The Truth Behind Common Laser Eye Surgery Myths

Updated: Jan 21


As with any medical procedure, laser eye surgery can seem quite daunting and scary.  There’s a lot of information available online, but it can be hard to know the difference between fact and myth, especially when a lot of this content isn’t written by qualified people. You might be left asking: is laser eye surgery safe? Will it be painful? Is laser eye surgery the best option for me?  This is your opportunity to have your questions answered by the experts!

Without further ado, here are the most common laser eye myths we’d like to debunk.

Myth #1: Laser Eye Surgery Is Painful

“Does laser eye surgery hurt?” is one of our most frequently asked questions on laser eye surgery. Short answer: no, laser eye surgery is not painful.

Prior to surgery, topical anaesthetic drops are applied to the eyes, which completely numbs them. You will only feel a slight pressure during the surgery. Typically, you will be in the theatre for about 15-20 minutes, but the laser eye surgery itself only takes place for around 2-3 minutes, depending on the type of procedure. We will see you the day after surgery and then again a week after surgery to monitor your recovery. As part of your post operative care, we’re on hand to talk to you over the phone, or see you during your recovery period. These visits are covered in the surgery cost.

Myth #2: The Laser Used In Eye Surgeries Is Hot

The lasers used in laser eye surgery are cold – and totally different to the lasers you see in science fiction films! Sometimes people say there’s a burning smell during the procedure. This can be the case in PRK and LASIK eye surgery but it’s not a cause for concern! The smell is actually a result of the laser releasing carbon atoms into the air. We promise nothing is actually burning!

Myth #3: Laser Eye Surgery Isn’t Permanent

Laser eye surgery changes the shape of the cornea to correct eyesight. This correction is permanent and majority of patients will not require glasses or contact lenses post-surgery. However, those over the age of 50 may still require occasional reading glasses.  

Your eye is a living organ and therefore can change over time, just as the rest of your body will. Laser eye surgery doesn’t prevent age-related eyesight changes, like cataracts or presbyopia. Presbyopia  is an age-related eye problem that occurs when, with age, the lens of the eye becomes more stiff and less elastic and the muscles around it can no longer change its shape, resulting in a loss of focus on close-up objects.

In our opinion, laser eye surgery is definitely worthwhile. Getting independence from your glasses and contact lenses is generally enough to encourage people to get the surgery.


Myth #4: Laser Eye Surgery Only Works For Short Sighted People

This is also untrue – laser eye surgery can be used to correct a variety of eyesight problems, not just short sightedness.

Our suitability assessment will determine if laser eye surgery is suitable for you, and if so, which procedure will be most effective for your eyesight condition.

Myth #5: You Have To Be Young To Get Laser Eye Surgery

Usually, being over 40 means it’s more likely a person will develop presbyopia (age-related long sight) as they age. Some people still think that laser eye surgery can only correct short sight and therefore, the age related change in vision cannot be corrected.

So, what are the laser eye surgery options for people older than 40 years old?

This gives people over 40 the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of laser eye surgery. In this procedure, the dominant eye is corrected mainly for distance vision and the non-dominant eye for near vision, while also increasing each eye’s range of focus. This procedure enables patients to see at near, intermediate and far distances without glasses or contact lenses.

And how young is too young for laser eye surgery? In order for someone to receive laser eye surgery, their eyes need to be stable so their prescription won’t change. This usually happens at the age of 18.

Myth #6: Laser Eye Surgery Is A New Procedure & Untested

As with any medical procedure, everything about laser eye surgery has been tested extensively and proven. From the technology used, to the ophthalmologists performing the surgeries, it is a fully tried-and-tested medical procedure. A lot of research and development has gone into laser eye surgery since it was first invented, which has led to the advanced technology we have access to today.

There you have it – laser eye myths dispelled!

Hopefully we have set the record straight with these laser eye surgery facts. If you have any other questions, get in touch.

This post originally appeared in Wellington Eye Centre.