FAQs about laser eye surgery

We want you to be as informed as possible about your surgery. Here are our patients’ frequently asked questions about laser eye surgery, from ‘does it hurt?’ to possible risks and side effects, and more.

Will I go blind? Will I lose my vision?

This is absolutely the most important concern our patients have, and understandably so. Fortunately, serious or long-term complications are extremely rare – in fact, you have a greater chance of developing an infection from your contact lenses than you do from laser eye surgery.

You may be also comforted by the sheer number of people that have had laser eye surgery: there have been more than 30 million laser eye surgery treatments performed worldwide, and no single case of blindness is yet to be reported in Australia.

At Medownick, we have achieved excellent results from our laser eye surgery in vast majority of patients. In the small number of cases patients might require an enhancement procedure at no extra cost.

To ensure the success of your eye correction, we undergo rigorous and thorough testing to assess the health of your eyes and minimise risk. Following laser eye surgery, your eyes are carefully monitored and treated for as long as it takes for them to settle down. Dr Mark Medownick, our medical director, oversees all laser eye surgery treatments at our clinic at Epworth Medical Centre. He concentrates his practice exclusively on laser eye surgery, and has performed more that 40,000 laser eye surgery corrections.

How safe is laser eye surgery?

When performed by an experienced eye surgeon, such as Dr Mark Medownick, laser eye surgery treatments are safe. Like any laser or surgical procedure, these treatments are subject to complications, but serious or long-term complications are extremely rare. You are more likely to have a car accident on your way to work than to get a serious complication from laser eye surgery.

Most complications can be corrected through eye drops or a repeat laser eye surgery procedure, known as an enhancement, which we do free of charge in the first five years following your initial procedure

What are some potential risks of laser eye surgery?

At Medownick Laser Eye Clinic, we do not take unnecessary risks with your eyesight. You can be confident that we will only perform your laser eye surgery treatment if we are confident that we can improve your vision. To learn more about our extensive and rigorous approach to your safety, please read our assessment process.

After your surgery, the vast majority of our patients find that they have recovered significantly by the day of their first post-operative appointment. However, there is a possibility that you may experience some side effects, such as delayed healing, dry eye, glare, haloes or increased light sensitivity. Most patients find that these side effects subside within three months after laser eye surgery, although it may take longer in some cases – however, 97 per cent of our patients have 20/20 or better vision three months after laser eye surgery. The specific risks of laser eye surgery in your case will be discussed during your free laser eye surgery assessment.

Is it better to have laser eye surgery on both eyes at the same time or on each eye on different days?

This is entirely up to you, as it depends to a large degree on your schedule and what makes you feel most comfortable. The majority of our patients choose to have both eyes treated on the same day.

Does laser eye surgery hurt?

Before your procedure, we will give you a mild oral sedative to help you relax, and put anaesthetic drops in your eyes. You should not experience any pain or discomfort during a robotic laser eye surgery procedure. If you are not suitable for robotic laser eye surgery, you may feel a light touch or gentle pressure on your eye at times, which can be slightly uncomfortable. This only lasts a few seconds.

During the first few days after your laser eye surgery, you may experience minor pain or some discomfort. We will give you oral medications and anaesthetic eye drops to make your laser eye surgery as comfortable as possible. Most patients find that everything was much easier than they expected.

What if I move my eyes or blink during the laser eye surgery?

Patients often worry about moving their eyes or blinking during surgery, but there is virtually nothing you could do with your eyes that would compromise the procedure or put you at risk.

During the procedure, we use a device known as a speculum to hold your eyelids apart. In addition, our special limited-edition Schwind 1050RSL Excimer Laser has the most sophisticated eye-tracking technology available anywhere in the world, meaning it tracks and compensates for the fastest eye movements with unprecedented precision.

Will I be able to see during laser eye surgery?

Yes, although your vision may be slightly blurred. You will see a blinking green light, which we will ask you to focus your eyes on. You will not see any manipulation or instruments near your eye during your laser eye surgery and there will be nothing to block you view.

How long will it take to see my final result after laser eye surgery?

Every patient heals at a different rate. Visual acuity improves over a period of a few weeks, and in most cases, you will have better-than-driving vision by the time you come for your first post-operative appointment. Your vision will continue to improve, with the final results being realised within a few days to a few months.

If I don’t get a full correction, will I be able to have a repeat laser eye surgery to improve my vision?

Yes. A very small number of our patients return for an ‘enhancement’ laser eye surgery procedure. These patients have had a dramatic improvement in their vision, but have not achieved a full correction. When we assess the health of your eyes at our no-obligation consultation, we will discuss your chances of requiring a follow-up enhancement procedure, specific to your particular case.

Our fee covers any enhancement laser eye surgery procedure that you might require in the first five years following your initial laser eye surgery.

At Medownick, we are committed to our patients, and provide a lifetime of aftercare. If you feel yourself starting to worry about your vision, we want you to get in touch – whether it’s a month after your laser eye surgery, two years or 20 years! You may find yourself becoming concerned about the ageing process of your eyes, your frustration with your reading glasses or multifocal glasses, or the development of cataracts – come and see us whenever you need to. In many cases there will be no out-of-pocket expenses for your yearly eye exams.

Do health funds cover laser eye surgery?

Many major health funds, including Bupa and Medibank Private, now cover part or full cost of your laser eye surgery procedure if you have a high level of cover. If you are unsure, check with your private health insurance provider, or give us a call on 1800 37 39 37 and we may be able to help.

Will my vision be corrected forever? Is laser eye surgery permanent?

