From the day I arrived in South Korea I decided I was going to have laser eye surgery. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 13 years old and quite frankly I became sick of it. I loathed the headaches I got from having to wear them all day and I didn’t like how people couldn’t see past my glasses. There would even be times where I’d take them off to clean them and people would gasp at how ‘different’ I apparently looked. I can’t lie it bugged me. I started wearing contacts but I just hated having to take them out and go back to being damn near blind so I saved up a few months paychecks and arranged to have it done in Seoul.
I actually live in Gangnam which has more plastic surgery offices per square mile than America has churches so finding a good place wasn’t a issue. I went to this place called B&VIIT EYE Clinic which was recommended to me by a lovely co-worker who had it done a few years ago and said nothing but good things about it. If you go on the site you will see pictures of Kpop stars, actors, writers and athletes who are mega famous in Korea. Unlike a lot of places that use artists for fake testimonials, this place really did operate on all these people. I’ll post some pictures of the celebrity testimonial book below.
B&VIIT EYE Clinic is located in the basement of the GT Tower near Gangnam station. The building is famous for it’s sexy shape:
South Korea is on point when it comes to things like surgery, for example I was able to schedule an eye test for 11am and then have the surgery the same day at 5pm and be home by like 8.30pm-tell me that ain’t efficient!
I have to note that I went with one of my co-workers called Hailey who has truly embodied what it means to be an Unnie-as in older sister. She’s taken me under her wing and treated me so nicely, it’s almost hard to believe someone would be so nice-just for the sake of being nice in this day and age. The staff at B&VIIT all spoke English but it helped to have a Korean speaker present for more complicated things.
The tests took about two hours because they checked everything so thoroughly from looking at every part of my eyes, corneas, retesting my eyes and current glasses to giving me a DNA test to see if I carried the gene that would render me blind during the surgery. Luckily everything was in order and even though I thought my eyesight was bad (because of my astigmatism and myopia) it turned out that I’d been blessed with really thick corneas so basically what that means is, even if the surgery didn’t go well the first time around, I’d be able to have it again.
I had LASIK and not LASEK. Lasek is for eyes in pretty bad condition and while it is slightly cheaper, it takes longer to heal and since I got the surgery over Buddha’s birthday weekend I only had two days to heal. (The surgery was on Friday and I chilled for Saturday and Sunday.)
So after completing all my tests I chose what kind of surgery I wanted. There are three levels and the higher you go the more control you have over what surgeon you have. You can pick your service from three colors as shown in the pamplet:
The Green service is the cheapest and all it means is that you get assigned a surgeon at random (from the three) who is considerably younger (therefore less experienced) than the Blue or Red service surgeons. Buddha was obviously smiling down on me that day because I asked for the woman surgeon and she was available (even though technically I wasn’t supposed to have a choice) so I got her and was ecstatic because she was lovely.
First I paid for the surgery and my medication and everything came up to around £750 which is AMAZING for tests, surgery, medicine and two followup appointments. Not to mention that it’s for BOTH eyes and not priced per eye (which I always thought was stupid as if having two eyes is abnormal or something.)
So when I finally got called in for surgery everything was so calm and in true Asian style I took off my shoes before I entered the surgery zone. They led me into a room with leather recliner chairs with very dim lighting and put a hospital gown on me over my outside clothes. The nurse that was looking after me was so nice and had a really sweet way of saying my name which made me feel even more relaxed. She cleaned my face off to remove any dust particles and put a numbing agent in my eyes and then covered me with a sheet and told me to relax.
I’m such a nosey person, so I decided to look at what everyone else was doing but they were all relaxed with their eyes closed so I eventually did that too and I could feel myself falling asleep before the nurse came back to apply more numbing agent to my eyes and she cleaned the area around my eyes again.
Then she took my hand and led me to the first stage of surgery. At lot of people have talked about the ‘burning hair’ smell that occurs during the surgery and I have to say the smell reminds me more of when you are singeing the hair off chicken (being Caribbean this is a must when we prepare chicken) so the smell is more like burnt raw chicken skin. I could smell this because two other procedures were going on while I was climbing on the operating table to have mine.
They put general anaesthesia on my eyes again and thats when I could no longer feel anything remotely related to pain. I remember the surgeon poking my eye to see if I could feel pain and I felt nothing apart from the pressure of the pushing.
