Among the many questions and concerns raised by prospective patients of laser eye surgery, three tend to crop up more than most: ‘does laser eye surgery hurt’? ‘How much will it cost’? And ‘is laser eye surgery safe’? For many people, obtaining a satisfactory answer to that third question may be the deciding factor that provides them the confidence to obtain corrective eye surgery and enjoy a life free from the inconvenience of spectacles or contact lenses.
So is laser eye safe?
The simple answer is ‘yes, laser eye surgery is safe’, but there are factors that a prospective patient should be aware of when considering laser eye surgery.
First, the good news: statistics collated for the UK’s top five laser eye surgery providers show that 99.5% of patients with minor to moderate visual impairments will achieve eyesight of a legally acceptable standard for driving in the UK without the need for spectacles or contact lenses. Of these 99.5% of patients, 97% will achieve perfect eyesight (20:20 vision) as a consequence of their laser eye surgery. It should be borne in mind that your personal prescription will have a bearing upon the level of corrective laser eye surgery required and therefore the likely outcome, although most laser eye surgery providers will discuss this in detail with you during an initial consultation. It should also be made clear that laser eye surgery, as with any kind of surgery, can never be certified as 100% risk-free.
Is laser eye surgery safe in terms of possible complications?
Once again, statistics support the assertion that laser eye surgery is safe: less than 1% of patients encounter complications arising from the procedure. The risk of contracting an eye infection is extremely rare due to the nature of the surgery, and in the few cases where complications do arise, the majority of problems can be fully corrected with further laser eye surgery or with a medicinal treatment such as eye drops. If the prospect of further surgery sounds discomforting it should be remembered that the average laser eye surgery procedure takes fewer than sixty seconds to complete per eye.
Why is laser eye surgery safe?
Laser eye surgery has been determined as one of the safest elective surgical procedures currently available. Since the introduction of the original photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) laser eye surgery back in the late 1980s, laser eye surgery technology has advanced and evolved significantly. Modern diagnostic equipment can map the surface of the eye with incredible accuracy, enabling optometrists and surgeons to understand in detail the nature of the visual impairment to be treated. Optical lasers themselves have achieved a far greater level of technological sophistication and surgical precision than ever before, resulting in corrective eye procedures that are safe, quick and painless.
Helping to ensure your own laser eye surgery is safe
Every year hundreds of thousands of people undergo laser eye surgery to regain a life free from spectacles or contact lenses. Laser eye surgery is safe and has an extremely high success rate. Nevertheless, if you feel that you need reassurance in order to take the plunge and obtain laser eye surgery yourself, there are ways in which to ensure that your operation is as safe as possible:
1. Do your research.
Check out all of the options for laser eye surgery that are available to you. You may have a local laser eye surgery provider, but is there a more suitable clinic a little further afield? Does your prospective laser eye surgery clinic have the latest and most advanced equipment? Does it offer a comprehensive consultation and lifelong aftercare? Will it provide honest and impartial facts and figures regarding the success rate of its laser eye surgery? And what about contact details for patients who have already undergone laser eye surgery?
2. Choose the most experienced and qualified laser eye surgeon you can find.
Most laser eye surgery providers are proud to advertise the credentials of their surgeons. Look for recognition by the UK’s General Medical Council, Membership or Fellowship of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons. Find out how many laser eye surgery operations you surgeon has performed (some have performed well in excess of 10,000 operations) and ask for your surgeon’s success rate, particularly in the treatment of cases similar to your own.
3. Make sure that every question or concern that you have is answered.
You’ll usually find a wealth of information including case studies and frequently asked questions on most laser eye surgery provider’s websites. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you like during your consultation. There are many online forums dedicated to laser eye surgery too, so don’t hold back on finding the information you need to help you make the right decision about laser eye surgery.