What is SMILE laser eye surgery?



One of the questions I often get asked by laser vision correction patients is ‘what’s on the horizon’? The decision to have laser eye surgery often takes months or years and most people want to know that they are getting the latest technique.  They don’t want to go through the anxiety of LASIK, only to find there was a better way to do it just around the corner. But the truth is that while the procedure is always evolving and the results improving incrementally as each year passes, the LASIK procedure has plateaued for several years now at a very high level of safety and accuracy.

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How much does LASIK surgery cost?

What is the price of LASIK?


One of the most frequently asked questions about laser eye surgery is ‘How much will it cost?’  The answer is that it varies – widely – from one procedure to another and from one centre to another.  Most people, when it comes to their eyes, don’t want to compromise on quality, but there are people who are purely price-driven and will look for a heavily discounted price for their vision correction procedure.  This post explains why there can appear to be so much variation in price.

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How long has laser eye surgery been around?


While a handful of pioneers started a revolution in vision correction surgery, their techniques relied on mechanically altering the cornea using blades and lathes. This was all to change with the discovery of an unusual application of the excimer laser.

An American ophthalmologist, Steve Trokel, enjoyed the unique hobby of spending his down-time leafing through volume upon volume of unclassified US Military data on military experiments. He was well aware that the US Military devotes massive resources to the pursuit of new technology to give its forces superior weaponry systems. Occasionally, these inventions have a civilian spin-off. The classic example being the GPS system which was designed by the US Department of Defence as a navigation tool for guided missiles.  Today just about everyone has one in their car.

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What is 20/20 vision?


An adult with perfect vision can read the small letters of the eye-test chart at six meters (or twenty feet, as in twenty-twenty vision). These letters are very small – right at the limit of what the human eye can see – and are roughly a little under a centimetre in height.

I wish I’d caught a fish for every person who’s ever asked me to explain 20/20 vision (or 6/6 metric as Australian ophthalmologists and optometrists refer to it). I guess it’s something that everyone’s heard of, but no one has a clue what it means. So here goes:

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Is LASIK safe? What are the latest results?

fighter_jetA recent study highlights that 96 per cent of pilots in active service for the US Armed Forces reported that their visual acuity improved after LASIK surgery. These people have the highest visual acuity needs of any individual. There couldn’t be a more stringent test.

For naval pilots within a defence group – those who fly ultra-fast planes and land them on aircraft carriers in challenging weather conditions in countries involved in war – good vision is clearly a matter of life or death. Understandably then, in past decades, many highly competent young men and women, intent on pursuing a career in the armed services, have been turned away, just because their vision has let them down.

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Book on laser eye surgery launched in Sydney


The tinkle of champagne glasses and gentle sounds of the fountain reverberated in the pleasant twilight hours of Tuesday evening, 26th November, at the official launch of The Naked Eye, a new book written by internationally recognised ophthalmologists Dr Gerard Sutton and Dr Michael Lawless.  Well over one hundred guests including an eclectic mix of many well known media personnel, writers, ophthalmologists, optometrists and family and friends, toasted the authors at this exciting event. The beautiful Courtyard setting of the iconic  Sydney Eye Hospital was the perfect backdrop for the launch of a book all about vision correction.

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What is the difference between LASIK and ASLA?

AslaAdvanced Surface Laser – or ASLA – was first introduced to Australia in 1991. It involves reshaping the corneal surface with a cool, ultra-violet excimer laser (see image on left). ASLA is still widely used but has been largely superseded by LASIK, which was introduced to Australia in 1995. This form of laser eye surgery, involves the creation of a microscopic flap in the cornea to allow the reshaping to occur away from the surface of the eye (image below right). By bypassing the ultra-sensitive surface of the eye, this procedure results in far less discomfort during healing and a very rapid visual recovery.

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Can I have laser eye surgery to get rid of reading glasses?

Bruce_Morgan_CusackIf you’re over fifty, you are not going to get a vision correction surgery result that gives you back the vision you had when you were thirty. It’s as simple as that. Your eyes change in your mid-forties and need some extra help with focusing up close.

What is blended vision?

We get around that problem for our patients by providing a new way of seeing. It’s called blended vision (or monovision) and that’s how my eyes work since I’ve had my own procedure.  My dominant (right) eye sees clearly in the distance and my perception is that my distance vision is clear with both eyes. It feels normal – i.e. I have 20/20 vision. However, if I cover my right eye and look in the distance it is a bit blurred. I have deliberately chosen to have my left eye a bit short-sighted so that it can help me out with most of my reading tasks. Certainly using a computer, reading patient files, and all the general day-to-day stuff is fine for me without glasses.  But there is some compromise. I have a pair of reading glasses that I use for reading in poor light.

Does blended vision (or monovision) work for everyone?

This option is very successful for most people.  At the initial consultation, we give our patients a ‘test-drive’, where they try out the end result by wearing a pair of ultra-thin, comfortable soft contact lenses for an hour or two. Our staff put the lenses in and you would barely notice they were there, they are so comfortable. It allows you to go for a coffee or a walk and trial what your vision would be like if you had the procedure. Most people love it and they accept the compromise. But, like everything else in life, it’s not for everyone.  We even give our over-forty-five-year-old patients a questionnaire where they have to rate their own personality type on a scale that goes from ‘easy-going’ on one end to ‘perfectionist’ on the other!

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Does LASIK eye surgery hurt?

lasersurgery400What’s it like to actually have a laser vision correction procedure? I can tell you from my own experience that it is all over before you know it. It really is a very quick procedure.   One of our patients, Jason, gives this account of the big event:

Before my LASIK procedure…

On the day of my LASIK procedure I was nervous.  In fact I hadn’t slept that well the night before.  Rationally, I could tell myself over and over that it was a safe operation and that they wouldn’t have recommended it for me if I wasn’t a perfect candidate but I still felt nervous!  My wife actually works at the laser eye surgery centre and as an optometrist has seen hundreds of successful cases of LASIK – the procedure I would be having  – and has been encouraging me to have it for a while now. 

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Trifocal IOLs for cataract surgery: Are they all the same?


trifocal iol blog.png

The latest buzz-word in cataract surgery is trifocal IOL, but what does the term actually mean? This post explores the various designs of premium multifocal and trifocal intraocular lenses that can be placed in the eye during cataract surgery: Do they work? Are they all the same? Is there any downside to them? Could they work for you?

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