Laser Eye Surgery: Questions and Answers


  • Can you treat severe eyesight problems?

    Severe short/long sight and astigmatism is now treatable. If your prescription is outside the treatment range for LASIK Laser Eye Surgery, then Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) are an option available to you. They are used for the correction of more severe levels of short-sight, long-sight and astigmatism and are similar to a small 'contact lens' which is placed inside the eye instead of sitting on the surface. Benefits include pain-free treatment with rapid visual recovery and very good visual acuity results. Success rate to driving standard for Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) is approximately 95%.

  • Why is there a limit to laser eye treatment?

    LASIK is limited to around -10d of short-sight (combined SPH and CYL) dependent on your corneal thickness, to avoid excessive removal of tissue. If the remaining cornea is left too thin, there is a long-term risk that bulging (Ectasia) could occur, endangering sight. Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) are available for people with thin corneas or those above the limit for lasers. LASEK is usually restricted to treatment under -8d of short sight because above this the risk of haze increases. Below this level haze formation is unusual. Implantable contact lenses can be given for any level of correction up to -23d, but lower corrections (under -8d) are not usually recommended, to avoid the need for invasive surgery. Long-sight is limited to +4d because results above this level are unpredictable. ICL can treat up to +12d for long sight.

  • What are the risks of laser eye treatment?

    Overall safety is measured by the number of patients who lose or gain sharpness of vision following treatment. Sharpness of vision is called 'visual acuity' and one line of letters in the eye chart is called 'a line of vision'.

    No surgical procedure is 100% risk-free and you should be aware of potential problems. Serious complications are rare but do happen in all Laser Eye Surgery establishments throughout the world. Actual and theoretical complications are described in detail in our Consent Form (which you will be given prior to treatment) and explained in full during consultation.

    Most complications resolve themselves in time. The final outcome cannot be guaranteed and you must be aware that side effects of laser eye surgery can in some cases be permanent. The healing process differs from one patient to another. In the unlikely event of a serious complication as a result of a laser treatment performed at an Optimax clinic, we will provide all remedial treatment free of charge until you achieve a satisfactory outcome.

  • Does laser eye treatment hurt?

    There is no pain at all during Laser Eye Surgery due to the application of anaesthetic eye drops. For LASIK and Implantable Contact Lenses, the laser treatment and recovery period are usually completely pain-free. However, some people experience slight discomfort which can be relieved with over-the-counter painkillers.

    For LASEK, drops or tablets are needed for the next 1 or 2 days, once the anaesthetic has worn off. You are provided with the bandage lenses and eye drops, which reduce discomfort to minimal levels in most cases. Bandage lenses need to be removed at an Optimax clinic. Most patients say that any brief periods of discomfort after treatment are far outweighed by the benefits.

  • Are Implantable Contact Lenses an option?

    Using Implantable Contact Lenses (ICL) we can now treat patients with prescriptions from -23d to +12d with (+/-) 7d of astigmatism. The treatment is also available for patients who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery due to corneal thickness or after cataract removal. People with high glaucoma, recurrent eye infections and other eye diseases may not be suitable.

  • Do I choose LASIK or LASEK?

    The same lasers are used for both treatments. Results at lower levels of vision correction (under -6 dioptres) are of similar accuracy for both procedures. When comparing benefits, the first impression is that LASIK laser eye treatment is a superior procedure. However, there are significant additional complications and risks that do not apply to LASEK. We perform bilateral LASEK laser eye treatment for low levels of vision correction (-4.50 dioptres or under) because it is safer, simpler and a more established treatment and achieves the same long term results. LASEK treatment does not involve cutting and is not dependent on surgical skill. However there may be some discomfort and recovery time is longer. The choice is dependent on your attitude to pain, risk, speed of recovery and cost.

    We recommend LASIK laser eye treatment for all prescriptions of -6 dioptres and over and up to +4 dioptres only. There is no discomfort and the final result is achieved very rapidly. In most cases LASIK can be given to both eyes on the same day. LASEK may be offered above -6 dioptres where the cornea is too thin or when other conditions preclude LASIK. If you prefer, LASIK can be performed on all prescriptions under -10 dioptres.

  • What will my eyes look like after laser eye surgery?

    After a few days you will not be able to see evidence of surgery on the eye as this can only be detected using very sophisticated equipment.

