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During laser eye surgery such as LASIK, PRK (ASLA) and SMILE®, the cornea is permanently reshaped to correct a refractive error. This can include nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism. Although laser eye surgery is permanent, some people may require a follow-up procedure to enhance or improve their initial results.
It’s also important to be aware that people begin to develop presbyopia, which is an age-related reduction in the ability to focus on near objects, from about 40–50 years of age. This is why many older adults wear glasses for reading and other near activities.
Because presbyopia affects the lens of the eye, not the cornea, laser eye surgery cannot prevent the condition from developing. As a result, you may need reading glasses even if your vision has been previously corrected with LASIK, PRK or another type of laser eye surgery.
Fortunately, there are presbyopia treatment options available that can reduce or eliminate the need for glasses, including laser procedures and lens replacement surgery.
Whether laser eye surgery is worth it is subjective and dependent on your specific circumstances. If it’s important to you to be free from glasses or contact lenses, you may feel that laser vision correction is worthwhile. Many people who really dislike wearing glasses or contact lenses, or find that it intrudes on aspects of their daily life, enjoy having clearer vision after the procedure.
To help you decide whether laser eye surgery is worthwhile, we recommend finding out as much as you can about the procedure such as the different surgical approaches, benefits, risks and costs. Use your pre-surgical consultation to discuss any specific questions or concerns with the surgeon. Remember there is no obligation to proceed with surgery if you decide it isn’t the right option for you.
The minimum age for laser eye surgery is 18 years. However, your vision may not have stabilised at this age, which is why the best age group for LASIK surgery is usually 25–40 years.
If you are over 18 and your glasses or contact lens prescription has not changed for at least a year, you are eligible to be considered for laser eye surgery.
Between the ages of 40 and 50, the lenses in our eyes naturally lose their ability to focus on near objects. This condition is called presbyopia and is why many older adults wear glasses for reading and other near activities.
If you are already over 40 when you have laser eye surgery, the effects of laser eye surgery last for a shorter period than if you were 25. This is because you are closer to developing presbyopia, and laser eye surgery is performed on the cornea, rather than the lens.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to correct presbyopia without glasses. Treatments include laser procedures, refractive lens exchange (where the lens of your eye is replaced by an artificial lens) and implantable contact lenses.
If you are already over 45, other vision correction procedures may be more appropriate. Your ophthalmologist will advise you on which vision correction procedure is recommended for your specific situation and needs.
Whether you are suitable for LASIK surgery, PRK (ASLA) or SMILE® will depend on whether you meet certain criteria. The minimum age for laser eye surgery is 18 years.
Other eligibility criteria include a prescription that has not changed for at least a year, good general health (including eye health) and not being pregnant. Laser eye surgery may not be recommended in people with very strong prescriptions.
Laser eye surgery isn’t painful. Patients are given local anaesthetic drops to minimise discomfort and are typically offered a mild sedative to help them relax. Most people simply report feeling mild or slight pressure on their eye during surgery.
There may be some discomfort immediately following the surgery, usually itching or burning. Depending on the type of surgery you have had, discomfort can persist for up to a week. You will be given medications to help reduce your symptoms.
Some people may experience dry eyes for a few weeks or months following laser eye surgery. Dry eye can be managed with artificial tears and other treatments.
Your ophthalmologist will discuss what you can expect during the recovery period following surgery.
Your eyes will be more sensitive and easily strained than usual in the days following laser eye surgery. Eye strain may prolong your recovery time, so it’s important to minimise any activities that exacerbate eye strain. Additionally, it’s important to keep your eyes moist after surgery so that they can heal properly. Screen use contributes to dry eye by reducing your blink rate.
It can be tempting to watch TV to help pass the time while you recover from surgery. Your surgeon will advise when it is safe to resume watching TV, using your phone, tablet or computer, or even reading a book. When you do begin using screens again, it should be for a limited time only and include frequent breaks.
Excessive digital use or near work without adequate breaks can affect the results of your laser eye surgery. Your surgeon can advise you on appropriate screen use after surgery.
Laser eye surgery is extremely safe. In fact, it is one of the safest elective surgical procedures available today. However, it is not zero-risk. Around 1% of people experience minor side-effects (such as dry eye or some residual error). Serious side-effects, such as infection, are incredibly rare (around 1 in 5000).1
Laser eye surgery has been available for over 30 years now, so it is very well established. Ongoing research, increased surgeon expertise, advancements in technology, and refinements in the procedure itself continue to reduce the risk of side-effects or complications.
Laser eye surgery has a 99% success rate. Research carried out in the United States suggests that 99% of LASIK patients achieve better than 6/12 (20/40) vision and more than 90% achieve 6/6 (20/20) vision or better. Additionally, 96% of patients report being perfectly satisfied with their results.1
The price of LASIK surgery, and other types of laser eye surgery, varies based on several factors. The average cost of laser eye surgery in Australia, including the cost of LASIK eye surgery is about AUD$3000 per eye.2
A laser eye surgery cost calculator will give you an idea of the general cost of LASIK. Bear in mind that many calculators only provide an estimate of LASIK costs – a comprehensive assessment and surgical consultation is required for an accurate quote.
Factors influencing the price of laser eye surgery include:
Some clinics charge separately for each step in the process leading up to your LASIK operation, including consultations, medications and theatre fees. Others offer a package that encompasses the total cost for laser eye operations. This could include all consultations, medications and even a second (enhancement) procedure, should it be necessary. Make sure you understand exactly what is included in each quote if you are comparing LASIK treatment costs between clinics.
While laser eye surgery is not covered by Medicare in Australia, some health insurance packages may include a rebate that can reduce the LASIK cost. Speak to your health insurance provider to understand if any of the LASIK procedure costs will be covered by your insurance policy.
Disclaimer: The costs indicated in this calculator are average values only, based on Australian laser eye surgery providers. This calculator does NOT represent a quote for laser eye surgery from Vision Eye Institute or any other provider. Your costs may be higher or lower depending on your health needs, your laser eye surgery provider and any applicable health insurance rebate. Users are advised to seek their own quote. All medical and surgical procedures have potential benefits and risks. Consult with your ophthalmologist before proceeding.
Some clinics do offer laser eye surgery financing options. For example, Vision Eye Institute works with GEM Visa to offer a payment plan to patients without health insurance who have to pay the cost of LASIK surgery out of pocket. Ask the clinic if any laser eye surgery financing options are available.
Before applying for any form of credit, read the GEM Visa full terms and conditions.