How much do I hate not having 20/20 vision? Let me count the ways. I’m not going to lie: this is a post about disappointment, medical drama, and dealing with corneal scarring. It’s kind of a downer. On the upside, there is some Star Wars in there too. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Back in December, Ian and I found ourselves back in our favorite Southeast Asian city. It was my third time in Bangkok since touching down in Thailand a few months earlier — we’d spent a couple days sleeping off jetlag there upon arrival, and I’d returned not long after to speak at a conference. This time, we were en route to a visa-run turned holiday in Siem Reap, and stopped in Bangkok for a few days to get the ball rolling on some eyeball-focused medical tourism. Yup, I’m talking Lasik! Over the years, as I became familiar with the incredibly high quality and low cost of medical care available in Bangkok, I knew that this was where I’d finally kiss my glasses and contacts goodbye, someday.
While I am ever grateful to my eyes for allowing me the gift of literally seeing the world, they have been a regular source of stress. Last summer while home in the US, I paid over six hundred dollars out of pocket (and this was when I still had health insurance!) to deal with two nasty eye infections that cropped up, one minor and one serious. It was the latest in a long line of ocular issues, including one saga back in college that was so nasty it required surgery on my right eye to undue all the damage. Most of the time, doctors would point to my contacts as a possible source of the trouble, but as an extremely active outdoors kind of gal, everyday glasses were just not a workable solution for me.
Infections and injuries aside, it’s a hassle to travel with glasses and contacts. You have to keep them clean and safe, replace them regularly, and haul them everywhere you go — not to mention the constant threat of being stranded blind without them if something were to go wrong.
And glasses, contacts, solution, eye drops and doctors appointments aren’t free — you pay a hefty fee for the pleasure of all that annoyance! For years I’ve been sure that “someday” I’d spring for laser eye correction surgery and finally free myself from the contacts that cause me so many head — and eye — aches. And someday had finally arrived.
While in Bangkok for the aforementioned conference back in October, I accompanied my dear friend Chris to his own surgery at the widely recommended TRSC Center. I was nervous, but when I walked into the futuristic Jetsons-like waiting room filled with obscenely qualified surgeons, luxurious seating and a glorious snack selection, my hesitations eased. When I saw him the next day, smiling and laughing over dinner without a corrective lens in sight, I was sold.
I immediately went back to Koh Tao and started plotting to get the surgery as soon as possible myself. I did phone consultations with the patient advocates at TRSC, I played around with my calendar, I started saving money, and I booked a hotel for the recovery period. Because I live on Koh Tao and the surgery would take place in Bangkok, I’d have to travel back and forth a couple times for various appointments, and stick close by the center for a few days after the surgery itself. My mom, nervous about me being operated on abroad, even started making plans to visit and nurse me back to health.
My initial appointment finally arrived. We hopped an overnight ferry to the mainland, got on the first flight of the day from Chumphon to Bangkok, grabbed a giddy breakfast at Rocket Coffeebar, and I was in the doctor’s office signing in by mid-morning.
While the surgical appointment itself takes less than thirty minutes, this first one lasted hours as I went from room to room, having my eyes poked and prodded while meticulous measurements were made. Finally, I met with my doctor, a woman with a resume of qualifications that would put any nervous patient at ease, and beamed as she looked over my charts.
She frowned, which isn’t something you want doctors to do when looking over your medical charts. And then she broke the news — my contacts were here to stay.
She explained that my corneas were extensively damaged from the eye infections that had driven me to her office in the first place — the one that had led to surgery had left a deep corneal scar, and the ramifications of the most recent offender were still actively healing, though also looked serious. She assured me I would never qualify for either ReLEx or Lasik, the two surgical options I was considering. I was crushed.
She did raise the possibility of PRK, the painful predecessor to Lasik. Compared to ReLEx or Lasik, the recovery was brutal and required daily visits back to the doctor for at least a week to check on the healing of the delicate surgery. Overwhelmed, I left to look for a second opinion.
I immediately made an appointment at Bumrungrad, a respected hospital I’ve been a satisfied patient of in the past. Unfortunately, the doctor there came to a similar conclusion — I would never qualify for ReLEx or Lasik. She agreed I could be a candidate for PRK but noted she wouldn’t perform any surgery for at least six months, until she saw what happened with the actively healing corneal scar. Also? She suggested that my long history of picking up prescription eye drops was very likely the result of an allergy to contacts! Who even knew that was a thing?
It was quite the catch 22. The very reason I wanted the surgery so badly — my contacts were causing me constant grief and ailment — was keeping me from getting the surgery at all. I was crushed. Frankly, I don’t hear “no” very often in my life — sure, people say it to me all the time, but I typically take it as “work harder” or “try again.” But this was one of those rare times when I heard a no there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about. In the end, it’s an elective surgery and there are far greater tragedies in the world than not being eligible to have it. I’ve come to peace with that now, but it did take me a while to come to terms with.
naively thinking I’m kissing those glasses goodbye
Now that I’ve gotten over the disappointment of not being able to have the surgery I wanted when and where I wanted it, I’m back to the drawing board. I’m weighing up if I’m ready to have PRK surgery, and if so, if I’m willing to do it — a scarier surgery with a more difficult recovery — so far from my family and a familiar medical system. Part of the reason I wrote this post is I’m hoping some of you reading this might be able to reassure me that you too had PRK, and it wasn’t as bad as it sounds in the pamphlets!
And to add insult to injury? This is why I didn’t go to Burma this year.
It’s become kind of a running joke, both here on Alex in Wanderland and in my real life, that I just can’t seem to get to Burma. It seems that almost every year, I announce a trip there, only to later come back with my proverbial tail between my legs and admit that nope, I’ve still never been to Bagan, or Inle Lake, or anywhere in Burma other than the border that I occasionally run over and back across to restart my multiple entry Thai visas.
So how does Burma play into all this? Some sacrifices had to be made. Looking at my bank account and my calendar when I first made the decision to move ahead, I knew I couldn’t fit in the surgery, the recovery time, all the necessary follow up visits, my visa runs and extensions, and the two week backpacking trip to Burma that I’d been planning with my friends Anna and Janine — who were having some scheduling issues of their own due to various visa and work issues. After some soul searching and tough talks, we all mutually decided that this wasn’t our year, and I took the money and time I’d mentally earmarked for Burma and put it towards my eye surgery instead. I was bummed, but my excitement over finally ridding myself of my contacts and glasses was greater.
Obviously, this would be a much better story if my surgery went ahead as planned. “I gave up a girl’s trip to Burma to get my eyes fixed” is a much nicer pill to swallow than “I gave up going to Burma for a dream that never happened and then it was too late to undo it after,” but I suppose there is always next year! (Ha.)
