More than a year ago I cancelled a scheduled eye-laser treatment in Belgium because of its high cost. Afterwards I was informed about much cheaper laser treatments abroad. It took me until last summer to really start looking for such options. I still had a coverage from Belgian national television on my mind that highlighted the mostly positive experiences of people getting an eye-laser treatment in Istanbul, Turkey through the services of the Dutch company Medical Travel Service (http://www.medicaltravelservice.nl). So I started by visiting their website and looking for similar services. It was clear that MTS offered the most attractive package, including flight, hotel and local transportation. However, I felt one could do better (cheaper) by eliminating intermediaries. Thus, I tried to contact the Turkish hospital (Dunya Goz) directly. The e-mail I sent in August was not returned, not even until today. So I tried to call them, but after five minutes I still wasn’t connected to someone speaking enough English.
The Netherlands were the next place to look for more information. I made a phone call to MTS and had an interesting conversation with Han de Wolf with whom I discussed the package and possible modifications to it. As he was very helpful and left me some options, I felt comfortable. After some more research I didn’t immediately find other agencies. I decided to fill in the necessary subscription form, stating the timing and the intention of the trip and treatment.
I insisted on receiving a signed document in which MTS declared the services they would offer. After I had received this, I had to pay the whole sum (including a extra fee for a single room, I had no chaperone) upfront and six weeks before departure. At this time I felt reassured and made the transaction. A couple of days later I received confirmation of the payment of 1 750 euros (€1 645 fixed price + €105 for the room).
About two weeks before departure I received flight and hotel details and a detailed description of the eye laser treatment and its timing. The treatment would take one full day, the next day only a quick check was scheduled.
When I arrived at the airport in Brussels on the departure date, the flight to Istanbul was so busy that I couldn’t spot any other Belgian ‘patients’ at the desk of Turkish Airlines. However, upon arrival in Istanbul it was immediately clear that I wasn’t the only one. About 10 other people had the same purpose.
We were picked up and a bus took us to the hotel. In the mean time we received information for the Dutch lady in charge about the next days.
The next morning we arrived at 8.30am at the hospital, which was, as expected, in excellent condition with qualified personnel. All of us underwent the necessary screenings and tests with the newest equipment. All this, including a lot of waiting, took more than half a day. At around 2pm the moment suprême had arrived. One by one, we went in to have our cornea cut by laser, after only having our eyes undergoing anesthesia. It was a terrible experience because of the stress involved. I found it impossible to stay calm and relaxed when considering what they were doing. After this first step, we had to wait 15 minutes with our eyes closed (after all the cornea was just ‘hanging’ before your eyes). Because one has 15 minutes to think, it still was a stressful time for me. Finally the anticipated moment was there: the real laser treatment. Again, the equipment is carefully installed on your eye. It takes about one minute to install, laser and remove for one eye. The actual lasering is a matter of seconds.
When they again remove the equipment, the treatment is over. I didn’t feel like opening my eyes, so I didn’t. I didn’t feel any pain for the first half hour. Then the anesthesia lost its power and I felt real pain. Tears appeared and I felt even less like opening my eyes.
Since one is obliged to apply eye drops regularly, so did I. In the beginning it wasn’t easy, but after some trying you get the feeling. It really gets better when after about five hours the pain disappears. I could see again without glasses or contact lenses! A strange experience, but the next morning it was already a lot more common. There was only a small protective lens that was hindering sight and was due to be removed during the post-treatment check that same morning.
Now, about two weeks later, I can say that sight has returned to about its full extent. Tests are planned in about two weeks to check what the real result is. I still have to use eye drops frequently, not only for medical reasons but also to improve comfort.
In general, this was an interesting experience, a succesfull treatment and hopefully a good investment.