Sunday, 23 May 2010

Laser Eye Surgery: F.A.Q's

 When it comes to laser eye surgery people have all sorts of strange preconceptions about the procedure and the majority of them are completely untrue. People hear stories from lots of different sources including word of mouth and information on the web. Many of the things that people hear or read they just assume to be true without checking out the accuracy of the information.

As an optometrist I am asked lots of questions about laser eye surgery and what exactly the procedure entails.

Below is a list of the most common asked questions/concerns my patients seem to have about the surgery:

* Question:- Is laser eye surgery dangerous? –

* Answer:- There is an element of risk in all surgical procedures but laser eye surgery is extremely safe. The chances of actually going blind from laser are surgery is only about 1 in 5 million and most of the complications are minor and easily fixed by your surgeon.

* Question:- How long does the laser eye surgery procedure take?

* Answer:- There will normally be a preparation time of about 30 minutes where your surgeon will instil the appropriate eye drops and do the final few checks. The laser procedure itself will typically only take about 5 minutes per eye and the actual “lasering” (the procedure) of the eye normally lasts no more than 1 minute.

* Question:- Can I have laser eye surgery if I have a very high prescription?

* Answer:- As laser eye surgery has developed over the past 5 years or so, the treatable range of prescriptions has grown. Laser eye surgery can treat up to +5.00 long sighted prescriptions and up to -12.00 short sighted prescriptions. This will encompass approximately 95% of the population so very few people will be beyond the treatable range.

* Questions:- Will laser eye surgery hurt?

* Answer:- This is one of the most commonly asked questions as this is what most people worry about. The vast majority of people who have laser eye surgery report little or no discomfort at all. Most people describe a feeling of pressure on their eye during the procedure but that is about it. The only really part of the procedure that could be deemed uncomfortable is when your eye lids are held open with an instrument. This is generally only uncomfortable if you ‘fight’ against it. If you remain relaxed during the procedure you are unlikely to be in any discomfort at all.

* Question:- Do I need a general anaesthetic?

* Answer:- No you do not. Laser eye surgery is carried out using a local anaesthetic.

* Question:- Are there any needles involved in the procedure?

* Answer:- Absolutely not! This is possibly the biggest fear people have about the actual procedure and it is surprising how many people think a needle is used. Your eyes are numbed using (local anaesthetic) eye drops which at worst sting a little. The stinging sensation is like if you get a little bit of shampoo in your eye whilst showering and wears off after about 20 seconds.

* Question:- Can laser eye surgery be carried out on more than one occasion?

* Answer:- This is called a laser re-enhancement and approximately 7% of people who have the surgery will need it repeating. Your surgeon will need to ensure you have sufficient corneal thickness to safely repeat the procedure but most people will be suitable. The vast majority of people only need the treatment once.

* Question:- When can I return to work following laser eye surgery?

* Answer:- This will depend on which type of laser eye surgery you are having. There are 2 main types of laser eye surgery and they are Lasik and Lasek. Lasik is by far the most common type, accounting for about 80% of all procedures. Lasek pretty much accounts for the remaining 20%. Lasik is more popular as it has a quicker and more comfortable recovery period when compared with Lasek. Most people can drive and return to work within 48 hours of Lasik surgery. Some people are fine to work the next day! People having Lasek will however be in more discomfort following surgery and many people need up to 1 week off work. This varies from individual to individual and it does depend on what kind of work you do. If your job requires physical exertion and is in a dusty environment you are more likely to need a longer time off work. People generally only have Lasek if they are advised by their surgeon that they are unsuitable for Lasik eye surgery.

* Question:- What is the minimum age for laser eye surgery?

* Answer:- The minimum age for laser eye surgery is 18 years old but to be honest it is very rare that someone of this age has the procedure. The reason for this is that one of the most important factors in being suitable for the treatment is having a stable prescription. It is unlikely that an 18 year old will have a stable prescription as most people’s eyes don’t fully stabilise until they reach their mid twenties. The reason this is so important is because if you have laser eye surgery whilst your eyes are are still changing that you may end up need glasses a year or so after the surgery .

I hope this blog post has helped dispel a few myths about laser eye surgery and may inspire you to go ahead and have this life changing procedure. The technology behind the procedure has improved dramatically over the past 10 years and hundreds of thousands of people each year are successfully undergoing the treatment.

The vast majority of people are suitable for laser eye surgery and most people who have the procedure experience very little discomfort. The most important thing when it comes to laser eye surgery is choosing a surgeon whom you feel comfortable and relaxed with as they are the ones carrying out the procedure.
This guest blog post is by Timothy Harwood from

Tim is an Optometrist who has been practicing in the UK for over 7 years now. As a result of many of his patients complaining they found lots of the information about eye conditions and laser eye surgery confusing he decided along with his partner Dr Ganesh Rao (a medical doctor) to set up a website aimed at providing easy to understand information on eye health and laser eye surgery, hence treatmentsaver dot com was born.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to write a guest blog post on this blog.

Books on Laser Eye Surgery:-


Loreal said...

Yes there are many myths and questions in our mind before going for a surgery

This post have solved many doubts and mine as well like "Are there any needles involved in the procedure?"
Very informative post

Anonymous said...

why isn't general anesthetic used in laser eye correction procedures? will a laser operation fail to be effective if it is used?