Refractive Laser Surgery

Refractive surgery describes a group of procedures where surgery is used to correct the focus of vision rather than spectacles or contact lenses.

The most modern techniques use computer controlled lasers to remove a layer of the cornea (window at the front of the eye) and to reshape it to correct vision.

Refractive surgery is best suited for patients who wear spectacles or contact lenses all the time. Most patients do not need spectacles for general wear after the surgery but it is likely that a prescription will often be needed for fine work or as focussing problems (presbyopia) develop naturally in the 40’s.

Originally, laser surgery could only correct short-sightedness. Now it also offers hope to those suffering astigmatism (distorted vision) and long-sightedness. Laser surgery gives speedy results with minimal pain. But this procedure is not suitable for everyone. If you are under 18 years old, pregnant, or have had changes to your prescribed corrective lenses in the past year, we usually do not recommend laser surgery.

Cost is an important factor: laser surgery costs up to $3000 per eye and is not covered by Medicare or any other private health fund (though in some cases it is partially tax deductible). Most laster clinics offer finance plans or interest-free terms.

While laser techniques in refractive eye surgery have been years in the making, only in this decade has laser surgery become truly widespread. It is estimated that up to one and a half million people worldwide have had such operations, many thousands of those in Australia.

Reputable eye surgeons emphasise that not all laser patients will attain 20/20 vision. This depends on various factors, including the severity of the patient’s original vision problem. Some patients may still require glasses or contact lenses after laser surgery.

Those with presbyopia or “ageing eye” which often occurs in one’s early 40’s, cannot generally be treated by laser surgery, although in some cases monovision laser treatment may be used for one eye only.

The expert optometrists at Eyecare Plus will be glad to assess your suitability for this procedure, refer you to a qualified provider, and even provide follow up care after the surgery.

For more information on refractive surgery or any other aspect of eye and vision care, contact your local Eyecare Plus optometrist direct on 1300 EYECARE (393 227).