Laser eye surgery and LASIK FAQs
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Laser Eye Surgery and LASIK FAQs

Before any medical procedure, you’re bound to have questions. Many patients are worried about the risks of laser eye surgery. Others want to know what happens after LASIK, or how long you can expect your LASIK recovery to take.

You’re welcome to talk through any concerns you have with your LASIK surgeon or any of the staff at Eye Institute, but in the meantime, you may find the answers to your questions here.

Click on the questions below to view the answers, which will expand.

General questions about laser eye surgery, LASIK and iLASIK

1. What is LASIK?

LASIK stands for Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis. It is a form of laser eye surgery that can correct a wide range of vision imperfections.

The procedure is characterised by the creation of a flap in the cornea (the surface of the eye), before a computer-guided excimer laser is used to reshape the cornea to correct the patient’s vision. The creation of the corneal flap improves results compared with traditional Custom Surface PRK (Photorefractive Keratectomy), and also helps to speed recovery and minimise discomfort.

2. What is 'i'LASIK?

iLASIK is a unique form of LASIK surgery which uses the most advanced LASIK technology in the world to offer outstanding precision, safety and results. iLASIK is approved by NASA and the US military, and is available in New Zealand exclusively from Eye Institute.

3. Who is iLASIK useful for?

iLASIK can correct the broadest range of vision imperfections, so even people who were previously unsuitable for LASIK may now be able to enjoy the benefits of laser vision correction with iLASIK.

iLASIK can be used to correct nearsightedness (myopia) up to -12 diopters, farsightedness (hyperopia) up to +5 diopters, and astigmatism up to -5 diopters.

4. Are there any restrictions on who can have iLASIK?

You must be 18 years of age or older, and have had stable vision for at least one year before surgery. You must have healthy eyes that are free of disease, scars, retinal problems and corneal malformations. It’s also important to have realistic expectations and objectives for surgery, but this will be discussed with you at your initial assessment.

Eye Institute now offers the most advanced form of blade-free IntraLase iLASIK, so even those who were not previously eligible for LASIK surgery, may now be suitable candidates.

5. How long has laser eye surgery been around for?

The first keratomileusis (refractive surgery) procedure ever to be performed on a person was in 1963.

The excimer laser (used to sculpt the cornea to correct vision) has been used since 1989, when it was originally used to sculpt the surface of the eye – a procedure called photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

In 1991, surgeons combined the excimer laser used in PRK, with the creation of a flap in the cornea, and used the excimer laser to sculpt the cornea at a deeper level. This new form of refractive surgery was called LASIK. Eye Institute surgeons have been performing LASIK since its introduction to New Zealand in 1997.

Since 2001, the IntraLase laser has been used as an alternative to the traditional blade or ‘microkeratome’ to create the corneal flap. IntraLase has now been used in over one million LASIK procedures, with much better results than traditional blade LASIK, and no reports of serious sight threatening complications.

6. How many laser vision corrections have the Eye Institute surgeons done?

Over 60,000 corrections since our surgeons introduced laser eye surgery to New Zealand in 1992.

7. Will I definitely be able to say goodbye to glasses and contact lenses?

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, there is a 99% chance that you’ll have no need to wear glasses for long distance vision. iLASIK removes minute layers from the cornea (the surface of the eye) to give you perfect or near-perfect vision.

If you need reading glasses for close up work, ask us about blended vision, which can help eliminate the need for reading glasses altogether.

8. What are the advantages of iLASIK over glasses?

Especially in cases of severe nearsightedness or astigmatism, glasses may give a distorted view of one’s surroundings, and the rims may limit peripheral vision. Some people have difficulty finding comfortable frames. Other people simply do not like their appearance in glasses.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you should be able to say goodbye to glasses for short sightedness forever*.

9. What are the advantages of iLASIK over contact lenses?

Overall, the risk of developing a vision threatening corneal infection is higher with contact lens use than it is with laser eye surgery. Also, contact lenses may lead to distortion in corneal shape which may be difficult to treat. There may be a higher risk or conjunctivitis (pink eye) in contact lens wearers than in non-wearers.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you should be able to say goodbye to contact lenses forever*.

10. I suffer from Contact Lens Intolerance. Can iLASIK help?

Many people develop ocular irritation related to contact lens materials, solutions and protein build up on the lens surface. Some people may be unable to wear the lens for the entire day due to dryness or increasing discomfort as the day goes on.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you should be able to say goodbye to contact lenses forever*.