Which brings me to another reason I wrote this post. If you’re considering vision correcting surgery, and especially considering doing the surgery abroad like I was (oh, how excited I was to document the process of participating in medical tourism), learn from my mistakes and don’t start prepping until you know that you are indeed a candidate for the surgery! In retrospect it’s silly that I didn’t even consider that as a possibility while working out all the travel planning and logistics, but I suppose hindsight is 20/20 — unlike my regular sight. Cue the punchline drum.
So yes, our weekend was definitely overshadowed by bad news. Thankfully, I had Ian by my side to valiantly attempt to cheer me up, tell me I look great in glasses, and distract me with a night out on the town. In Bangkok and looking for a prescription to turn a frown upside down? I recommend dinner at La Monita Taqueria food truck inside Siam Paragon, a movie at the Blue Ribbon Theater, and dessert at Mango Tango. It worked, mostly, for me.
By the time we took off for Siem Reap, I’d promised to leave my blurry vision blues back in Bangkok. If there was one thing I could see clearly, it was that through glasses, contacts, or surgery, I had a lot of this world I wanted to see.
Do you travel with glasses and/or contacts? Have you considered — or already had — corrective surgery? I want to hear about it in the comments!
I had PRK about six years ago. Although it’s true the recovery is a little longer, I didn’t find it painful at all! I also didn’t need to go into the doctors office daily afterwards. You have to put a lot of drops in your eye for a week afterwards and there is slight soreness, but I would never say I was in pain.
Hey Amy, this is exactly the reassurance I was looking for! I don’t know if it is my eyes specifically or just a different procedure but at TRSC they told me I’d have to come back every day for 5-7 days so they could check on corneal healing and eventually remove the protective lens they put over the eye during surgery. But that’s awesome to hear you didn’t consider it painful at all! I think after seeing how crazy simple my friend’s recovery was with ReLEx, PRK just sounded really tough in comparison.
Aw, boo. What a bummer all around. Every time I see things like this it makes me immensely grateful my eyes have held out so far. If it makes you feel any better, my brother had LASIK and they messed up the surgery while he was on the table, the doctor started freaking out and obviously my brother freaked out as well! It was a horrible experience and when he had to go back to get it fixed, he had to be heavily sedated (I don’t blame him!)
I hope you can find an option that works for you chica!!
OMG what a terrible story! I definitely felt super comfortable with the care at both TRSC and Bumrungrad, but I feel bad that I know how stressed my parents are by the idea of me having surgery abroad. Personally, I find the standard of care at those facilities higher than what I’ve received in the US, but I hate putting them through any kind of stress.
Oh my god, that’s terrifying! I’ve never heard any stories of that happening. That’s a mega scary experience, I hope he isn’t scarred for life and that he can see perfectly now!
He got all fixed up on the second go-around, thankfully. Apparently it’s only good for 10 years or something though – he said whenever it wears off, it’s glasses-only for him 🙂
Well that’s good! I hear that sometimes, the 10-year thing, my dad got it 15 years ago and he’s still going strong. I think it’s different for everyone. And my doctor told me because of how messed up my eyes were (more ways than one), that I would never need reading glasses or anything. Here’s hoping!
Thats so scary!!! I’ve considered LASIK for in the future but I’m honestly a bit concerned about problems like this…From what I understand they are the minority but your eyes are your eyes you know?
Rachel one thing I found reassuring in the million hours of video I had to watch at TRSC (okay, maybe not quite a million but lots) is there has NEVER been a total loss of sight from Lasik. Things can definitely go off course but you don’t have to worry about going blind. I found that very comforting ha ha.
This relates to me so much because I am planning to get Lasic in 3 years and I travel and I at times have issues with my eyes…so sorry you didn’t qualify. I did not know there was a “qualify or can’t qualify” process until this post. I thought anyone can get it. At least we do have our sight and glasses exist and now frames are more stylish than ever. I started battling a low level of dry eye syndrome in the last few months so I’m wearing my glasses 50/50 time. At least trying…was that something you had too? As a New Yorker I have docs recommended here near me to me from peers but still I’m thinking..it could be cheaper elsewhere. It is still about 5-6k here pricewise. Just don’t know how it would work if I tried out of state, out of country I think I’d have to move for a bit right? so much to consider. Thanks for your first hand troubles you’ve shared. Know that many of us travelers will share in how frustrating eyes can be!
Thanks Angelica — it really does make a world of difference to hear someone commiserate, so I appreciate it! ReLEx, the most expensive procedure at TRSC (one of the top centers in Southeast Asia for corrective surgery!) is $3,800ish. Lasik and PRK are cheaper. Of course if you travel there to do it you have to factor in travel costs, but I guess you get a free vacation out of it! I think if you travel abroad to have the surgery, you can do the initial follow ups where you did the surgery, and do later ones with a doctor at home (there are no eye doctors on Koh Tao, in my case, but I have a feeling New York has some ha ha). For ReLEX or Lasik they recommend 4-5 days in Bangkok, for PRK, at least a week.
Hey Alex, I’m totally bogarting your comment section haha.
Angelica- I had serious eye-dry syndrome too before I got my LASIK (obviously I thought it was totally unrelated). Another Catch 22 was the fact that my Acuvue Oasys (moisturizing contacts) were the source of my eye-dry issues. As soon as I got LASIK the eye-dryness went away completely. So I guess that was a bonus! Good luck to you!
I am too scared to get the surgery! Maybe when (if) it gets to the point where they can knock you out for it, I will do it (I can’t stand people going anywhere near my eyes) but I’m happy enough wearing glasses, especially now I have prescription sunglasses too. I wear contacts occasionally – if I’m dressing up or for snorkelling/diving or any activity where I can’t wear my glasses – but can’t be bothered most of the time
I wish I was better about wearing my glasses. After this saga I wore them frequently, but kind of tapered off and am back to almost full time contact wearing. I just don’t like having something on my face — I’ve never gotten used to it!
At my age, 66, I am now waiting for cataracts so Medicare will pay for it while repairing cataracts. But there are times when traveling I wish I didn’t wear glasses. I have found excellent opticians in Hong Kong and Cairo, Egypt and very reasonably priced designer glasses!
I just used the very last of my vision insurance (which ran out in January) to get my old frames updated with my most recent prescription. But I’ll definitely look into getting my next frames abroad — great idea! And I like how you’ve found something to look forward to in cataracts 😉 Good luck!
Loved reading this, as I am in my 4th year of optometry in Canada. Currently doing a clinical rotation in Salt Lake City. I’ve watched eye surgery at home and here – LASIK and cataract surgery. LASIK is definitely much easier than one would think! PRK is more involved, for sure, but I also know that it can have great results for tricky corneas. You can also see an improvement with corneal scars from PRK, depending on what layer of the cornea/how deep the scars are. The healing process can definitely be more painful, but my professor mentioned that there is a lot of psychology involved; if you are anxious and expect a lot of pain, it will come! If you are relaxed and trust your surgeon and the process, pain will be minimal. I’ve never had refractive surgery, but I do have a good friend who had excellent results from PRK. With any surgery, as in ocular surgery, there are risks involved, even things that can come up years down the road. One thing I would suggest is getting the documents and measurements of your eyes pre-surgery to keep with you. If in the future, you need cataract surgery, having these numbers will help your surgeon. Something to think about if doing surgery abroad (even though this is years and years away!).
