If you could change something about your personal appearance, what would it be? For me, the answer was easy- my eyesight.
I never wanted to have glasses. Everyone in my family has worn them, and for years, I relentlessly made fun of them for it. Around my last year of middle school/ first year of high school, I started to have problems seeing the chalkboard. Even though I could tell something was wrong, I was in complete denial of my needing glasses.
Growing up I even took to some extreme measures to avoid the spectacles of doom. An example of this was how I managed to memorize the bottom line of the eye chart (zsvdkhnorc) during my annual physical appointment.
As the story goes, all good things must come to an end. When I went to get my driver’s license I barely passed the eye exam and I was forced to wear corrective lenses.
Even though I do not have a problem touching my eye, contacts was never a viable solution for my problem. I would spend hours on end continuously poking myself in the eyes trying to get the flimsy discs onto the surface of my eye. Glasses always just seemed to get in the way of my active lifestyle. One of my students suggested that I should wear the Dream Lens. Apparently there are these hard contacts that you can wear to sleep in and then when you wake up, you don’t need to wear glasses. While that sounded like a good solution, I just didn’t think I would be capable of sleeping with them in my eyes.
One of the many benefits of teaching English in South Korea is the amazing health care. The same goes for eye care; Glasses are extremely inexpensive in Korea. Before I had Lasik, I spent around $50 on my last pair of glasses and that included a courtesy eye exam.
Plastic surgery is extremely common in South Korea and medical tourism is becoming a significant attraction for people to visit the country. In fact, a lot of our young students have had/ plan on getting some kind of surgery at some point in their lives. I never saw myself as being someone who would want plastic surgery, but it seemed like a great option for my situation.
Before I had the surgery, I made sure to ask other teachers in the area for recommendations of where to go. After conducting my research, I decided to go to a place called “happy eye” near the bus terminal.
outside view of the building where I got Lasik
While cosmetic surgery is not covered by the national health care plan, the abundance of establishments to choose from drives the prices to ridiculously low amounts. In fact, I only paid 1,000,000 won (about $850 US) for surgery on both eyes, as well as any and all subsequent Dr. visits.
Even though the entire process only takes about 10 minutes, having Lasik is horrifying. It didn’t hurt at all and I felt no pain during the process, but it was terrifying nonetheless. I didn’t put it together until right before I went into the operation room, but I was about to watch them do surgery, on my eye, and lie there trying not to freak out about it. Needless to say the stuffed dinosaur that they gave me to grab onto was strangled by the best death grip I could muster.
It has now been about 2 months since I had the operation and I am pleased to report that my vision is at a perfect 20/20 in both eyes. It is still very weird not having glasses though. I find myself constantly reaching for something on my face and am still amazed with how I can lie down on my side and watch TV across the room.
The plastic surgeons in Korea are among the best in the world. They use all of the same equipment, but are able to offer quality care at a fraction of the price. I guess the real question is what would you want to change about yourself during your experience abroad?