11. How can iLASIK increase my safety?

Having to hunt for glasses or insert contact lenses during an emergency situation may be impossible and impractical. In those situations, you need to be able to rely on your own natural vision. The use of extended wear contact lenses may offer a solution to this problem, but these lenses also have a much higher rate of complication and infection. Travel and especially overseas travel can leave you in a foreign country with lost or broken glasses or contacts.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you’ll always know that you have the vision you need all the time, everywhere.

12. How can iLASIK help me at work?

There are many occupations where wearing glasses or contacts may be impractical. Where physical work is required, using glasses can be difficult, especially under safety goggles. Contact lens use may be impractical due to airborne debris creating ocular irritation. The police, armed forces, aviation and marine industries, along with many others, may have restrictions on the wearing of glasses or contacts for safety reasons.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you can pursue your chosen career in the same way as anyone without the need to wear glasses or contacts.

13. How can iLASIK help me at play?

Anyone who participates in sport, and particularly water sports, knows the difficulties of wearing glasses or contact lenses. Once your eyes have recovered fully after LASIK surgery (a matter of a few days) you can participate in any sport or recreation in the same way as anyone without the need to wear glasses or contacts.

14. How can iLASIK enhance my appearance?

Many people prefer their appearance without glasses, and in some cases this may have a major impact upon their life. Other people have problems with contact lenses making their eyes red or irritated, and find that they frequently have to manipulate their eyes or eyelids when they wear contact lenses.

After LASIK at Eye Institute with the iLASIK procedure, you can say goodbye to unsightly glasses, and the irritation of contact lenses, forever*.

15. Can you guarantee me 20/20 vision?

No-one can guarantee you 20/20 vision. The results of your laser eye surgery depend on too many different factors, such as the severity of your long or short sightedness, and the unique characteristics of your eyes, for us to be able to give you a cast iron guarantee of the outcome.

Some LASIK clinics claim to guarantee 20/20 vision, but there are usually a great deal of conditions attached, such as the need for patients to have only a mild strength glasses prescription to qualify.

What we can tell you is that iLASIK at Eye Institute is the most advanced vision correction technology available in the world, and the vast majority of patients treated experience 20/20 vision or better as a result of the iLASIK procedure. iLASIK also makes it possible for patients with a much broader range of vision imperfections to achieve perfect or near-perfect vision than ever before.

16. Can I afford iLASIK?

Yes, you can. Even if the cost of LASIK is too much to afford in one go, Eye Institute can help you spread the cost of LASIK with our convenient payment plans, meaning clearer vision can now be a reality for anyone.

Check our payment plan calculator to see just how low your monthly payments could be. And remember, when you consider how much you’re likely to spend on glasses or contacts over your lifetime, the cost of laser eye surgery could be less than you think.

Questions about laser eye surgery risks and the iLASIK procedure

17. What are the risks of laser eye surgery?

With all surgical procedures, there is a possibility of complications. However, complications that could threaten your vision are extremely rare, and LASIK is one of the safest medical procedures in the world.

The most serious risk associated with laser eye surgery is that of infection. Eye Institute has performed over 60,000 procedures, of which there have been only two documented infections, both of which were resolved with antibiotic drops with a good outcome. To help avoid infection, we do ask that you avoid swimming and exposure to potentially contaminated water such as hot tubs for two weeks after LASIK surgery.

Most complications are minor and do not threaten vision. These include under-correction, over-correction, and visual aberrations (glare, halos, starbursts, shadow images, double vision, etc.). The incidence of these problems is about 0.5%.

The 100% blade-free IntraLase iLASIK is the safest method of laser eye surgery currently available. The corneal flap creation is 100% greater in accuracy than the traditional blade or microkeratome LASIK.

18. What will happen on the day of my LASIK surgery?

On the day of your LASIK surgery, there will be a thorough check of all the plans for surgery. You will sign the Informed Consent documents (which you will have read well in advance). There will also be an opportunity for you to ask any final questions if you have any.

Your iLASIK surgery procedure:

1. You will be taken into the operating room, where you will lie on a comfortable bed. The area around your eyes will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a plastic drape will be placed around your eyes to keep the operative field sterile. Anaesthetic and antibiotic drops will be used before and after the surgery. Your eyes will be completely numbed, so you should not experience any significant discomfort at any stage of the procedure.

2. When the surgeon comes into the operating room, he and the technicians will carefully check the equipment and laser settings. To allay any fears of blinking, a device will be placed between your eyelids to gently hold them open during the procedure.

