LASIK eye surgery successfully treats short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism - eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses
What is LASIK Eye Surgery?
LASIK (Laser In Situ Keratomileusis) is the most commonly performed laser eye surgery procedure, with over 48 million cases performed worldwide in the last 26 years.
At VISTAeyes approximately 95% of laser eye surgery patients elect to have LASIK. The convenience of LASIK is the reason for its popularity. LASIK provides a fast recovery, allowing patients to return to normal activities more quickly independent of their glasses or contact lenses.
For Myopia (short-sightedness), the cornea is made flatter, in order for light to focus on the retina instead of in front of it.
For Hyperopia (long-sightedness), the cornea is made steeper, causing light to focus on the retina instead of a point behind it.
For Astigmatism, the cornea is made more spherical in order for the light to focus on a single point on the retina instead of many.
Who is suitable for LASIK eye surgery?
LASIK is used to correct:
- short-sightedness (myopia)
- long-sightedness (hyperopia)
If you are over 18 years of age and have healthy eyes you may be suitable for LASIK. At VISTAeyes we will perform a comprehensive range of tests to evaluate the structure and health of your eyes to ensure you are an eligible candidate for LASIK.
How does LASIK eye surgery work?
LASIK reshapes the cornea to correct short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, using a computer-guided laser.
LASIK is a two-step procedure involving two lasers. Firstly, an ultra-thin, hinged flap of corneal tissue is made using a femtosecond laser.
At VISTA eyes, we use the Wavelight FS200 Femtosecond Laser. This blade-free technology can create a flap in just 10 seconds per eye.
This flap is lifted in order to access the deeper layers of the cornea. Here, the Wavelight EX500 Excimer Laser applies a customised, computer-generated pattern to permanently reshape the cornea. During the application of the treatment, a high-speed eye tracker monitors the eye’s position to ensure precise and accurate placement of the treatment.
At the completion of the treatment, the flap is replaced where it bonds to the eye without the needs for stitches.
Surgery is usually performed on both eyes on the same day and most patients can resume normal activities, including driving, the day following their surgery.
Why choose LASIK eye surgery?
LASIK is the most common type of laser eye surgery with over 48 million cases performed worldwide in the last 26 years, including over 480,000 cases in Australia. Most eye surgeons recommend LASIK because of its many benefits:
- Fast recovery with minimal discomfort
- A significant improvement in vision even on the day of surgery with continued smaller improvements and refinements in the vision over the first few weeks of healing
- Relatively low-risk and safe for the right candidate
- Brief 15-minute outpatient procedure
How do I prepare for LASIK eye surgery?
In preparation for your LASIK procedure, there are few things to remember prior to surgery:
- Soft contact lenses must be left out 7 days (or as advised) prior to surgery
- Hard contact lenses must be left out 4 weeks (or as advised) prior to surgery
- Please do not wear any make-up, moisturizer, cologne, perfumes or after shave on the day of surgery
- Avoid wearing fibrous or fluffy clothing
- Take any prescribed medications as normal
- You should have breakfast or lunch as normal before arriving for your procedure
- Please bring your usual sunglasses with you to wear on your way home
What to expect on the day of LASIK eye surgery?
When you arrive at VISTAeyes on the day of your procedure you will have an opportunity to meet with Dr Wolfe and discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your LASIK eye surgery.
Once any final testing has been performed, we will demonstrate how to use your post-operative eye drops and explain any restrictions you may have following your procedure.
At this stage we will offer you a mild sedative to help you relax for your LASIK surgery. You will remain awake for the procedure.
Immediately before your LASIK surgery we will use anaesthetic eye drops to numb your eyes.
During the procedure, you may feel some stretching of your eyelids and a sensation of pressure, however, you should not experience pain.
You will be lying down on your back for the procedure, looking up into the microscope through which Dr Wolfe will operate.
He will position an instrument between your eyelids to hold your eye still while he creates the flap using the Wavelight FS200 Femtosecond laser. You will feel some pressure on your eye for around 30 seconds.
