Reasons, Location, & Cost

Why in the world did I take the risk and get laser eye surgery?

GlassesI’ve been rocking frames for about 17 years. Although they’re a part of my identity, I really grew tired of being their slave. I’ll put it in the way that I told my mother: When I wake up in the morning, I want to at least have the option of whether or not I want to wear glasses.

My other reasons:

  • To not have to worry about vision while traveling off the beaten paths 
  • To be able to see underwater while swimming or snorkeling.
  • If I’m ever in a situation where I have to defend myself, I want to be able to see if my frames are knocked off of my face or contacts falling out of the eyes in a sandstorm

(Yes, I had to have reasons to give to the million, “Why would you do that?” questions)

Why did I choose LASEK over LASIK? Why Hangil Eye Hospital?

In November, I went to a complimentary eye exam in Gangnam, Seoul. Afterwards, the eye surgeon looked at the test results and cleared my eyes for any type of surgery. He suggested LASIK eye surgery due to the quick recovery (1-2 days). I trusted his expert suggestion and made an appointment for LASIK eye surgery in 2 weeks.

A few days prior to the surgery, I decided to do more research on side effects, recovery, and such. During the search, I ran across an online boxing forum. One particular comment that made me jump, “You cannot participate in any fights if you get LASIK. You have to get LASEK.” Within a heartbeat, I started searching.

After having LASIK eye surgery, the patient should be able to see by the next day, with little to virtually no pain. LASEK, on the other hand, has a much longer and more painful recovery process. So, unless you’re a pain lover, who in their right mind would choose LASEK?

On the flip side, one con with LASIK is the increased chance of ‘dry eyes’. Of course, the chance exists with both surgeries. So, that was not my deciding point. My decision came from the ‘flap’.

In LASIK, a flap is created on your eye. It is slightly permanent. There is a very low chance of it opening up, but there is still a chance. That chance of the flap coming off greatly increases if you are involved in contact sports or a collision where you can experience eye trauma. I enjoy contact sports. In fact, I participate in Tae Kwon Do and I plan to jump back into kickboxing whenever I get to a country with it. As a health professional, I expect ‘do you play contact sports?’ to be a crucial question when deciding between surgeries. So, I was completely turned off of the Gangnam clinic because this was never mentioned… not once. I called to cancel the LASIK surgery and decided to search for the Hangil Eye Hospital (as strongly suggested by a co-worker) and get LASEK.

The location was perfect and her recommendation was high. After the initial two visits (one for consultation, the other for eye exams), I felt very comfortable with the environment. I didn’t feel like ‘just another number’ and they seemed to care about what they were doing. So, I stuck with the place.

What was the cost?

I planned to save between $4,000 to $5,000 while working in Korea so that I could get surgery in the states. A friend told me that the surgeries start at $1,500- $2,000 per eye plus extra for astigmatism, stronger prescription and so forth.

The Gangnam clinic had a very nice November special for 600,000 won. This is probably about $550.

The Hangil Eye Hospital was 1,200,000 won, which is approximately $1,100. After the surgery, I purchased the medicine, eye drops, Tylenol, and the stack of Vitamin C for about 49,000 won (~$45).

The nice thing about the Korean prices is that everything is included. (Pre-surgery exams, surgery, post-surgery exams, etc.) The prices are set regardless of your eye prescription. In the states, the prices increase based on prescription and other factors.

**Yes, I was willing to pay the extra price for comfort.. surprisingly, but they were dealing with my eyes.**

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