Hope this helps. Message me if you wanna talk eyeballs anytime! x
Wow, thank you so much for all this info Colleen, it’s so helpful! I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t know if anyone would care but me ha ha but this is the kind of conversation that makes me super grateful I did. Both doctors did mention that they thought my corneal scars could be improved by PRK — what is the benefit of that, by the way? I can’t remember if I even thought to ask that at the time or if I was just too overwhelmed by new information!
Love what your professor said about manifesting pain, and I will definitely reflect and meditate on that if I move forward! And thanks for the tip about keeping all records. That’s great to know!
I’m not sure where your corneal scars are, but if they are on the visual axis (where you look through), they can decrease your visual acuity (how well you see). Some corneal scars don’t impact vision if they are out of the way.
Interesting! Good to know!
Hey! I found your blog a few months ago when I was preparing for a trek on the inca trail and have been enjoying reading along. I also happen to be an ophthalmology resident so this post seems like a good one to weigh in on! First, you are right to do your research thoroughly before jumping into refractive surgery. If you do end up having it, as the previous commenter said, you should get paper copies of all the eye measurements that are taken so that you have them in the future – especially if you one day have cataract surgery. As far as refractive options go, PRK is a more difficult recovery but I would urge you to lean toward it instead of LASIK because of the mechanics of the procedures themselves. LASIK is done by cutting a thin flap on the surface of the cornea and laser ablating the underlying tissue. The flap is then laid back in place, but there always remains the possibility of flap-related complications such as flap dislocation, epithelial ingrowth, dirt/dust particles finding their way under the flap, etc. It is for this reason that the military performs only PRK on service members — since they are in a variety of environments and exposed to sand/dirt/dust there would be potential for a lot of flap complications with lasik. Given your adventurous lifestyle, the potential for flap issues is something you should consider as you make your decision. Good luck!
Very interesting, and my doctor did mention that PRK can be the best choice for those with super active lifestyles for all the reasons you mentioned. Are you familiar with ReLEx? It was my first choice because it seemed all around the least invasive, though it also was very pricey and not available in the US yet from what I understand. (At TRSC, they get a lot of American patients who travel to Thailand to have the procedure!) Another benefit of PRK is that it is so cheap!
I guess one of my big hesitations with PRK is they improved upon it for a reason, right? So it feels a little scary to go back to the original surgery when it has been seemingly improved upon so many times…
I feel your pain! I wear contact lens and they are so frustrating when travelling! In humid places like Bangkok, I find they just get dry really quickly and by 8pm my eyes feel tired even though I am wide awake! May have to head over and think about surgery too!
How do you get contact lens delivered when you are always on the move?
I track them down when I’m traveling, which can be tricky! In Bangkok they are easy to find but in Koh Tao they rarely have my prescription. Sometimes they are surprisingly pricey (looking at you Nicaragua!) and in some places they are hard to track down. It’s a big hassle!
This stinks! I want LASIK too but have been told my vision is probably too bad for it (-9.5 & -10), but I do have a friend who had similar vision to me and she had PRK done and definitely recommends it! I asked my eye doctor about it and she did mention the recovery ha longer but didn’t mention it was super painful or anything like that! Hopefully you get more comments to reassure you that it’s a viable option!!
Sounds like it’s hit or miss according to the comments here — some people are fine and others struggle. It definitely does seem worth it in the end, though. I think I’m probably ready to start moving ahead with preparing for PRK!
I had PRK surgery about 5 years ago. I was in the same situation, as a traveler wearing glasses was just a pain. So I went online and found the best clinic near my home and contacted the head of the department there (The Rothschild foundation in Paris – Dr Gatinel – https://www.gatinel.com/).
The Dr. recommended PRK for similar reasons (and as it’s less invasive). The surgery went well and the local anesthetic made it possible to go home without tearing my eyes out. However, I’ve never been in as much pain as I was during the 3 days after the surgery. I had to stay in total darkness, as any light was unbearable. So, be ready (but not everyone has the same experience, hopefully you’ll have a better time).
Today with 20/20 vision – I can tell you I’d still go through it all over again. Do it – it’s worth it.
ps: if you want to have a look at a similar PKR operation here is a video: https://www.gatinel.com/chirurgie-refractive/les-techniques-operatoires/la-pkr-techniques-de-surface/
Hey Erik, thanks for sharing your experience. My doctor described a similar recovery scenario — she told me to prepare to spend a few days in darkness basically on bedrest. I think it’s good they prepare you for the worst case scenario so that if it’s easier, you’re pleasantly surprised but if not, you’re mentally ready for it. Awesome to hear that you still feel it was all worth it!
I had PRK done about 5 years ago also and had a very similar recovery to Erik. My eyes were extremely sensitive to light and very painful, but the pain mostly stemmed from the protective lens that they put in my eyes. Once it was removed a few days later I felt much better. I was still sensitive to light, but was feeling pretty good within a week of the surgery. I would 100% do it over again and I like the fact that it has left my eye more “in tact” than Lasik.
You guys have really given me a lot to think about! I am definitely considering PRK again thanks to all these encouraging yet realistic stories 🙂
Urgh… I too travel with contacts and glasses and hate it! I wear a monthly in one eye and a daily contact in the other. Carrying a 90-day supply of contacts along with two sets of glasses (in case something happens to one of them) and contact solution, etc. It totally sucks! I’ve been considering teaching English in South Korea next year because you can get Lasik surgery for about $600 USD total. It’s definitely on my list to look into. I think I qualify, but according to my eye doctor I do have this weird thing in the back of my eyes where my blood vessels could grow into my eye and cause me to go blind. Awesome right? I guess blindness is extremely rare and I’m hoping it doesn’t disqualify me from Lasik. Good luck with your eyes. I think it’s worth loooking into if its something you want bad enough!
I got LASEK done in South Korea and it was great! I paid around ~1700 USD, but that was at a clinic that did everything in English. I probably could have done it cheaper at a local place, but the comfort of not having a language barrier was worth the extra cost.
I’ve had so many doctors recommend daily contacts to me over the years (and I did wear them for a short time after my surgery) but I hate the waste of the packaging and also can’t imagine trying to find enough of them when I’m spending so much of the year on a teeny tiny island in Thailand! I feel your pain!
I live in Hong Kong where each day I decide a) sweat my glasses off my face continuously shoving them back up my nose and have the steam up every time I move between AC indoors and humidity outside OR b) wear contacts and have the driest tired eyes from sitting 9-7 in intense AC
Oh, I feel you. Glasses are not made for the tropics! I’ve never gotten used to having something sitting on my nose all the time.
