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  • About
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  • Laser refractive eye surgery is a form of vision correction and involves reshaping the cornea to correct a refractive error. This occurs when the eye is abnormally shaped and can’t focus light directly on the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in out-of-focus, blurry vision. Examples of refractive error include short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia), age-related long-sightedness (presbyopia) and astigmatism. Astigmatism commonly occurs together with short- or long-sightedness.

    Today’s procedures are all bladeless, instead using a cool-temperature laser, and laser eye surgery is becoming a more popular choice for vision correction. Prescription glasses and/or prescription contact lenses are other options to correct refractive errors.

    Laser eye surgery is also referred to as refractive surgery.

  • If you meet the following basic criteria, you may be eligible for laser eye surgery. We also offer a free, no-obligation assessment where we will comprehensively check your eyes and discuss your vision correction options.

    Age Between 18 and 50 years old
    Vision problem Short-sightedness, long-sightedness and/or astigmatism
    Stable vision Glasses prescription has remained the same for at least 12 months
    General eye health* Good
    General health Good, not pregnant or breastfeeding

    *Your ophthalmologist will consider the general health of your eyes, the strength of your glasses prescription (i.e. your degree of refractive error), if you have a history of eye problems (e.g. dry eye, scarring or thinning of the cornea) and if you have previously had a serious eye injury.

  • We offer laser eye surgery (and other types of vision correction) in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville and Mackay. Once you have had a comprehensive assessment to determine which procedure is most suitable for you, you will be provided with the full cost. As a rough guide, laser eye surgery can cost between $2600 to $3400 per eye. When comparing laser vision correction with a lifetime of glasses or contact lenses, you might be surprised to find out which is the more cost-effective option.

    Please note that Medicare does not rebate any of the cost of laser eye surgery. You will need to check with your health insurer as to whether your level of cover includes rebates for laser eye surgery.

    Medibank members with selected extras and packaged covers can receive 15% off surgical fees if they have their procedure performed at Vision Eye Institute.

    When comparing providers, make sure you get an accurate indication of all charges that you will incur before, during and after your laser eye surgery procedure (including enhancement or follow-up procedures).

    Read our article about the cost of laser eye surgery

  • Is laser eye surgery permanent?

    LASIK, ASLA and SMILE, permanently reshape the cornea. Some people may require a follow-up procedure to enhance or improve the initial results. It’s important to be aware that age-related long-sightedness (presbyopia) can develop at around 45 to 50 years of age – however, this is an age-related disorder of the lens of the eye, rather than anything to do with the cornea.

    Laser eye surgery will not prevent the development of presbyopia, although it is sometimes used to improve it.

    What if I am pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive?

    Laser eye surgery is avoided in women who are pregnant. Firstly, your vision may alter during pregnancy. This is because the hormonal changes that occur lead to the body retaining more fluid, which can cause swelling of the cornea of the eye. It is normal for some women to be more near-sighted during pregnancy. We recommend waiting until your vision returns to its previous state, which is generally within a few months after giving birth. Additionally, the medications used during and after surgery could affect your unborn baby.

    It’s also better to wait until you’ve stopped breastfeeding before having laser eye surgery, as you may be prescribed various medications (e.g. antibiotics, steroid eye drops, pain relief) that could pass into your breastmilk. You should also wait at least 3 weeks after having laser eye surgery before trying to conceive as there is a small chance that the medications could be absorbed into your bloodstream.

    Does laser eye surgery hurt?

    Laser eye surgery isn’t painful. Most people report feeling mild pressure. However, all patients are given local anaesthetic drops and usually a mild sedative.

    How long does the procedure take?

    You will be in the clinic for around 2 hours and in the laser suite for no more than 20 minutes.

    Are the effects immediate?

    Many people are surprised that they are able to see distant objects, such as a clock on the wall, as they are leaving the laser suite . The day after LASIK and SMILE, most people are able to legally drive without the use of glasses or contact lenses. ASLA ultimately provides the same outcome as LASIK and SMILE; however the recovery time is longer. It is also not unusual for vision to fluctuate for up to six weeks before it settles.

    Your eyesight will be checked during the post-operative consultation, which is usually scheduled for later that same day or the day after surgery.

    What happens if I blink?

    During laser eye surgery, a device is fitted over your eye and holds it in place. You need to remain calm and steady and listen carefully to the surgeon's instructions.

    The laser is highly sophisticated and designed with an infrared eye-tracker that measures your eye movements during surgery. Even the smallest movement will be detected, which the laser will compensate for.

    How long do I have to wait to play sport or go swimming?

    With LASIK and SMILE, good visual function is achieved within 24 to 48 hours, although this may take up to 2 weeks with ASLA.

    Contact sports can be resumed within 1 week of undergoing SMILE, and after 2–4 weeks following LASIK and ASLA laser surgery.

    Are there any side-effects? Can I go blind?

    Laser eye surgery is a routine procedure. However, just like any surgical procedure, there are always risks and benefits. Complications are seen in around 1–2% of patients and are mostly minor (e.g. less-than-expected visual result requiring an enhancement procedure or temporary dry eyes that require drops).

    It is possible for some patients to get infections or suffer more serious complications. Selecting the correct procedure for your eyes (which sometimes means not having surgery at all) minimises the risk of a serious complication. We adhere to strict sterility and surgical processes and have access to the latest state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Patients are discharged with the appropriate post-operative medication, which may include antibiotic drops and pain-relief medication.

