All you need to know about Laser Eye Surgery

Laser Eye Surgery (LASIK) is one of the most popular refractive surgeries available because it is a safe and trusted treatment that gives you freedom from the hassle of wearing glasses and contact lenses.

No more inconvenience of playing sport or swimming with contact lenses, wearing glasses to drive or changing them to reading glasses to see the computer.

Why choose Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser Eye Surgery (LASIK - Laser Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis) is one of the most popular refractive surgeries available because it is a safe and trusted treatment that gives you freedom from the hassle of wearing glasses and contact lenses.

No more inconvenience of playing sport or swimming with contact lenses, wearing glasses to drive or changing them to reading glasses to see the computer. No more needing to update your glasses as fashion changes.

LASIK is suitable for those aged 20-65 years and it is possible to treat people with glasses strength from -10.00D to +4.00D. 

Astigmatism can also be corrected at the same time.

If your age is 40 years or over you may wish to consider Laser Blended Vision (LBV). 

LASIK has the quickest recovery and the least discomfort in the recovery period of all the laser eye surgery methods offered. More than 27 million people worldwide have now had LASIK and there is over 25 years of knowledge and experience with the procedure. It was first introduced in 1990, and became FDA approved in the United States in 1999.

Although other refractive correction surgeries are available, LASIK is still the most precise treatment for lower short-sighted corrections, for treating significant astigmatism, for treating presbyopia and for correcting long-sightedness.

What type of vision can LASIK correct?

LASIK can correct:

Myopia = short sightedness up to -10.0D

Hyperopia = long sightedness up to +4.0D

Astigmatism = irregular shaped cornea, and

Presbyopia = loss of reading vision as we reach our mid forties.

How does the laser procedure work?

Laser eye surgery is simple, quick and painless. The procedure works by reshaping the surface of the eye, the cornea.  The laser is programmed according to your individual measurements and prescription, whether you have shortsightedness (myopia), longsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism. 

The surgeon uses a femotsecond laser to create a flap in the superficial cornea at 105 microns (0.105mm) deep. The average cornea is 550 microns. The femtosecond laser uses light to create millions of small gas bubbles that all join together to the shape of the superficial flap.  This laser is an infrared laser using a wavelength of 1053nm. The laser is silent and takes less than 15 seconds to complete the flap. 

The second laser used is an excimer laser which reshapes the cornea under the flap to correct your visual error. The higher the treatment prescription of your glasses or contact lenses the more corneal tissue is reshaped. This laser ablates the corneal tissue. The excimer laser emits a cool beam of ultraviolet light of 193nm. You can hear this laser during the treatment and it can take from 5 seconds to 25 seconds to complete depending upon your prescription.

The flap is placed back into position and it heals over the cornea surface overnight.

You will be in the laser room for 10-15minutes.

What will I feel during the procedure? 

Very little. The surgeon will put local anaesthetic eye drops in your eye prior to treatment to numb the surface of the eye so no pain is experienced during the procedure.  You may feel a little bit of pressure with the first laser. Your eye lids are held open by a small instrument called a speculum so you won’t be able to blink during the procedure.

If you cough or sneeze (please let your surgeon know before hand) don’t worry as the laser has eye-tracking technology to compensate for eye movement and ensure the treatment is performed in exactly the right place. 

How long does the procedure take? 

You can expect to be in the clinic for an hour. Most of the treatment time is taken up by the preparation which involves re-checking your eye measurements and programming the laser for your individual setting. This takes around 30 minutes.

The good news is the procedure itself is performed in only a few minutes.

After the procedure we will re check your eyes and explain what eye drops to use. Your support person will need to drive you home.

What visual outcome from laser eye surgery can I expect?

Within 4 -5 hours after LASIK most people can throw away their glasses. Your vision continues to stabilise in the first month but for some people the healing process can take longer, up to three months. Over 98% of people who have laser eye surgery achieve the result of 20/20 vision or better.

The most common feedback we hear is “I wish I had done it sooner”. For many people laser eye surgery is quite literally life changing.

Are there any side effects?

Common temporary side effects after LASIK surgery are to be expected and can be: discomfort during the first few hours such as mild irritation and light sensitivity, experiencing halos, glare or starbursts in low-light environments for the first few days to weeks, dry eye symptoms, hazy vision and reduced sharpness of vision.

Many of these symptoms can be managed with simple remedies such as pain medication and wearing sunglasses for the first 24 hours. Your surgeon will prescribe you eye drops which will reduce the risk of infection and control inflammation as your eyes heal.

You will also be given artificial tear drops to lubricate your eyes which relieves the dry eye or gritty eye feeling.

In the majority of cases these symptoms are temporary and will disappear quickly as the initial healing process progresses. Some people find that dry eyes symptoms may take 1-2 month to resolve. Rarely it may take up to six months to resolve.

Follow your surgeon’s advice, attend all of your post operative appointments and always use the post operative eye drops as prescribed.

How safe is laser eye surgery?

It is considered by experts as one of the safest and most effective forms of elective surgery.

When considering Laser Eye Surgery, choose a reputable, experienced surgeon who you feel comfortable discussing the procedure and any concerns you may have. Having a comprehensive follow-up care plan with your surgeon will also ensure you get the best visual result.  

At Bowen Eye Clinic we believe this relationship is paramount to you receiving the best service and our surgeon Dr Reece Hall will see you for your pre-assessment, surgery and all your follow up care.  Information about the safety and risks of your individualised treatment will be discussed with you at each stage.

What do I need to do to prepare for laser eye surgery?