I WAS LITERALLY JUST WHINING TO MYSELF ABOUT HAVING TO WEAR GLASSES!! I remember when I was a young teen I’d try to botch my eye appointment in order to get glasses, now that my vision finally failed me and I am forced to need them, I have realized they are such a PAIN! Especially for travel. I can’t bring myself to stick something in my eye (ie. contacts) so until my vision gets bad enough to qualify for Lasik I too am glasses bound. It is true, that in the grand scheme of things I am thankful for what I do have and that I have the ability to see the world with glasses, but at times it is hard to remember that. I feel ya girl. #glassesgangforlyfe
Ha! If only you could go back and warn your teen self to love ever minute of that 20/20 vision, right?!
Did u know there’s a kid of contacts you put in your eye while sleeping?? They are a hard lens u out in overnight and it re shapes your cornea. Whe you take them out in the morning you can see all day.! It’s a long process and expensive but perhaps work it in the end
I’ve just heard of these for the first time ever this month! No doctor has ever brought it up to me — I just had a friend tell me recently. I’m definitely going to look into it!
Erin mentioned it above but you can try night contacts! They’re hard contacts you put in at night and they’ll “correct” your eyesight while you sleep so when you wake up in the morning you can take them out and have perfect vision without wearing anything! The downside is that the initial contacts are pretty pricey, but still less expensive than Lasik and if you don’t lose or break them you don’t really have to replace them! On top of that, they also prevent your eyesight from getting worse! I have them, and it’s great, especially since I swim and water + normal contacts is not a great combination. I don’t know it’ll suit your eyes book I’d definitely look into them! I think the official name of them is Ortho K
I’ve just heard about this for the first time this month! So how often do you replace the contacts? And do you store them in solution? Very intrigued by this thing I somehow have never heard of, ha.
Yes you do store them in solution, just like normal contacts. And I’ve had yet to replace my night contacts and I got them 4 years ago! I think the only reason you’d want to replace them is if they broke or if your prescription got worse.
Wow that’s amazing! Four years is a good record for holding onto anything 😉
Hey girl –
I feel ya pain! I once got robbed in Italy and the bastard stole my glasses! I had to be led blind down the unfamiliar Italian streets, bumping into doors and tripping over curbs (I had a terrible guide, clearly). I had an Italian optometrist laugh at my godforsaken prescription, telling me it must be a mistake.
I got LASIK almost two years ago and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I will say though that not only was I legally blind (with eyesight of 20/500+, apparently they stop counting at 500?), I was also told I would NEVER be eligible for LASIK, ever. Of course I didn’t take that as an answer and saw another doctor who assured me it could be done. They had more state-of-the-art equipment and better procedures, yada yada. Don’t lose hope! There’s a solution out there (heh, a little contact humor) but concentrate on fixing your eyes the way they are! Best of luck to you : ) I really hope it works out – I swear by LASIK to everyone I meet.
Wow, that glasses being stolen story sounds like a nightmare! I remember reading a story about a journalist being kidnapped in the Middle East and held hostage for two years, and the part that stood out to me the most was that in the midst of the kidnapping his glasses were broken, and he couldn’t see FOR TWO YEARS. Can you imagine?! My vision isn’t THAT bad, I could get around fine and read up close without glasses or contacts, but I wouldn’t be able to drive or work on my computer and I’d quickly get headaches from everything being blurry.
Haha girrrrrllll, when I wore contacts, my biggest fear was getting kidnapped (for many reasons, obvs) because what would I do with my eyes? I was blind and couldn’t wear them for more than 12 hours at a time. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one with that fear. Also, in the book A House in the Sky, the girl who lived the story (same as above, journalist getting kidnapped in Somalia and held captive for over a year) also wore contacts and talked about that in the book. Oh, the dreadful things she did with them – ugh!
Oh, I feel your pain. When I went in for a LASIK consultation I was told it couldn’t be done with my eyes. All sorts of issues prevented it. But PRK was possible and it was one of the best things I’ve done. At my doctor’s suggestion, I did one eye at a time. Yes, this means it all takes longer but if something were to go wrong with one eye, the other would still be healthy. I recall the pain as being a nuisance, not all that bad. Aleve was enough. I’ve never heard of daily follow-up visits (my surgeon was a pioneer in this field and very conservative about treatment). If both places you went require daily follow-up, then so be it. The process was long (I too had to wait for some healing before the surgery) but completely worth it.
Traveling and diving without contacts is wonderful and I have no regrets about the PRK. Good luck!
That’s an interesting idea doing one eye at a time, I hadn’t thought of that. I just checked the documentation I was given to be sure I was remembering it correctly since a few of you have mentioned this and yup, it does say I’d have to come in daily for 5-7 days of follow ups post-PRK. I found a hotel within very very close walking distance of the center I’d planned to do the surgery at so it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle for me. I’m more put off by the time off work, and of course nervous about experiencing the pain some others have.
bummer bummer bummer! I’m sorry lady that sucks. You look cute AF in glasses though 🙂 big hugs and I’ll go with you to Burma whenever!
Thanks girl! I actually do love wearing my glasses indoors and during the day because everyone knows that wearing glasses makes you at least 3x smarter. I just hate wearing them out in the sun (squint city!) or at night when I’m supposed to be looking cute (stilettos and frames just don’t mix in my mind.)
Girl, I feel ya. I started wearing glasses at 10, contacts at 12 and finally got Lasik at 25. At 33, I still maintain it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
BUT. Since Lasik is not an option for you, I do have a backup plan. From 12 to 25, I had corrective lenses called Orthokeratology. Has your doctor considered this as an option? They’re essentially braces for your eyes; after they’re reshaped your lens, you only sleep in them at night like retainers and then get by with 20/20 vision all day. Not entirely sure you’re a candidate what with the cornea problems but worth looking into at least? Then, you could work out, hike, dive, etc. all day long without the burden of soft lenses in.
I had to respond to your comment because I totally wore those kind of lenses for almost 3 years! I’ve never talked to anyone who knew that kind of corrected vision even existed (outside of my mom and my eye doctor). People used to literally think I was crazy when I told them I slept in hard contacts and then had perfect vision during the day. But… I HATED them and eventually switched back to normal contacts.
HA! Same. You are literally the first I’ve met who also went through OrthoK! I totally get not liking them as they can be uncomfortable, but once you only wear them at night, I didn’t think they were bad. Plus, as an athlete they were a godsend as I didn’t have to worry about a lens getting knocked out mid-soccer game/tennis match/etc. And with as much diving as Alex does, I know it can be really tricky if you get salt in your eye should your mask leak, so I do think it would be something worth looking into at least =)
How have I never heard of that? I’m the same as you, I started wearing corrective lenses at 10. Before LASIK my eyes were all kinds of wonky… I wonder if that would have worked.
Kristin, I remember you telling me about this in Martha’s Vineyard (I think it was you? I know I heard about it in the last month for the first time in my life.) Definitely going to look into this!
Nikki — Why did you hate them?
