What to expect on the day of surgery
Upon arrival to the laser centre an orthoptist will prepare you for surgery and explain in detail what will happen during the procedure. Any further measurements of your eyes will be taken if required.
A mild oral sedative is offered pre-operatively and local anaesthesia in the form of eye drops are used to numb the eye.
The procedure is relatively quick. The laser treatment itself is less than a minute, while the entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes for both eyes. Expect to be at the laser centre for approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours from your arrival time. This time is used to prepare you for surgery and to explain the post-operative period.
You will be given eye drops on the day of surgery with a regime of post-operative instructions, which must be followed for the first few weeks after surgery. You will not be able to drive yourself home after surgery or catch public transport, so you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home. It is advised you bring a pair of sunglasses with you to wear on the way home, as you may be sensitive to sunlight and glare after the procedure.
After the procedure, it is recommended you go home and get plenty of rest. This will assist in your recovery and any discomfort you may experience, your eyes might be watery, gritty and irritated for the first 6-12 hours after the surgery.
Recovery after surgery
After all laser surgery, throughout the healing process, your vision may be hazy for the first few days and could fluctuate for the first week after surgery.
SMILE: the visual acuity is very good one or two days after surgery and stabilises within one week. Patients can usually return to work, take a shower or apply makeup sooner after surgery than other procedures. Driving and sports activities are possible within a few days.
LASIK: most patients will see an improvement in their vision immediately after the procedure, improving each day over the next week. Some grittiness may be experienced for the first few hours and in most cases, this disappears overnight. After LASIK, most patients can return to work and drive the next day, this does depend on your occupation.
Trans PRK: your vision may be hazy for the first few days and may fluctuate for the first week after surgery. It will then start to improve and stabilise. Rarely, some patients can take up to three months for the vision to stabilise. Sometimes pain and discomfort require oral analgesia.
With the current techniques, the results of the surgery can last a lifetime. Once your eye has stabilised, usually three months post-operatively, the reshaped cornea is permanently modified.
The natural aging process of the eye that causes near vision to become blurred, occurs regardless of refractive surgery. This condition is called presbyopia, and you will need reading glasses.
Returning to Work & Driving
You may return to work when you feel comfortable. Most patients after surface treatment (Trans PRK) require a longer period off work, with the majority returning the following week. Driving is usually resumed one week after surgery.
You should not drive until your vision has been measured and documented. You will be informed at your first post-operative appointment when you can drive safely.
You will be required to attend regular postoperative visits after the procedure, usually for at least the first three months. The post-operative checks are covered by your surgical fee.