Guide to laser eye surgery

Most people are happy with the results of their laser eye surgery.
 
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  • Updated:3 Apr 2007
 

01.Choosing a clinic

Woman with blue eyes

In brief

  • There’s no guarantee you’ll end up glasses-free, but many people experience an extremely reduced dependence on them.
  • It’ll cost you around $2500 per eye, and neither Medicare nor most health funds will pay for it.


Please note: this information was current as of April 2007 but is still a useful guide today.


Most people happy with the results

Since it was first performed in Australia in the early 1990s, laser eye surgery to correct vision has become very popular, with many thousands each year choosing it to correct their long- or short-sightedness or astigmatism. Forty CHOICE readers told us about their experiences with laser eye surgery. The vast majority were very happy with the results and would recommend or repeat it:

  • "It’s amazing to look at a distant mountain range and actually see trees." Michelle, NSW.
  • "I feel younger and it’s so much easier running, exercising, swimming and generally enjoying life." Dee, Victoria.

No regulation

It's fortunate so many people are satisfied with the results of laser eye surgery, because essentially it's an unregulated industry. A surgeon needs no formal postgraduate training in laser eye surgery before setting up to do it, and you don't have to have a referral from any medical practitioner.

So how do you make sure you get an experienced surgeon and a good clinic?

  • Your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist may be able to recommend a surgeon.
  • Check out more than one clinic, both to get a second opinion and compare the services offered. Be wary of clinics that guarantee you perfect vision — it’s not something that can be guaranteed.

Checklist for choosing a laser eye surgery clinic

Things to look out for when selecting a surgeon and clinic:

  • Holding an academic appointment indicates the surgeon is actively involved in research or teaching and exposed to peer review.
  • What’s the surgeon’s experience with correcting the type and degree of your refractive error? This is particularly important since they need no extra postgraduate training to do laser eye surgery.
  • What’s the degree of the surgeon’s involvement pre- and post-operatively? They shouldn’t see you just for the operation and leave the assessments and check-ups to assistants.
  • Ask for data on their surgery outcomes. How do they track them? How do the results compare with national benchmarks?
  • The clinic should inform you comprehensively about what’s going to happen on the day of the surgery and afterwards. Ask questions and read all the material you’re given.
  • If you wear contact lenses, ask for how long you shouldn’t wear them before the assessment.
  • Does the price include check-ups and, if necessary, enhancement procedures? (These are further operations that may be necessary if the first procedure leaves the eye over- or under-corrected.)
  • Accreditation to a quality standard such as ISO 9000 is an indicator that the clinic has written quality procedures in place.
  • Don't go by cost alone; the decision you make will affect you for the rest of your life. Or, as David from Victoria put it: "It was pricy but I was happy to pay it for a very experienced surgeon. My eyes are too important to penny-pinch."
 
 

 

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