Frequently Asked Questions
We know that it’s a big decision to have laser eye surgery and it’s important that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice. That’s why here at the Wellington Eye Centre we’ve collected together all your most frequently asked questions. Please get in touch if your questions haven’t been answered.
Can you guarantee me perfect vision?
We cannot guarantee perfect results because each eye responds slightly differently, although our extensive experience from previously treated patients allows us to estimate the probability of you achieving perfect vision.
With low amounts of short-sightedness and astigmatism, 95% of patients will achieve perfect or near-perfect vision. With moderate amounts of short-sightedness, 85% of people will achieve perfect or near-perfect vision.
People with higher amounts of short-sightedness and astigmatism also have a very good chance of achieving good vision, but glasses or contact lenses may still be needed at times. Further surgery may also be necessary to achieve a full correction.
Who is suitable?
Most people who wear glasses or contacts are suitable - less than 10% of people who have an assessment will be unsuitable.
If you have any of the below, or are pregnant, you won’t be able to have laser eye surgery:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus and other auto immune diseases
- A history of herpes simplex of the cornea
- Unstable or uncontrolled diabetes
Am I too young, or too old?
Your eyes continue to develop up until the age of 20, therefore we don’t use laser technology to correct vision before a person is in their 20s.
If you’re between the ages of 65 and 85, this is the time many people develop some cataract, so we recommend that you wait to have your vision corrected until the time of cataract surgery. The lens placed in your eye at the time of cataract surgery can correct either short-sight or long-sight. Laser eye surgery can then be used to correct focusing errors that occasionally remain after cataract surgery.
Is my prescription treatable?
Most prescriptions are treatable with current laser technology, providing that you have sufficient corneal thickness and a healthy eye.
Can both eyes be done on the same day?
We normally operate on both eyes on the same day. However, some patients choose to have the eyes done separately because of concerns about visual functioning, or they wish to see how the first eye responds before having the second done.
How much time will I need to take off work?
With LASIK and SMILE, you should be able to return to work within 48 hours of surgery. With LASEK your eyes can be uncomfortable for approximately 72 hours after surgery and your vision can be blurry for five to seven days. Therefore we recommend you plan to take a week off work. If your work is mainly computer based, you may need a few extra days off.
When can I drive after laser eye surgery?
Most patients having SMILE or LASIK can see well enough to drive after 24 hours. However, you should plan to have someone else drive you to and from your day one postoperative appointment, or take public transport. At this appointment your surgeon will check your vision and advise you if you can safely drive. If this is the case he will give you a form to take to the NZ Transport Agency, together with your driver’s licence to have any endorsements on your licence relating to driving with glasses or contact lenses removed.
With LASEK, vision may be blurry or cloudy approximately 6 to 10 days after surgery, therefore we recommend people should not drive until their vision has settled down and they feel comfortable with the vision in their operated eye(s).
Why do I need to leave contact lenses out before surgery?
Contact lenses can cause temporary changes in the shape of the cornea, so they need to be removed before your assessment and surgery.
Soft lenses should be left out for 48 hours prior to the initial assessment and five days prior to surgery.
Hard lenses must be left out for several months prior to your initial assessment because they distort the cornea and it is essential to get measurements as accurate as possible. You will need to be assessed by your optometrist or regular eye care provider monthly for three months to make sure your vision has stabilised. Even after this there may still be some delay in surgery if your refractive measurement is still changing. Once the measurements and initial consultation have taken place, you may wear soft disposable lenses up to 5 days prior to surgery.
Does laser eye surgery hurt?
Topical anaesthetic drops are placed into your eye prior to treatment to numb the surface of the eye so no pain is experienced during the procedure, although you may feel slight pressure on your eye. There is the possibility of discomfort or pain after the procedure for approximately 72 hours.
You’ll be given a variety of medications to use after surgery, as well as full instructions about their use prior to the operation.
Will I need glasses or contact lenses again after surgery?
Most patients do not need to use glasses or contact lenses post-operatively. If a patient was able to wear contact lenses comfortably prior to surgery, they will usually be able to wear them again after surgery. Because of the change in corneal shape following surgery there may be some who are unable to wear contact lenses and who, if they need corrective lenses, will therefore need to wear glasses.
When can I swim and play sports after laser eye surgery?
You should avoid swimming for three weeks after surgery, to avoid any risk of infection. Exercise can be resumed a week after surgery. If you’re involved in contact sports, discuss when these can be resumed with your eye surgeon. If you ski, snowboard or spend time at the beach or on the water, it’s essential to avoid excessive UV light by wearing effective sunglasses after having laser surgery.
Can I wear make-up before and after surgery?
To avoid foreign particles entering the eye that could cause infection, you cannot wear make-up for five days prior to and for three weeks after surgery.
Is laser eye surgery permanent?
The change in cornea shape following surgery is permanent. However laser surgery does not prevent age-related change in vision. Some people may experience an increase in their short-sight as time goes on due to the natural progression of short-sightedness.