Below you can read the answers to the most frequently asked questions about laser eye surgery we receive at LaserVision.
Patients will need to consider the majority of the below before going ahead with vision correction treatment to make sure it is the right course for them.
What is laser eye surgery?
What is refractive error?
What is short sightedness?
What is long sightedness?
What is astigmatism?
What is presbyopia?
Do I need a consultation?
Is there a waiting list for consultations?
How long should I leave out my contact lenses for?
Can I wear make up?
ConsultationWe would advise that you do not wear eye make up to your consultation.
TreatmentOn the day of treatment you should not wear any make up at all, as this may affect the accuracy of the laser. The eye area will be cleaned by nursing staff prior to treatment to ensure the area is cleaned effectively.
After treatmentWe recommend that you do not wear eye make up for up to 4 weeks after surgery.
LASIK, LASEK or ReLEx?
LASIK gives fast visual recovery with little discomfort: for these reasons it is the commonest choice for many people. It involves creation of a very thin and precise LASIK flap: it may not be appropriate if you participate in contact-sports or if your cornea is thinner than normal. On the other hand for some refractive errors LASIK is the only choice.
ReLEx FLEx and SMILE are exciting new techniques that share many of the advantages as LASIK but have less of an impact on corneal strength so the contact-sport and corneal thickness issues are less relevant. ReLEx can at the moment only be used for treatment of short-sight.
LASEK does not require flap or lenticule creation so in many ways is the simplest treatment. However, visual recovery is slower and your eye will be uncomfortable during the early post-operative period. LASEK may be the treatment of choice for thin corneas. LASEK is best suited to correction of low to moderate degrees of short-sight.
A final decision about which treatment to have can only be made after full ophthalmic examination and discussion with your consultant.
How old do I have to be for refractive surgery?
What are the exclusion criteria for refractive surgery?
I have been refused laser eye surgery in the past owing to the strength of my prescription. Have techniques moved on?
How soon after the consultation can treatment start?
Are there any hidden costs?
Will there be pressure to proceed with treatment?
Is laser eye surgery risky?
How do the risks compare with alternatives?
What are the complications of laser eye surgery?
Mild dry eye - Some people experience mild to moderate dry eye symptoms after LASIK. Occasional use of lubricating eye drops may be required. Some people need to use these regularly. By 3-6 months the eyes are usually back to normal. Under correction - If the refraction is not fully corrected and it causes a problem then an enhancement procedure can usually correct it, if there is enough corneal thickness to safely do more treatment. Enhancement treatments are generally done 3-6 months after the initial procedure, once vision has stabilised. Over correction - An initial overcorrection is expected for high corrections and in hyperopia. It usually regresses in the first 3 months. If overcorrection persists then enhancement surgery can be done, if it is safe to do so. Induced astigmatism - Can usually be corrected with enhancement surgery. Regression – As time goes on, a small proportion of eyes may slowly heal in a way that moves the prescription towards an under correction. This can usually be corrected with enhancement surgery. Light sensitivity - In the first few days some people will be sensitive to light. Pain - About 5% of patients say they have some mild pain after LASIK that can be relieved with pain relief tablets and usually resolves by 4-5 hours. Night vision problems - In the first few weeks following surgery about 10% may experience halos around lights at night time. This effect should fade. By twelve months this should only effect around 3%, generally those who started with a high correction. Haze - Some eyes develop faint haze in the interface between the flap and corneal bed that is maximal at 3-6 months and fades away by 12 months. It is very rare for this to affect vision. Interface debris - Minor debris in the interface is not uncommon. It very rarely affects vision and if it does can usually be removed. Corneal abrasion during the procedure - In some people the surface layer of cells on the cornea are looser than average and can be dislodged resulting in a surface abrasion. Over the following 2-3 days the abrasion will heal.
