SHORT SUMMARY VERSION: I went from -10(left) and -7.5(right) dioptres in my eyes (extreme nearsightedness) to better than 20/20 in each eye. I've had excellent pre, during, and post operative care and regret nothing about the surgery except waiting so long to receive it. END SUMMARY VERSION
START ENDLESSLY LONG VERSION: I'm afraid of needles. Blood freaks me out. Dentists will never be on my Christmas card list. The one positive thing I can say about the medical field is that I recently had LASEK surgery at the Dream Eye Clinic in Gangnam and don't regret one moment of it.
I came into the Gangnam clinic with very low expectations. Like many people with terrible eyesight, I had been wearing glasses every since I started elementary school. The regression of my eyes went on a consistent downward direction until at the age of 30 my left eye was -10 dioptres and my "good" right eye was -7.5 diaoptres. My Mom never believed me when I told her that I couldn't make out her face if she moved 5 feet away from me. I somehow got the genetic short end of the stick in my family when it comes to eyes.
Anyway, the reason for my low expectation was because of all the rumors, hearsay, and "I once had a friend" stories I had heard over the years. Heck, I even went to my optometrist in the summer of 2008 for him to tell me that surgery on each eye would cost over $2000 and that I would most likely not get perfect vision as a result since my vision was spectacularly mediocre. Hearing that from a medical professonal doesn't really do much for your expectations.
After moving to Korea I started to get eye trouble. At first, the white of my eyes would turn very red. Not blood red, but an irritated red. I blamed it on my moldy apartment and the air pollution and took eye drops until the redness went away. My eyes would turn red on and off for awhile (usually off) until this past spring it turned red and it wouldn't turn back. Even the trick of wearing my glasses for a week and using eye drops consistently did nothing.
I finally wrangled my coworker into taking me to a reputable eye clinic to determine what was wrong. It didn't take the doctor long to tell me that my eyes were turning red from wearing contacts. "What do you mean from wearing contacts? I've been wearing contacts for 10 years!" And THAT my friends, was the problem. Evidentally, you're not supposed to consistently wear contacts for that long of a period. The doctor recommended me to wear glasses and to use the medication her prescribed. He didn't give any orders on when I could wear my contacts again... I was not happy.
After a couple weeks of having white eyes again, I decided to wear a fresh pair of contacts for a 3 hour period. The next day, my eyes had turned red once again and my coworker asked me in an accusing voice if I had worn my contacts recently. My face quickly turned to the same shade as my eyes.
Now as you can imagine, having eyes at -10 diaoptres doesn't help make glasses look good on you. Even with today's plastic and lense shaping technology, my glasses gave my eyes a coke-bottle effect and shrunk my eyes to anyone looking at me. Basically I looked uglier (than I already am) with my glasses on. I can't tell you how many nice frames I picked out at the shop would suddenly look terrible on my after the presciption lenses were placed into them.
After a friend pointed out to a special the Dream Eye Center was having at the time, I made my way to the Dream Eye Clinic. I had first heard about the Dream Eye Clinic (DEC) on various ESL (English as a Second Language) websites. Many foreigners had frequented the DEC and came out with rave reviews and very satisfactory results. Of course, me, armed with my previous doctor's response to my first laser inquiry, and my general pessimestic outlook on life, contacted the DEC with the hopes that the doctors could actually work on my eyes enough so I could wear thin-lense glasses to eliminate the coke-bottle effect. As I was saying, I made my way to Gangnam expecting nothing but bad news and surprisingly receiving the the opposite. I was qualified to receive LASEK surgery! Of course I first had to run through several hours worth of tests which only made me feel even more pessimestic about my chances (I mean, if I was a good candidate, they should have been able to tell me right away right?) I was told that I was indeed a good candidate for their latest and greatest surgery technique and the optometrist even boasted that I would most likely be able to see better after the surgery than I could currently with my glasses.
Even with his assurances and various medical explanations, the only thing that stuck in my mind was the "2-3% chance for regression" part the doctor mentioned. I went ahead with placing a date for the surgery with full reassurance to be able to cancel at any time due to whatever reason.
The day of the surgery came around and I was nervous. It was almost like going to the dentist in the casual nature of the nurses and doctors but believe me, they were strictly business. The doctor had described to me many times before how the surgery would proceed but he once again went through the process. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't scary. The idea of voluntarily having surgery on one of the most important parts of my body seemed absolutely absurd at that moment. I mean, God gave us perfectly good eyelids to protect us from unknown things flying into our eyes and I was going to let a freakin' laser shoot into my eye? Well I did and while it was the longest 2 minutes of my life at that time, it seems like a blink of an eye (pun intended) afterwords.
I could go on endlessly about my next day and the misery I endured from dry and itchiness. Or how my vision was blurry for a few weeks, convincing me that the surgery had failed in some way, but the doctors consistently reassured me that all of this was part of the normal process and that I was doing great. And 2.5 months later, I'm still doing great. Is laser eye surgery for you? I don't know, but if you do decide to have it, I would certainly recommend Dream Eye Clinic