Hey Alex! I decided to try out the OrthoK lenses because I was so frustrated wearing normal contacts. I’ve always had really dry eyes, made worse by living in a super dry climate (Denver), but I had to wear contacts at least some of the time because I played competitive volleyball.
There were several reasons I didn’t like the OrthoK lenses. They’re uncomfortable to wear (it’s like having a hard piece of plastic in your eye) so I had to put them in literally right before sleeping. This wouldn’t be as big of an issue now, but at the time I was in late high school/early college and often stayed up really late, fell asleep watching a movie, only got a few hours of sleep (or no sleep), etc. Wearing OrthoK lenses made it really hard to have abnormal sleeping patterns. I went on a three-month backpacking trip around Europe while wearing OrthoK lenses and I have not-so-fond memories of taking several overnight trains where I couldn’t wear them (because I wasn’t really sleeping on the train, and it was too inconvenient to put them in and blindly walk back to my sleeper car once I had them in), and just having to deal with really blurry vision the following day. In addition to being kind of a pain in the butt if you’re not getting a normal night of sleep, sometimes they wouldn’t fit well on my eye and I’d wake up the next day with blurry vision in one eye, and no way to correct it.
Ok, I could go on with complaints, but hopefully that gives you an idea of some of the negatives. Honestly, there are downsides to any kind of corrected vision, it’s just a matter of deciding what you’re willing to put up with. For me, it was easier to deal with contacts and glasses than having less-than-perfect vision and no way to correct it.
But definitely get some more info and maybe try them out yourself! I put up with them for three years, so they weren’t always terrible 🙂 Hope that helps!
Hmmm, thanks for the run down of the downsides! That definitely doesn’t seem ideal for travel, especially with my oft-erratic sleep schedule. Thanks chica!
I just recently wrote about how getting LASIK has affected my travels. The short version- it’s been awesome! I’m so sad to read that all your hopes and planning didn’t pay off. Contacts and glasses are such a pain in the butt all the time, but especially when traveling! There were definitely some down sides to LASIK for me (extremely dry eyes and eye floaties that will never go away), but overall it was worth every penny (and I spent A LOT of them). Unfortunately, it’s only been four years since I had the procedure done and my vision is already bad again. I just picked up a pair of glasses a few weeks ago ? My husband had PRK through the military a few years ago. It was definitely a bit of a rough recovery for him but nothing unmanageable. Good luck with your vision woes, I can totally relate and I hope everything works out for you!
I STILL have the extreme dry eye even eight years post-LASIK. I finally went to the doctor about it a few weeks ago, and she said my eyes are producing no tears, so she put me on 3000 mg of krill oil a day.
But unlike you, I still have 20/15 vision nearly a decade after, so seems like I lucked out!
Krill oil?? Who knew! Is it working? I know they have some prescriptions available and my eye doctor even suggested some kind of eye implant that creates tears for me? Haha, that’s way too bizarre. No chance.
Try it out, Ashley! It seems to be working. She put me on a steroid to start as it takes six weeks to build up the nutrients in your system, and I’m off the steroid completely. I was having to use artificial tears 5-6 times a day, minimum, and now I’m just using them once or twice. I had a hard time finding krill oil in the vitamin section of my local Walgreen’s, so I ordered a bunch off Amazon, but you can also TheraTears, the vitamin not the drops, as it’s essentially the same thing and many pharmacies carry it.
Dry eye talk — I’ve never heard of the fish oil but I DID have the implant in my tear duct for a while post-surgery, and it was great! Never felt it, and at some point it naturally fell out on its one once my tears had restabalized. It’s basically just a little plug in your tear duct. Something to look into!
Nerding out hard! Punctal plugs! You can get temporary ones, and these are usually diagnostic to see if you might benefit from punctal cautery.
There are LOTS of things you can do for dry eye… seriously, hit me up anytime you wanna talk eye balls haha.
I should add/clarify, yours probably dissolved, rather than falling out.
I could have sworn mine fell out — it was like a hard little white tube that I could see when I looked in the mirror really closely. For me it wasn’t dry-eye related. But who knows, I could be remembering all of this wrong ha ha.
We have started a petition to get recognition to Dry Eye Disease https://www.change.org/p/urgent-research-funding-needed-for-severe-dry-eye-disease-corneal-neuralgia
Thankfully, dry eye is one problem I’ve never really had to deal with outside of the months after I had surgery. Good luck!
I got LASEK when I lived in Seoul and it was the best decision I ever made! I’m not sure the difference between LASEK and PRK, but LASEK is usually an option for people who are not good candidates for LASIK (I have thin corneas and an astigmatism). It is supposed to have a longer recovery time, and while it definitely took a month for my vision to stabilize, I had no pain. Went back for a 2-3 follow ups over 6 months, and used prescription drops for a week or so after. Seriously made all the difference in diving too! I totally feel more comfortable not having to dive in contacts (or half blind!). And the best part is that is only coat ~$1700 USD and it has a lifetime guarantee.
Interesting, I’ve never heard of LASEK. Who knew there were all these variations?!
I am so bummed for you. I had Lasik in January and life (and travel) has literally been life changing.
Things that were massively annoying before (like reading lying down in glasses) weren’t an issue.
I walked home after getting my surgery (I’m nuts clearly).
Advice: You’ve probably researched enough; what’s on paper is worse than what will happen. Stop using eye drops constantly and I genuinely hope you can be glasses free one day. S x
One thing I’m curious about — why do you say to stop using eye drops constantly? I actually very rarely use them, but just curious 🙂 And happy for you that all went well!
Your eyes become dependent on them not creating their natural tears.
If your eyes are dry now, they’ll be crazy dry after surgery but sounds like you’ll be well prepared with drops.
I used mine about 2 months after surgery.
Interesting! Yeah, I really only use mine if my eyes are looking crazy red. I almost never ever have dry eye! One thing to be thankful for, looks like.
I’m almost thirty and I’m lucky enough to not have any issues with my vision. I’m scared of eyes – putting make up on is one thing but I can’t put any drops in for example. The moment my vision fades I’m stuck to glasses. I’m impressed you (and all others that have responded to this post) have considered having eye surgery. I hope it’ll work out for you whatever you decide for the future of your eyes! Don’t take any big risks though, they do allow you to see the world ?
It is scary but the statistics — and all the people I know in my real life who say their lives were changed for the better by lasik! — definitely make the the decision easier. I was so ready to get lasered!
I’m so sorry to hear about your eyes! I too have glasses and contacts and rely on them to see everything. It’s a huge pain, especially when I want to snorkel or if I’m out all day long and I know I need to switch into my glasses later. I’ve thought about surgery, but it’s just not in the budget at the moment. After reading this, I’m wondering if I would even qualify with my own eye history! So much to consider and think about, crazy!
It’s a big investment, for sure. But my major medical bills at the end of last summer pushed me over the edge. I just kept thinking how that money could have gone to surgery instead!
Yout posts are like letters from far away beloved oned.
