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19 Apr 2023

When should you get LASIK?

When should you get LASIK?

As one of the most commonly performed laser eye surgeries, a lot of people want to know ‘how bad does your eyesight have to be for LASIK?’. If you’re over 20, with a stable prescription and you’re looking to improve your everyday lifestyle, then it may be a good time for you to consider LASIK surgery.

People think that they need to have bad eyesight in order to consider LASIK surgery, but in reality it goes back to ‘Does it bother you?’. Ask yourself if every day activities are becoming annoying, or whether you know what you can’t see.  With your lifestyle, is it enough to warrant intervention?

Let’s unpack LASIK and whether it might be the right time for you.

What is LASIK?

Now the most commonly performed eye laser surgery, LASIK involves creating a partial-thickness corneal flap and using an excimer laser to ablate the bed of the cornea. The flap is then placed back into its original position. Discomfort after surgery is minimal, and vision recovery usually takes place in 1 to 2 days.

LASIK vision correction has gained a lot of popularity globally, especially because getting surgery means that there will be no need to wear contact lenses or glasses anymore, and that’s a huge relief for those who don’t like wearing glasses or contact lenses.

Over the years, LASIK surgery has improved in terms of technique and tools, thanks to technological innovations. In the 70s, a Soviet Nobelist named Nikolay Basoy paved the way for the development of the modern LASIK surgical procedure. Since then, LASIK has become one of the most innovative refractive eye surgery procedures, helping millions get their perfect vision back without using eyeglasses or contact lenses.

How successful is LASIK?

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis or LASIK eye surgery also boasts an excellent track record with Contoura LASIK achieving 99% success rates in helping patients achieve 20/20 vision, or a correction of up to two lines better than glasses. Contoura LASIK is the most advanced, safest, and most accurate technology. It not only corrects the prescription but also corrects the surface of the cornea. Contoura LASIK utilises 22,000 data points that measure the corneal surface and not only corrects the glasses prescription but simultaneously fixes any subtle irregularities in the corneal shape.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that around 50% of people are achieving vision 2 lines better than they previously had with glasses and contacts. This is a first in the history of eye surgery and certainly represents the apex of technological development.

Freedom Eye Laser is proud to use this latest generation technology. We selected the Alcon Refractive Suite as our laser platform for its unsurpassed treatment accuracy and individualised care. Your comfort during the procedure and how quickly and easily it is performed is unmatched by other platforms.

How do you know if you need LASIK surgery? 

From our interviews with patients, the most common contributing factors that made them decide to get LASIK were based around lifestyle factors:

– Wanting to have the freedom to see the world without looking through glass
– Hoping to play sport without worrying about losing a contact lens or glasses falling off their face
– Being able to swim at the beach, see clearly in the water and to be able to find their towel on their return
– Wishing to be able to spontaneously play with their kids, wrestling freely without worrying about their glasses breaking,
– Having to always think about their eyes – and accidentally falling asleep in front of TV with contact lenses in, creating sore, blurry and irritated eyes when they wake up.
– Everyday functions, like not being able to see the shampoo in the shower, or not being able to see your kids if they wake at night.

While it’s considered a cosmetic approach rather than a medical necessity, patients report such significant life changes and relief from symptoms and frustrations from glasses and contact lenses, including the relief of their Dry Eye symptoms.

So, how bad does your eyesight have to be for LASIK?

Although LASIK has now become a standard procedure for those who are visually impaired, there’s also the reality that it’s not for everybody. There are still steps you need to go through before you can be considered a candidate for LASIK.

Here are some signs that it’s time to consider LASIK surgery:

You are done wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you’ve been wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses for years now and they are impeding your lifestyle, you may want to get LASIK surgery to finally be free from the hassles of contact lenses or glasses.
You constantly need to squint. If you constantly need to squint when watching TV, working on your computer, reading a book or simply walking outside, this could be a sign that your eyes are not receiving enough light, causing blurred vision. Squinting constantly can cause a lot of stress and pressure on your eyes, adding to the damage already present in them.
You have difficulty seeing at night. Night blindness is a common symptom for nearsighted people, and could cause some serious dangers. So, if you have difficulty driving, walking around your house, or reading at night or without a proper light source, you should consider getting LASIK.
Your eyes are constantly strained. Do you experience frequent headaches after a long day at work? Are you having a hard time functioning properly because of your vision problems? Eye strain or fatigue can be quite uncomfortable because it causes a heavy and painful feeling in your eyes, especially if you’re busy with daily activities.  If you experience this frequently, it could be a sign that there’s so much pressure on your eyes to adjust to your poor vision, and it might cause irreversible damage to your eyes if you don’t address the problem.
Your contact lenses are causing you irritation or creating issues with chronic dye eye. If you’ve been wearing contact lenses for some time, but you’re finding that your contact lenses are creating eye health issues, it might reassure you to know that Contoura LASIK is safer than contact lenses. At Freedom Eye Laser, our Dry Eye Clinic will work to treat your Dry Eye in the weeks before surgery, to maximise your visual outcomes.