In the vast majority of cases, once the cornea has been changed by laser eye surgery, it remains permanently modified. There are rare occurrences of regression in the first three months, and this can be corrected with an enhancement laser eye surgery procedure.

Near vision will, however, deteriorate in all people during their 40s. This deterioration is called presbyopia and occurs in all people regardless of whether they were short- or long-sighted, had astigmatism or started with normal vision.

Laser eye surgery won’t protect you from unrelated eye conditions, such as cataract or unexpected refractive error change.

Do I need to wear an eye patch after the laser eye surgery?

No, you do not need to wear an eye patch after laser eye surgery. However, you will be asked to wear a clear protective eye shield for the first four nights after your surgery, and some patients may also need to wear a protective contact lens for the first few days to promote healing.

Will I get a scar from the laser eye surgery?

A condition called Corneal Healing Haze occurs to some degree among all patients following laser eye surgery, particularly in weeks six to eight after treatment. Corneal Healing Haze causes extremely faint scars that cannot be seen except with a microscope and in vast majority of cases it will not affect your vision. It causes few, if any symptoms, and is becoming much less common with our more advanced laser surgery techniques. We control it by increasing the dosage of eye drops.

Can I go away on holiday or travel by air immediately after laser eye surgery?

We recommend waiting at least one week before flying domestically and two weeks before flying internationally after your laser eye surgery. This is because the plane’s air conditioning can cause dry and irritated eyes, and discomfort. When you do fly, use lubricating eye drops to retain moisture in your eyes. We also recommend avoiding going to the beach or in a pool for at least two weeks. Contact sports should be avoided, as should any other activity that may cause you to rub your eyes.

In order to obtain optimal results after laser eye surgery, you should avoid UV light exposure for a few months. This means you should always wear protective sunglasses while outside, and avoid activities such as skiing and surfing.

Can I throw away my glasses and contacts after laser eye surgery?

For the vast majority of people, the answer is yes. While it is impossible to guarantee exact results due to everyone’s individual circumstances, more than 99.9% of patients will see well enough without glasses to pass a driver’s eye test after laser eye surgery, while 97% will have 20/20 or better vision without glasses or contacts.

The general rule is: people who require less treatment will obtain more accurate results. Avoid any doctor or clinic that promises you a specific result, because this simply is not possible.

If I don’t get a full correction, will I be able to wear contacts after laser eye surgery?

In the rare occasions that patients do not get a full correction after laser eye surgery, they can continue to wear contact lenses. If you are able to wear contact lenses before laser eye surgery, then the general rule is you should be able to wear them afterwards too.

What are the long-term results of my laser eye surgery? Will my eyes deteriorate in the future?

No, they will not deteriorate because of laser eye surgery, but they may deteriorate as you age. Excimer laser eye surgery treatment was first performed in 1988. Extensive testing has been performed around the world by many different sources and it has been conclusively determined that there are no long-term health problems to the eye from these procedures.

Are all lasers the same?

Absolutely not! We use the special limited edition of Schwind 1050RSL Excimer Laser, and we obtain very accurate results with this laser. Whereas some other lasers have enhancement rates of up to 10 per cent, the enhancement rate with the Schwind 1050RSL is 2 per cent to 5 per cent. With a repetition rate of 1050Hz and a very small flying spot, this laser provides ideal conditions for highly precise treatments.

To ensure the treatment you receive is best suited to your individual requirements, Medownick Laser Eye Clinic offers the widest range of treatment possibilities using specialised treatment planning software. Depending on the results of your assessment, you treatment can be planned in a variety of ways, including:

1. Purely on your spectacle prescription.

2. From aberration data measured on the corneal surface.

3. The aberration data measured on the entire optical system of your eye.

Some other laser systems may offer one or more of these options, but not all three. We compare it to a 3D fingerprint as we can analyse your eye from 45,000 data points.

For more information on the Schwind 1050RSL Excimer Laser, see Our Technology.

Do I need to bring old prescriptions to my screening for laser eye surgery?

No. Many patients ask if they need to bring past prescriptions to the initial screening for laser eye surgery. While past prescriptions are helpful, we do not rely on these to plan your treatment, and will always perform our own tests based on our screening protocol.

Can astigmatism be treated with laser eye surgery?

Yes. It is a common misconception that0.01emastigmatism cannot be treated with laser eye surgery. Patients respond very well to treatment, with most being able to see clearly without glasses or contact lenses after laser eye surgery where astigmatism is an issue. The laser we use is highly effective in treating astigmatism and we have corrected using refractive eye surgery up to 8 dioptres of astigmatism (average 1–3 dioptres).

Will laser eye surgery cause cataracts, or influence the treatment of cataracts?

No, laser eye surgery does not cause cataracts and does not affect the removal of cataracts.

Which procedure gives better results: Lasik, IntraLasik or ‘Lasik without a flap’?

In the hands of an experienced eye surgeon, the final outcome will be fairly similar with each of these variations of laser eye surgery. While there is a difference in the recovery times, our main concern is which technique will be the safest technique for your particular situation.

We believe Lasik without a flap, or Advanced Laser Surface Ablation (ALSA), gives patients better quality of vision. With ALSA, there are fewer reported cases of dry eye syndrome and no flap complications. This procedure has been performed since the early 1990s, and very significant improvements have taken place over the years. ALSA is becoming more popular each year, as doctors understand that it is the safest choice for certain groups of people.

Interest-free offer

Laser eye surgery is an investment in you. It’s why we offer interest-free payment plans over six, 12 or 18 months to suitable candidates.

Book a free laser eye assessment

Stop wondering and find out once and for all whether laser eye surgery is right for you. Book a free eye assessment today.