“Don’t look away.”
This is very good advice to follow when your eye is sliced open.
The first time the elevator doors opened on the 12th floor, I was surprised. Instead of being a drab optometrist’s office, Eyence was hip and appealing. Over the course of the next four hours I was excited to stick my eyes in front of everything- that terrifying puff of air on the eyeball never felt so cool.
On my second visit lasers burned a hole through each iris. The procedure sounded like a game of billiards and the resulting hole functioned as a pressure release.
A week later I was on the operating table with my head in a silicon mold and a needle plunged into my eye. It was difficult to focus on the green light straight above because the image moved every time the doctor pressed against my eye. After fifteen minutes behind the microscope, the doctor had miraculously attached the Artisan Implantable Lens to the front of my iris.
After a short rest, my right eye was checked and with a few short strokes my left eye was marked for astigmatism correction. When the doctor pressed the marker against my eye the squeaky tug reminded me of the times I had written my student’s names on their erasers.
When the procedure was completed I rested in a small recovery room. I had been really nervous I would flinch and mess something up during the operation, but it turned out the most difficult part was communicating with my nurse. When she tried to tell me we shared the same birthday she ended up hitting her head repeatedly and groaning, “Uhhhhh. I don’t know. Uhhhhhhhhhhh.” So the second time round I tried to make small talk in Korean:
“I made mul gimchi.”
“Really?” The nurse seemed very surprised.
“Yes, but it tasted bad.”
The conversation seemed to pacify her as there were no more displays of self-flagellation. With a smile she told me, “finish” and snuck a few cookies into my palm.
It seemed strange on the bus ride home that something so monumentally different in my life was completely unobservable to the people around me. Within the span of a few hours I went from an operating table to a bus seat. Change was in the air and I could finally see it coming.
How to get there: Gangnam Station, Line 2 Exit #10. Walk straight and Eyence is located within the Pagoda English Building on your left.