Frequently Asked Questions
What do LASIK and PRK stand for?
LASIK is an acronym for laser in-situ keratomileusis. In short this means a laser beam reshapes your cornea from within (under a corneal flap). PRK stands for Photo-Refractive Keratectomy.
For how long has Laser Eye Surgery been performed?
The first LASIK operation was performed in 1990 by the Greek ophthalmic surgeon Ioannis Pallikaris. PRK was first approved by the U.S. FDA in October 1995 after more than 10 years of clinical trials, and LASIK was approved in 1999. These procedures have been widely available since the mid-1990s.
Is the procedure painful?
Most patients do not find the procedure painful at all. Some do find it a little uncomfortable or have a feeling of “pressure”. It is over very quickly. For most patients the fear of the unknown is worse than the actual procedure. Anaesthetic drops are used to numb the eye just before surgery begins and you may wish to use a mild sedative.
How long does the procedure take?
Numerous checks are done before you are escorted into the laser theatre. Once you are in, the procedures will be completed in 10-20 minutes.
What if I can't keep my eye still enough or if I blink during the procedure?
We use a small instrument called a speculum to prevent blinking. We have an active eye tracker which detects even microscopic eye movement and can redirect the laser beam as required.
What will my recovery be like?
Most LASIK patients see well the day following surgery and usually will be able to resume most of their normal daily activities. Patients with high prescriptions may recover more slowly. PRK patients also heal more slowly. The speed of recovery can vary between patients.
Are both eyes treated?
Most patients prefer to have both eyes treated at the same time. However you do have the option of treating them on separate days should you so wish.
Is the procedure safe?
LASIK and PRK are considered to be very safe. Over 17 million cases have been performed worldwide in the past 20 years. In the hands of an experienced surgeon utilising state-of-the-art equipment the procedure has an extremely low incidence of serious complications. A survey done by the American Cataract and Refractive Surgery Society revealed that 32% of its members (eye surgeons) have had LASIK done on themselves. This is an amazing endorsement by people who know and understand the procedure best.
What are the risks?
Almost everything you do in life has risks. All types of surgery have some degree of risk and refractive surgery is not excluded. However, the chance of having a serious vision reducing complication has been documented in a number of clinical studies to be very low. LASIK and PRK have been around for many years and countless studies have been done to improve the results and safety. Millions of people have had excellent results. Thus it is one of the most common operations done the world over. Some potential complications include conditions such as dryness, complications in making the surgical flap, night glare, under or over-correction, ectasia and loss of best-corrected vision. The risks of the surgery are discussed fully prior to surgery. Preoperative screening ensures that we proceed with the procedure only when it is medically advisable. We prefer a conservative approach. Laser treatment should not be done if the patient cannot accept the remote possibility of a complication that could occur. Perhaps the best way to help prevent complications is to choose a surgeon who is experienced and has been performing refractive surgery for a number of years. It is important to ensure that the equipment used is current and properly maintained.
What are the long-term effects of laser eye surgery?
Corneal flap surgery was first performed over 50 years ago by Jose Barraquer in Columbia and the excimer laser has been in use for almost 20 years. Patients have now been monitored for many years. The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published a guidance document on LASIK and determined that the procedure was safe and effective, and that there were no serious concerns about the long-term safety if performed with the latest technology and techniques.
Can I go blind after laser eye surgery?
Realistically there is no real chance of this (some say there is perhaps a chance of about 1 in 5 million – the same risk as dying in a plane crash).
How good will my vision be after LASIK?
While laser vision correction has proven overwhelmingly successful in reducing dependence on glasses and contact lenses, the degree of improvement may vary among individuals. How well and how quickly your vision improves depends on how well you heal and the severity of your prescription. While we can never promise patients "perfect" (20/20 or 6/6) vision, most patients with mild to moderate prescriptions do achieve 20/20 vision or are within 1 to 2 lines of this on an eye chart. This means they no longer need glasses or contacts to drive, play sports, watch movies and TV, or participate in careers requiring excellent vision such as police and fire departments.
Will I be able to throw away my glasses?
The aim to is to do just this and up to 99% of patients no longer need glasses or contact lenses for their vision in everyday life.
Will I need reading glasses after the procedure?
If you 40 years or over then the answer is yes. The age at which reading glasses become necessary varies. However it is inevitable that if your prescription is close to zero, that you will eventually need reading glasses, even if you never had laser vision correction.
What is Monovision?
Monovision is an option where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near vision. This arrangement suits some although most people prefer to have both eyes corrected for distance. Monovision is subject to individual adaptation. Should you be in the presbyopic age group (i.e. over 40 years) and wish to consider this, you would need to try it out with a contact lens trial to see if it suits you. Your optometrist can arrange this for you.
How soon after the procedure can I drive?
Most people have vision that is legal for driving without glasses the day after surgery. PRK patients take longer. Your vision is tested the day after surgery and we can inform you if you are indeed legal.
Do I need to take time away from work?
Usually you can return to work the day or two after your procedure. PRK patients may need to take a week off work.
Will my vision be corrected forever?
We look at the stability of your prescription prior to planning surgery. If your eyes are stable there is an excellent chance that you will have permanent correction of your refractive error. However some patients’ eyes do change with time. Some patients may need to wear glasses for some demanding tasks (e.g. for night driving) and others may need a late enhancement.
Will I be able to wear corrective lenses after LASIK or PRK
Most patients do not require any correction after their procedure. However you certainly can should this need ever arise. Contact lenses can be worn 6 weeks after the procedure.
What are Excimer Lasers?
Excimer laser technology was developed in the late 70’s by IBM. It was designed as a super-precise tool to etch very high density circuit patterns in the computer chip manufacturing process. “Excimer” stands for “excited dimer,” a combination of Argon and Fluorine gas that, in the presence of a strong electric field, emits UV-wavelength laser energy. A laser of this type is incredibly accurate.Shortly after its invention, several researchers decided to apply excimer laser technology to the correction of vision problems. This led directly to the development modern lasers for vision correction..
What Laser will be used on my eyes?
We use the Wavelight EX 500 Excimer Laser as it is one of the most advanced lasers available. With a 500 hertz repetition rate, the Wavelight Eye-Q delivers one diopter of correction in just 1.4 seconds. The reduction in treatment time provides a shorter, more comfortable procedure for the patient. This is one of the fastest excimer lasers in the world. Each pulse lasts a millionth of a second before the laser shifts to a new position.The size of the spot used to reshape the cornea is small (0.95 mm). The laser uses PerfectPulse Eye Tracking Technology which is designed to ensure that every tiny laser beam pulse is precisely controlled. It does this with a high speed infra-red eye-tracking system that follows the eye's fastest movements and ensures accurate beam placement. The laser makes use of Wavefront-Optimised technology. This takes into account the starting curvature of your cornea and specifically designs treatments so as to preserve the natural aspheric shape of your eyes. It applies extra pulses to the periphery of the cornea to compensate for the angle of the laser beam. This leaves the cornea close to its ideal shape and this enhances visual performance.
Is Laser equipment regulated?
The excimer laser is a sophisticated piece of equipment. It is manufactured overseas. In the USA a device has to undergo rigorous testing and clinical trials to establish the safety and effectiveness before it can be FDA approved. The laser we use is FDA approved. We have a maintenance contract to ensure that the laser is compliant with all regulations and is safe and accurate.