Deciding whether or not to get laser eye surgery is a big decision, and often comes with a lot of questions. Is it right for me? Will I ever need to wear glasses or contact lenses again? It’s important you have all the information you need to make an informed choice. That’s why we’ve collected the most frequently asked questions we receive and had our laser eye experts answer them.
If your questions aren’t answered, or you’d like some more information, get in touch with the team by filling in our contact form at the bottom of this page.
Laser Eye Surgery
At Wellington Eye Centre, we offer three different types of laser eye surgery procedures - LASIK, SMILE and PRK.
These procedures are suited to slightly different eye prescriptions and lifestyles, so our Ophthalmologist, Dr Logan, will determine the best procedure for you in your medical assessment prior to surgery.
Whether or not you’re suitable for laser eye surgery, (and which type is right for you), depends on a few different factors - your age, prescription, the thickness of your corneas, lifestyle and personal preference. Less than 10% of people who have an assessment will be found to be unsuitable.
There’s no exact rule of thumb, which is why we bring you in for a free laser suitability assessment to find out whether or not laser can correct your vision and is the right choice for you.
If you have any of the below listed, or are currently pregnant, you won’t be able to have laser eye surgery:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lupus and other autoimmune diseases
- A history of herpes simplex of the cornea
- Unstable or uncontrolled diabetes
The changes made to your cornea in laser eye surgery are permanent. We generally find laser eye surgery corrections last for most patients, meaning they can live a life free of contact lenses and glasses.
In saying that, eyes do change over time as you age, and the effects of ageing on your eyes aren’t prevented by laser eye surgery. This doesn’t mean laser surgery isn’t worthwhile though, as it’s still likely your dependence on glasses or contact lenses will be much less following surgery. Dr Logan, our founder and laser eye surgeon, had laser eye surgery himself over 20 years ago and still doesn’t have any need for glasses or contact lenses.
There is no exact age for someone to be suitable for laser eye surgery. To get surgery, your eyes should have matured, which is generally around the age of 20, and your prescription must be stable. Laser eye surgery is a great option for younger patients, the younger you are the longer you will experience the full benefits of laser. Past the age of 40 reading distance vision will start to gradually deteriorate naturally.
There are different options available for patients over the age of 40 - which is typically when our eyes begin to develop presbyopia (age-related long sight). Laser Blended Vision is a great solution for this as it corrects eyesight to suit both long and short distances.
If you’re between the ages of 65 and 85, this is the time many people develop cataracts. We recommend you wait to have your vision corrected with cataract surgery. The artificial lens placed in your eye at the time of cataract surgery can correct either short or long sight.
Most prescriptions are treatable with the current laser technology, provided you have sufficient corneal thickness and healthy eyes. Astigmatism can also be treated with laser eye surgery. These suitability factors can be checked in your assessments with us prior to surgery.
At Wellington Eye Centre, we have a very simple cost structure, making it easy to see what better vision will cost. Our fee for all types for laser eye surgery is $3,380 per eye, which includes your surgical procedure and post-operative care for up to 12 months from your surgery date. The cost of your medical assessment, which is $180, is also deducted from this fee if you choose to go ahead with surgery.
Laser is a very quick procedure, so both eyes are usually done on the same day! In fact, this is the preferred option, as having only one eye corrected at a time may leave you unbalanced.
We usually recommend our patients take five days off work if you are having SMILE or LASIK, and a week off work if you are having PRK.
Following surgery, it’s normal to experience a bit of discomfort. We will provide you with oral pain relief medication (paracetamol) to help you manage this.
Most patients who have SMILE or LASIK can see well enough to drive after 24 hours. However, you should plan to have someone else drive you home immediately after your surgery, and to and from your day-one post-operative appointment. At this appointment Dr Logan, our laser eye surgeon, will check your vision and advise if it is safe for your to drive. If this is the case, he’ll give you a form to take to the NZ Transport Agency to have any endorsements on your licence, relating to driving with glasses or contact lenses, removed.
With PRK, vision may be blurry or cloudy for approximately 6 to 10 days after surgery, therefore we recommend patients plan not to drive until their vision has improved and they have been told by their surgeon they are safe to drive. At your week-one post-op appointment we will check your vision and advise you if you are within the legal standards for driving.
The speed of visual recovery is very quick for laser eye surgery - about 24 to 48 hours for SMILE and LASIK, but can take two to four weeks for PRK. You will need to use eye drops for at least a month following surgery and may find fluctuations in your vision during this period as well. We will be monitoring your recovery progress and advising you accordingly at each post-op visit.
Contact lenses can cause temporary changes in the shape of your cornea, so they need to be removed before your assessment and surgery, to allow your cornea to return to its normal shape
Soft lenses should be left out for 48 hours prior to your initial assessment and five days prior to surgery. Hard lenses must be left out for several months prior to your initial assessment because they distort the cornea and it’s essential to get measurements as accurate as possible.
If you are a hard lens wearer you will need to be assessed by your optometrist or regular eye care provider monthly for three months to make sure your vision has stabilised. Even after this there may still be some delay in surgery if your refractive measurements are still changing. Once the measurements and initial consultation have taken place, you may wear soft disposable lenses up to 5 days prior to surgery.
