Should I have laser eye surgery?
To give you a better understanding of laser eye surgery, consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Mr Mark Wevill, and Medstars’ Will Chadbon provide you with the most notable benefits of the procedure.
There are few things in life that we treasure more than our eyesight. Unfortunately, this is not always in our control. We’re not all born with perfect vision and many of us develop problems with eyesight as we age. As a result of this, science is constantly striving to find new ways of coping with eye-related issues.
Laser eye surgery was first pioneered around 20-25 years ago and has seen exponential development since its birth. 50 years ago, you’d have probably thought using a laser to perfect someone’s eyesight would only exist in a world where everyone dresses like a spaceman and owns a flying car– but the reality is that its available now and actually works.
First and foremost, laser eye surgery will improve your vision. According to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, 95% of patients are satisfied with the outcome of surgery, with many referring to it as ‘life changing’. It works by reshaping the cornea of your eye using a laser which sharpens your focus and, ultimately, improves your eyesight. The procedure has many variations and can treat a range of problems. Mr Mark Wevill says, “It’s great for anyone with short sightedness (myopia) and astigmatism. But can also treat far sightedness (hyperopia) and reading vision difficulties (presbyopia). It’s best between the ages of 21 and 50, but can be done on younger and older patients very successfully.”
Impact on career
Although Claude Monet’s blurry vision inspired the foggy, impressionistic personal world that he was famous for painting, most of us aren’t likely to find such revolutionary benefits from not being able to see very well. Laser eye surgery can be hugely beneficial for people whose jobs involve intricate detail or large amounts of reading and writing. It can also save the career of a professional athlete competing in sports that require great precision, such as tennis or golf. This can be applied to sport in a recreational sense too. The surgery can open avenues for outdoor actives that may have been difficult or even impossible to be involved in before.
Farewell to infection, irritation and inconvenience
If you have problems with your eyesight there’s a good chance you wear glasses, contact lenses or alternate between the two. Putting your contact lenses in every morning and taking them out every night can be a rather laborious task. As well as simply remembering to do it every day, you’ve also got to be in the right setting. Getting your contacts in without a mirror is always tricky and not being able to wash your hands first can lead to infection. You’re also prone to irritation caused by dust and other allergens sticking to your lenses. Once you’ve had laser eye surgery you may never have to wear glasses or contact lenses again.
Quick and painless operation
Your appointment for laser eye surgery will take roughly an hour and a half. The procedure itself takes only 9-10 minutes to complete both of your eyes. You won’t have to stick around afterwards and will be home and comfortable the very same day. As well as being particularly quick, the surgery is also painless. Your eyes will be numbed before with anaesthetic drops, meaning you’ll feel no pain. You may notice a slight pressure during the 20 seconds that the laser is active but shouldn’t be uncomfortable.
When asked about common misconceptions associated with laser eye surgery, Mr Mark Wevill said some patients think “the laser is dangerous, like the one that almost cuts James Bond in half. In reality it’s precise, generates no heat and is gentle.” Mr Wevill also reassures patients that eyes don’t change in appearance after surgery and will “look exactly the same.”
If you’re fearing that in the extreme, you’ll go blind from the surgery, Mr Wevill told us he has never had a patient lose their sight, even after 20 years of laser eye surgery.
After surgery you’ll be given eye drops to help with any irritation or dryness. Many people experience dry or gritty eyes during the first four hours after surgery. Applying the drops every 30 – 60 minutes should alleviate any pain and after just four hours you can expect a full recovery and a significant improvement in your vision.
Changes for life?
Most people enjoy long-term corrected vision from laser eye surgery. Following surgery, you won’t have to worry about prescriptions for lenses and will only require the usual annual check-up with an optician. If you’ve had a strong prescription for a long period of time, being able to go out without having to wear your glasses or lenses can be hugely convenient and have an influence on your self-esteem. However, the age at which the surgery is carried out is important – for those nearing or in middle age, correcting short-sightedness using laser surgery won’t prevent the age-related changes that result in most of us requiring reading glasses for long-sightedness as we get older.
After surgery, you’ll also be able to wear standard sunglasses, rather than a limited range of prescription shades. This provides you with more options and can save you money.
Having said this, laser eye surgery can be expensive. Mr Mark Wevill says that “prices vary depending on lasers used, whether aftercare is included etc. £1300 to £2500 per eye. Some offers look cheaper but there are usually hidden costs which end up costing the same as other more reputable providers.”
In our view, finding a reputable surgeon is the very best place to start given the rare but potential cost of complications when it comes to something as precious as our vision. In expert hands, the benefits of successful laser eye surgery are many and can be life-changing.
You can book a consultation with consultant ophthalmic surgeon, Mr Mark Wevill, who has expertise & interest in laser eye surgery, cataract surgery, refractive surgery, lens replacement & raindrop corneal inlay, here.