I’ve always had the worst eye sight out of anyone I know. A conversation usually would begin with the other person saying: “Man, I’m blind without my glasses.”
Me: “Oh really? Me too!”
Other person: “Yeah I pretty much can’t see a thing”
Me: “What’s your prescription?”
Other Person: “Like a -3.25 and -4.00. Isn’t it horrible.”
Me: “Seriously?! Mines a -8.75 and -7.50.”
Other Person: “Oh wow, you literally are blind.”
Me: “Yeah, so you shut your face about your -3 business.”
No I don’t really say that on the end of the conversation, I just think it. It’s bad enough when you go to the eye doctor, tell him you have horrible eyes and he exclaims: “Wow, your eyes ARE bad!” Gee thanks. Way to make me feel awesome.
I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 6. I distinctly remember the day I got my first pair, I was so excited about wearing glasses. If I had known what was to come in the future years with my horrid prescription, the cost of glasses (with that prescription), contacts, eye allergies, etc. I may have been crying instead of smiling on the way home.
I guess my eyes had always been terrible from the start. The moment I received my glasses it was like unveiling a whole new world to me. I’m not sure how I knew tree branches and leaves existed before glasses, because I could see them! Clear as a bell! I’ll never forget exclaiming over and over, “Look at the trees! Look at the leaves! Look a the mountains!” I could see.
Just for your viewing and amusement pleasure I had to throw in a picture of me with my first pair of glasses. I’m not sure why my mom even let me pick these suckers out. Each lens was the size of a freaking dinner plate, and the frames were pink with little purple flowers. Fashion forward much? Then there’s the matching pajama thing with my American Doll Addy (she was always my favorite). Oh and the doll umbrella, because apparently I thought it was raining inside the house. The hair cut? Not going there.
By the time I was 12 I grew to hate my glasses with a passion (I had since moved on from my flowery frames of fashion death and upgraded to a sleeker silver design). I hated the way they made my eyes look small, and the way they felt on my face. Having them constantly steam up or fog over in certain types of weather was annoying too. My mom let me save up and buy my own contacts when I was 13 years old. Thank goodness for Walmart having ‘Always Great Prices.’
Once I got contacts I never went back to glasses. I upgraded my frames one more time in 2007, but literally NEVER wore my glasses out in public, and rarely took my contacts out even at night. Yes, I was that girl.
When we moved to South Korea I discovered the wonders of one a day contacts, and it kept my eye allergies at bay (apparently I’m allergic to seaweed). There was still an undeniable desperation with being so blind though. I kept thinking about natural disasters or emergencies.What if a tsunami hit and I didn’t have my contacts in (or I did and they were washed out)? I’d be TOAST for sure. OR what if WW3 happened and North Korea finally decided to attack? Without my husband I wouldn’t make it. What if I was alone one night and heard something in my house or worse, my room, and couldn’t see it?
These (and many more) what-ifs apparently rung a bell in my husband’s thoughts as well. He started mentioning LASIK. I had looked into it once in the US, but the $4,000 dollar price tag wasn’t something I could pocket or justify in our current situation. Getting surgery in South Korea has its advantages. Not only are the doctors world renowned, but everything is a MILLION times cheaper than back home.
I started looking into LASIK prices to find out that most clinics offer it for around $600-700 per eye! That’s less than a third of the cost of the service back home. Derik and I kept talking about it, until two weeks ago when he said: “You just need to do it. Go online and book LASIK right now.” We both knew it would be a great thing for our travels, especially since we have a big trip coming up in the spring. No more messing with contacts and eye solution!
After extensive research
who am I kidding I only spent 30 minutes I stumbled repeatedly on Sojunghannun Ophthalmology Clinic. I of course had been googling ‘LASIK in Busan’ and blog after blog kept popping up how great their service was. When I found out that the former president of Korea took his bad eyes there, I knew mine had to go too.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a slight freak out/hyperventilating moment the second I booked my consultation AND surgery on the same day. What was I thinking? This is my SIGHT we’re talking about here, yet I’m signing it away online over a 5 minute procedure.
The day of the surgery I was a nervous wreck. My husband did his best to console me and tell me it wasn’t a big deal, but the only thing going through my head was ‘Amanda what if it doesn’t work and your lousy sight is ruined forever?’ I was also worried about the fact that I may not qualify due to the allergies I’ve had all year. Also you never know how thick your corneas are going to be until the doctor tells you. If your corneas are too thin? No LASIK for you.