Loss of best-corrected vision - Following surgery if the vision in an eye cannot be corrected with lenses to the same line on the eye chart as before the surgery then this is called loss of best-corrected vision. Anything that affects the optical quality of the cornea can cause it. The chance of this happening is currently about 1 in 500. Corneal ectasia (bulging) - If there is too much tissue removed from the cornea it may lose its structural strength and start to bulge outwards. It can be eliminated by careful measurement of the thickness of the cornea. This is extremely rare, probably less than 1 in several thousand. Good screening and accurate assessment with a Pentacam will help avoid this. Progression from sub-clinical to true keratoconus (conical cornea) - This may occur if the most subtle signs of keratoconus are not detected with the corneal mapping (topography). With the use of the gold standard Pentacam topography this is very rare, probably less than 1 in several thousand. Severe dry eye – It is not uncommon for the eye to be slightly dry after laser surgery and most recover very quickly. If there is a predisposition to dryness, the eye may take longer to recover. Dry eye is more common with LASIK than LASEK. Epithelial ingrowth - Significant growth of the front cell layer (epithelial cells) between the flap and the bed. This occurs in less than 1 in 2000 eyes. This can only potentially occur in LASIK and not in LASEK. Diffuse lamellar keratitis - In rare cases there is movement of inflammatory cells into the interface between the flap and the bed. This can rarely result in the cornea becoming an irregular shape. Severe cases that affect vision occur in about 1 in 2000 cases. Most resolve with time. Again, this can only occur in LASIK and not in LASEK. Infection - Infection in the cornea following LASIK is extremely rare, about 1 in 10,000 cases. We are yet to have an infection in any of our cases to date. Problems cutting the flap - "Partial flaps", "Irregular flaps" or "Buttonholes" are all cases where a perfect flap is not achieved. The chance of this occurring with a microkeratome is about 1 in 500. With LASEK, there is no flap to create, so this problem is eliminated.
Why is the success rate not 100%?
How long do the procedures take?
Are both eyes treated at the same time?
Are the results immediate?
What happens if I move my eye?
Are the procedures painful?
When will I be discharged?
What is ‘enhancement’ surgery?
Will I need to take time off work?
ConsultationYour laser consultation can take up to two hours. You can return to work after this, but do not drive as we will have to use drops to dilate your pupils and this can make your vision blurry and light sensitive. We recommend you bring a pair of sunglasses.
TreatmentThe laser treatment, including immediate post-treatment time, will be around 2 hours. We would not recommend you returning to work on the day of treatment. Many return to work two days later but this will depend on the type of treatment you have and type of work you do.
AftercareEach aftercare appointment can take up to one hour. If you have LASIK treatment we will see you the following day. Your next aftercare appointment will be one week following treatment. You will be then be seen at intervals determined by your Consultant Ophthalmologic Surgeon. If you have LASEK treatment we will see you 3-7 days following your treatment. Your next aftercare appointment will then be arranged for the following week, then at intervals determined by your consultant ophthalmologist.
How long before I can drive?
ConsultationWe do not recommend you drive as we will use drops to dilate your pupils, and this can make your vision blurred and light sensitive.
TreatmentEverybody’s eyes are different. Usually, you can drive the following day after LASIK or intraLASIK and 7 days after LASEK or SupraLASE. However, you should not drive until your vision meets the driving standards. Our Consultant Ophthalmologists will test your vision and confirm this at your aftercare appointments.
How soon after treatment can I resume sporting activities?
Can I fly after laser eye treatment?
How soon can I use my PC?
Where do ophthalmic surgeons have LASIK?
I am a commercial pilot. Can I have laser vision correction?
Do public services employers (fire, police, and armed forces) recognise laser eye treatment?
Some fire brigades will make allowances for those with laser vision correction. In most cases, you will have to wait 6 months after treatment before applying. Check with your local brigade. Laser eye surgery treatments are generally acceptable for current employees, but check with your superior beforehand.
Military police states that while laser eye procedures are not generally prohibited among serving recruits, there are rules covering its use. Please check with your superior.