Dr Wolfe will then ask you to watch a small, green flashing light. A small instrument will be placed between your eyelids to prevent blinking.
Once Dr Wolfe has lifted the flap, the Wavelight EX500 excimer laser will precisely reshape the cornea by applying a customised, computer-generated pattern to permanently reshape your cornea. The laser time is usually between 5 and 15 seconds per eye, depending on the degree of correction required.
The flap is then precisely repositioned but there are no stitches required to hold it in place. You will be provided with a pair of eye shields to wear for the next four night to protect your eyes from accidental rubbing during your sleep.
Your eyes will examined before you leave VISTAeyes and then we recommend you head home and have some time to relax. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home.
What to expect after LASIK eye surgery?
You will need someone to drive you home from your LASIK procedure and we recommend that you plan to relax for the rest of the day. Your eyes will often feel watery, slightly irritated and gritty for a few hours after LASIK so don’t make any plans for the evening of your surgery. You may wish to have a sleep or simply keep your eyes closed.
A pair of eye shields will be provided for you to wear while sleeping for four nights to protect your eyes from accidental rubbing during your sleep. It is important to avoid rubbing your eyes for the first week after LASIK eye surgery.
You will most likely notice an immediate change in your vision but the vision will appear smeary for the rest of the day. The day following LASIK eye surgery most patients will notice a significant improvement in their vision, however it may continue to fluctuate for the first few weeks after the surgery as the eyes heal. Most patients are able to drive the day after their LASIK surgery, following their post-operative appointment (typically scheduled for the morning after surgery).
Dr Wolfe will provide you antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops to use for at least one week after the surgery to assist healing and prevent infection. Your eyes may feel a little dry over the next few weeks and you will be given lubricating eye drops to assist with comfort.
Typically, you will return to VISTAeyes for post-operative appointments 1 day, 1 week, 1 month and 4 months (or until discharged) after your LASIK eye surgery.
LASIK eye surgery – recovery time
How soon before I can…?
- Wear make up? 1 week (eye make up only), next day (all other make up)
- Have a shower? Same day but avoid getting water or soap in your eyes
- Wash my face? Same day but avoid the eye area
- Go back to work? 2 days
- Go swimming? 1 week
- Exercise? 1 week strenuous exercise but no contact sports for two weeks
- Drive? Most LASIK patients can drive following their post-operative appointment the next day
- Rub my eyes? 1 week (gentle rubbing at first)
- Fly in a plane? Next day but we prefer you remain in the country for at least 2 weeks following your procedure
- Use a computer? Next day, however the quality of your vision may fluctuate
What are the risks of LASIK eye surgery?
The risks are rare and often only minor if they occur. LASIK eye surgery is a very safe procedure, but like all surgical or medical procedures there is always a risk of complication. All known complications will be discussed at your consultation.
LASIK eye surgery: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. How soon will my vision improve?
Most people notice a marked improvement by the day after their surgery. As your eyes heal, your vision will fluctuate a little before it stabilises. However, each case is dependent on the individual. For most patients, it occurs almost immediately, for others it can take a few weeks.
Q. What is the success rate for LASIK?
LASIK has a remarkable success rate, with the vast majority of patients achieving 20/20 vision or better the day following the procedure. At VISTAeyes we will monitor your vision at your post-operative appointments following your LASIK surgery until you are discharged.
A very small percentage of patients may find that they may require an enhancement procedure after LASIK. The enhancement rate is under 5% overall (slightly higher for long-sighted patients).
At VISTAeyes, we perform enhancements at no charge for up to five years from the date of your initial surgery.
Your potential outcomes and chance of requiring an enhancement will be discussed with you during your consultation.
Q. What if I move my head or eyes during surgery?
The WaveLight EX500 Excimer Laser has a built-in eye tracking device that tracks the position of the eye at the rate of 5000 times per second. There will be no impact on the procedure if you move the position of the eye slightly. If you make a large movement (such as cough or sneeze) the laser will stop completely within 1/100th of a second.
