LASIK and ASLA FAQs - Laser Eye Surgery, Laser Vision Correction FAQs

You have questions, we have the answers! The following section provides the most frequently asked questions from our patients and their respective answers.

How long has LASIK been performed?

LASIK vision correction has been performed around the world for more than 20 years, with more than 10 million cases carried out safely. It was first introduced into Australia in 1991. The major components of the procedure have a long history and safety record.

Ophthalmologists have been reshaping the cornea for over 50 years, creating a hinged flap in the cornea for over 40 years, and using the Excimer laser since the 1980s. The Intralase laser has been used in Australia with great success since 2004.

I am happy with my glasses or contact lenses. Should I have LASIK?

 If you are completely comfortable wearing glasses or contact lenses, are not bothered by being dependent on them, and find that they do not impact on your lifestyle, you have no need for the procedure.

Am I suitable for LASIK?

You need to be at least 20 years old, with good general and eye health. You need to be able to see clearly with your current glasses or contact lenses, and the prescription should not have changed over the last 12 months. You should not be pregnant or breast feeding.

An in-depth assessment at Specialist Eye Centre with our state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment will determine if your eyes are suitable for LASIK or alternative treatments.

At Specialist Eye Centre, we will only perform Lasik on you if we believe that we can obtain an excellent result. Approximately 30% of the patients that come to us for Lasik are advised not to have the procedure, because we believe they are less than ideal candidates. 

Am I obligated to have surgery if I have an assessment visit?

Of course not! If you do not want to proceed then there is no obligation to book in for the surgery. You should not rush your decision.

At our clinic, many patients are brought back for a further visit during the decision making process. If the surgery doesn't feel right for you then it is not right for us.

Do I have to discontinue contact lens wear before assessment or treatment?

If the calculations for surgery are created with a cornea that is distorted by long-term contact lens use, the surgical (and permanent) correction will be equally distorted. If you wear contact lenses, it is a good idea to stop wearing them before your baseline evaluation and switch to wearing your glasses full-time.

For soft contact lenses, you should stop wearing them for at least 3 days prior to your assessment and laser treatment. Toric soft lenses should be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to assessment and treatment. For Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP)/ Hard lenses, the period is 3 weeks. If there are any signs of contact lens related distortion, you will be asked to return after an extended period without contact lenses, to ensure we are measuring your cornea in a completely natural state.

Where does the procedure take place?

The procedure is performed at a Sydney-based fully accredited Laser Suite so that you have access to the latest technology available at the time of your surgery - currently the Blade-free Lasik technique with Intralase. You will be at the centre for a few hours only. No fees are payable at the Laser Suite - all facility fees are covered by your surgical fee.

Can I have both eyes done with LASIK eye surgery at the same time?

In the vast majority of cases, LASIK eye surgery on both eyes at the same time has been shown to be safe and effective. In fact, more than 95% of people choose to have both eyes done at the same time. If the surgery of your first eye is not perfect, Dr Fernando will likely hold off on proceeding with the second eye until he is happy with your first eye.

What does the procedure involve?

In the first step of the LASIK procedure, the Intralase laser creates a hinged flap in the front of your cornea (0.11mm thick). You will feel some pressure, but no pain. In the second step of the LASIK procedure, the Excimer laser microscopically reshapes your cornea painlessly, before the hinged flap is replaced. Remarkably, and rapidly, the flap adheres in minutes, without sutures.

How long will the LASIK procedure take?

The whole procedure takes about 15 minutes for two eyes, including creating the flap and performing the laser procedure. The actual laser is used for less than one minute. You will be at the treatment centre for a few hours, and will have your eyes checked by Dr Fernando before you leave.

Does LASIK hurt?

Patients are given a topical anaesthetic (eye drops) to numb the eye, so they experience no pain during the procedure. You lie down for the procedure, relax and stare at a little light which keeps your eye still. The doctor keeps your eye open with a small retainer which feels like you are opening your eyes very wide with your fingertips.

When the surgeon applies the vacuum ring, the patient experiences a sensation of slight pressure just before his or her vision fades away for a few seconds. Neither the Intralase laser nor the Excimer laser cause any pain or discomfort.

For several hours after the procedure, many patients describe a mild "foreign body" sensation, such as after opening the eyes whilst swimming in chlorinated water. After the first few hours, this uncomfortable feeling usually subsides. Mild analgesia such as Panadol can be used if necessary.

I am still anxious...

Anxiety is to be expected, and your surgeon, Dr Fernando, will calmly guide you through the process. You will be offered a mild sedative (Valium) prior to the procedure.

How long will it take before I can see well and how long will it be before I experience my best vision?

Fast visual recovery characterises this operation. Ninety percent of your visual recovery occurs in the first 24-48 hours. Most patients achieve reasonably good vision on the day of surgery and find that their eyes feel fairly normal within a day. However, vision can continue to improve and best vision can still take two to three months to occur, particularly with higher prescriptions. If necessary, adjustments to the surgery, called enhancements, can be done. Hyperopic patients who undergo LASIK vision correction often need to wait longer to see clearly.