Topical anaesthetic drops are placed into your eyes prior to laser eye surgery to numb the surface of your eyes, so no pain is experienced during the procedure, although you may feel very slight pressure on your eyes.
There is the possibility of discomfort or pain after the procedure for 8 to twelve hours for LASIK and SMILE and usually up to a week for PRKYou’ll be given a variety of medications to use after surgery, as well as full instructions about their use prior to the operation.
Most patients don’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses after laser eye surgery. Laser surgery permanently changes the shape of your cornea, correcting your short or long sightedness, or astigmatism. There’s a chance contact lenses or glasses may be needed as you age due to age-related eyesight changes, such as presbyopia.
Presbyopia can also be corrected with laser eye surgery at a later stage, provided your eyes still meet the suitability criteria.
This depends on which surgery you have. For SMILE surgery you should avoid swimming or getting water in your eyes for 3 days. With LASIK and PRK you should avoid swimming for four weeks after surgery, to avoid risk of infection. Other moderate exercise can usually be resumed one week after surgery - as long as it is not strenuous or means there is a risk you would get sweat in your eyes. Contact sports should be avoided for four weeks after LASIK, and only three days after SMILE. If you ski, snowboard or spend time at the beach or on the water, it’s essential to avoid excessive UV light by wearing effective sunglasses after having laser eye surgery.
To avoid foreign particles, that could cause infection, entering your eyes either directly or through your skin, you shouldn’t wear make-up in the area above your cheekbones and below your eyebrows for five days prior to and for four weeks after LASIK and PRK surgery. That includes avoiding treatments like false eyelashes, eyelash extensions or eyelid tattoos. For SMILE the period for avoiding makeup after surgery is just 3 days.
At Wellington Eye Centre, we use the VisuMax femtosecond laser and the MEL90 excimer laser by Carl Zeiss Meditec, which are at the forefront of advanced laser technology. The Wellington Eye Centre are the first clinic in New Zealand to install the VisuMax femtosecond laser, which is known for its speed and precision.
Generally speaking, the majority of patients won’t need to have laser surgery a second time as the results should be effective after the first procedure. In about 5% of cases a second treatment may be required and as long as your eyes are still suitable, this will be no problem. This is assessed on a case by case basis. We do not charge for any retreatment within the first two years of your original laser eye surgery with us.
Laser blended vision
Laser blended vision is a revolutionary procedure suited to patients over 40. Previously, laser eye surgery was only suited to younger patients, but this procedure has opened the doors to a wider variety of ages.
As we age, our eyes often develop presbyopia - age related long sight. Laser blended vision corrects your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye for near vision and also increases the range of focus of each eye. This sophisticated procedure allows you to see at near, intermediate and far distances without contact lenses or glasses.
Laser Blended Vision is simply the name of the type of laser eye surgery vision outcome that allows you to see at near, far and middle distance without the need for glasses or contact lenses. It is suitable for people who have developed age related reading vision loss. It is achieved by correcting one eye for near, your other eye for distance and gives both your eyes extended focus which allows you to see the middle ground as well. Laser Blended Vision is achieved through LASIK eye surgery performed with the Mel 90 laser by Carl Zeiss Meditec.
Laser blended vision is best suited to patients over the age of 40, who need contact lenses or glasses to correct their near vision (like reading glasses). It can be performed on both short and long sighted people. We would always recommend you come in for a free laser suitability assessment to determine whether or not laser blended vision or straight distance correction would be a better option for you.
Laser blended vision requires your brain to change how it processes the images coming from your eyes. Every brain is different, and some people adapt to this new style of vision within a few days, some people take a little longer. To help determine if you can adapt to this type of vision, we can do a one day monovision contact lens trial for you. The vision with monovision contact lenses is not as sophisticated as laser blended vision, but if you can cope with monovision contact lenses, you should have no problem adjusting to laser blended vision.
A one day contact lens trial is when we pop a contact lens on one or both of your eyes in the morning and you go about your normal daily activities. Later that same day you come back to the clinic, we removed the contact lenses for you, and discuss how the vision the lens did or didn’t suit you.
Dr Andrew Logan is our ophthalmologist and clinic founder. He has been performing laser eye surgery for more than 20 years and has been a specialist ophthalmologist since 1983.
Dr Logan is very passionate about laser eye surgery and helping our patients be free from glasses and contact lenses. He has had laser eye surgery himself and hasn’t needed to wear glasses or contacts for the past 20 years!
For patients who don’t live in Wellington, Dr Logan, our ophthalmologist, travels between these clinics as needed, to meet patients. All surgeries are performed in Wellington, so to make things easier for out of towners, we offer a courtesy, one off accommodation package. We can organise and pay for up to two nights accommodation for you and an accompanying person while you are with us for your surgery and your day-one post-op appointment (subject to terms and conditions).
We offer free initial laser suitability assessments, which are the perfect opportunity to come in and meet one of our ophthalmic technicians and see whether or not you’re suitable for laser eye surgery. Find out more about what to expect in one of our laser suitability assessments and book yours today.
We have a standard offer of 12 months interest free finance through Gem Visa. This offer is subject to GEM's standard terms and conditions. You’re welcome to explore other finance options available to you, too.