Laser eye surgery is among the top searches for elective surgery. But what does it involve, who is it suitable for, and how long does it last?
If you’ve been thinking about a lens-free life, laser eye surgery could be a great option for you. And it’s not just used to treat poor vision either, here we look at all the ways this treatment can be of benefit, and have some common questions answered by Danielle Smith, Practice Manager at WA Laser Eye Centre.
In this article
What is laser eye surgery?
Laser eye surgery uses a beam of light to correct vision and to destroy diseased or unwanted eye tissue.1
Poor vision or other eye related issues are often caused by a misshapen cornea, which is a clear layer at the front of the eye. A misshapen cornea fails to focus and bend light effectively on the back of the eye.
This can cause blurred vision and conditions such as:
- Short-sightedness (myopia). This affects approximately 30 per cent of Australians.
- Long-sightedness (hyperopia). This mostly affects people over 40.2
- Astigmatism. Blurred vision at all distances.
- Age-related loss of near vision (presbyopia)2
Laser surgery reshapes the cornea and changes the focus of the eye. After surgery many people no longer need glasses or contact lenses.
Laser eye surgery is also used to treat a range of other conditions, including:1
Like all surgery, it has risks and possible complications.
How do I know if I qualify?
"To determine your suitability for any laser surgery, you’ll need to have an initial assessment with a surgeon," says Danielle, Practice Manager at WA Laser Eye Centre.
Danielle adds that at this consultation your eyesight will be checked along with the general health of your eyes. The surgeon will discuss the procedure and what results you can expect.
Laser eye surgery may not be suitable if you:1
- are under 18
- are older than 55 years
- have a physical condition that impairs healing
- have severely dry eyes
- have ongoing prescription changes
- have an autoimmune disease
- have diabetes, uncontrolled rheumatic conditions or keratoconus
- have a history of eye herpes
- use certain medicines
- carry out activities that have a risk of eye injury
- have other vision problems such as glaucoma or cataracts
Length of surgery and recovery time
According to Danielle, laser eye surgery itself takes approximately 10 minutes per eye but you will generally be in the room for about 90 minutes.
She notes that you should be able to see your surroundings immediately after the treatment and within six hours your vision will become quite clear. Your vision should then continue to improve day by day for a week or so after your laser eye surgery.
During recovery it’s important to be aware of the following:
- You will be aware of further subtle improvement for up to three months.
- Your vision may vary in the days after your laser eye surgery. It can initially be a little hazy and sometimes fluctuate, even as you blink.
- You may initially find computer work and reading more difficult and tiring than usual.
- It’s best to take a couple of days off work if you work on a computer, especially if you’re working in an air-conditioned environment.
- Avoid rubbing and touching your eyes during the first month after the surgery, as the corneal flap can be shifted or dislocated.
- When exercising, be careful about rubbing your eyes and avoid getting sweat in them for the first week after surgery.
- Do not swim or use a spa for two weeks as this could cause infection.
- It’s advisable to avoid surfing for two weeks.
- Do not dive or play contact sport for at least one month after the surgery.
How long does it last?
“The effect of laser surgery doesn’t wear off, but your eyes can continue to change with age,” says Danielle.
“If your eyes do change, it may mean that glasses, or laser enhancement may be necessary. It takes three months or more for your vision to completely stabilise after the procedure but most of the change happens in the first month.”
In the longer term, there will be changes in the lens inside your eye that may alter the focus if cataracts start to develop. That may then require cataract surgery.
Is it covered by Medicare?
Medicare does not cover laser eye surgery since it is considered an elective procedure.
How can HBF help?
With the right extras cover, you could be eligible to claim a small part of the costs on laser eye surgery.
There’s also a host of benefits for your eyes as part of our Member Perks program – from Member Plus providers including OPSM and Specsavers.
If you’re an HBF member, you can check what you're covered for by logging on to myHBF or calling us on 133 423.
Check out Member Perks
Extras explained – how much do I get back?
Certainty feels good, that’s why we’ve created a line-up of extras options that give you a guaranteed % back^ on your visits to popular services like Physio, Chiro, and Dental.
Explore HBF Extras
This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.
^Annual limits and waiting periods apply. Percentage back benefits are payable for services, programs and providers approved by HBF, when provider charges in accordance with the Member Plus schedule fee. Excludes Basic Extras and closed products.