What kind of results can I expect from having a LASIK procedure?

The vast majority of patients no longer need glasses or contact lenses for distance vision after laser vision correction treatment.  

Ninety-nine percent of patients will have vision good enough to pass the RTA drivers' licence vision test without glasses. Over 95% of patients with low to moderate refractive errors achieve 20/20 vision or better after the initial laser procedure. This number increases to over 99% when an enhancement procedure is included, if needed.

The major visual aim is for independence from wearing spectacles on a day to day basis. This has special relevance to patients who are totally dependent on their glasses just to get around. Therefore it is largely a very successful operation.

After the treatment, a small refractive error may remain. Most people in the community who do not wear glasses also have a small refractive error. Their vision for their daily activities is more than enough for their needs, so they elect not to put up with the cost and inconvenience of optical aids to extract that last little bit of acuity. The same goes for post LASIK patients, except they also may have the option of an enhancement, which they may or may not feel the need for.

Some patients still find that a "fine tuning" pair of weak spectacles is necessary for occasional demanding tasks such as night driving, but 98% of patients are sufficiently improved that  without spectacles they are living their everyday life such as walking, working, swimming and going out with friends.

There can be no guarantees that you will have perfect vision, because each person's eye responds in a slightly different way. You should be wary of anyone that suggests such a guarantee is possible.  This is particularly true if you have a higher refractive error. Patients with high myopia (more than -8D), moderate hyperopia (more than +4D), or high astigmatism (more than 3.5D) should have realistic expectations. Patients requiring higher amounts of correction will have less accurate results. The general rule is: more accurate results will be obtained in people who require less treatment.

If you will only be satisfied with perfect 20/20 vision without glasses, then Laser corrective surgery is not for you. It is important that anyone considering LASIK have realistic expectations. Expect to eliminate or decrease your dependence on glasses or contact lenses.  People who are most satisfied with the results of laser correction clearly understand the potential risks and complications and possess realistic expectations as to what their vision will be like after surgery.

Are the results achieved from LASIK permanent?

The effects of the LASIK procedure are permanent. However, it is important to realise that a person's eye can still change internally. That is why many vision correction surgeons recommend having the procedure done after the major eye changes have occurred in one's life. If the procedure is performed after the age of 20, the chance of long-term stable correction is more likely. Even the eyes of patients over the age of 20 can still change.  It is best to wait until your prescription has stabilised, and remains unchanged for at least one year.

What are "Enhancements"?

Not all patients get a perfect result from laser vision correction. This may be due to under-correction, over-correction, or one of the complications described in detail in the LASIK & ASLA - Potential Risks and Complications facts sheet. The most common problem is a slightly abnormal healing response, resulting in under-correction or over-correction.

Patients who experience under-correction or over-correction can usually undergo a second procedure to obtain a better correction. In most cases, a significant improvement in vision will occur, but it is important to realise that this, too, is a laser procedure, and therefore has the same risks that the first laser procedure had. It is possible but extremely rare that your vision can be worse after a "touch-up" procedure. Complications can occur, even if no complications occurred during your first procedure.

If your vision is quite good after your laser treatment, but not perfect, you should consider carefully whether you want to have a "touch-up" procedure. If your vision is really not satisfactory for your needs, then an enhancement is a good idea. Enhancement procedures are quicker and easier to perform than the initial treatment. The enhancement rate is around 5%.  The majority of patients who choose to have an enhancement still have quite good vision - just not as good as we can make it.

If an enhancement is required, a patient must wait at least 3-6 months after the initial laser eye surgery. Only 1 eye is done at a time (4-8 weeks between each eye.)

Enhancement treatments may also be a viable solution to vision changes later in life. However, it is important to be aware that other treatment options also exist. In due course, you should consult with Dr Fernando to determine the cause of the change and to determine which option is best for you.

Will I need to wear glasses once my eyes have healed?

Most patients who have the LASIK procedure do not wear glasses for their daily activities. It is possible that some patients need a minimal prescription for more visually challenging activities, such as night driving.

The normal eye loses its ability to focus on near objects in the 40s to 50s. This is caused by the normal ageing of the eye, also known as presbyopia. It remains important to note that this condition occurs with or without LASIK vision correction. However, if you are in your 40s, leaving one eye mildly short-sighted (ie. monovision) following LASIK can help delay or eliminate the need for reading glasses.

If you are over 40, Dr Fernando will discuss your options with you. We suggest that patients trial monovision with contact lenses prior to opting for monovision with LASIK vision correction. Be sure to ask if this trial option is available to you.

Click here to view our Presbyopia Section for a full discussion of the condition and how it may affect you currently, or later in life, depending on your age.