There are a few things that you can do to be prepared on your surgery day.

Bring a friend or family member with you as your support person to drive you home afterwards.

Arrange to have the following day off work. Some people choose to take a few days off to rest and heal.

If you live out of town it will be easier to stay in local accommodation on the night of your procedure as your surgeon will want to see you for a follow up appointment the next day.

It is important to relax and plan a quiet evening the day of your surgery and avoid alcohol for 24 hours before and after your surgery. This is because alcohol can dry out your eyes.

Avoid wearing make up or perfume for at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. Your face needs to be clean and make up free.

Wear comfortable clothing on the day and avoid wearing wool as the small fibres can sometimes get in your eye causing unwanted inflammation.

How much does it cost?

At Bowen Eye Clinic the cost for laser eye surgery is $3150 per eye.

Your total eye care is provided by Dr Reece Hall and the price includes the free assessment to check for suitability, pre-operative consultation to tailor your procedure for your individual vision requirements, surgery and all post-operative care and check ups at day 1, week 1, month 1 and out to a year.

Accommodation packages are available for those travelling away from their home town.

Affordable finance options for payment to suit all requirements are available such as Q-Card, VISA, Mastercard, Eftpos and cash. Currently all medical insurance companies in New Zealand do not cover Laser Eye Surgery as it is classed as a ‘cosmetic procedure’. If you have medical insurance you can check with them to confirm what your policy covers.

Why do some people need to have a ‘touch up’ later on?

Our individual bodies heal at different rates and some people respond to laser eye surgery by over-healing. Others find that the initial visual result may regress over a few months. This is because sometimes the eye’s healing response is not what is normally expected.  This is why your surgeon monitors your healing with day 1, week 1 and monthly, three and six monthly check ups to see how you are progressing. A small number of people (around 3%) will under heal or over heal and this can be successfully treated with an enhancement (additional laser vision correction) at around 3 months and occasionally at 6 months. This enhancement is included in the initial price of the surgery.

How long does laser eye surgery last?

Laser Eye Surgery is permanent. Laser vision correction works by reshaping the eye by correcting the refractive error for good. The laser remodels the curvature of the cornea and removes a tiny, pre-determined amount of corneal tissue. Once this tissue is removed, it does not grow back. Your eye is permanently fixed into its new shape, meaning the effects of LASIK do not wear off.

Will I need reading glasses as I get older?

As we age, natural age-related changes occur in our eyes that affect our ability to focus close up (presbyopia). This usually begins at around the age of forty-five and affects everyone by age fifty. It is the time when many of us start to struggle to read small print and find ourselves holding our phone further away to read the text. This is an anatomical change in the lens of the eye and the muscles in the eye, which is a different part of the eye to the cornea (the part of the eye corrected with laser eye surgery).

For people who have had LASIK before these age related changes occur, a simple enhancement procedure can correct this. Others who choose to have LASIK later in life may wish to consider Laser Blended Vision which is also a laser eye surgery procedure.

Laser Blended Vision is best suited for those aged 40 to 65 years old with presbyopia who are also a suitable candidate for LASIK corneal laser eye surgery. This includes a range of preoperative prescriptions, whether you are myopic (short sighted), hyperopic (long sighted) or have astigmatism, or a combination. If you have never worn glasses before but are finding that you now need reading glasses for close up activities you may only need one eye treated.

Can laser eye surgery treat astigmatism?

Yes, laser eye surgery can treat astigmatism. In a normal eye the cornea is shaped like a soccer ball, but with astigmatism the cornea is shaped more oval, like a rugby ball. This curvature causes the light to enter the eye at multiple points affecting both near and far vision resulting in a blurred image.

Laser eye surgery changes the cornea shape from a rugby ball back into a soccer ball which allows light entering the eye to be properly focused onto the retina, removing the blurred image.

Unfortunately astigmatism caused by Keratoconus can not be treated with laser eye surgery.

What happens if I develop a cataract later in life?

As we age the lens in the eye becomes harder and denser and eventually cloudy, this is a cataract that has formed and it affects the quality of your vision. The lens is a different part of the eye to the cornea where the laser eye surgery treated. A cataract can be corrected with cataract surgery (removing the cloudy natural lens and replacing it with an artificial lens) and you just need to remember to let your surgeon know that you have had laser surgery previously in order to choose the optimal replacement lens.

Am I a suitable candidate for laser eye surgery?

Phone Bowen Eye Clinic on 0800 69 2020 to book your free, no-obligation, laser eye surgery suitability assessment with Dr Reece Hall. All assessment appointments and post surgical follow up appointments can be made in any of his clinic rooms in Wellington, Waikanae, Nelson or Palmerston North.

Why choose Bowen Eye Clinic?

Bowen Eye Clinic was established in 2014 in a purpose built modern day surgery facility on the site of Bowen Hospital in Wellington where Dr Reece Hall performs the procedure and does your day 1 check up.

Dr Reece Hall (MBChB, MMed, FRANZCO) is the only eye specialist in New Zealand who has completed two overseas fellowships in refractive (Laser Eye) surgery and completed a Masters Degree in Refractive Surgery from the University of Sydney. Dr Reece Hall has over 10 years experience in laser eye surgery and has published research on a number of ophthalmology and refractive topics in international journals. He holds a consultant position at Wellington Hospital (CCDHB) as a cataract and cornea transplant surgeon.

Bowen Eye Clinic has the latest diagnostic and laser technology available in Wellington. There is plenty of free parking on site and the clinic can be conveniently located by car or train.