After 4 years of living in South Korea, Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic finally presented me with the opportunity to get corrective eye surgery. With Dr. Park’s guidance and skills, I was able to complete my LASEK eye surgery successfully. Read on to learn about my experience and for insight before your own surgery.
My Laser Eye Surgery Journey in Korea
If you ask around in Korea it’s very easy to find people who have had laser eye surgery. There are types of eye surgery that I hadn’t heard of before I came to Korea and the whole process is much more streamlined than I had experienced when I had previously gone for consultations for laser surgery in England.
After living in Korea for more than 4 years, laser eye surgery was something I had my heart set on. It has always been on my list of things to do. But, I’ve always made excuses about the recovery time and the surgery costs.
However, my dreams finally came true when I was first contacted by the Koreabyme team who put me in contact with Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic. We then organized a consultation date and I waited very excitedly.
Also, an important note! The hospital told me that I should not wear contact lenses for at least one week before my consultation or surgery. Before going for any kind of surgery you should always research recovery times, possible side effects, and anything that might worry you about the surgery. I like to do a little bit of research so that I have questions to ask a doctor if I’m worried about side effects. I had already done a consultation years ago in England where I found out I was more suitable for LASEK, not LASIK.
However, I knew before going for my consultation that I really wanted to get smile LASIK surgery because this has the fastest recovery time.
Location of Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic
The hospital is located between Gangnam station exits 1 and 2. The building entrance looks similar to an office entrance. But, turn left to the elevators and you can take it all the way up to the 18th floor, where Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic is located.
This clinic is very foreign-friendly! I spoke to a lot of the staff in my beginner’s Korean and the staff could speak some English. But, most importantly, the hospital provides a translator for foreign patients. The translator was very experienced and helped with all the paperwork and understanding of the process.
The visit began with basic medical paperwork and then straight to the eye examinations. The tests included all the tests you have at a normal eye examination plus extra tests to assess sensitivity to light, the field of vision, and cornea thickness. The doctors found that my corneas are thinner than the average person’s which meant that my surgery options were limited. So, I needed one more test to measure the thickness of the cornea.
SMILE Lasik and Lasik are not suitable for people with thin corneas as the surgery involves lifting a small section.
This last test was the oddest of all, numbing drops were put into both my eyes, and then the doctor touched around my iris and pupil with a small plastic instrument. They did this to measure the cornea thickness and sent the results to the PC. This is hopefully the only time in my life I will say that my eye was like jelly! I could vaguely recognize something happening when the instrument touched my eye although there was no sense of touch or pain, and I could not clearly see what was happening.
Types of Surgery and Consultation Results
From entrance to examination, results came in around 30 minutes. I was not suitable for SMILE or LASIK but I could still receive Lasek corrective surgery. The hospital recommended pairing it with a vitamin B treatment to help my corneas regeneration after the surgery. I was also really excited to find out that I would be getting eye drops made from my own blood plasma to help with recovery.
I was also offered one more test to show my possibility for future eye diseases, i opted out of this test.
Meeting My Surgeon
After discussing the treatments I met with the head doctor and Wonjangnim of Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic (Hyung Jik Park). He has over 20 years of operating experience and a reassuring bedside manner. I have met him three times in total and he makes me smile every time I see him because he treats his patients very respectfully. He gave my eyes one last examination to check their health before he confirmed that he would proceed with the surgery.
The doctor also gave me some chocolate to eat before my surgery. Definitely, the thing I needed to help calm my nerves!
The hospital offered to have the surgery that day straight after the consultation. If I had been able to proceed with this the whole process would have taken less than 3 hours. However, I scheduled the surgery for a long weekend for maximum recovery time.
Prepping for Surgery at Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic
Before the procedure, I didn’t wear lenses for 3 to 4 weeks. I also didn’t drink alcohol. When I returned for surgery I had one last eye examination before I saw Dr. Park again. On the day I was very nervous. However, Dr. Park was very kind and spoke with me to help me relax before the surgery.
Next, I was given my medication prescription and visited the pharmacy in the basement of the building. Medications included drops and oral tablets. Once we had all the medications I needed to give a little blood so that the hospital could extract the plasma and create my recovery eyedrops. Again from the entrance to this point, the process was less than 30 minutes.
By the time we got to surgery I was so nervous I was nearly shaking, or worse crying. Dr. Park drew two small dots on each of my eyes for the surgery and then I went into the operating room.
LASEK at Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic
The operation is visually and mentally a blur. It took less than ten minutes and all I did was lay on the operating table, keep my right eye open, then my left. Look at the lights and try the hardest I’ve ever tried in my life to not blink or move. There was no feeling aside from a very odd slight vibration I want to forget when the doctor cut the cornea.
The vitamin B treatment was directly after each laser and involved looking at a blue light. The doctor placed a bandage lens on each eye after he finished them in turn so that I could close my eye. After around 7-10 minutes it all finished and I shakily stood up with clear vision but yellow temporary spots from the vitamins.
Immediately After Surgery at Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic
Immediately after the surgery, everything felt fine, but I had heard that Lasek recovery was not easy and so I taxied home fast. Having vision and site and no pain lasted for around 30 to 40 minutes. By the time I reached my home, I just wanted to lie down with my eyes closed in a dark dark room for a long long time.
From here, Friday evening to the next Monday evening. I almost never left my sofa bed. Saturday and Sunday were a blur of watery eyes and sleep. By Monday, I could begin to keep my eyes open. And, thank goodness I could because I had to work on Tuesday. Another thing to note is that for the first 6 days after the surgery you have bandaged lenses in your eyes as the layer underneath is regenerating. You cannot get your face wet, you cannot shower, and wash your hair. To make sure I didn’t rub my eyes in my sleep or in the morning by accident, I slept with safety goggles on too.
Recovery and Checkups
I revisited the hospital 7 days after my initial surgery to get my bandage lenses removed. My eyes felt heavy and dry with them in and then when they were taken out, I felt like my eyes could breathe! This first hospital check-up was less than 10 minutes. I saw Doctor Park and I received my special eye certificate to show my previous prescription and treatment.
Then, exactly 2 weeks after the surgery I got a possible foreign object sensation in one of my eyes. This was a side effect of incorrect recovery that Dr. Park had mentioned, and so I visited the closest eye hospital to my work. Post-surgery care is free with Gangnam Seoul Eye Clinic. But, I paid at my local clinic because of work and travel time issues. I also would have felt much better if Dr. Park had looked at my eyes again. Thankfully, nothing was wrong, it was just a normal part of the recovery process.
Since then, my eyes have been getting better day by day and I can’t wait to have perfect vision without the use of glasses or lenses.
Writing this article, I am two weeks and 6 days after my surgery. According to all the blog posts I have read from other people who had LASEK surgery my recovery is exactly as it should be.
All in all, I was very happy with my experience at Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic. The Doctor was very concerned about my well-being. Although I preferred LASIK, he was honest with me about my risk factors and guided me toward the safest option. The staff were kind and welcoming. I recommend it to any other foreigners looking to get corrective eye surgery.
Gangnam Seoul Bright Eye Clinic (강남서울밝은안과의원) Address: 390 Gangnam-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, ROK (MiJin Plaza, 18th Floor) Korean Address: 서울 강남구 강남대로 390 미진프라자 Operating Hours: Mon, Tues, Thu: 10:00 AM - 06:30 PM Fri: 10:00 AM - 09:00 PM Sat:09:30 AM - 02:00 PM Closed: Sun & Wed