Will my eyes look different after LASIK vision correction?

No. Your eyes will look exactly the same. Occasionally some patients may have small red patches on the white of their eyes which fade over a couple of weeks.

Are there risks with LASIK?

Most studies show that the LASIK procedure poses minimal risk of complications. The overall complication rate is less than one percent. Even if complications do occur, most of the issues are resolved within three months and do not result in long-term interference with vision. More precisely, the sight-threatening complication rate cited in large studies is between 0.001% and 0.05%. LASIK surgery is a surgical procedure done on a delicate part of the eye and therefore, complications can occur. Treatment should not be undertaken if you cannot accept there is a rare possibility of a complication that could permanently reduce vision in an eye. For additional information, please see the LASIK & ASLA - Potential Risks and Complications facts sheet.

What is ASLA laser eye surgery?

ASLA (Advanced Surface Laser Ablation) eye surgery is similar to LASIK eye surgery in the sense that both procedures employ a computer-controlled excimer laser to reshape the cornea of the affected eye. However, during the LASIK procedure, the surgeon preserves the epithelium (the outermost protective layer of the eye) by creating a flap. During ASLA vision correction, the epithelium is removed by gently scraping the surface (ie. no flap is created).

Anaesthetic drops in the eye ensure that the patient experiences as little discomfort as possible. Soft contact lenses are worn for 3-4 days following the procedure to help with the discomfort. ASLA is usually reserved for those whose corneas are too thin or irregular to have LASIK. Although the visual results are the same as LASIK, ASLA laser eye surgery is characterised by a lengthier healing process and greater discomfort than LASIK eye surgery. Most patients function well for normal daily activities after a few days. It can take 2 weeks to achieve 20/20 vision.

Not everyone can have LASIK surgery, but can anyone have ASLA surgery?

Patients who have autoimmune disorders (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis), a history of aggressive scar formation after a skin incision (called Keloids) or those with certain degenerative eye disorders are not eligible for ASLA surgery. Minimum corneal thickness requirements still apply. Your suitablity for ASLA surgery will be determined at your pre-operative evaluation.

What follow-up care is required?

You will be seen a few hours after surgery, and then have post-operative checks at approximately 1-2 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 4-6 months and annually thereafter. These checks can be performed at Specialist Eye Centre, or with your referring eyecare practitioner (if you were referred by one, and that is more convenient for you). Consultations in the first year are covered by your surgery fee.

ASLA patients also need to be seen on the third or fourth day after surgery.

Do I need to use any drops or medication after surgery?

You will be given antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drops which you need to use in the week following surgery, as well as some lubricants to be used in the month after surgery, especially if you have a tendency towards dry eyes.

Are your prices competitive?

Yes. We are in the middle range, compared to providers in Sydney. We do not attempt to compete with discount laser clinics, as we make no compromises on your vision and outcome. We do not use anything other than the most up-to-date diagnostic and laser equipment which are very costly to buy, lease, and maintain. Be aware of conditions and restrictions imposed by low-cost competitors.

Do any rebates apply for laser eye surgery?

Medicare rebates do not apply unless you are having laser surgery for residual astigmatism following cataract surgery.

Some health funds rebate for laser eye surgery - check with yours.

You are likely to be eligible for a 20% medical expenses rebate. Please check with your accountant / tax agent.

Is finance available?

If you would prefer to pay off the surgery over time then we have arrangements with medical procedure finance companies to schedule payments. Note that your arrangements are with the finance company and not with us directly. For many patients it is the most affordable option. In some cases interest free periods may be available.


Can I drive immediately after having LASIK?

You may experience some discomfort and/or blurred vision for a few hours after laser eye surgery. In addition, most patients receive a sedative prior to vision correction surgery. Therefore, you cannot drive home after undergoing the LASIK procedure and you should plan not to drive for at least 24 hours. Most people have vision good enough to drive the day after surgery, but please do not drive until we advise you it is safe to do so.

How long will I be off work after having LASIK?

It depends on your occupation. Certain jobs that require intense clarity of vision (flying planes and surgery, for example) may be difficult to perform for one or two days. Most patients can return to work the next day, assuming their vision is adequate for their job. However, some people may feel fatigued for a day or so following surgery. Please read our Recommended Activity Schedule below.

Can I play sports after LASIK surgery?

You can resume most normal activities immediately after laser eye surgery. However, for at least one week you will need to avoid activities that could cause perspiration to run into your eyes. You should wear safety glasses while playing contact sports whether or not you have had surgery. If you do not routinely wear safety glasses, Dr Fernando may recommend wearing them for at least one month after LASIK surgery. You will also need to avoid certain activities, such as contact sports and swimming, for at least 2 weeks. It is important to consult Dr Fernando in regards to the limitations on specific activities following LASIK eye surgery. Please read our Recommended Activity Schedule below.

Recommended Activity Schedule

 Download Recommended Activity Schedule