In December of 2016, an ad for LASIK eye surgery in South Korea popped up on my Facebook feed, and I thought, “Hmm… that would be kind of cool.” I then sent them an email, explained my sight situation, and asked about pricing. They got back to me within hours, and I immediately set an appointment for a consultation.
Backstory: my vision was BAD! I was rockin’ a -3.50 in both eyes, and if you are familiar with contact lenses, you know I couldn’t see 6 inches in front of my face without the aid of eyeglasses. I’ve worn glasses my entire life, and couldn’t operate a vehicle, properly shower, or navigate in the world without them. My biggest concern was losing my glasses or needing to remove my lenses while in an unfamiliar setting – i.e., traveling. For example, I’m attacked, my glasses fall off, and I’m screwed. Paranoid? Perhaps. Safe? Certainly.
The BGN Lasik Eye Clinic
I chose BGN Eye Clinic in Gangnam, Seoul, South Korea. If you’re not familiar with Gangnam, it is the Beverly Hills of Seoul. I chose this clinic based on the reviews and location. Gangnam is more elite, so I figured they’d have a cleaner, nicer, and more professional office, and I was right! The clinic was in a gorgeous high-rise with massive windows and a fancy coffee shop. The clinic occupies an entire floor. One end of the floor is for consultations and examinations, while the other half is dedicated to surgeries.
The Consultation for LASIK Eye Surgery
The entire staff was friendly and accommodating. It was apparent I didn’t speak Korean, so they assigned a nurse to walk me through the whole process, and honestly, her English was probably better than mine. She briefly explained how the surgery worked, the different options, pricing, and the recovery process. She also gave me a facility tour to help me feel more comfortable, and it worked. At this point, I was sold, and because I coincidentally had a long weekend away from work, I chose to do the surgery that day!
Examination for LASIK Eye Surgery
The examination took TWO HOURS! As exhausting as this was, I was thankful because I felt like they were thorough and honest if I were a candidate for the surgery. On that note, not all people are eligible for the operation. I don’t know what disqualifies someone; I just thought I should throw that disclaimer out.
There were roughly 15 stations with loud machines, laser beams, and futuristic goggles that I had to endure before getting the okay from the doctor to proceed with surgery. The process was fairly routine, except for one test. I can’t say for sure what the purpose of the analysis was, but someone put a tiny piece of paper IN each eye, near my tear duct. The paper had a string attached to it with a bigger paper attached at the bottom (lip level). I had to keep the paper in my eyes for 15 minutes, and needless to say, it was uncomfortable and a bit painful.
There are five surgery options: Smile, LASIK, LASEK, ICL, and Multifocal. I was deciding between LASIK and LASEK for my procedure. From my understanding, LASIK uses two lasers with a recovery time of 24-72 hours, whereas LASEK uses one laser with a recovery time of 24 hours to one week. LASIK was cheaper by $500-$1000 (if I remember correctly), and because the recovery time was much shorter, my work wasn’t affected. Altogether, I paid a total of $1,200 for both eyes with a $100 discount for giving them a shout-out on social media. I was also given a year’s supply of NECESSARY eye drops for free after doing a post-surgery video during a checkup. (scroll down for video.)
This isn’t something I could normally afford, but I was teaching in Seoul at the time and ballin’ on Won (Korea currency). If this is something you’re interested in, check out 7 Reasons Why You Should Teach In South Korea.
After two hours of tests and 30 minutes deciding which procedure to choose, it was finally time for surgery! My English speaking nurse led me to the surgery center, instructed me to wash my face, clothed me in oversized hospital garbs, took my shoes away (Asian culture), and introduced me to the doctor. Within seconds I was lying on a bed surrounded by what looked like an open MRI machine. The entire process took about 7 minutes.
Without warning, a large machine settled on my face and put A LOT of pressure on my eye socket. The only thing I can compare it to is a sumo wrestler pinning your head on the ground with their body weight. It felt like my skull was seconds from flattening, but other than that, the procedure was painless (lol).
When the death device was lifted, my eyelid was gently pulled open and held back by a device, and that’s when the red laser appeared. Once the laser was focused on my eye, my vision went black, starting from the top and working its way down until I couldn’t see anything.
I’m not 100% certain of what happened during the surgery, but I do know the doctor made an incision on my cornea, then pulled back a flap that allowed the laser to peak in and remove microscopic pieces of “bad” tissue. During that time, I could hear the buzzing of the laser but felt nothing. Seconds later, the flap was returned to its natural state, and I could kind of see! Without missing a beat, they continued on the other eye, and the next thing I knew, I was being led into a dark room with comfy lounge chairs and blankets.
During the surgery, I have to point out that a lovely nurse I couldn’t see held my hand and rubbed my arm. It was a small gesture, but it helped a lot!
Recovering from LASIK Eye Surgery
While in the darkroom, I was told to keep my eyes closed and relax. Twenty minutes later, my English speaking nurse made sure I was okay and led me back to my belongings. My vision at this point was a little blurry, but I COULD SEE! I honestly thought it was a miracle. Up until that point, I had never seen the world that clearly. Ugh, I still get emotional thinking about it. The ability to clear the site should not be taken for granted.
At this point, I was set to head home and was offered assistance in getting a cab. I’m painfully cheap, so I declined the clinic’s offer and thought I could make it back on the subway. I could not. My vision started to get more and more blurry, so twenty minutes into the subway ride, I realized I was going the wrong way. This part was scary because I could barely see, and the anesthetic was starting to wear off. Thankfully after 15 minutes of trying to flag a taxi down, one finally felt pity for the weeping American girl on the side of the road and picked me up. It was a 45-minute ride back home, and I cried the entire time. Half of the tears were a reaction to the surgery, watery eyes, and the other half was because it did hurt.
When I eventually made it home, I laid in bed and cried some more, until about 3 hours later I opened my eyes, and EVERYTHING WAS CLEAR! It was AMAZING! I felt zero pain, and my eyes had miraculously stopped watering. This was probably the most joy I’ve ever felt. It was truly incredible.
Side Effects & Inconveniences
I could not wash my face for a week and had to wear goggles in the shower and while sleeping for two weeks. It was recommended to wear sunglasses anytime I was outdoors for the first month and be intentional about wearing sunglasses for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I have sensitive eyes, so to this day, I wear sunglasses regularly. I recently went to the pool for one hour with a hat and no sunglasses and sunburnt one of my eyes. It is a little annoying, but I’m too grateful to complain.
The most notable side effect is dry eyes. This varies depending on the person, but mine is kind of bad. I get up a few times a night to put drops in, but again, I’m too grateful to let it phase me.
My experience with LASIK eye surgery in South Korea was incredible and has completely changed my life. Not only has it saved me money on annual eye exams, but I don’t have to worry about itchy contacts or broken glasses anymore. LASIK has given me the freedom to live without concern and travel with confidence.
This is not in any way a sponsored post. I’m completely authentic in sharing my experience and recommend BGN Eye Clinic to anyone considering eye surgery.