We’ve found yet another reason that Korea is awesome… low (or lower than America) priced health care. Firstly, our health insurance is amazing. It covers anything you can think of including chiropractic care as well as oriental medicine in addition to the normal stuff. When seeing a local doctor, the co-pay is around 5,000KRW, or less than $5. Prescriptions usually total even less than that. However, a few weeks ago, I got to experience something even cooler… LASIK Eye Surgery for around half the price of U.S. eye centers.
Korea does not use the 20/20 scale for vision acuity that I am used to and instead uses a 1.0 scale where 1.0 is the same as 20/20 and anything higher is better. When I was tested before the surgery, my vision was -4.75 in my right eye and -3.75 in my left eye. Since higher than 1.0 is good, you can imagine that these negative numbers are not so good.
When I went in for surgery, my eyes were numbed using some drops. I was suited up and taken into a sterile room where Dr. Shin and several assistants were waiting for me. Not much was spoken in the room since there is a language barrier, but the words I needed to hear were, “Don’t Scare” and “You’re doing very well.” Also important was “look at the red light.” Since this is an all laser procedure, I was first asked to be very still while a laser created a “flap” in my cornea. At that time, my vision became very foggy and, I will admit, I was a little nervous. I was then taken to another table where the flap was folded over away from my eye and the laser surgery could begin. I was asked to “look at the red light” and “don’t scare” as a popping sound a burning smell started. First my right eye and then my left were subjected to the laser treatment that reshaped my cornea to allow for better focusing of light. One small glitch occurred as Dr. Shin noticed a small piece of dust had gotten under the flap of my left eye after the surgery was completed. I was taken back into the room and the dust was cleaned out using water and some special tools.
It was quite a strange experience, mostly in that I was actually able to see the tools as they touched my eyes.
Afterward, I was asked to rest for about 30 minutes and then my eyes were checked again by Dr. Shin. When I was allowed to go home, my eyes were extremely sensitive to light and, as the numbing medication wore off, were more than a little scratchy. It was quite a task to keep from rubbing them. I took a nap when I got home and when I woke up my vision was little blurry, and my eyes still a little sore, though getting better.
By the next day, I was doing great. I headed back to Shinsagae to for my follow up appointment early the next morning and was amazed that I did not need my glasses or contacts anymore. Less than 24 hours later, my vision had improved to 1.2 or roughly, 20/16. By my followup appointment one week later, more improvement! My vision is now 1.5 or somewhere between 20/12 and 20/15.
I still see some halos around lights, but Dr. Shin assures me that it will go away over the next several weeks. All in all, I am totally amazed with the results.
If you have the opportunity to get LASIK, go for it! If you’re in Ulsan, I highly recommend Shinsagae for your Bright New World! If you’re in the U.S., you can fly to Korea and have the procedure done at roughly the same price as the procedure only in the states. So, you might as well get to visit Korea, too, right?