Your Prescription

There are no hard-and-fast rules to prescribing LASIK surgery based on the level of prescription patients have with their eyeglasses or contact lenses.  At Freedom Eye Laser, we can do corrections up to 0.25 – which are the most accurate corrections, if required, for post-cataract surgery.  In most cases, the procedure is recommended for treating vision problems, including nearsightedness of up to -12.00 diopters, astigmatism of up to 6 diopters, and farsightedness of up to +6.00 diopters.

Keep in mind that perfect vision is measured at 0.00 diopters, so the further your prescription is away from 0, the worse your eyesight will be.  

How do doctors determine if you are suitable for LASIK surgery? 

Although you already have the answer to the common question, “when should you get LASIK?”, your eye doctor will still have the final say on whether or not you are qualified to be a candidate for LASIK surgery. You’ll need to undergo thorough assessment and evaluation before the procedure to avoid complications and ensure that the surgery will produce the best results. In general, doctors will assess if:

 – Your eyes are healthy. Laser eye surgery is only recommended for patients suffering from a moderate degree of refractive error and no other eye conditions like existing eye disease, dry eyes, eye injuries, glaucoma, cataracts, or inflammation. These conditions can result in poor outcomes and even cause complications after. An extensive eye examination, Dr James Genge will determine if there are any conditions that would impact your ability to achieve optimum visual clarity. We would then proceed with the safest and most effective technology available.
You have stable vision. There’s a good reason doctors prescribe LASIK only to patients over 20 years and ideally older. This is because adults have a more stable prescription. Steroid medications and pregnancy can also cause temporary visual fluctuations, which is why we prefer to delay LASIK for patients in these circumstances.
You are generally healthy. LASIK is a surgical procedure, which is why Dr Genge and our team at Freedom Eye Laser are thorough in our diagnostic testing and medical examinations for each individual patient to determine suitability.

Personalised Care

Freedom Eye Laser offers personalised care to meet our patients individualised needs, with a dedicated time with your specialist to have everything explained. This level of care is a point of difference as having your doctor involved in every step of your LASIK care is not offered in all practices.

Dr Genge will also assess your cornea to check for any thickness or any abnormalities.  If your cornea is deemed too thin or abnormal, Advanced Surface Laser Ablation (ASLA) may be recommended. Instead of the Femtosecond laser creating a flap, the front layer of cells of the cornea are smoothed away and the laser treatment is applied directly to the front surface of the eye. The second part of the laser procedure remains the same with the Contoura Vision excimer laser correcting your vision. While the results are just as impressive, the time to heal is longer.

Cost benefit analysis

Most insurance companies won’t cover LASIK surgery since it falls under elective surgical procedures, which means it’s a planned and not an emergency treatment option.
Ask your doctor about how much you’ll need to get LASIK so you can prepare your finances for it. At Freedom Eye laser, we will provide you with a detailed cost breakdown so that you’re aware of all costs that will be incurred for the procedure before you decide to move forward.

LASIK surgery is a same day procedure, with minimal downtime, with most patients returning to work the following day. The only restriction is ensuring you don’t get your eyes wet for 2 weeks while your eyes are still healing. This includes swimming, showering and heavy exercise causing sweating into the eye. You can otherwise resume most other lifestyle activities.

What are the side effects of LASIK? 

Like any other surgical procedure, LASIK also has some side effects and complications, although these are minor and can be resolved within a few weeks or months after the surgery: 

  • Glare. While you may experience 20/20 vision right after a procedure, it’s very normal to see glare or halos, especially while driving at night, but that will settle down after a few weeks.
  • Dry Eye. A chronic pre-existing condition, Dry Eye can also be a side effect of eye surgery. Prior to any surgery, we will assess your tear film and treat this pre-existing condition with our specialist Dry Eye Clinic in order to maximise your visual outcomes, and help you with post-surgical care. 

Very rarely, some patients may need an adjustment following the procedure and enhancements can be achieved. If this is the case, these enhancements are included in the price. Some other refractive technologies, such as Smile, are unable to make enhancements after the initial surgery and require techniques such as ASLA/PRK. 

So… when should you get LASIK? 

Ultimately, assess whether your eyesight is affecting your lifestyle. Wait until it is a problem or you’re bothered by it. You know the technology is available and what it can do to improve your life..

It’s really up to you. 

At Freedom Eye Laser, every new consultation is an objective conversation. We have a balanced view, giving you the opportunity to decide whether and/or how you want to move forward, and then you can make up your own mind.  

If you’d like to speak to one of our team, contact us

If you’d like to hear more about our patient’s experiences and stories after getting LASIK, you can read them on our Instagram channel (@freedomeyelaser).