Is Laser Eye Surgery safe for you?

If like many, you’ve worn glasses since you were young, it’s likely that you’re getting fed up with them. Maybe you’ve tried contact lenses but you struggle to insert them? Or, you’re able to insert them but have trouble getting them out? Whatever the case, laser eye surgery may look like a very tempting solution right now. This consideration brings with it another concern – is eye laser surgery safe?

First, a brief overview of what Laser Eye Surgery is

Laser eye surgery, also known as refractive surgery, is a procedure designed to surgically correct the optics of the eye to enhance clearer vision. Many people refer to refractive procedures as “laser eye surgery” but not all methods use a laser.

All surgical procedures carry a degree of risk of infection, and laser eye surgery is no exception, that said, for many it is a worthwhile investment, saving inconvenience and money in the long run.

Certain laser eye surgery techniques are more invasive than others, which can mean carrying more specific risks than other procedures. It’s also worth noting that, most if not all, refractive procedures involve an incision in the cornea – the transparent dome at the front of the eye.

With the development of new techniques and technology, laser eye surgery procedures are becoming safer than ever before.

How safe is LASIK eye treatment?

Since booming in popularity over 30 years ago, laser eye surgery has been studied for its safety and efficacy. Statistics vary from study to study, depending on the particular refractive technique involved. But success rates are typically quoted at around 98-99%. This makes laser eye surgery one of the safest elective procedures in Australia.

Complications involving a loss of visual acuity of more than one line on the letter chart are no higher than 0.4%. Over 90% of patients undergoing LASIK eye surgery achieve perfect 20/20 vision. Also known as 6/6 vision in Australia.

Many lasik patients fear that a complication during surgery may cause them to become blind. Fortunately, total loss of vision from refractive surgery has never been recorded in Australia. Studies on the safety and efficiency of various other laser eye surgery procedures continue to be carried out.

SMILE, PRK, and ASLA (advanced surface laser ablation) rank as safe and effective as LASIK.

Making the right decisions about eye laser surgery safety

It is important to note that some risks can be mitigated or avoided altogether, which is something you’ll no doubt be happy to hear if you’ve been wondering how safe laser eye surgery is.

The best way to find out if you’re one of the many good candidates for laser eye surgery is by undergoing an initial assessment, also referred to as a consultation, this is where your most preferred, and long-term eye surgery will be divulged.

Cheaper offers overseas may be tempting at this stage, but a great surgeon is vital, so your first step is to locate a reputable clinic. The equipment, medical standards and regulations may be significantly poorer to reflect pricing should you travel abroad. This has the potential to increase your chances of experiencing a less-than-optimal outcome.

An experienced refractive eye surgeon however will perform a thorough examination before advising you on the most suitable technique. This will take into consideration several factors:

Your prescription

There are prescription limitations for each surgical technique. Some offer a wider treatable range than others whilst still maintaining safety standards. Treating a certain prescription with an unsuitable technique can lead to under-correction. The residual refractive error may result in the cornea becoming thin and weakened.

Corneal thickness

Laser eye surgery methods such as LASIK, PRK, and SMILE, involve removing select areas of corneal tissue to reshape the cornea. This better corrects the optics of the eye. LASIK surgery involves the formation of a flap of corneal tissue, which is temporarily lifted away. This further reduces the amount of tissue available for reshaping. After the procedure is complete, enough corneal tissue must be left intact to ensure your eye is fully functional.

Lifestyle factors

Certain laser eye surgery techniques are more suitable for particular lifestyles and vocations. For example, due to the creation of a corneal flap, LASIK carries the risk of flap-related complications. This could be debris getting caught beneath the flap or the flap becoming dislodged through trauma. Patients who engage in physically rough tasks or are often in dusty environments may be directed away from LASIK. A less risky procedure for their particular lifestyle may instead be recommended, such as PRK or SMILE.

Pre-existing eye conditions

The presence of other eye diseases and eye problems can also affect the safety and final result. Careful preoperative examination helps patients to avoid laser eye surgery procedures that may exacerbate conditions. These may be dry eye disease or keratoconus, a corneal thinning condition. SMILE tends to pose less of a concern for dry eye compared to LASIK since it is a minimally invasive technique. It’s possible that LASIK however, could induce corneal thinning in patients susceptible to this condition.

Reduce surgical complications

Some surgical complications are a result of plain bad luck while others can be decreased simply by following all pre-and post-operative instructions. These include; maintaining eyelid hygiene and adhering to prescribed eye drop medications. These will help to reduce your risk of adverse effects such as possible eye infections.

Still wondering if laser eye surgery is safe and effective? Rest assured that such procedures are performed across the world to the satisfaction of many. Very few procedures, if any, can boast a 100% success rate, and yet laser eye surgery shows very high levels of patient satisfaction and very low rates of side effects or complications.

Call Eye Laser Specialists for free at 0390 700 910 to book your complimentary initial consultation today, and know that your vision is in experienced and safe hands.

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About the expert

Dr Anton van Heerden, MBCHB; FRANZCO
Ophthalmologist & Laser Eye Surgeon

Based in Melbourne, but with a reputation that transcends borders, Dr Van Heerden sets the highest bar for laser vision correction surgery in Australia. While his skills and experience are second to none, it is his fun, caring and down to earth nature that truly set’s him apart from the rest. You can sit back and enjoy the journey knowing every detail has been carefully considered.