Frequently asked questions about refractive surgery

Medical content revised by - Last revision 01/12/2014
Frequently asked questions about refractive surgery

Who can undergo surgery?

Anyone over the age of 21 with a stable visual prescription can undergo surgery provided they have completed a full ophthalmologic examination with all the necessary refractive testing needed for the operation.


Is post surgical correction stable?

Eye correction generally remains stable. During the first three months after surgery, eye reaction will be evaluated. Around 3% of patients who have undergone laser operations and 5% of patients who have undergone operations with multifocal lenses may require additional laser treatment in order to maximise the results. Over time there may be patients who suffer varying degrees of visual strain due to natural changes in the eye, rather than as a direct result of surgery. In such cases the situation is re-evaluated in order to assess the need for further surgical correction.


After undergoing an operation, how much time should one expect to have to wait before returning to everyday life?

Normally two days (including the day of surgery). Operations on both eyes separately requires planning in accordance with the visual condition of the patient, keeping in mind the need to avoid activities which require a lot of precision, such as driving a vehicle, for example. Low impact sports and light activities can be resumed within a week but those of higher risk, such as swimming, will require waiting for at least a month.


Can presbyopia (the inability to focus on near objects) be corrected with surgery?

Presbyopia can be corrected easily and safely through different methods, typically via multifocal intraocular lenses and laser treatment (monovision PRESBILASIK). It is important to determine the correct prescription for those with long-sightedness, since patients who only use glasses for close distances cannot undergo surgical treatment.


What are the most common post-surgical complaints?

Although post-surgical discomfort is rare, some patients may experience some dryness, and some glare or halos at night. In both cases treatment is available, and in general these side effects improve over time and ultimately disappear.


Can complications occur?

Despite using probably the safest and most secure methods of treatment available, complications can sometimes occur, although statistically speaking this is very infrequent. The primary complaint is that of an infection, which despite being treatable can sometimes present visual side effects which vary depending on the severity of the infection. All appropriate measures are taken to avoid such cases.


Is it possible to undergo cataract surgery after previous refractive laser surgery?

Yes, and it does not present any complications. The surgeon should be aware of the medical history of the patient with regards to previous refractive surgery in order to effectively plan the cataract surgery, and above all to calculate and select the most suitable intraocular lens to be implanted upon extraction of the cataract.


Does pregnancy have any effect on the result of the surgery?

In general no effects are noted. During pregnancy a series of hormonal variations are present which in some cases can affect the eye and vision. This is primarily due to small changes in the cornea and tear film. After the birth these variations usually disappear. It is not recommended to undergo surgery during pregnancy or during the first six post natal months.


Is the Internet a reliable source of information about refractive surgery?

In many cases yes, especially if the sources are supported by scientific and ophthalmologic societies where the information has been vetted. Unfortunately there is also a great deal of information whose marketing and advertising purposes supersede their medical accuracy. It is advisable to avoid sites that promise miracle cures, special offers and promotions similar to those one might find in a supermarket, and where doctors promote unique cures. Many ophthalmologists specialising in refractive surgery dedicate part of their time to investigation, teaching and participating in scientific meetings in order to determine which are truly the safest, most efficient and most beneficial methods of treatment for patients. It is always recommended that you consult a surgeon specialising in refractive surgery if you have any doubts.


Do many people undergo surgical procedures? Even doctors too?

There are millions of patients all over the world who undergo surgical treatment. Doctors and surgeons, nurses, opticians and optometrists, along with any other employee of the ophthalmologic and health sector undergo surgical treatment just like any other person. The process of evaluation is always the same, independent of profession, and the final decision should always be taken by the patient, following his or her set of criteria. Some patients are good candidates for surgery but decide not to undergo treatment. Others wish to do so, but the characteristics of their eyes do not permit it. There are also many patients who undergo treatment but do not wish to advertise the fact.

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