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12 things you didn’t know about laser eye surgery
Laser eye surgery has been around for over two decades now and is becoming an increasingly popular procedure.
Whether you’re reading this because you’re considering laser eye surgery, or you’re one of the millions of people across the globe who have undergone a laser vision correction procedure – there’s no doubt that it is a life-changing procedure.
But despite its mainstream popularity, there are still a lot of myths (and questions) surrounding the procedure.
Here are twelve things that you may not know about laser eye surgery.
Vision correction surgery has been around since the 1930s. Before laser technology, there was a procedure called ‘radial keratotomy’. The surgeon would use a scalpel (and a steady hand) to make incisions on the cornea (the surface of the eye) that would radiate out, much like the pattern created when slicing a pizza. This may sound frightening, but it was a mostly successful procedure that allowed the surgeon to reshape the cornea (necessary for vision correction) by flattening and reshaping it in the centre.
Laser eye surgery technology wasn’t initially used for eye surgery. In 1980, while using an excimer laser to make microscopic circuits in microchips, one IBM scientist had a revolutionary thought: Could the excimer laser be used to cut organic tissues without damaging the surrounding tissue? Fortunately, he was correct.
Laser vision correction was first performed over thirty years ago. The first procedure was performed on a human patient in Dresden, Germany in 1985; however, this procedure (PRK, also known as ASLA or LASEK) was not widely practised for several more years.
Technology never stays still. There have been a number of generations of laser systems introduced over the years. Laser technology has also undergone 30+ platform upgrades.
Today there is more than one type of laser vision correction procedure. Three to be exact – ASLA (also called PRK or LASEK), LASIK and SMILE®. Clinics perform laser eye surgery procedures using a variety of different names for marketing reasons, but they all fall under one of these categories.
The majority of people can legally drive the day after their procedure. Those who have had LASIK usually discover during their follow-up consultation that their vision is the same (or better) than the legal minimum for driving. People recovering from ASLA or SMILE may take a bit longer, but ultimately the result will still be the same.
Several career paths recommend people who wear glasses or contacts should have vision correction surgery. People who want to join the Defence Force or Police Force are often required to have laser eye surgery because both glasses and contact lenses present logistical issues in the line of duty.
Yes, laser vision correction CAN treat astigmatism. Laser eye surgery can be used to treat astigmatism either on its own or in combination when treating another refractive error such as long-sightedness and short-sightedness.
Vanity is not the most popular reason for having laser vision correction. The reasons are usually more practical: professionals such as sportspeople, chefs and IT workers often have laser eye surgery to help them perform better and make their lives easier. New parents also frequently find themselves on a path to choosing laser eye surgery after growing tired of the 3am rummage to find their glasses in the dark.
In the long run, laser eye surgery isn’t as costly as most people think. Do the math – ongoing replacements of prescription glasses and/or contact lenses and associated costs will most likely exceed the cost of laser eye surgery over the years. Many clinics offer financial payment plans to make it easier to pay for laser eye surgery over an extended period of time.
Blinking during laser vision correction won’t affect the procedure. People can even sneeze during treatment and it won’t matter at all. Today, eye-tracking technology makes the laser follow even the smallest eye movement because let’s face it, no one can keep their eye truly still. As a further reassurance, a surgeon can override the system in a split second at any time if needed.
Laser eye surgery isn’t painful. The eye is numbed before surgery with anaesthetic drops. Some people say they feel slight pressure or a moment of discomfort but others feel nothing at all during laser eye surgery.
If you’re considering laser eye surgery, why not book your free, no-obligation initial assessment now?
Call us on 1800 1 LASER to book or take our online eligibility quiz (VIC|NSW|QLD) to book.
IMPORTANT: If you are concerned about your eyes and require an urgent consultation, DO NOT use this form. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department.