We often get this question when we meet people, as Yi Ken is wearing glasses with an eye patch now.
Sometime in January this year, Yi Ken had his eyesight checked during the routine eye screening in his childcare centre. After the eye screening, Yi Ken received a referral letter to Health Promotion Board (HPB) Refraction Clinic for further screening on 26 February 2015. We thought it was just a routine check and did not think too much about it. Neither did it occur to us that we should have brought forward his appointment.
So came 26 February, which also happened to be Tun Ling’s birthday, we brought Yi Ken to HPB for his 10.30 am appointment. From the assessment, we were told that Yiken’s right vision is weak and he is relying on his left eye to see. Yi Ken has hyperopia (farsightedness or long-sightedness), astigmatism and suspected amblyopia (lazy eye). Yi Ken’s farsightedness is inborn, due to the shape of his eyeball that resulted the visual image being focused behind the retina rather than directly on it. So, Yi Ken needs to see an eye specialist for further assessment to confirm the diagnosis and treatment. He probably needs glasses and eye patch. We were disappointed to hear this. The disappointment turned to panic when we realized that the earliest appointment to see the specialist will be in April 2015. We were leaving Singapore on 6 March 2015.
Since it was impossible for Yi Ken to seek treatment before we depart, we decided to do it in South Korea. Coincidentally, Sean has a Mongolian friend, Ariunaa, who is working in the Ophthalmology Department in Korea University Anam Hospital. Ariunaa helped to schedule an appointment for Yi Ken. We were at Namdaemun Market when we received the call from Ariunaa that there was a slot for Yi Ken the next day, on 11 April 2015. We had initially planned to leave Seoul to meet Fat Boy on 10 April 2015, we had packed and left our luggage at the hostel. However, we had to extend our stay in Seoul for Yi Ken’s appointment. Luckily, we could use Kakao talk to inform Fat Boy about the last minute changes.
Next day, we took the subway to Anam Station, the nearest station to Korea University Anam Hospital. Ariunaa greeted us at the Ophthalmology Department, which was filled with elderly patients. We had to spend a couple of hours at the clinic as we had to wait for Yi Ken’s eyes to be dilated with the eye drops. While waiting for Yi Ken’s eyes to be dilated, a Korean lady living in USA was chatting with us and offering biscuits and candies to Yi Ken and Yi Xi. She was waiting for husband to complete his medical appointment. At one point, she was rummaging through her handbag and she passed Yi Ken a folded US dollar note, saying that it was meant for Yi Ken to buy ice cream. We told “no, no, no” but she insisted that Yi Ken should keep it. She kept pushing the money to Yi Ken and left the clinic. We only realized that it was a twenty US dollar note after Yi Ken’s appointment. OMG.
After the eye check by the doctor, we were told that Yi Ken needs to wear glasses and he gave us the prescription for Yi Ken’s glasses. The doctor said that his lower eye lashes are growing upwards and scratching his cornea. That might cause his blurred vision. So, the doctor used a tweezer to pluck the eyelashes that were scratching his cornea. The lashes might grow again. The doctor gave a prescription for us to go to the pharmacy to purchase eye drops for Yi Ken. Yi Ken had to put eye drops three times a day for the next two weeks. We were told to bring Yi Ken back after two weeks for a review and to determine if his vision would improve with glasses. If his vision did not improve, he might need to patch his eye.
With the prescription, we could go to any optical shop and prescribe a pair of glasses for Yi Ken. However, we were leaving Seoul that evening and had no time to visit any optical shop.We were travelling to Gangwondo with Fat Boy for the next two days.
In the end, we made Yi Ken’s first pair of glasses in Jochiwon three days later, the city where Fat Boy is staying. When the optician saw Yi Ken’s prescription, she shook her head and told in Korean that Yi Ken’s eyes are no good.
Yi Ken has far sightedness and astigmatism. His astigmatism in his right eye is 400 degrees, much higher than mine. As his degree is quite high, his glasses will only be ready after three days, so we had to trouble Fat Boy to collect as we would be travelling to Jeju and Busan. Yi ken’s first pair of glasses is a power puff girls one as the frame suited him best. We realized that glasses in Korea are much cheaper than in Singapore. We thought to ourselves that it was not a bad decision to seek treatment in Korea afterall.