3. You will be asked to look at a red flashing light in the laser directly above your head. Your vision will briefly fade away. When it returns you will be asked to look into the red flashing light in the laser. The light will be fuzzy, but it will still be easy for you to see.

4. You will hear the laser operating, and delivery of the laser pulses will be complete in about 40 seconds. The procedure will then be repeated for your other eye, if you are having both eyes operated on.

The actual surgery takes about 30 seconds per eye. However, you will be in the operating room for about 15 minutes in total to allow for the preoperative preparation and postoperative removal of the drapes.

19. What if I’m too nervous to go through with LASIK surgery?

Many patients are concerned that they will be too nervous to cooperate during the procedure. Our technicians will help you remain comfortable during surgery by making sure that you understand what is happening at all times. We have found that even our most apprehensive patients can remain calm and cooperative throughout the procedure.

In the end, most patients comment that the procedure was much easier than they had ever imagined.

20. What if I blink or look away during LASIK surgery?

Many patients are concerned about what may happen if they blink, move or look away from the laser during surgery. To avoid blinking, a device will be placed between your eyelids to gently hold them open during the procedure.

Eye Institute’s laser also has the most advanced eye tracking system in the country. The laser literally locks onto your eye, following even the finest movements, so there is no danger at all of you affecting the treatment by moving your eyes.

21. Will there be any pain during my laser eye surgery?

The iLASIK procedure is virtually painless. Topical anaesthesia (drops that are placed in the eye) is used during the procedure, and you should not experience any significant discomfort at any stage of the procedure.

For the first 24 hours after the procedure, there may be dryness or a sensation that there is a grain of sand in your eye. After 24 hours, there should be no discomfort at all.

22. Will I be sedated for surgery? What kind of anaesthesia is used?

A topical anaesthetic (drops that are placed in the eye) is used for refractive surgery. These completely anaesthetise the surface of the eye so that no significant discomfort will be felt during the procedure. You will be offered a mild sedative tablet before the procedure, if you wish. Even with this, you will still be completely alert and able to cooperate during the operation.

23. How long does the whole process take? Are there any follow-up visits?

Your initial iLASIK assessment will take around one hour. During your initial assessment you will receive a complete eye examination, along with a number of special tests that are not routinely performed for glasses or contact lens fitting. These completely painless, non-invasive tests allow us to determine whether you are an appropriate candidate for iLASIK, or another refractive procedure. During this examination, your eyes may be dilated.

For surgery, you will be in the operation room for about 15 minutes. You will need to allow a total of about an hour on the day of your surgery, to allow for surgical preparation and postoperative instructions.

Follow-up examinations are routinely performed 1 day, 1 week, 1 month and 3 months after your surgery.

Questions about LASIK recovery, after LASIK and future concerns

24. How long will my LASIK recovery take? When will I be able to see clearly?

In most cases, iLASIK offers patients a rapid recovery of vision with little or no discomfort. However, the visual results are not instantaneous, particularly for patients with more than 5 diopters of myopia.

In most cases, LASIK recovery takes only a few days, but it may take up to three weeks, sometimes longer, for the shape of the cornea to stabilize following surgery for those with severe myopia. During this time, you may need to wear temporary glasses or contacts.

25. Is the iLASIK procedure long term or reversible?

Some refractive surgical procedures are more easily reversed than others. iLASIK permanently changes the curvature of the cornea, and the result can only be modified by additional refractive surgical procedures.

26. If I have iLASIK, would I be more prone to cataracts?

There is no information to suggest that iLASIK causes cataracts.


*The modern techniques, equipment and training available at Eye Institute indicate a 99% chance that eye imperfections normally corrected by the wearing of glasses and contacts will be corrected with iLASIK to provide normal or nearly normal vision. In a few cases there may be a need to revisit for additional treatments. Your refractive error, occupation, leisure activities, age and personal expectations all help to determine whether you are a good candidate for vision correction surgery. You must have realistic expectations and understand that vision correction procedures are not always perfect. For most patients, refractive surgery offers about a 99% or greater chance of gaining normal or near-normal vision. However, it is impossible to guarantee 20/20 vision with every vision correction procedure, and it may be necessary to wear a thin pair of glasses at certain times, such as when driving at night.

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Laser Assessment Terms and Conditions:

Patients are eligible for the initial free laser assessment on condition that they have no history of previous eye surgery (including previous laser surgery).

The initial free laser assessment is only available to patients whom are seeking laser vision correction and is not applicable to any other treatment type.

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