Dangers of Laser Eye Surgery: My Smile Lasik Experience

Today is the 16th day after my laser eye surgery in Korea. I am experiencing a slow recovery and my vision is still clouded. The doctor informed me that if there is no improvement after three months, it is likely that my vision will be clouded permanently. Although most peopleโ€™s vision improves immediately, itโ€™s important to know the possible side effects and the long recovery period you may be facing. If you are considering doing Smile Lasik surgery in Korea, I hope that my experience can help you make an informed decision.

Before Getting Started

Several of my friends had successful laser eye surgeries in Korea using Smile Lasik technology. They recommended that I go to a clinic in Gangnam. Around Gangnam there are dozens of out-patient clinics that specialize in minor surgeries such as laser eye surgery. As a result, it is easy to compare clinics and doctors, and business there is highly competitive so the area attracts the best doctors in the country.

Once you find a clinic and a doctor, things move incredibly fast. You can have laser eye surgery on the same day you contact the clinic for the first time. In order to get vital information, you will need to do your research and prepare questions ahead of time.

Here are some examples of things you should look into before you begin contacting a laser eye surgery clinic in Korea:

  • How different eye conditions influence risk factors
  • What is the difference between different surgical methods (Lasik, Lasek, Smile Lasik)

Laser Eye Surgery Process

Doing laser eye surgery in Korea is super fast. Each step mentioned below takes 10 to 40 mins (not including the waiting time). If you want, all of these steps can be completed in a single day.

Make a Reservation

I found that it was better to make a reservation by phone, rather than on the clinicโ€™s website. Although I used the website, they ended up calling me anyways to ask more questions.

I wanted to have the surgery right away. However, I found that because I wear contact lenses, I needed to wait. I called 5 different clinics. Most told me that because I wore RGP lenses, I needed to have not worn them for at least 10 days. If you wear soft lenses, you need to go without contact lenses for at least one week. If you wear glasses, you do not need to wait.


After some eye exams, the consultant told me I can do Lasek or Smile Lasik. Being an office worker in Korea and am not able to take very many days off, so I chose Smile Lasik because of the short recovery time. I was told that I could go back to work the same day as the surgery.

I suppose that the consultant was not a doctor, but rather a salesperson working in a customer service position. Later I would find that this personโ€™s role was also to comfort patients who were not satisfied with their results.

Meet the Doctor

My doctor explained the surgery process briefly and asked if I had any questions. I had already researched possible side effects, so I didnโ€™t ask much.

For myself, I had already decided that the benefits outweighed the risks. I didnโ€™t think bad luck would come to me. However, it did, and if it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. Know that the risks are real and consider them seriously. Make sure you ask the doctor questions so that you are fully informed before having surgery.

Choose a Time for Your Laser Eye Surgery

I decided to do the surgery on the same day as my consultation to avoid missing work and because of the discount they offered. The whole process was around 20 mins.

But, it felt like two hours. It didnโ€™t hurt much, but it was very scary. During Smile Lasik surgery, the doctor removes part of the eye through a small incision. I could see the entire process, including the tweezers moving insideโ€ฆ

Post Surgery

The first follow-up check was two days after the surgery. The doctor took out the protection lenses that were used in the surgery. In the first vision test, everything was so blurry that I could not see the eye test sheet itself, never mind read anything on it.

For many people, their vision scores around 1.2 at the first follow-up check. Nevertheless, the doctor reassured me that my results were completely normal. He said that it was not uncommon to still have clouded vision two days after laser eye surgery and that it should improve.

There are many people who can see 1.2 at the first follow-up check. However, my eye doctor told me itโ€™s normal to have clouded vision, and it should improve. After downplaying the risks at my first post-surgery appointment, he confirmed that my results were concerning at my second appointment.

My second post-surgery appointment was two weeks after my laser eye surgery. Unfortunately, my vision had not significantly improved. I was told that my vision my never recover.

My Results

Going into the surgery, I had very bad vision. I was not expecting to have perfect vision after laser eye surgery. However, my results did not meet even my lowest expectations.

I went for my second follow-up appointment two weeks after surgery. Everything is still blurry. I can feel that my diopters improved compared to immediately after. The quality of my vision is significantly worse than before.

I canโ€™t see peopleโ€™s faces. At two meters away, I cannot even tell the difference between Europeans and Asians. I fill like I am living in a low-resolution movie. My vision also changes throughout the day, it is difficult to function in the mornings and evenings. I can barely see in low light, and I also have severe photosensitivity. The decline of my vision gives me anxiety as I am waiting to find out if the results will be permanent.

I have been told that if my vision does not improve within three months, this will be my new normal.

Additionally, I was shocked to find that I was not alone in having negative results from Smile Lasik surgery in Korea. Many people have to have a second or third corrective surgery to restore their vision.

For Reference

My Condition Before laser Eye Surgery

Break up time: R 4.84 sec; L 3.57 sec (The best number is over 10 sec). The doctor has said that this is the most probable cause of why I had a negative response to laser eye surgery. A worse starting condition with regards to break up time increases the risk of developing clouded vision.

Corneal thickness: R 519; L 529

Nearsighted: L-7.5๏ผŒ R-6.75

Vision Correction Method before the surgery: RGP contact lenses. Iโ€™ve been wearing glasses since 3rd grade, I started to use RGP lenses when I was 12. I am currently 25. RGP lenses are a lot less harmful than soft lenses.

Cost of Laser Surgery in Korea

Lasek: 1,700,000 KRW

Smile Lasik Surgery: 2,300,000 KRW. The clinic I went to offered a 100,000 KRW discount for doing surgery on the same day as the eye exams and consultation.

Post-Op. Medication: 50,000 KRW +

Note: Laser eye surgery is not covered by national health insurance. Also, for three months after your laser eye surgery, national health insurance will not cover any ophthalmologist visits or medical costs related to eye health. The drops needed after surgery are not covered by health insurance either.

If you have read through the risks and decide that laser eye surgery is not for you, there are other options. Click Here to read about how to buy contact lenses and glasses in South Korea.