    LASEK laser eye surgery - when you remove the eye pad (the doctors will advise when to do this) the treated eye may be puffy and weepy. This should subside after 48 hours. Whilst using eye drops or ointment, the pupil may be enlarged.

    LASIK laser eye surgery - the treated eye will look normal the day after surgery except for some slight redness. A few patients will notice some red spotting on the eye. This will disappear two to three weeks after laser eye surgery.

  • Is Laser eye treatment safe?

    It is estimated that over two million treatments are carried out annually worldwide. Safety and predictability are best at low and moderate levels of laser eye treatment. As a result of excellent research combined with low incidence of serious side effects, eminent ophthalmologists now routinely perform laser treatment in every developed country.

    Over [^treatmentCount] laser eye treatments including 70,000 LASIK treatments have been performed at Optimax since 1992. With LASEK the laser does not penetrate beyond the surface of the eye and cannot affect any other part of it. LASIK is recommended for higher prescription levels and, being a surgical treatment, carries more risk of complication. Approximately 98% of our patients no longer wear glasses (for driving standard vision). The remainder should benefit from a reduction in spectacle strength. Satisfaction levels are very high and over half of our new patients come to us through the recommendation of existing patients.

  • When can I play sport?

    Once your vision allows, you can resume all activities. You should avoid strong sunlight and dirty or dusty environments for as long as possible after surgery. All patients should avoid swimming for two weeks, as there is a risk of irritation and infection. LASIK patients should avoid contact sports for at least three months.

    LASEK patients participating in outdoor sports should avoid strong sunlight for four weeks as exposure to ultra-violet light can enduce haze. LASIK patients should wear sunglasses for one week after treatment as a protective shield, and should take care around dirty or dusty environments during the first seven days after treatment.

  • When can I drive?

    During the first few days after treatment your night time vision may be affected. Our medical staff will advise you at your aftercare vists when your sight is above driving standard level. However we advise you not to drive until you feel completely comfortable. For LASIK patients this should be within 12-48 hours. LASEK patients should wait at least 7-14 days and Implantable Contact Lens patients should wait up to 14 days

  • What can I expect the results to be?

    20/20 (6/6 in metric) is described as normal vision and is the ability to read the seventh line of the eye test chart. Driving standard is 10/20 (6/12 metric) and is measured as reading the fifth line of the chart. The best results from the laser are achieved at mild levels of eyesight correction.

    98% of patients achieve unaided driving standard after their laser eye operation. Moderate eyesight correction surgery levels achieve 95% success. Severe levels of eyesight correction achieve 90% success (to driving standard). There is no difference between LASEK and LASIK final results up to -6 dioptres. Long sight results achieve 80% success to driving standard.

  • Are the results of laser eye surgery permanent?

    Monitoring of PRK/LASEK over 14 years and LASIK over eight years has so far shown that eye laser treatment is permanent. However, laser correction surgery cannot prevent the natural changes that occur with eyesight. This is why we wait until your eyesight appears to be stable i.e. after about the age of 20, before recommending treatment. Treatment with Implantable Contact Lenses is permanent, although some types of lens can be removed should the need arise.

  • Will I need glasses in the future?

    The majority of patients should not need glasses for distance vision. All patients will need reading glasses from around the age of 45, as do all normal-sighted people on reaching this age. Later in life there is a drift to long sight and glasses will be needed, especially for reading. Our doctors will take this into consideration at consultation and discuss this with you.

    Some short-sighted patients in middle age choose to have only one eye treated or to leave one eye undercorrected. This is called monovision and involves treating the dominant eye for distance vision and using the untreated undercorrected eye for reading. This proves to be very acceptable for many patients with mild short sight, avoiding the need for glasses for both reading and distant vision.

  • What is the difference in LASEK and LASIK treatment?

    LASEK is surface based, resulting in a wound which takes a little time to heal and causes pain afterwards if medication proves to be ineffective.

    LASIK is surgically invasive and involves cutting a very thin flap of cornal skin and lasering underneath it so it does not wound the surface of the eye and is therefore, usually painless. Results are almost immediate (or within 24 hours).

    Both procedures produce the same results up to -6 dioptres and therefore neither procedure is superior to the other at this level of myopia. It is purely a case of prescription strength and personal preference and circumstances.


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