How long has the surgery been performed?
Eye Laser Surgery was introduced to South Australia by our Medical Director, Dr Peter Ingham, in 1992 but it was initially developed in the mid 1980’s as an alternative to Radial Keratotomy. Initially it was performed on the surface of the eye as PRK, which is still performed today. LASIK evolved to overcome some of the disadvantages of PRK, most notably the time of recovery, and involves the combination of PRK and the fashioning of a corneal access flap. This corneal flap involves techniques very similar to those employed in the 1950’s. LASIK, therefore, is the combination of two procedures, each with a long history. With a history of over 20 years much confidence can be gained from its related procedures. SMILE® was developed over 10 years ago and has since been used in over 3.5 million procedures worldwide.
Is the procedure safe?
In medical terms, SMILE® LASIK and PRK are very safe procedures with adverse outcomes from complications of a serious nature occurring in under 1:1000 eyes. This is not to say that complications and side effects cannot occur. Before proceeding with this procedure the risks specific to your circumstances must be assessed and fully explained to you so that you can make an informed decision.
Will I require time off from work?
Generally the surgery will be performed late in the week (usually on a Thursday) so that you can return to work after the weekend. Patients spend approximately two hours at the Centre on surgery day, and many are able to drive the next day and even return to work if they wish to. Many patients choose to take off the following day and return to work after the weekend dependent on surgery procedure with LASIK and SMILE®. PRK may require longer, with less ability to perform near tasks initially.
However, it is worth noting that each case is different and how well you can function depends on the degree of your refractive error, the recovery rate of your eye and the type of visual tasks you perform at work. In general, people with smaller corrections who do not engage in heavy, near or screen based tasks can expect to function very well in the days after the procedure first. Others may have a longer recovery.
Does the procedure hurt?
During Eye Laser Surgery of any form the eye is anaesthetised with drops. As such, you should not experience any pain during the procedure. It is normal, however, to feel some mild stretching of the eyelid from the speculum during the procedure. During LASIK and SMILE® there is a 10-25 second period of pressure from the suction ring used. These sensations should not be bothersome to the point of being painful. Following the procedure there will be a foreign body feeling in the eyes which in the case of LASIK and SMILE® is for a period of 2-6 hours and is generally mild. PRK on the other hand may initially be more uncomfortable and takes 3-4 days for the corneal epithelium to heal. In both cases pain relief is provided for the initial post-operative period. The degree of pain or discomfort experienced can vary depending on individual pain threshold but this has no effect on the final outcome.
How long does the procedure last?
After the initial recovery period that lasts for 3-6 months you can expect to have a permanent effect from the surgery. Rarely there may be some regression of the effect requiring remedial treatment and at times your refractive error may still be progressing at the time of the surgery. Also, should the eye develop other conditions such as a cataract or if you should become diabetic then there may be changes in the refractive error of the eye. If there is evidence of either regression, under or over correction or progression of your refractive error to the point where it is bothersome, then an enhancement procedure can be considered. Remember that as with the original surgery this surgery also carries a small risk that you must consider.
What does it cost?
We are clear and transparent about the cost of Eye Laser Surgery. With us it costs from $3000 per eye inclusive. This also includes any follow up procedures if required. It may sound expensive, and while we agree it is a significant investment, it’s an investment in your vision future.
Am I covered with health insurance?
There is no Medicare benefit for these procedures, however, rebates may be available from some health insurers at their top level of cover, and we have contracts in place with most major health funds. Please check with your fund to see if any entitlements apply, and if you wish to claim, please advise our staff prior to your admission. There are also options to secure finance for this surgery. For more information on this please refer to our Finance Options section of the website or ask a member of our friendly staff.
How does the laser work?
The Excimer laser used in Eye Laser Surgery procedures is a high-energy ultraviolet laser. It works by precisely removing very small amounts of corneal tissue with each pulse with the pattern of laser pulses creating the desired change in refraction. The position and number of the pulses is controlled by the algorithm within the laser’s computer. Depending on the correction and the laser used the treatment time may be only a few seconds up to a minute. The femtosecond laser works differently by creating very small tissue separations within the cornea that, when precisely aligned, allow the laser to alter the shape of the eye and correct focussing errors.
When can I return to normal activities?
Apart from the restrictions listed below, normal activities can begin immediately after LASIK and SMILE®. Driving and using dangerous machinery should be avoided until the next day and then only if you are confident to do so. It is necessary to avoid any contact with the eye for three days and shampoo and make-up around the eyes must be avoided. Eye shields must be worn at night and sunglasses or clear protective glasses at all other times during this period. Swimming and contact sports should be avoided for a week. Rubbing the eye is ill advised at any time but should be restricted for at least a week. PRK takes a little longer to recover and with SMILE® you can often be back to normal activities a little earlier.
Can the result be improved should it be less that perfect?
Enhancement surgery can be performed once the result of the initial surgery is stable. This is usually after three to six months. Enhancement surgery has a similar risk profile and recovery as the initial surgery but usually starts with a much smaller error. The likelihood of enhancement surgery is determined by the initial refractive error and will be discussed as part of the consultation process.
What experience does the centre have?
Our surgical staff have been performing Eye Laser Surgery in Adelaide since February 1992, introducing it to South Australia. During this period over 25,000 laser vision procedures have been performed with the vast majority being LASIK. This experience extends beyond the surgical staff to everyone working within the centre to ensure that you receive the best care at all stages of your involvement with us.
Why should I have my procedure done at AE&LC?
There are many benefits that we can offer should you decide to proceed with surgery.
- Extensive experience since 1992 with more than 25,000 successful procedures.
- Fully accredited, theatre level facility dedicated to Eye Laser Surgery.
- The most advanced equipment available to maximise predictability and safety.
- Unparalleled levels of customer service during all stages of the procedure.
Can I really throw away my glasses?
This is our goal in regards to your distance vision. For the vast majority of cases we can achieve this goal although enhancement surgery may occasionally be required. However, it is important to note that this is a surgical procedure of living tissue and therefore is subject to some degree of variable response. Also, it is important to remember that Eye Laser Surgery does not alter the normal ageing processes of the eye such as the loss of flexibility of the lens required for good near vision. It cannot overcome diseases of the eye that reduce the vision potential of the eye such as retinal disease.