Thanks a lot. 🙂
What a sweet compliment! Thank you.
Ugh, I am so sorry that you’ve had so much trouble and the surgery didn’t work out!
I travel with glasses/contacts and HATE it. It’s a constant hassle, extra space in the backpack, fear of losing/breaking them, another prescription to keep up with… I really hope to engage in some medical tourism myself in a couple of years and ditch the things forever.
Sometimes I feel like a baby complaining about my glasses and contacts and so it’s been such a huge relief reading you guys saying the same — love you for it! They ARE a hassle and a source of stress, for sure!
Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you! I have terrible vision and always wondered about getting surgery but it’s such a scary prospect. I’m moving to Bangkok in a few weeks so maybe it’s time for me to bite the bullet…
Hope you get to Burma one day soon!
Me too! I would recommend both Bumrungrad and TRSC — amazing facilities and I totally trust the doctors there.
My brother had PRK done years ago and I don’t remember the recovery process being particularly bad. If you hate dealing with glasses/contacts that much then a few days of pain should be worth it.
It definitely seems like a mixed bag from this comment section — some people say it was just a few days of discomfort and others say it was the most painful experience of their lives! I guess you just have to cross your fingers and hope for the first group…
Hey Alex! I’m from Singapore and I love reading your blog (:
I had PRK in may this year and it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be! Like you, PRK was the only option I had (for me, it was because of my really dry eyes, and I couldn’t wear contacts for long periods because of them). I won’t say that it was absolutely painless (in fact I spent most of days 1-3 lying in bed with loads of painkillers on board, my eyes stung as though someone was constantly chopping onions right beside me) but it got a lot better, the pain was completely gone by day 5, I had decent vision in a week and in a month it was 6/6! It’s life-changing and I would say GO FOR IT!
Hope your corneal scars heal nicely!
That does sound like fair trade — five days of pain for a lifetime of no hassle vision! You guys are selling me on PRK 🙂
Such a bummer! I hate to say it, but it only gets worse as you age. I swear, I woke up on my 40th birthday and needed readers (which I refuse to wear, haha) So, yes, traveling is a pain as I now carry contacts, regular sunglasses, prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses.
I hope you find a solution that works for you! I am too scared to even ask about Lasik – it freaks me out that you’re awake through the whole thing.
Wow, that’s a lot to carry! Yeah, I carry a ton of backup contacts, a contact case, a pair of glasses, and solution and eye drops. Ugh.
I went on the hunt for contact solution in Central America….I feel your pain. I dipped into multiple pharmacies in smaller areas until finally I found it in San Salvador. I even had a couch surfing host help me look and he couldn’t find it. While we were looking he said, “It will be expensive….”
WHAT OTHER ALTERNATIVE DO YOU SUGGEST
Rant over. Great post!
Ha yes I was shocked by the price of contacts in Nicaragua! I guess they are a serious luxury item there? Typically I stock up in Bangkok where the prices are very cheap, but the quality can be too.
After twenty years of switching between contacts and glasses I decided it was time to consider LASIK. My opthamologist gave me a similar diagnosis as you. My right eye had scar tissue and could only be corrected with PRK. But my left eye was in good health and eligible for LASIK. I scheduled the surgery for both eyes to be performed together.
From beginning to end, the surgery took less than twenty minutes. The machine cut the flap on my left eye and removed the flap entirely on my right eye. I was nervous that I would see the “knife” coming for me…but the pressure of the restraint results in temporary loss of sight.
The LASIK eye had great vision immediately. The PRK eye took 5 days to have comparable vision. Three days of sensitivity to light, but no pain. My PRK eye did itch during the healing process, so I strapped on an eye patch to prevent rubbing.
Even though LASIK has quicker results, PRK is probably the best option for you even without the eye complications. LASIK has a risk of the flap coming undone with high impact pressure. This could have complicated things with your love of diving. I wish you good health and love living vicariously through you!
Amber thank you so much for sharing this — how amazing that you can literally compare both surgeries! I am starting to come around to the idea that PRK is a better fit in the long run even if it’s a more daunting recovery in the short one. Thanks again!
Yes, this is long, but detailed. I had PRK about 20 years ago, as a participant in the medical trials for them. One eye was done before I had my daughter, one after. Standards and allowances changed during that time and the second eye was done with a larger corrective diameter to accommodate my larger pupils. I have one eye corrected for near vision and one for far vision, and now that I am 55 I rarely have to wear readers. Occasionally when over-tired my vision gets generally blurry and fluctuates, but when I get good regular sleep it corrects. My husband had the same PRK done slightly ahead of me, and he is still good distance-wise, he chose not to have mono-vision as he really wanted clear vision for distance in both eyes, so now he has to wear reading glasses. Neither of us had significant pain, but there was a feeling of sand-in-the-eye, and light sensitivity for the first 24-48 hours. But the first 24 we were putting in a thick ointment, which cushioned, and drops after that. We had codeine for pain, which he tolerated well, but it made me vomit within 12 hours, so I switched to ibuprofen and it was fine. Yes, it will feel like something is in your eye, they have been operated on. If you can mentally acknowledge the fact that it is temporarily going to feel that way, and it is normal and keep from rubbing your eye, you will be fine. You are meant to stay in bed and rest in the dark for at least 24 hours and plan on 48 hours, cause that is when the protective covering over the cornea regrows the most. You have to put drops in your eyes for weeks after to control the healing of the cornea itself so that it happens slowly and doesn’t create corneal scarring from too rapid healing. Keep to the drop dosing schedule religiously. Because they are controlling the healing, your vision takes a little longer to stabilize and may not be the sharpest it will be for a few weeks, possibly months. It is worth being patient and going back for the additional visits, I promise, if your eyes already have issues. I started wearing glasses in 5th grade, switched to contacts in high school and beyond, and, even though I didn’t have any major problems with them, they were expensive, inconvenient and if you like to travel, play sports, swim and snorkel/dive, they are not reliable. And I was always paranoid about being stranded without them. My husband and I agree that PRK was one of the best investments we ever made. My mother had hers done with LASIK when it became more established (she didn’t have the same problems with her eyes as I did), and had similar good outcomes without significant pain, and she loved the results, did mono-vision and never had to wear reading glasses as she aged. Mono-vision correction will not give you the sharpest distance vision from the get-go, but your brain adjusts, and if you have to have it for some specific activity or purpose, you can get corrective glasses for it when you need it. I personally have not had any need to do so. If you get both eyes corrected to 20/20 or so, eventually you will need to use reading glasses, and it will have to be glasses. Unless things have changed, we were told that contacts would not be a good option after any vision correcting surgery. Keep that in mind. And see if that has changed with new contact lenses technology recently. Ask your surgeons as part of your prep. At the time they only would do one eye at a time, just in case your eyes do not respond well or there is a healing complication or delay. You can get by with mono-vision quite well, depending on your vision deficit. PRK is the recommended procedure if you have any significant astigmatism or corneal scarring or irregularities that take you out of the running for LASIK, and for the lack of epithelial flap healing complications. The procedure itself was a little nerve wracking, as anything being done to your eye while you are conscious is a little freaky, but they gave us Valium to make us less anxious. You are an active participant in the surgery as you have to focus on a point as the laser does it’s work, but with the new position tracking systems they have, I am sure it is a much less crucial point than it was during the trials. When we did it, we just had to concentrate very hard on staying focused and not moving our eyeballs. Your vision gets a little blurry when they remove the epithelial layer before the laser part. And as the actual laser procedure progressed my vision grew very blurry, which I didn’t expect. The most disconcerting thing for me was the smell of burning hair that no one warned me about, it is a laser after all. The actual procedure only last a shockingly few minutes, and the result is so dramatic that I consider it a modern miracle of medical technology. I wish you good luck, and use the clinic with the best reputation and most skilled and experienced surgeons, and the best stats on outcomes with patients with your specific issues. If you have significant corneal scarring, it is possible that it may not reach perfect correction, but can be so much improved that what ever correction you do achieve is well worth it, and if you do still need corrective lenses/glasses, less correction will be needed and they will be lighter and less expensive.Your eyes will be sensitive to wind for quite a while after, always wear sunglasses, and your night vision can be different, as when your pupils are fully dilated it can expose the edges of the corrected zone, but that may be more due to my different diameter corrections. I have heard others also say that glare is more pronounced at night and takes getting used to. I wish you all the best outcomes, should you decide to proceed.
