and they call it LASEK.
It turns out Korea offers three different kinds- LASIK, LASEK and Smile
LASIK- In this one they cut a flap and do the surgery and then put it back. This one has instant results and you can see right away. You have to have a thick enough cornea to get this one but the healing is a lot quicker. This one you can have the surgery in the morning and leave the same day. This way, if you wanted a quick trip you can go and get the surgery done and then get back home. Caution: If you do get a in car wreak or hit your head hard enough, this flap can move and then cause you problems.
LASEK- (PRK) In this one they laser off the first layer of the eye and then do the surgery. This way, you do not have the flap. Your vision comes back bit by bit in this one. Your eyes see a lot worse after, and you have to wait for that first layer to heal back. You can see fine enough by 5 days, so you can get home. And your vision gets much sharper by two weeks.
This one has more pain they say but you do not have to deal with a flap. Lasek takes longer to heal, and you have to go back in 5 days after the surgery and get your eyes checked, and to take off the protective lens they put on after surgery. This one requires a longer stay in Korea, but thats ok cause now you make a trip out of it.
Smile- In the smile surgery they do a small incision and then correct the vision.
There are several clinics to choose from, and these are the ones I found
On July 15th the night before we can leave, we check the flights to Korea and they do not look good. We then start looking at different options of where else we might want to go. Monday comes and goes and we do not end up going anywhere, so that means one day is down from our 6 we have off. We end up finding a flight on Tuesday the 17th to Korea, and think we might take a chance on going. So I find three clinics, and see if any of them have any openings for a consultation on the 19th.
Korea is very advanced in the fields of eye, dental, and plastic surgery. A lot of doctors go there to do training. They are very clean and professional about their work. This is not Mexico, is it very safe and advanced.
The three I found with good reviews were:
Glory Seoul Eye Clinic– They got back to me very quickly, they were more personal than the other two I found. I communicated through messenger, and she took the time to talk to me that night to answer all my questions. Since we did not know if we would make the flight or not she was very flexible with our time frame. This clinic has a representative that speaks english very well, and she handles all of the foreigners appointments.
EyeMedi Lasik Center– This one communicated through messenger and got back very quickly with all of the information you would need. They are priced a little higher than the others and communicated in english very well. They messaged all the directions, expectations and what to do.
BNG Eye Clinic– These guys were great. You can schedule an appointment online and they e mail you a bunch of information right away. You can get an appointment quickly and they communicated in english very well. They had a lot more detailed information on what was needed and what to do.
As it turns out… one of the “make it or break it” factors before you can get a consultation or surgery, is that you have to stop wearing hard contacts for at least 2 weeks before, or for soft one week. Good thing I was told to do that two weeks ago…
I did decide to go with Glory Seoul Eye Clinic as they got back to be first. I scheduled an appointment with them, and then crossed my fingers we would make our flights. Miraculously we did make both our connections and made it to Korea!
We (my husband and three kids) all went to my appointment the next morning. The clinic is easy to find and right off of the subway. They gave very good directions on how to get there. When you first walk in, it is very clean and organized, you take a ticket and wait your turn. I met the representative for the foreigners that I had talked with on messenger. Again, she speaks english and she walked me through everything.
The consultation is 2 hours long and they do a series of five tests, including a dry eye test. These are the same tests you probably have done in the states. Then they determine what you qualify for. It turns out I only qualified for one of the options, and that was the PRK, which is the one I wanted! Thats nice. After the consultation was done they asked me if I wanted the surgery the same day. Well…. “sure” I said, with my brain running knowing I had only 2 days left on my husbands days off. I would have to stay for 5 with the LASEK and we had our 3 kids with us. I did not know how that was going to work out- if I had to stay and he had to go? And leave me with all the kids?… but ok I will trust.
Lets talk money
After the consultation, which is totally free, you go and pay for the surgery. LASEK is cheaper than LASKIK and the LASEK is 1,000,000,000 won. Which would be $1,000 US dollars if it was 1 to 1 but with the currency exchange, and the dollar being stronger it works out to be about $800! I just paid with my credit card and we were set to go. You end up paying about $60 in prescription drops to take home with you, and you get enough to last you 3 months.
My brother has had the same consultation in the states, for the same surgery, and it is going to cost him $2500 per eye. On average LASEK/LASKIK costs anywhere from $4000-$6000. For half this amount you get a trip to Korea and your sight!
The surgery takes only 10 minutes. They took me up and I got on the table, and the doctor comes in. They cover your face and put numbing drops in your eye, you do not feel one thing after this. Then they hold your eye open with a device. You simply stare at a green light and its done. With the LASEK since they are removing the first layer, you can smell the burning of your eye…LOL- do not think about that too much. After they are done they put a protective lens on your eye, and you do not even know it is there. With the LASIK you will not have this since they just put the flap they cut back down. They do the same to other eye and your done!
Your numb for about an hour and then you will start to feel things. My sight was really bad right after so if you are by yourself, stay at an AirBNB close to the clinic of your choice. You can take a cab from the clinic, and give them the address so they take you right there. The clinics can help you do that so you get to your place.
The pain was not bad AT ALL. I would say having strep throat or mastitis was MUCH more painful. All you feel is this dry burning feeling that you get when you hold your eyes open for too long. You feel this constantly for 3 days. The drops help this a lot and so you put them in every 20 minutes throughout the 5 days. You get an antibiotic, a steroid for inflammation and mostly artificial tears.
They walk you around the corner to the pharmacy to help you pick up all your drops, so you do not have to worry about that. And they clearly give you all of the directions of what to do with all your drops. It is a lot to do, but it is only for 5 days. After which you go to the clinic for 10 minutes and they check your eyes and take off the lens and then your good to fly home. After 3 days you can see to get around just fine.
Tips to do before the surgery
- Have food and water ready at your place for the next 3 days.
- Make sure you have a place that you can close the blinds and have it dark.
- Have the address to the place your staying printed out, so you can show it to the taxi.
- Bring sunglasses with you to the clinic. Your eyes are very sensitive to light, so you need to have sun glasses to put on when you leave the clinic. You actually will wear sun glasses anytime you go outside for the next 3 months.
- Download audio books on your phone. I could not even read or see my phone so download some good audio books and music onto your phone ahead of time so you have something to do. You will be able to hear the TV but not be able to see it (or understand it, LOL) so do not plan on that.
It has been 2 months since I got back, at 1 month they want you to go and get your sight checked. You can do this with your regular doctor you see here in the states. I went in for my appointment at the end of August, and he said my eyes have healed fine, there is no infection, and the lining has all healed back. Better still, my sight is 20/15! Going from 350/400 to 20/15 is a life changer. It has taken me this long to wrap my head around it all. It happened so fast, all of the miracles to get there, while we were there, the kids, the schedule, the price- it all worked out.
My miracle came not from some blessing, or a crazy method, no one laid hands on me or anything like that. But it was a miracle just the same. There was no way I could have coordinated all that happened, and all at the last second. It was miraculous! I was in and out in two hours with my vision corrected, on the other side of the world, and all coordinated in less than a day. Heaven coordinates and is in our life much more than we think. Miracles are happening all around us every day. There is no such thing as coincidences. Everything happens for a reason. I was told to stop wearing my glasses for a reason, I chose my future when I chose to listen.
I had to change the way I defined a miracle, and then my eyes were able to see the miracles all around me.
If you want a guide to all things Korea, what to eat, where to go, and what to shop that will be in the next post: Guide To All Things Korea.