I couldn’t decide if I was more nervous about qualifying for the surgery or the actual surgery itself.
We walked into the very contemporary looking clinic and were greeted by a friendly staff. They weren’t fluent English speakers, but they were helpful and got all my info sorted out in no time. Classical music was playing softly in the background, and deluxe coffee machines were at every corner just waiting to make you a mocha or cappuccino.
I went through a series of eye machines to determine my pupil size, eye dioptre, cornea thickness and so on. Apparently I passed all of those with flying colors because I was quickly brought into the doctors office and being told what exactly the laser does when they cut my cornea open. I don’t even really remember what he said because I was too busy freaking out about the fact that I’m having LASIK surgery in less than 15 minutes.
Derik and I were both brought into a private room with a gorgeous city view and amazing massage chairs. While we were relaxing for a few minutes I was instructed to throw on my little surgery outfit and was given tea and cake. That pit of butterflies in my stomach was growing bigger and bigger.
Then it was time. The lady grabbed my hand and led me (like I was blind psh) toward the operating room. I guess right now would be a great time to mention this is my first experience with surgery EVER in my entire life. I was led into an air shower where I stood in a small room/box getting air blown on me for about 10 seconds. Then came the operating table.
I guess I always figured with something like LASIK they’d at least secure your head or your arms or something so you don’t accidentally move or freak out. Nope I was wrong. I laid down on the table with the instructions of the nurse (in Korean) and she fixed my hair net to keep the hair out of my face. She then placed the laser machine just inches from my face and then we waited for the doctor.
The doctor came in and the surgery began immediately. I felt like I was either jumping off a cliff or riding on a huge roller coaster. The doctor spent the entire time coaching me through the surgery, and with a monotone voice he kept saying, “Just relax. Look at the light. Just relax.” It was actually pretty soothing despite the fact that I was having my eyes cut open and operated on by a laser.
The first thing they did was put this clear tape-like plastic mask around my nose, eyes, and forehead. I’m assuming its to keep anything on my face out of my eyes. The doctor did one eye at a time and started with the right. He put about four drops of numbing solution in my eye, and I tell you what, I didn’t feel an ounce of pain. There was a lot of pressure, but that was it! After he put the drops in he opened up my eye with a speculum to keep my eyelids open. He drew a couple lines on my iris (which I could see him doing but never felt) and then came the cornea cutting process. I’m not sure what he used to cut it, but it felt really weird and I lost my eyesight for about 10 seconds.Whatever he used kind of vibrated and whirred over my eye. After he cut it he would ask me if I could see the red light again. Yes, yes I could.
Now my left eye was a completely different story. Same process, same cutting, but after he was finished he asked me if I could see the red light, and wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t! I had about a 2 second mini freak out thinking he cut the cornea too thick; I was blind and I’d never see again through that eye. Two seconds later (which seemed like an eternity) I could see. I think he just asked me a little bit in advance, which of course scared me to death.
The laser was next and didn’t hurt an ounce. I watched it dance for 17 seconds on my right eye and 19 seconds on my left. The smell was horrendous. I had read about the smell online, but it’s very similar to what burning hair smells like. Once the laser was done doing its’ thing the doctor put the flap back over my eye and squeegeed out the air bubbles. He then put temporary contacts (with no prescription) to keep my recently cut corneas in place. The contact lenses were just a little bit bigger than a normal contact, but not anything crazy different.
When he was finished I could see! It was really cloudy and hazy at first, but I was able to walk myself out of the room and meet up with Derik. After getting some instruction on how to use the series of eyedrops they gave me, I was able to leave. No other instruction needed! I didn’t even need to wear those silly glasses at night like a lot of people do.
Just yesterday I went back to Busan to have my contacts taken out and my first check up and wouldn’t you know it, I can see better than 20/20. He didn’t tell me the exact number, but that’s good enough for me. I have a small hemorrhage in my right eye which I was told will go away in a couple weeks. Nothing like freaking my kindergarten students out.
Looking back at the surgery it just feels like some crazy dream. Yes. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a traumatic experience, but it was definitely worth the trauma! Now for all the brave souls out there I’ve included a video of the surgery on one of my eyes. Credits to my husband for taking this. If you’re anything like me and you have an aversion to eyeballs don’t watch it.
Have you gotten LASIK? Are you thinking about it? I love hearing others opinions and thoughts!