Today, when people think about laser vision correction, they think LASIK (Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis). While LASIK is right for the majority of patients under the age of 50, there are some people who do not qualify for the procedure, especially if they have thin or irregularly shaped corneas. As long as your eye is otherwise healthy and your prescription isn’t unusually high, you will most likely qualify for another form of laser eye surgery – ASLA (Advanced Surface Laser Ablation). If ASLA laser eye surgery has been recommended for you, you can rest assured that the actual visual outcome is the same for both LASIK and ASLA procedures. However, there are a few factors that you should be aware of.
Because ASLA is a surface laser eye surgery procedure (that is, no flap is created), it requires a longer period to recover. Your surgeon will recommend you take about 5 days off work, so you’ll need to fit that into your schedule. You will also find that your eyesight fluctuates over the first few weeks – in particular, your near vision may vary. This is completely normal; in fact, you should expect this to happen for up to 6 weeks after your ASLA laser eye surgery procedure. The fluctuations will lessen within a week, and you’ll be able to go about your day-to-day business. With time, it will settle down.
During your ASLA procedure, you will feel some sensations but no pain. However, during recovery from ASLA laser eye surgery, some discomfort is normal – your surgeon will provide you with medication and drops to take home with you after your procedure. If you are worried about pain levels, you can ask your doctor for more medication during the post-operative consultation. Although this varies, day two post-procedure will be the most uncomfortable day for most people. As your epithelium (surface) cells are beginning to regenerate, pain will come and go. Some patients will be worried – again, this is completely normal and will pass.
During the first 2-3 days post ASLA laser eye surgery, watching television, reading or looking at a computer may be uncomfortable. We recommend that, before your procedure, you consider the following:
Around day four you can begin to engage in normal activities.
Expect to experience discomfort from the condition known as dry eye during the first 2–3 weeks post-laser eye surgery. This is because surgery has temporarily reduced corneal nerve sensitivity, and your eye does not sense the need for lubrication, resulting in reduced tear production. It sometimes presents itself as a feeling that you have ‘something in your eye’. It’s especially noticeable when you wake up. You’ll be given lubricating drops – use them, and appreciate that this phase will pass.
You can be confident that your discomfort will subside, the pain will be short-lived and your eyesight will settle – around 98% of ASLA laser eye surgery patients will experience 20/20 vision or better. So, while the first few days can be a little challenging, the good news is that afterwards you can enjoy the freedom of living without glasses or contact lenses. Rather than brush the facts under the carpet, we feel that as long as you understand that what is happening to you is part of the healing process, you can prepare wisely – and look forward to the final results of your laser eye surgery procedure.