    You should always have a comprehensive discussion about the benefits and risks of surgery with your ophthalmologist before proceeding.

    Will Medicare or my private health fund cover any of the cost?

    Please note that Medicare does not rebate any of the cost of laser eye surgery. You will need to check with your insurer as to whether your cover includes rebates for laser eye surgery. Medibank members with selected extras and packaged covers can receive 15% off surgical fees.

    What if I'm not suitable for laser eye surgery?

    There are a number of reasons why some people may not be suitable for laser eye surgery. Depending on the reason, there may be other vision correction options available (e.g. replacement lens exchange or implantable lenses). Your ophthalmologist will go through alternative options with you.

LASIK

Laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most common type of laser eye surgery performed. This is a two-step, two-laser vision correction procedure. Once a patient has been prepared (including being given a series of eye drops and a mild sedative), he/she will be taken into the laser suite and will lie flat on the bed. The surgeon will have pre-programmed the two lasers to the individual requirements of the patient being treated.
After preparing the first eye, the surgeon will use the femtosecond laser to create a flap in the top layer of the cornea (the epithelium and stroma), exposing the tissue bed underneath. The excimer laser is then used to gently and precisely reshape this corneal tissue bed to correct the patient’s refractive error. Finally, the surgeon places the corneal flap back in its original position.

Because the flap adheres to the corneal bed, the healing process begins immediately. The eye has a remarkable ability to heal itself and patients are able to return to most of their daily activities the next day.

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SMILE

The latest in refractive technology is the one-step, one-laser small incision lenticule extraction (SMILE) procedure. SMILE is minimally invasive, keyhole surgery – the laser makes a tiny 3 mm incision and then creates a disc (lenticule) of corneal tissue. This disc is then removed to reshape the cornea and correct the refractive error. Since no flap was created, the top layer of the cornea is essentially intact. Unfortunately, SMILE is not currently available to treat long-sightedness (hyperopia or presbyopia).

Certain patients may be better suited to SMILE laser surgery, including people with a high degree of short-sightedness, athletes who play contact sports and people at a higher risk of developing dry eye after surgery.

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ASLA/PRK

Advanced surface laser ablation (ASLA) is also known as photorefractive keratectomy or PRK. This technique uses a topical solution to soften the top layer of corneal cells, allowing them to be gently removed. The excimer laser is then used to reshape the exposed corneal tissue bed to correct the patient’s refractive error. Once the procedure is complete, a ‘bandage’ contact lens is placed on top of the eye for 4 days to aid the healing process.

ASLA is generally the procedure of choice for patients who have a thin cornea.

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Monovision/blended vision

This procedure involves correcting one eye (usually the dominant one) for distance vision and the other eye for reading/near vision. When looking into the distance, your brain pays more attention to the eye that is focused for distance and vice versa when looking at close objects (i.e. your brain relies more on the eye that is focused for near distance). Overall, the images from both eyes are processed by your brain as one blended image.

Most people who have monovision find that they adjust within a matter of days and many can minimise their use of glasses. Before proceeding with surgery, your ophthalmologist will usually get you to trial a set of contact lenses to make sure you can adapt to the change.

Monovision can be achieved using laser eye surgery (e.g. LASIK or ASLA) or artificial lenses (e.g. replacement lenses or implantable phakic lenses).

What to expect on the day of surgery

Immediately before your procedure, you will receive anaesthetic (numbing) eye drops and anti-inflammatory eye drops. Patients can also choose to have a sedative to help them relax. After allowing the sedative to take effect (around 30 to 45 mins), you will be taken into the procedure room and asked to lie down on a surgical bed. The procedure itself will vary depending on which type of surgery is being performed (e.g. whether one or two lasers are used).

If you have had a sedative, you will be given time to recover before being discharged. You will also be given protective glasses and eye drops to go home with. A follow-up appointment for later that same day or the next day will be scheduled before you leave.

You can expect to be in the laser suite for between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of procedure, and in the day surgery for approximately 2 hours.

Enhancement procedures

The majority of laser eye surgery procedures produce excellent outcomes and most patients are delighted with their results. However, there may be occasions when a second (enhancement) procedure is required to optimise the visual result. The success of laser vision correction depends on a number of factors, including the health of the cornea, type and degree of refractive error and age of the patient.

Enhancement procedures tend to be quicker than the original procedure, as only minor corneal reshaping with the laser is required. At Vision Eye Institute, enhancement procedures are free of charge for up to two years from the date of the original surgery. Please note that this is not an industry standard.

Why Vision Eye Institute

Our mission is to remain at the forefront of technology and clinical research to ensure the best outcomes for our patients. As the largest provider of ophthalmic services in Australia, we are able to ensure that our clinics are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology. The research unit is overseen by a full-time research coordinator and our ophthalmologists are regularly invited to participate in international trials and present at international conferences. They are also heavily involved in teaching and examining medical students, optometry students and ophthalmology trainees.

We perform laser eye surgery (and other forms of vision correction) in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Townsville.

Medibank members' offer

Medibank members can receive a 15% reduction on their surgical fees*if they have a LASIK, ASLA or SMILE procedure performed by Vision Eye Institute. This offer is available to members on selected extras and packaged covers (contact Medibank on 132 331 to check your cover).

There’s no waiting period so you can upgrade your cover and receive the benefit straight away.

*Excludes consultation fees. Please note that SMILE is currently available in NSW only.

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Payment plan

Vision Eye Institute works with GEM Visa to offer a payment plan to patients. Before applying for any form of credit, always read the full terms and conditions.

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