Laser eye surgery is becoming an increasingly popular option for many people across the UK. It provides a way of enabling you to say goodbye to your glasses and contact lenses for good, and enjoy the perfect vision that so many other individuals take for granted.
However, as with any medical treatment, it’s not without its risks, and it’s vital to understand the procedure before committing to having it done. Here’s some information about the laser surgery experience, the results you can expect afterwards, and other details to help you make an informed decision.
Laser Eye Surgery: Before the Treatment
Laser surgery requires an initial consultation. You’ll meet with your surgeon, who will carry out a number of tests and examinations to ascertain your levels of short-sightedness. Depending on this, you will be advised which procedure is most suitable for your individual circumstances. These include Lasek, Lasik or PRK and you can read more about each by following the link to our comprehensive article detailed below.
After you’ve been fully assessed, you’ll be booked in for your operation. Although the procedure is generally considered relatively painless, it’s important to be aware that it’s still surgery and that it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
The Day of Surgery
On the day of your treatment, you’ll be given anaesthetic drops to numb your eyes. Whilst this is happening, your eyelids will be held open with a special holder, though don’t worry, this isn’t uncomfortable.
Once your eyes are numb, a laser will be applied to the surface of the eye, in order to make a flap in the cornea. All you’ll have to do at this stage is look at a light for approximately half a minute. Although it sounds painful, the most you’re likely to feel is a slightly unusual ‘pushing’ sensation in your eye.
A second laser will then reshape your cornea; again, all you’ll need to do is look at a light and then after this the flap in your cornea will be placed back down.
What to Expect Immediately Afterwards
The surgery itself generally takes under ten minutes for both eyes. Straight after the treatment, your eyes may feel a little irritated, and you may experience some fogginess in your vision. However, this will clear fairly quickly.
Amazingly, the vast majority of patients are able to enjoy 20/20 vision only a few minutes after the surgery has taken place. Once you get home, you’ll need to keep using the anaesthetic drops, and you’re likely to be given other drops to soothe any pain after the procedure.
Key Information About Laser Eye Surgery
- Is the procedure safe? It is a relatively straightforward procedure, and complications generally only occur when the surgery is conducted on someone who isn’t a suitable candidate. However, your initial consultation will ascertain your suitability for the treatment.
- Is it expensive? Prices vary considerably; with starting costs at around £400. Some surgeries offer interest-free financing.
- Will it take long to recover? It doesn’t take long at all to recover from laser surgery. Generally your eyes will feel fine in a matter of hours after the treatment, and after having them checked the following day, you’ll be able to get back to normal life. You should be able to return to driving two days after the surgery.
Laser Eye Surgery Regulation
Surgeons at Harley Street’s London Eye Hospital are calling for tighter regulations on laser eye surgery, as they see increasing numbers of patients who have received substandard treatment elsewhere. They have highlighted that currently, laser eye surgery can legally be carried out by any doctor, regardless of whether or not they are surgeons or have any specialist eye knowledge – a situation which seems to be resulting in too many patients receiving poor care.
“At the moment, anybody who has a basic doctor’s qualification could in theory go off and spend a few hours or a couple of days learning how to use the kit and set off giving treatment,” says Dr Saj Kahn, an eye surgeon at the London Eye Hospital.
Last year, a survey by the consumer group Which? showed that one in three consultations by clinics offering laser eye surgery is of poor quality. Meanwhile, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists says that complications, such as dry eyes and problems with night vision, occur in one in twenty cases of laser eye surgery. It seems clear that these numbers could be reduced if the procedure was only carried out by doctors who are specifically qualified to do so.
“Laser eye surgeons are, at presents, only required to be registered as doctors; no specialist qualifications are legally required to carry out a laser eye procedure,” says Bobby Qureshi, the London Eye Hospital’s medical director. “And with those who trained abroad, it’s even more difficult to establish levels of expertise in specific treatments. This makes a central register all the more important, as it gives patients the tools to check exactly in whose hands they are putting their vision.
“We have seen a rising number of people arriving at the London Eye Hospital who have previously been given inaccurate information or poor care, and we strongly believe that it is time for this industry to be taken to task.”
For a comprehensive guide to the cost of laser eye surgery, click on the link to our new article.
As with any surgery, it’s important to make sure that your surgeon is qualified to carry out the surgery and comes with excellent credentials. If in doubt, seek treatment elsewhere.