19 Sep Laser Eye Surgery: Can I ditch my glasses?
Laser eye surgery or LASIK, it’s a modern-day procedure whose effect on sight is a mystery to most people. For many people who have worn prescription lenses or contacts most of their life, it can seem to be a miracle procedure. It’s like you walk into the surgery needing glasses and can throw them into the bin as you walk out.
However, that’s not always the case: some people who undergo LASIK still have to don prescription glasses after the procedure. To understand why this is the case, we must first understand how LASIK works.
Essentially, the surgery uses a laser to regulate the size and shape of your cornea. The approach might be straightforward, but numerous factors can affect the results. Whether you need a post-op prescription depends on these factors, such as:
- Your current prescription
- Your degree of optical degradation
- The condition being treated
- Your age
- The surgeon’s skill.
Often the predominant factor in whether you’ll still need glasses after LASIK is how bad your eyes are before it. If you only have a minor refractive error, it’s fair to go into laser eye surgery with the hope of throwing away your glasses or contacts.
Conversely, if you are one of the unlucky ones who have major optical complications, then LASIK may only improve your condition rather than resolve it. Better vision is granted, but you may still need visual aids to enjoy sharp eyesight.
This is especially true if you have continuously degrading vision. Generally, if you change your prescription every 12 months or so, you are not a great candidate for LASIK and are unlikely to get a perfect result.
Your age also plays a role in both the outcome of the surgery and the long-term prognosis. Even the healthiest people undergo vision deterioration as the years mount up – it is an unavoidable fact of ageing. These issues usually have their first signs at around 20 years of age and compound over time.
By age 35, every single person is on their way to vision deterioration due to a condition called presbyopia. So, if you had laser eye surgery early in life, it’s possible you will need to do it again or use glasses or contacts as your eyesight degrades as you enter middle age.
The right laser eye surgery for you
Before any procedure, you and your surgeon must weigh up the various options. All in all, laser eye surgery offers great results for almost all people who get it, but it is still not something to be undertaken lightly. Some tips:
- Discuss laser eye surgery with your GP and ophthalmologist
- Understand the risks
- Accept that you might need future surgery
- Set your expectations.
Choosing an eye surgeon
The biggest factor that’s actually within your control is choosing the right eye surgeon. The right surgeon will have performed many successful procedures over the years and will be knowledgeable in all types of eye surgery.
A less experienced surgeon or one who only knows one type of procedure may not be a good choice. The next most important thing is to do your own research after your diagnosis. Ensure your eye surgeon conducts all the right tests in gauging whether you’re a good candidate for laser eye surgery.
At your consultation, ask as many questions as you can about your condition, the types of surgery available and what procedures you are a candidate for. Do your own research on the risks too. This research will also help you be more realistic in your expectations.
Laser eye surgery truly is an amazing and effective technology, but perfect vision just isn’t always possible.
To answer the question in the title: yes, you can often ditch your glasses entirely, but there’s also a chance you won’t be able to totally dispense with them. Still, if you’re a good match for laser eye surgery, you can expect to rely on your specs much less.
This article is not a substitute for a consultation with your surgeon. Before choosing to proceed with laser eye surgery your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about the right procedure and about the potential complications.
A unique mix of expertise, experience and international reputation, Dr Ron Binetter is the figure behind the Binetter Eye Centre. With more than two decades of hands-on experience in eye surgery, Dr Binetter is a specialist in cataract, lens implantation and laser eye surgery. Learn more about Dr Ron Binetter’s background and qualifications.