Top 10 Laser Eye Surgery questions

As with any medical procedure, you should not undergo laser eye treatment until you have a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of the treatment and can determine whether it’s an appropriate procedure for you. Here are 10 questions you should ask before undergoing eye laser surgery…

1. Is there an age limit for laser eye treatment?

Anyone over the age of 18 can receive eye laser treatment. However, the consensus of many leading eye specialists is that most eye problems will have not fully developed until the age of 21. For this reason, some laser eye surgery providers will not perform the treatment on anyone under the age of 21, unless the individual’s condition has remained stable for at least a year.  There are exceptions and when someone requires good vision for their career e.g. join the police force, ambulance service, cabin crew, then surgery may well be performed between the ages of 18 and 21.

2. Will you be considered for treatment if you have diabetes or glaucoma?

Most diabetics will be considered for treatment if they have no other eye conditions and their diabetes is well controlled. If you have glaucoma with optic nerve damage as evidenced by changes in the visual field test, unfortunately you will not be suitable for treatment.

3. Can laser eye treatment remove the need for reading glasses?

Yes. There are two options for elimination of reading glasses. One is Monovision or “Blended Vision” where one eye is made short-sighted to allow near focus and the dominant eye is corrected for distance vision. This requires adaptation and for many is a very satisfactory solution. Another option is Supracor Lasik. This treatment provides correction for near, intermediate and distance.

4. How many people are unsuitable for eye laser surgery?

On average, approximately 35 percent of all those who attend a laser eye surgery consultation are turned away due to pre-existing eye conditions or other health related issues. Other options such as implantable contact lenses or refractive lens exchange may be more appropriate for those who are unsuitable for laser eye surgery.

5. How long will the consultation last?

Prior to the procedure itself you will be invited to a laser eye consultation, which will take between 1-3 hours. The consultation will involve a complete eye examination, evaluation of the test results and counselling about the procedure. At this stage you will be able to ask the surgeon any questions you may have. More tests may be required depending on the surgeon’s findings.

6. How does laser eye surgery affect your ability to drive?

Most patients tested the next day following laser eye surgery are well beyond the visual standards required for driving. – much depends on your own rate of healing and progress.

7. Will you need to take any time off work?

You will be able to return to work after the consultation, but as stated above you will not be able to drive as eye drops will be used to dilate your pupils. As a general guide, following the eye laser surgery you should take 24-48 hours off work.

8. If you have been refused eye laser surgery in the past, is it likely you will be refused again?

This really does depend on the underlying reason for the refusal of treatment. Techniques have moved on so it is possible you will now be suitable for treatment.

9. Does laser eye surgery hurt?

The majority of people describe the feeling as unusual rather than painful. Very powerful local anaesthetic eye drops are used to remove any feelings of discomfort.  The most you should feel is a sensation of pressure for about 20 seconds in each eye.

10. How long does the actual treatment take?

The actual treatment should take less than 20 minutes to complete. You will then be sent to a recovery room in the clinic to recuperate. All in all, you will be in the clinic for around 2-3 hours.

To find out whether you’re suitable for eye laser surgery, please complete the ‘Am I suitable?’ Form.

Author Information

Authored by Sheraz Daya MD FACP FACS FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon & Medical Director, June 2019.