Rutnin Eye Hospital - Eye Clinics in Bangkok
Rutnin Eye Hospital is housed in a multistorey building on Asoke road, close to Petchaburi road. The entrance is hidden in the car parking lot. Despite the poor architectural designs, the hospital can be recommended for its eye examinations and treatments.
If you need any check-up for your eyesight, we can recommend Rutnin Eye Hospital, located on Asoke road. It is located on the right side, when you enter Asoke from Sukhumvit Road. It is a 2 km walk though from Sukhumvit, since the Eye Hospital is located close to Petchaburi Road.
The hospital just recently has been rebuild. While prices have gone up the last few years, a thorough general check-up costs less than 1,000 baht. It includes visual acuity and refraction measurements, eyeball pressure measurements (necessary every so often when you passed 40 years of age), and examination by an ophthalmologist.(see tip below).
Note that the hospital can be really a busy place. Try to make an appointment by phone, but still it may take an hour or two, before you will have gone through all your exams.
You can have your eyes checked if you just need new glasses, at about every street corner in Bangkok.
When looking for eyewear such as eyeglasses, lenses etc. there are two ways to go about it. There are many 'shops' around the city. Some are run by individuals, some are part of chains such as Top Charoen Optical and Beautiful Optical. You can distinguish between the two by looking on how the staff is dressed. In most chains, the personnel will be uniformed, and mainly consist of girls or young women. It is always difficult to be sure about the quality of service provided. Certainly some shops have been in business for a long time, have good knowledge and experience and provide good services at very reasonable prices. You should certainly bargain on the frames, usually prices can be bargained down by 20-50%. Lenses are more fixed priced. Everything is basically available, like bifocal and progressive eye lenses etc.
From our experience at Rutnin Eye Hospital, we know that single vision lenses for eyeglasses can be finished within an hour, so you can simple wait for them or go drink a coffee round the corner. You can not expect this speed at eyewear chains though, because they can not make the eyeglasses at location,and have to send the order to an outside facility.
For bifocals, you would need to wait possibly for about a week, even at the better equipped facilities. Hoya lenses seem to be widely available and are good quality. Of course, our personal experience is limited.
However, recently we got prescription eye glasses at Rutnin Eye Hospital to use both for looking at a computer screen, and reading. The result was quite disappointing, and the glasses were only useable as reading glasses. When we went back to discuss this issue, we were quite disappointed with their response. The staff went out of their way to put the blame on me, pretended not to understand my complaint, and otherwise treated me as someone less intelligent. Maybe it is safer to just stick to easily made eyeglasses. We had 'progressive' eye glasses made to use behind our computer at a local branch of Top Charoen (branches all around town). They performed their own measurements with good results.
One tip : when going for a check-up it is useful to not go by car, and to take some sunglasses with you. To have a good look at your retina (especially for 'older' people), dilating eyedrops are dropped into your eyes, which makes your eyesight quite blurred for a few hours, and highly sensitive to sunlight. Administering the dilating eyedrops is not individualized. So everyone gets a standard dose (3 times some drops, with a few minutes in between), that makes the procedure work for 100% (or close to) of patients). In any case, the last time we underwent this treatment, we were practically half-blind for a few hours afterwards. It can spoil the rest of your day actually. So do not forget your sunglasses, and don't drive yourself.
Traffic on Asoke Road, close to Rutnin Eye Hospital. Notice the motorcycle driver with the orange jacket. That is how you can recognize the 'motorcycle taxis', commonly used (at your own peril) in Bangkok traffic.
One has to realize that staff in the eyewear chains are possibly more inclined to sell you their product (for which they use mainly female staff), but might not always be capable of performing repairs on the spot, since your eyewear will have to be sent to a repair facility and then be sent back. Minor changes, such as changing nosepads, however, are usually done instantly.
Most shops will have equipment available to measure your eyesight and have lenses made accordingly. However, personally we prefer to have this done at the Rutnin Eye Hospital, where you get additional examinations and are seen by an opthalmologist. Our experience is that proper eyesight examination takes some time, and the procedure seems to be done rather quickly in most roadside shops. You can use your prescriptions for glasses from the hospital to any of the shops, and have your eyewear made accordingly.
One note of caution : when measuring your eyesight at Rutnin Eye Hospital, it happened a few times that we did not get the whole exam, likely when the examiner judges that your eyesight has not changed a lot. We noticed this ourself when we went back one day to get a copy of our latest measurements, and then discovered that the latest complete exam was about 5 years ago! Not what we wanted. So it you think you need the whole exam (like including lens strenght for reading, computer etc.), just make it clear to the examiner.
Personally, with the presciptions given by Rutnin Eye Hospital, we have ordered eyeglasses online (single vision lenses, and bifocal lenses) at Zenni Optical, (we have no commercial benefit from this). We understand their eyeglasses are designed in U.S. , and made in China. For the type of eyeglasses mentioned, it would be difficult to pay more than about 100 U.S. Dollar., but progressive lenses may be a bit more expensive. One prerequisite : you need your complete eye examination results. One additional benefit (at least for us) : if you know how to do it, you can play around a bit with your prescription numbers, like making them a bit less strong than suggested (which we understand may sometimes be a bit beneficial). This will likely be impossible with any respectable optician, they will always want you to have perfect eyesight (you surely need it when driving a car, or doing precision work) with your glasses. We can not recommend this, just mention it, and suggest you discuss it with your opthalmologist if you think about it.
You can also have laser surgery done in Bangkok. There are regularly advertisements for this in the newspapers :
We understand this service is provided in the major hospitals like Bumrungrad and Bangkok General. Also check out the websites below. We do not really are in favor of such treatment, since there is always a risk involved, however much it is talked down by the providers of such services, and strictly speaking it is seldom medically necessary (that is, it is mostly done for 'cosmetic' reasons and the comfort of not having to wear eyeglasses) We are sure prices are competitive, if we remember well, it can be done for about 2,000 dollars (both eyes)
Rutnin-Gimble LASIK Centre
Beware, we read on one of these websites that you are advised to moisturize your eyes every 15-30 minutes, if you go back home on a plane soon after the surgery!