Wow, thank you so much for this detailed info Carol! How brave to be part of the clinical trials — thanks for blazing the trail for the rest of us 🙂 I didn’t realize there were different options that could lead to needing readers eventually vs. not needing them — I’ll be sure to ask about that. I was just thinking while reading your comment that I should download some great podcasts or books on tape to listen to for those 48 hours of in-the-dark bedrest. Something to look forward to?! 🙂
Wow Alex, I bet you didn’t expect this post to be so popular! I’m so sorry for your disappointment but the silver lining is all of this amazing info from the vibrant community you’ve built.
I’m a glasses and contacts wearer of 20 years myself but luckily haven’t had much issue. However I have been in the position of receiving a hard “no” from doctors and on that level, I empathize deeply. Luckily for you, it looks like there are options!! I wish you all the best in finding a solution for your eyeball woes xxx
Ha, seriously! I said it elsewhere in the comments but I really almost didn’t even publish this post after writing it because I was like whatever no one cares. Wrong again! So glad I did!
I realize forgot to mention that my husband is now in his early 60’2 and I turn 55 this year, and my mom got the surgery when she was in her mid 50’s (i think) and did not experience any issues until she developed cataracts in her mid 60’s – though that is not related to PRK. She never did have to wear reading glasses until other health issues destroyed her vision overall in her early 70’s. I don’t know if the longevity of our outcomes is typical, but I do know that our surgeon told me that even though LASIK was a newer procedure with “instant” feeling results, and he did do many hundreds of LASIK procedures, including trials for them, he believed the PRK to be the superior procedure with more consistent results that could deal with a wider range of vision and anatomy issues, and had less complications. Now that is just one doctor’s opinion, but he was in a position to know. As always, do your research on current statistics of outcome histories. There is so much more data now than when we had our procedures done.
I’ve definitely heard similar sentiments — that PRK is a better procedure in many ways — from various sources as well. It does seem especially well suited to those with an active lifestyle!
I too am not a candidate for LASIK due to my chronic dry eye, extreme astigmatisms and have had a roller coaster of eye infections and corneal ulcers over the past few years. What has helped is switching to daily contacts – the Acuvue Daily Moist lenses are really wonderful. The packaging is sort of upsetting but now I really only use them when I dive or do something particularly outdoorsy. You also don’t need contact solution to use them, just saline so that’s an upside for travel weight. Finding the right glasses for outdoor activities and having a really good pair of prescription sunglasses has also made the difference. These things are not cheap but when taken care of last quite a while! I don’t think I’ll ever splurge for the PRK, it makes me too nervous, but look forward to hearing what you decide. Good luck!
Thanks Sarah! The comments on this post have really got me thinking about moving forward with PRK. It’s great to hear the encouraging comments of others who have gotten the surgery!
I had to get glasses as well a few months ago, and was super shy about them at first. I’m so sorry you were disappointed, but just know you still look incredibly gorgeous in those shades and I wish you the best of luck in the future- you have a whole bunch of readers that got your back
Thanks Cate! The comments on this post were insanely helpful and have definitely given me the energy to jump into exploring PRK again!
Hi Alex. I read this post and all the comments from others with great interest. I have been considering eye surgery in Thailand as well. Just wondering why you went to TRSC first before going to Bumrungrad. Are their prices very different or was the location a factor?
Hey Don! I would consider either though TRSC does offer a more competitive price and in my opinion a more personal patient experience. I was super impressed when I accompanied my friend there for his own surgery and will likely return there if I move forward with PRK.
Thank you for this post! I have contacts/glasses too and find traveling with them can he annoying at times. Heading to Korea next year en route to SEA to see if I am a candidate for lasik. I hope so….I am very active on the water and on land and makes my adventures challenging at times.
Fingers crossed for you, Sara! Sounds like from the comments here it really is a game changer.
Hi, Alex! I had PRK to both my eyes Jan 2016 and it was money well spent and something I wish I had done sooner. My vision prior to the procedure was pretty terrible (my contacts were -7.0) and now I see 20/20. I was not a LASIK candidate and was very nervous about having PRK because of what I had read and heard about the recovery and that it takes 3 months for your vision to stabilize. I also have a close friend who had PRK and had a a painful recovery (we think due to having extreme dry eyes and sleeping with his eyes half open). I am happy to report that I had a great experience with PRK. I never needed the Valium or Percocet prescribed to me. My eyes were very light sensitive the first few days which instantly resolved once the contact bandage lens were removed. I did spend the initial few days mostly sleeping and in a darkened room listening to audio books. Any irritation or discomfort I had was taken care of with the prescribed eye drops. I’m a doctor and was able to return to work 6 days later to an environment with bright hospital lights without issue. I love waking up in the morning and being able to see without having to reach for my contact and glasses. Wishing you all the best as you consider PRK!
I too was thinking if I go ahead with PRK my recovery would be all about selecting the right audio books, ha! Thank you so much for sharing your story — I’m really leaning towards going ahead with it thanks to all this amazing input from around the world!
Don’t know if I’m too late here and you’ve already done it, but if not…
I had LASIK in one eye and LASEK (PRK’s precursor) in the other. Basically, my right eye (PRK) may not have had enough cornea for a successful reshape using LASIK, as it would depend on the depth of the surface flap cut. If the cut went too deep, they would have had to abort and try again 6 months later (or undercorrect). Neither were good options.