I watched a few videos of the procedure before so I knew what to expect. The surgeon put the clamps on my right eye to keep it open and then lowered the first laser machine down on me. All I can compare the experience to was looking into a kaleidoscope because thats how the colors swirled and multiplied. The main focus of this half was to cut my corneas open so they could fix my problems so I had to make sure I focused on a small green dot without blinking. Now you’re probably thinking that if my eyes were pulled open, how could I blink? But like anyone who has sneezed with their eyes open before, you will know that the act of blinking can take place with or without eyelids.
So that means if you have problem with focusing your eyes on something for less than 30 seconds without blinking, this surgery might not be for you.
I am a blink addict, call me Nicki Minaj the way I love to blink (I found out during my tests it’s because I have naturally dry eyes). So in order for me to not try and blink, I pretended seeing the green dot was a game and I had to chase it without blinking. This game proved to work very well and I remember feeling a strange feeling as if someone took a contact out of my eye and then that was the right eye cut open. The same thing was done for the left eye and then I was taken and led to the second room for the most important part.
I must note that I didn’t smell the burning smell during my surgery because I used a breathing technique called Butekyo that I learned when I kept having whooping cough. TRUST ME, IT WORKS! It helps to calm you and put you in a state of near tranquility in stressful situations like invasive surgery when you have to be conscious.
Also, during the time my corneas were cut open, I could still see, but everything was surrounded by a halo and looked like a dream sequence from a 90s teen show.
Kind of like this:
I lay down on the operating table of the next room and did the same thing by chasing the green dot with my eyes and before I knew it, everything was over. The surgeon told me they were able to correct my astigmatism and myopia on the first go so everything was 100% successful!
After that I was led back into the recovery room and back in my recliner chair, with the sheet over me and just told to relax, I think I was in there for about thirty minutes relaxing. Then another doctor looked at my eyes and confirmed that I was good to go and that was it!
I made sure I bought my sunglasses and Ajjumma visor, because the sun in Korea blazes!
Here is a pic of me looking like Robocop’s grandmother:
The hat and glasses might look silly but they are crucial if you have laser eye surgery during the summer in Korea. Although I have to say, the ajjumma visor is a good thing to have anyway because it prevents sunburn, which is always a good thing.
My lovely friend Nims agreed to stay with me for the night to nurse and assist me with all the different eyedrops. I’m SO glad she was there because it would have been virtually impossible to get home on the subway without her help. The 25 minute journey seemed longer than usual as the anaesthesia began to wear off and I could feel the fact that my eyes had been cut open. All I can say that it feels like MURDER. I don’t want to gloss it over and make it seem like it was so wonderful because it really wasn’t. The pain was so excruciating that I couldn’t get to sleep and I began to regret even having the surgery for a hot minute. But then I just decided to stop acting like a punk and just dealt with the pain. Drinking cold chocolate milk helped me a lot and I was able to get to sleep for a bit. After the nap I had I got up and stayed up for hours talking to Nims who was very tolerant of my whining and inappropriate jokes. One thing I have to mention is that the tiniest light feels like someone stabbing you. I remember when the pizza man came to the flat and I had my shades on, covers over me and a pillow blocking the light-but I could still feel it on me! It was the weirdest thing ever and my eyes are watering now thinking about it.
The next morning I had to go back for a checkup, when I woke up I could see EVERYTHING, crystal clear. It’s like I went from standard tv to HD 1080p overnight. The whites of my eyes were covered in red so that was a bit shocking to wake up to (when I went to school the kids called me ‘Breaking Dawn Eyes’ it was fun trolling them that week). I got to the sexy GT Building had my checkup and the woman told me ‘Congratulations, you now have 20/20 vision!’.
I wanted to cry because I was so happy but the tears would make my eyes sting. Wearing glasses for so many years and just kind of accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see things from a distance made it harder for me to adjust to the fact that I now had perfect vision. Squinting had become a crucial facial expression of mine but now my face is relaxed all the time and the headaches have all but stopped!
Here’s a picture of what my eyes looked like a week to the day of the surgery:
Nims did take some pics of my eyes the day after the surgery and I will try and add those once she sends them to me.
Overall I’m really happy with the results. I’m still wearing the sunglasses a lot because of the light sensitivity and I know I will be the entire summer, but it sure beats having to fork out for prescription sunglasses. At least this way I can buy any type of shades I want, put a sunhat on and keep it moving.
If you’re in Korea, and are thinking of getting Lasik-definitely get it done and if you are using the same surgeon I went to, you can use my name to get a small referral discount.
(DM me for that info)
Here are some of the Kpop artists that have been there:
It’s actually ALL of DBSK that has had laser eye surgery, but the other pic I took didn’t come out as clear.