What visual issues can be fixed with laser vision correction?
Today, ophthalmologists are able to treat a range of refractive errors including shortsightedness, longsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia (when you lose the ability to see up close with age).
It is important that you have your eyes assessed and a prescription of your glasses checked as whether your refractive error can be treated depends on the shape of your eye as well as the strength of your prescription.
Modern laser technology allows treatment of a wider variety of prescriptions so even if you have been disappointed previously about not being able to have laser, it is worth checking if you could now.
How long does it last?
Your laser treatment is designed to last forever. Laser vision correction, or refractive surgery is typically performed to treat and correct distance vision. Success rates are very high but your eyes still will go through the normal changes of aging.
As you age and the natural lens of the eye becomes less flexible, a natural aging process called presbyopia occurs, and it is likely you will require reading glasses for near tasks. This usually happens to most people in their 40s to 50s.
Later in life, cataract formation will still occur and cataract surgery is usually needed in people’s 70s and 80s.
If laser vision correction is undertaken after the age of 45 years, a surgery called blended vision can treat for both near and far vision outcomes.
For the first 3-6 months vision continues to improve. In very few cases there may be some regression in the eye and if this is the case then an enhancement procedure can be undertaken to fine tune the results.
Does it hurt?
Laser vision correction is quick and relatively painless with the application of a topical aesthetic and the use of oral pain reduction, and relaxant medication during the procedure.
As such, you should not experience any pain during the procedure. Ben will use a small clip to keep your eyelashes out of the way and to stop you from blinking. This can sometimes feel strange but should not be sore.
If you are having either LASIK or SMILE® there is a 10-25 second period of pressure from the suction ring used and although this may be mildly uncomfortable it should not be painful.
After the procedure and depending on which technology was preferred, your recovery will differ, and you can expect to experience some grittiness and discomfort as your eyes heal and recover. This can last from the first 24 hours with SMILE®and LASIK and 3-4 days with PRK as the healing of the epithelium takes place.
Immediate sleep is recommended after your procedure. You will be provided detailed information and instructions on how and when to take your prescribed medicines and what you can and can’t do after surgery.
What does it cost?
Laser vision correction is elective and therefore does not attract a Medicare rebate.
These fees include all pre and post-operative appointments, the procedure and all required medications, as well as a five-year enhancement guarantee should this be required.
While it is an expense, it is also a long-term investment in your lifestyle.
Laser vision correction per eye is approximately :
- PRK $2,800
- LASIK $3000
- SMILE® $3,200
Depending on your refractive error, other refractive procedures may also be recommended, and if referred, may be eligible for a Medicare rebate.
Is there a guarantee?
Sometimes correcting a refractive error may need some fine tuning. If you are not happy with your visual outcome then you are eligible for a laser enhancement up to five years after surgery.
What is the best procedure – SMILE®, LASIK or PRK?
Each different laser procedure has pros and cons. A lot of people will come in with no knowledge of any procedures while others have made up their mind what they would prefer already.
It is important that Ben measures your eyes and talks to you about your lifestyle and visual demands so the right treatment for you is chosen.
The newest treatment is not always the best and so we will take our time to make sure you have found an option that will give you the best outcome long term.
How old do you need to be?
The key thing here is that your glasses prescription is stable. For some people this occurs early in life and they may be able to have laser treatment done at age 18. For others, they are still changing in their early twenties. It is not that it is dangerous to do laser treatment on a changing prescription but that if we are aiming for a moving target then in a few years, you may be disappointed that your vision is not as crisp as it was straight after treatment due to the change.
Ben would prefer your prescription to be stable for 6 months and even longer for younger patients.
Again, this is something that you can discuss at your appointment and bringing in your current prescription can be very helpful to compare to what we measure in clinic.