I had both surgeries at the same time, so I can compare the 2:
1. PRK is actually a (slightly) less annoying procedure. The tool they use to cut the flap for LASIK fits into your eye socket, and for some reason, for me, that was very uncomfortable. No such issue with PRK.
Otherwise, the procedures felt and went identically.
Recovery. My LASIK eye could see reasonably well minutes after the op, and almost perfectly within a half day. My EK (PRK) eye took longer.
It worked out okay for me (I was back at work the next day) because I could see well out of one eye, but had I done both with PRK – it would have been much harder for probably about a week.
If you do both eyes PRK – make sure you have someone around for at least a week who can help you with things, and help guide you from the doctors office to the hotel.
I did not have to go back as often as they say you will – but honestly, a week in bangkok isn’t much of a hardship. This shit will change your life, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Hey Chris! Nope, haven’t done it yet — but based on all the encouraging stories I’ve heard here, I have decided to! I think you are right, it will be an unpleasant week but in the end it will be life changing! Here’s hoping I can write a review of the procedure and my experience sometime this year…
Oh, what a story! I’m sorry that it didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would. Only recently can I really appreciate the misery of not having 20/20 vision! My eyes have started to change so much that I finally need real glasses instead of cheaters I’ve used for the last few years. I’m trying to adjust to the weird edges around the glasses and so on…I hate to complain after your story!! I need to just hush and be thankful that all I need are glasses. Good luck to you in the future. As you said, there are worse things!! Thanks for sharing your story! I know medical tourism is really growing!!
It is indeed. All the encouragement in the comments section here has really forced me to consider PRK as a serious option, which I’m probably pursuing in 2017. Of course, there will be a follow up here!
I just had an initial checkup at TRSC last week. I am qualified for Relex but still felt scare if something goes wrong with my only pair of eyes. I am sure they are just preparing us for the worst. This place is the best place for eye surgery in Thailand, and of course most expensive and luxurious. All of my friend who had Relex did it here. I think I’ll have Relex this April. So I hope everthing goes well if you decide to go on with the surgery. Look forward to read all the details here.
I agree, the information they give can be a little overwhelming! I think I have decided to wait until the fall for my own surgery… but I will be doing it at TRSC for sure. I’ll share every step of the way here!
I had PRK ten years ago and yes recovery is a bit uncomfortable, mainly the first 24-48 hours. It has regressed a bit over time but I can still get by without glasses. I still carry some glasses for when I want that extra clarity. I just came back from three days of snowboarding in Japan with no glasses, which is the sort of independence you’re looking for. P.S. Really enjoyed Koh Tao.
Hey Barry! Yes, that is indeed exactly the kind of freedom I want… especially when it comes to packing 🙂 Bummer to hear it has regressed over time… after going through surgery it would be awesome if it was for life!
The regression was only minor (less than 1 diopter). A mate of mine had the same result frim Lasik. I considered more surgery but my long time trusted optimetrist talked me out of it and into a technology / product known as OrthoK, check it out.
I’ll have a look, Barry! Thank you for the tips!
My eye sight is one my biggest concerns when I leave for my travels. I totally understand what you are going through too! My eyesight is too bad to get lasik. So I am perpetually screwed on that, but it should be interesting. Glad to see someone else faces these issues too.
Sorry to hear that Chris! What disqualified you from Lasik, if you don’t mind me asking?
Ugh, I have too bad of eyes. My prescription is too strong.
I feel for ya Chris! Although I am currently crossing my fingers for PRK this fall!
I am moving to Thailand and wanted to have a laser eye operation done there as I know that quality is excellent with low prices. While I was googling I decided to go for Relex Smile as you did initially.
Doing my research I came across your great blog but also following one:
The list various countries with prices for LASIK per eye from GBP 1300 in U.K., GBP 1200 in Thailand down to GBP 315 in Czech Republic.
I found a company in Czech Republic which offers the Relex Smile procedure for about USD 1.350 / GBP 1.050 (KC 30.800) incl the fee for the initial examination.
The PRK must be much cheaper. See below link.
I haven’t researched their reviews yet and also not the pricing in South Korea. In Poland I found a few websites only in Polish yet!
However, I thought that might interest your readers that actually Europe seems to be much cheaper.
Hey Dee, one thing to factor in is accommodation and travel cost. I’m already in Thailand which makes travel costs negligible, and accommodation is also incredibly inexpensive (an important factor for a surgery with a longer recover period, like PRK.) Of course if you’re already in Europe, Czech Republic might be a good choice. For me, being comfortable with the medical system in Thailand is a major factor in my decision to do my surgery there.
True, but maybe you can find a review job in Europe and travel Europe and combine it with the laser eye surgery.
By the way, I don’t have a blog (yet) but it seems I can’t post here without one. So I used the one I was talking about before.
Hey Dee! Sorry that’s confusing — the blog section is just optional for those who have one. It’s not required to post! I’ll talk to my designer to see if we can make that any clearer.
Hey Alex, I was just reading your 2018 travel blog post and saw that you were prepping for PRK surgery. I wish I had seen it sooner so I could have reassured you! I’m 27 and I got PRK / Lasek surgery at age 23. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, since having glasses from age 8. I didn’t qualify for regular Lasik surgery because my eyesight and astigmatism was too severe.
The recovery did take longer — I took a week off of work. My sister covered up all the windows in my room because the light hurt my eyes and I will admit that a day after the surgery, I woke up in bed and my eyes felt like they were on fire. I slept a lot the first few days. I made sure not to rub my eyes to protect the protective lens. I think I went to the doctor 1-2 that week for a check up, and again 4 weeks later. My vision was immediately clear after the surgery — like I could see the time on the wall clock and the wrinkles in the doctor’s face seconds after the surgery — but my vision did blur for 1-2 weeks afterwards and didn’t totally stablize until the 4 week mark. But the actual recovery pain only lasted 3-4 days and if you sleep through most of it, it’s not that bad. I never suffered from any of the symptoms afterwards, like dry eyes.
My vision has been perfect the past 4 years and has allowed me to backpack for 10 months, scuba dive, run Tough Mudders, and more without worrying about contact lenses and solutions. I’m glad PRK was an option for me. You’ll be fine!! 🙂
Hey Alyssa! Guess what — I GOT TO HAVE LASIK! It was a crazy surprise, they literally told me a few hours before surgery. I was totally shocked (and had a little sticker shock too, ha) but I was relieved as my doctors had been grilling me about staying out of the sun for two months and I Was like, um, I live on a tropical island and I get around by motorbike. Zoink! So glad your surgery was a success, thank you for sharing your story!
I’m so glad LASIK was an option for you! Thats an awesome surprise! I couldn’t imagine staying out of the sun for 2+ months, either. I’m glad you’re recovering well!
Thanks Alyssa! It was a huge surprise!
So did you actually have you LASIK treatment yet?
I’m just curious how did it go as I love reading your blog.
I did! I’m absolutely thrilled with it. Best decision I ever made. I LOATHED my contacts.