Q. What if I blink?
A small surgical device called a speculum is used during your procedure to hold your eyelids open. This can be a little uncomfortable at first, but most people soon forget about it and think they are blinking normally even though their eyes are being held open.
Q. Can I have one eye done at a time?
Yes, although most patients prefer to have both eyes done on the same day because of the convenience. There is no particular reason to have one eye done at a time. A number of studies have shown that there is no safety benefit in performing laser procedures on different days. In the past, procedures were performed on different days to protect the patient in the case of a complication, particularly in the developing phases of laser eye surgery. Today, the technology and expertise is such that there is little chance of this occurring.
Q. Can I see what is happening when I am in surgery?
A drape is placed over your face exposing the eye to be treated. Your eyes are open during the procedure, however you can’t actually see what is happening to your eye. There is a green light for you to focus on during the procedure and that is all most people are aware of seeing during the surgery.
Q. What type of anaesthetic is used?
We use topical anaesthetic drops that numb the eye for up to 30 minutes. While you feel no pain during the procedure it is normal that you feel slight pressure from the femtosecond laser and some tension from the eyelid speculum. These sensations are generally not bothersome.
Q. Can I have laser eye surgery if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are pregnant, laser eye surgery is not recommended. Hormone levels fluctuate during pregnancy and these hormonal changes can have a significant impact on your vision. As a result, it is not possible to be sure of the accuracy of your eye measurements for your laser surgery while you are pregnant.
For this reason, most eye surgeons will advise their female patients to avoid laser eye surgery during pregnancy.
If you are breastfeeding, Dr Wolfe will assess your individual situation on a case by case basis.
Q. Will my eyes have patches on them?
No. Patches are not worn, however, because you will be quite light sensitive after your procedure, we encourage you to wear your usual sunglasses for at least the day of your surgery. You should then wear the eye shields, which will be provided to you on surgery day, for four nights while sleeping. This is to prevent you from accidentally rubbing your eyes while sleeping.
Q. Will I be able to see immediately afterwards?
Immediately after the procedure your vision will be a little blurry, however you will be able to see well enough to walk to the car and move around at home. Most LASIK patients can expect to have good vision by the next day.
Q. What are the side effects of LASIK surgery?
The side effects of LASIK will be discussed with you at your consultation once your eyes have been tested and examined.
However, one possible side effect of LASIK is dry eye. For most people, dry eyes are a short-term side-effect of LASIK that resolve quickly following their surgery. Lubricating eye drops are provided to all patients to assist in the relief of symptoms.
Many patients we examine suffer from dry eye even prior to surgery. In fact, many people seek laser eye surgery because they have had difficulty wearing contact lenses due to dry eye. Comprehensive dry eye testing is performed on all patients seeking LASIK so that any problems prior to the procedure can be detected and adequately treated prior to having surgery. At VISTAeyes, we have the latest IPL technology aimed at treating the underlying causes of dry eye. IPL treatment can be performed both before and after LASIK surgery.
Q. How long do I have to leave my contacts out before surgery?
If you wear soft contact lenses, we ask that you not wear your contacts for 7 days (or as advised) prior to your procedure. If you wear hard contact lenses, you will need to leave your contact lenses out for 4 weeks (or as advised) prior to surgery.
Q. Will I still need reading glasses?
As you age, your ability to change focus deteriorates. If you are in your mid-forties or older, the lens inside your eye naturally becomes harder and you will need reading glasses to help magnify things close to you. This condition is known as presbyopia.
If you have presbyopia, you may be suitable to have Monovision. Monovision is a method where one eye is treated so it is focused for reading and the other eye for long distance. When both eyes are open, vision can be achieved over a range of distances. Not everyone likes the compromise or adapts to Monovision, so we will demonstrate this to you at your consultation to see how well it suits you. In such cases, Refractive Lens Exchange (RLE) may be another option.