LASEK eye surgery in Busan, Korea at Sojunghannun (소중한눈)

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I had LASEK eye surgery in Busan, Korea at Sojunghannun (소중한눈). I’m not completely healed yet, but I’ll continue to update this page in the future, and you can always ask me a question (best if you leave your contact info).

I have considering having LASIK eye surgery for over ten years. Because of heavy reading throughout university, my eyesight changed greatly, so my optometrist recommended waiting until it stabilized. Also, it’s considerably cheaper in South Korea than the US (where it’s $2300 per eye, on average).

I had LASEK eye surgery in Busan, Korea at Sojunghannun (소중한눈). I’m not completely healed yet, but I’ll continue to update this page in the future, and you can always ask me a question (best if you leave your contact info).

I have considering having LASIK eye surgery for over ten years. Because of heavy reading throughout university, my eyesight changed greatly, so my optometrist recommended waiting until it stabilized. Also, it’s considerably cheaper in South Korea than the US (where it’s $2300 per eye, on average).

I first had a consultation at Dream Eye Center in Gangnam, Seoul during the summer of 2013. They answered all my questions and really walked me through what the surgery would be like. They quoted me the price of 1.7 million won ($1540 USD) for the surgery and all follow-up care, but because of scheduling conflicts, I wasn’t able to get it done before I moved to Busan.

I ended up going to Sojunghannun (소중한눈) in the Centum City area of Busan. I had friends that recommended it, it was easy to schedule an appointment online, they spoke English on the phone, and I hadn’t seen any other eye clinics that really differentiated themselves. It seems to be a very routine surgery here in Korea. You can even have your consultation and surgery on the same day, like I did.

The consultation takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, and there is no charge for it. They run your eyes through a bunch of tests to figure out what kind of surgery you might need, they answer all the questions you have, and then you decide whether you want the surgery or not!

A lot of my friends have had LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis) eye surgery, but I opted for the more painful option of LASEK (Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis) eye surgery. You should do research on the two, and ask your doctor what is optimal and available to you.

From what I understand about LASIK is that they take your eyes, open them, cut a flap in your corneal tissue, open the flap, laser it, and then put the flap back down. This is faster and the healing time is faster and less painful. The drawback is the that the flap may come open in the future, but it is highly unlikely. 

With LASEK eye surgery, they don’t cut a flap; they shave off the corneal tissue so it completely grows back. I went with this option because I did not want to deal with things coming off later on in life if I had a terrible accident, also, I had the time off of work to recover. No one really prepared me how painful it could be though, so keep that in mind. Still totally worth it, in my opinion, and I would do it again if I had to do it over.

The timeline essentially goes like this.

Prior to the consultation/surgery:

If you are wear contact lenses, plan not to wear them prior to your surgery. Soft contact lenses should not be worn 1 week prior and hard contact lenses 2 weeks prior to your consultation.

If you get eyelash extensions, get the last ones 2-3 weeks before surgery. I did mine 4 weeks before surgery, and I was thankful to have as few fake eyelashes on as possible so I wasn’t tempted to rub my eyes.

My doctor also suggested not consuming alcohol a week before the surgery, and overall just to be healthy, so I wouldn’t be sick before or after the surgery.

On the day of your consultation/surgery:

Make sure you have audio books or podcasts to listen to. Have lots of easy to eat snacks and water to drink at home. Make your bed as comfortable as possible.

Bring sunglasses and your alien registration card to your appointment.

During your surgery:

You can choose to bring a friend into the surgery room with you. You’ll both wear hospital gowns and hair nets. I didn’t have a friend with me, so one of the workers there held my hand during the surgery. The surgery is relatively painless; you have to just keep reminding yourself to relax.

It is a bizarre thing to have your eyes forced open and watch it happen. Also, when the laser was zapping my eye, it smelt like a combination of burnt hair and cooked squid. At least it’s done on just one eye at a time. It’s pretty quick, not more than 20-30 seconds an eye. The most painful part was when they put a chunk of ice to melt on my eye directly after the laser part and my eye was just open, staring at the ice melt on it, and it was cold where it touched my eye lid.

After your surgery:

After the surgery, they congratulated me and ushered me into a room to eat cake and have some coffee. I would recommend having a friend there to talk with as this starts your eyes-closed adventure. After they are sure they you aren’t having any side effects, they advise you to go to the pharmacy, and then immediately home.

I went to the pharmacy to buy all the prescribed eyedrops I would need for the next few months. The surgery at Sojunghannun cost me 1.6 million won ($1450 USD), which includes all follow-up care. The eyedrops cost me 24,000 won ($22 USD). There are other great places to go that are cheaper; the choice is yours. I’m not promoting any particular place, as I haven’t found any place in Korea that offers a superior experience. The two places I visited seemed clean and efficient.

Light was really painful to me after the surgery, but sunglasses would help. Obviously, don’t drive home. Don’t even plan to drive for up to a month after your surgery. Things are still very blurry for me on a daily basis.

Days 1-3:

My eyes were in pain the night of my surgery and the whole next day. It felt like they were constantly being hit with salt water and sand. My head hurt from the pain. I didn’t even bother trying to use my eyes for anything. I completed all activities (e.g. eating, talking) with my eyes closed. My doctor advised me not to shower, rub my eyes, or wash my face at this time. Also, alcohol and smoking were off-limits because they can further dry your eyes out. I was pretty exhausted so I slept a lot during this time.

If I over-exerted myself, I usually paid for it with a terrible headache and my eyes would burn badly. I was given pain-killer eyedrops (Eyepecsin) that I could use up to four times a day for only the first three days. They provided some relief, but the best thing was keeping my eyes closed under an ice-pack. Sad to say that Korea offers no analgesic to aid you through the process. 

I have been taking antibiotic eyedrops (Levokacin) and anti-inflammatory eyedrops (Fume tholone) three times a day since the surgery. I take “artificial tear” eyedrops (Cualone) whenever my eyes feel dry. 

Days 4-13:

I could take a shower and wash my hair, but I still had to take special care not to get soap in my eyes. Facial make-up is allowed, but no eye make-up. I limit myself to light activties. Again, no drinking, smoking, or rubbing my eyes. I had a follow-up with the doctor on day 5 so he could take the hard lenses out of my eyes and check that everything was healing alright. I went to work on days 6 and 7, with no problems other than mild vision blurriness, and then I rested again on the weekend for days 8 and 9.

Days 14-27:

At this point, eye make-up is allowed. Also, exercising at the gym is allowed. My doctor suggested waiting until 3-4 weeks after the surgery to have eyelash extensions again.

After 4 weeks:

Vision should be improving day by day. I have to say that my vision isn’t perfect yet, but it is still incredible to be able to see without glasses or contacts. After four weeks, you should be able to do everything, including going to a swimming pool or public spa. At this time, hair perms and dying is allowed as well.

I will have follow-up appointments with the doctor at two weeks, four weeks, and three months after the surgery. I can also drop-in anytime their office is open if I have questions. All these appointments are free and do not need to be scheduled. I wouldn’t say that the place I went was special in any particular way, but they were kind to me and they charge a reasonable price for the service they provide. I wore glasses and contacts for 15 years and highly recommend getting the eye surgery done. It’s just nice to be able to SEE all the time!



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