The QiRanger Adventures


with 7 comments

I’ve never really liked going to the Eye Doctor in the US. Not because they caused me pain or I was afraid, but because I hated spending the money on such a short visit and then getting assaulted at the desk when I’d ask for my prescription. This is usually how the visits went:

  1. Wait a year, then schedule an appointment.
  2. They’d ask for my medical insurance information and I’d give it to them (while I had it). At best, I received a $15 credit towards the examination and $0 credit towards lenses or new glasses.
  3. They’d examine my eyes and then try to talk me into a new examination procedure “that’s good for me, but not covered by my insurance.” Like that $15 is going to cover anything anyway.
  4. They’d tell me my eyes are about the same, but there’s a slight change. Then, give me a loaner pair of contacts to try for a week.
  5. I’d pay $100 for this visit.
  6. After one week, I’d return for a follow-up visit. The Doctor agrees that the contacts are working and then they order me boxes for each eye for $15 more than Costco.
  7. Finally, I’d get my prescription on paper.

It’s a long and drawn out process that takes way too much time and money. My lenses in the US cost me $50 a box. So a simple visit and a 3 month supply of lenses has me forking out $200.

Let’s contrast that with care here in Korea.

  1. I walk into a shop and ask for some new contacts.
  2. The technician sits me down in the chair and performs an eye exam.
  3. Following the exam, we order my lenses.

The exam is free.

The lenses are W45,000 ($40) per box. So my total expense is W90,000 ($80). Plus I get my prescription on paper (not that it’s really needed). The same can be said for glasses. Jo recently got a pair and this was the breakdown:

Frames: W25,000… but wait there was a 505 off sale! They were really W12,500!
Exam: FREE!
Non-reflective lenses: W30,000
Total: W42,500

Oh… and the glasses were ready in 30 minutes.


Written by Steve Miller

March 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. You live in Seoul so the contact thing was easy. When I lived in Chuncheon in the mid-90’s, I tried to get contacts there and I was told that since I am Caucasian, my eyes are different than Korean people’s eyes. The only way they would give me a prescription for contacts was if I was willing to pay a bit extra so they could bring in some expert from Seoul to test my eyes. Let’s just say I walked out with a good pair of glasses that were a lot less expensive than the same glasses in the USA but no contacts.
    That was one of my very few experiences with real racism when I lived in Korea.


    March 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    • Interesting story. I wonder if things have changed now that there’s more penetration by foreigners in Chuncheon?


      March 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

      • Good question. When I lived there, most of the foreigners in Chuncheon were either US military, English Teachers or Mormon Missionaries. Now that Chuncheon’s becomes this Hallyu mecca, I really want to go back to see how things have changed and what things have stayed the same.


        March 23, 2010 at 10:05 am

  2. Man, people are soo ripped off with glasses in North America. There’s a ridiculous mark-up. My Dad found a good online company you can order glasses from where they order it in from Hong Kong, so he bought me a pair. The glasses only ended up costing 1/5th (or so) of the price that we probably would have paid here, and that was with photochromatic (transitions) lenses and everything!


    March 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    • That’s awesome! I’m thinking of getting something along those lines. A pair of sunglasses or transitions here (but without the prescription).


      March 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

  3. Wow that was a long process in America :S

    I don’t know what it’s like here in Norway regards to contacts, but for glasses it’s something like Korea’s process. You can take the frame (without prescription classes in them of course) home to test them, and to get used to the look, but you don’t have to!

    But it takes a good week, if not longer to get the frame and glasses ready…


    March 18, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    • That’s a sweet deal. I love how the system works here! too bad you have to wait so long to get the lenses. I love being able to get them in about an hour.


      March 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: