Vision correction in Korea
Sight is such an integral part of a person’s life that impaired vision can drastically reduce their quality of life. Amazing advances in vision correction technology has made it possible for almost anybody to substantially improve their vision. Korea is world renowned for its aggressive adoption of the latest technology and vision correction is no exception. Besides using the best and latest technology there are even more reasons why Korea is the number one destination for international patients seeking vision correction: it is noticeably cheaper than in other countries such as Canada, Australia and the USA, and you don’t need to book months in advance. Another benefit is that you can have your entire procedure done in less than 30 minutes.
Modern vision correction technology is mainly automated and faultless so the most important part of the whole process is the correct assessment and recommendation by the doctor. Seoul offers a wide variety of options for vision correction places such as, hospitals, big clinics and small clinics and it can be confusing to know which option is the right one. This is why Shin Medical is the preferred service for global patients looking for vision correction. We guarantee doctors that will make an accurate assessment of your cornea and will recommend a procedure accordingly. Shin Medical’s premium service guarantees doctors and clinics that pay attention to detail and care about your individual needs, not just about making a profit.
Before your procedure it is recommended that you stop wearing contacts for at least 10 days in order asses the stability of your eyes. When you arrive at the clinic you will do a series of tests so that the doctor can determine which procedure suits you best. This takes about an hour. Once your procedure type is confirmed you can have the correction done on the same or following day. The procedure itself takes a mere 30 minutes and it involves numbing the eyes with special drops and then just a short 20 minutes later you are done. The doctor will have a final check after the procedure and then send you home.
The three popular procedures used today are LASIK, LASEK and SMILE.
Laser Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis or LASIK, is one of the most popular methods used for vision correction. LASIK is mostly used to fix myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia, (farsightedness) and blurred vision cause by astigmatism. LASIK is a refractive surgery that changes the shape of your cornea (clear front surface of the eye) in order to allow more light to enter. More light entering the eye and focusing on the retina is what improves vision.
The way it works is the surgeon will create and then open up a circular hinged flap (Epithelium) and then with direct access to the cornea they will use an instrument called an excimer laser to reshape corneal tissue. If you are myopic the cornea is flattened and if you are hyperopic the cornea is made a bit steeper. After the cornea is reshaped, the flap is closed and reseals to the underlying cornea naturally, without the use of sutures.
LASIK requires no bandages and only some special topical eye drops are administered immediately after the procedure. The doctor will also prescribe some drops which you can use to reduce discomfort and prevent infection. Vision might be hazy after the surgery but your vision will improve dramatically by the next morning. You should avoid driving until the following day, after you have gone to your follow up consultation. Most people achieve 20/20 vision or better after the surgery!
LASEK is another popular method used to correct myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia, (farsightedness) and astigmatism (blurred vision). LASEK is a combination of LASIK and PRK (another type of refractive surgery). LASEK is the alternative vision correction option for candidates who are not suited for LASIK, such as people with very thin corneas. Although LASIK is more popular, both procedures have comparable outcomes. LASEK is also a refractive surgery that changes the shape of your cornea (clear front surface of the eye) in order to allow more light to enter and focus on the retina, improving vision.
The way LASEK works is very similar to LASIK, but instead of a hinged flap (epithelium) the surgeon will completely separate the epithelium from the stromal layer (underneath the epithelium). The surgeon does not dispose of the flap but rather pushes it to one side of the eye. After using the excimer laser to reshape to corneal tissue, the epithelial tissue is repositioned on the surface of the eye. A bandage and contact lens is then used to cover the eye which will keep the epithelium from moving around.
Unlike LASIK, LASEK does require bandaging which can be removed after four days once the epithelium has healed. The doctor will recommend some antibiotics or tropical cream which you can use to prevent infection and help speed up healing. The time it will take for your functional vision to recover is longer than with LASIK, around a week. And time until vision is improved could be up to a month. As with LASIK most people achieve 20/20 vision or better after the surgery!
Small Incision Lenticule Extraction or SMILE is one of the newest advances in laser correction technology. Created by Carl Zeiss (the same as the Zeiss Company that manufactures glasses) in 2016, SMILE is one of the most advanced ways to correct myopia (nearsightedness). SMILE corrects vision by making a very small opening in the cornea to remove the lenticule. Ideal candidates for SMILE must be older than 22 years and must not have astigmatism (blurry vision).
Unlike LASIK which makes a circular hinged flap, SMILE only makes a small opening, 4mm big, for the removal of the lenticule (piece of corneal tissue). The surgeon uses a laser called a femtosecond to make this lenticule and after making the lenticule the same laser will also make the opening for the lenticule to be removed and discarded. Removing this lens-shaped tissue within the cornea is what corrects myopia. The 4mm incision requires no stiches and will heal within 3 to 4 days. Clear vision occurs very quickly after healing.
Studies indicate that SMILE results in the same degree of improvement of visual clarity as LASIK but without having to create a big corneal flap style incision. Other benefits of having SMILE include: reduced risk of dry eye symptoms (due to fewer affected corneal nerves), less trauma to the cornea and the chances of having to do additional procedures are significantly lower. Research shows that 88% of patients had 20/20 vision after SMILE!
Check out our blog for an in depth look into SMILE