Lots of people have questions about laser eye surgery. The Student Room asked optometrist and laser eye surgery specialist Tim Harwood to provide us with the answers to some of the most common.


Laser eye surgery is the most common elective surgery in the UK and the number of people having it done is on the increase.

Wearing glasses can be annoying and not everyone is suitable for contact lenses which is the reason why laser eye surgery is such a popular treatment.

As an optometrist, I find the same few questions come up about laser eye surgery time and time again.

Does laser eye surgery hurt?

The vast majority of people find the whole procedure a complete breeze with little or no discomfort felt at all. Your eyes are numbed using anaesthetic eye drops meaning the actual lasering of the eye is completely painless.

The only part of the procedure that some people find slightly uncomfortable is when the device is used to hold the eye lids open. It is important that this instrument is used to ensure that you do not blink during the procedure as this could affect the outcome of the surgery.

The reality is that most people who have had laser eye surgery found that the procedure was nowhere near as bad as they expected and therefore the discomfort involved should not be a reason to put you off having it done.

How long does it last?

The aim of laser eye surgery is to permanently correct your vision for life although there are never any guarantees that this will be the case. About 5% of laser eye surgery corrections regress to the point where glasses or contact lenses are needed again.

If you are unlucky enough to fall into this 5% group, the good news is that in most cases the procedure can be repeated and usually at no extra cost to you. Most clinics perform retreatments for free but this is something you will have to check with them before agreeing to go ahead with the procedure.

It is only in very rare cases, normally for those who initially had very high prescriptions that a repeat procedure may not be possible. During your initial laser eye surgery consultation however, you will be advised if you would be suitable for a repeat procedure should it be required.

Is laser eye surgery safe?

Laser eye surgery is extremely safe. However, this is not to say there is no chance that things could go wrong. The most likely complications of laser eye surgery are fairly minor and include things such as dry eyes and night vision glare. Such complications typically resolve themselves as your eyes heal, over the course of six months following your surgery. More serious complications are far more rare and most can be satisfactorily rectified by an experienced surgeon.

People often ask what are the chances of going blind from laser eye surgery and the good news is that to date there have been no such cases! However about one in 1,000 procedures will result in a drop of vision equivalent to two lines on the eye test chart at the opticians.

How long has it been around for?

Believe it or not laser eye surgery has actually been performed since 1989. It then went through a period of trials and testing and was finally approved by the US FDA in 1998. This means that laser eye surgery in its current form has been around for more than 15 years.


Should I wait and have it done in the future?

While there is always the temptation to put off having laser eye surgery in the hope that things will improve, the general consensus among surgeons is that the procedure has now reached a point where only minor improvements are likely to be made The procedure is currently extremely safe and the accuracy of the lasers means that approximately 98% of all procedures result in 20:20 vision or better.

Any more questions?

Please feel free to post any further questions you have in the forum or message me directly.


For those about to have laser eye surgery good luck! For those still considering it then keep researching!

TSR provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Tim Harwood, a laser eye surgery trained optometrist at TreatmentSaver.com.