How much does laser eye surgery cost? What are the risks? How long does laser eye surgery take? These are some of the most frequently asked questions.
“Is laser eye surgery right for me?” That’s one of the questions we’re asked most often. The truth is, there is a vision correction procedure for most people (although a small minority of people simply aren’t suitable for any procedure). To find out for sure, you should undergo an eye examination at the Vision Eye Institute clinic of your choice. However, the requirements below are an indication if you are likely to be suitable:
If your vision still fluctuates (particularly if you’re in your teens or early 20s), if you are pregnant or nursing, or if you have been diagnosed with ocular herpes within the last 12 months, you may still be suitable for laser eye surgery at some stage in the future.
If your ‘refractive error’ is outside the range for treatment that is currently available, but you’re still interested in vision correction, there may be other or emerging technologies (please ask your ophthalmologist for advice).
However, if you have a disease such as cataracts, advanced glaucoma, a corneal disease, a corneal thinning disorder (such as keratoconus) you’re not suited for laser vision correction (there may be other non-laser procedures that are right for you).
The cost of your laser eye surgery will depend on the procedure you have. As a guide, our laser eye surgery fee ranges from $2,400 to $3,500 per eye. We’ll discuss your payment options during your initial consultation. This includes the surgeon’s fee, the optometrist’s fee, medications, post-operative visits and any enhancements (if required) for the first 24 months. It doesn’t cover the initial assessment.
The cost of laser eye surgery can’t be claimed from Medicare. At the moment, most Private Health Funds don’t offer rebates, but check with your fund. However, you might be eligible for a Medical Expenses rebate on your tax return (check with your accountant).
You’ll need an assessment appointment to find out if you are a suitable candidate for LASIK. A referral letter from either an optometrist or your GP isn’t essential, but will help to reduce the Medicare gap payable for the initial consultation. Soft contact lenses must be left out for seven days prior to your consultation and hard contact lenses for one month. This is because the lenses change the natural shape of your eye and may give inaccurate results during testing.
Approximately 10-15 minutes per eye. You can expect to be at the clinic for about 2 hours. We ask that you have a restful day after your procedure, and recommend that you sleep or rest with your eyes closed to assist the healing process.
In order to make the corneal flap with the IntraLase laser, a fixation device is positioned over the white of the eye. This will hold the eye in place, minimising your ability to move during this delicate part of the procedure.
The Excimer laser is fitted with iris recognition and an infrared eye-tracker that is locked in position prior to the commencement of the excimer laser application. This eye-tracker measures eye movements during surgery and is capable of following and actively adjusting the laser beam, as small movements are detected. This provides excellent safety and surgeon control.
You’ll be able to see your surroundings immediately following surgery. Plastic shields cover and protect your eyes for 24 hours after the procedure. Within 4-6 hours after surgery, your vision should become quite clear.
You can’t drive until you have been seen by the surgeon the day after your procedure and had the plastic shields removed.
Returning to work depends on the type of work that you do. The recovery time is rapid, but reading a computer screen (or reading in general) may be difficult for the first two weeks while the tissue is healing. Minor visual clarity changes are also common within the first 10 -14 days postoperatively. If you work in a dusty or aquatic environment, it may be advised to take a short period of leave following surgery. A medical certificate can be arranged by a LASIK Consultant.
LASIK is the most common type of refractive laser surgery today and is used to correct long-sightedness, short-sightedness or astigmatism. Conditions such as Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy and Glaucoma cannot be treated with this type of laser. These conditions may be treated using other types of lasers. However, this depends on the extent of the condition and you would be best advised by your ophthalmologist.
We advise that you avoid swimming and contact sports for one month after surgery. Visiting the gym, jogging and cycling are fine.
LASIK is not suitable if you’re involved in boxing or other sport where eye injury is possible or expected. PRK is more suitable for participants in these sports.
Laser eye surgery was first performed on humans in 1987. Since then, over 16 million people worldwide have had laser eye surgery. Medical research has demonstrated that laser vision correction is a safe and effective procedure.
However, as with any surgery, there are potential risks of complications. Most of these resolve themselves or are treatable.
Some complications can delay full recovery for several weeks or months, but it is highly unlikely they will result in a serious or permanent loss of vision. Serious complications are infrequent, with the risk of blindness or significant loss of vision extremely small.
At Vision Eye Institute, there has never been an incidence of blindness as a result of laser eye surgery. Less than 1% of patients experience serious problems that have the potential to significantly harm vision.
Most of the potential complications can be treated. Fortunately, most side effects and complications resolve themselves within 3 months of surgery and don’t result in long-term vision problems. However, here are some possible side effects and the treatment associated with them: