Safety & risks
Information about the safety and risks of your recommended treatment will be given to you at your free consultation and discussed with you, giving you opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Laser eye surgery safety and risks
Laser eye surgery is amongst the simplest of surgical treatments available anywhere. It is now the most popular form of elective procedure in the world with more than 35 million treatments carried out so far, over a million in Britain alone.
In fact, you may know someone who has been enjoying the benefits for some time from this life-changing transformation.
All Ultralase LASIK laser eye surgery treatments now benefit from IntraLase®, which uses a very fine laser instead of a blade. This has been clinically proven throughout the world to be safer and more accurate, and to succeed in better treatment outcomes than blade-assisted treatment.
Today, we can help around nine out of every ten people who contact us. See if you may be suitable for vision correction.
Safety for you
Laser eye surgery is also one of the safest of all vision correction treatments. And, at Ultralase, we work harder to ensure that your outcome, your safety and your care are our top priorities.
Ask any laser eye surgeon and they will tell you that all surgical procedures carry a risk of a complication occurring, and laser eye surgery is no different. What area of life is totally risk-free?
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that you stand a higher risk of suffering an infection from your contact lens solution than from laser eye surgery with Ultralase.
There are very few areas of life where you would find more thorough checking procedures, more stringent safety protocols or more rigorous ongoing quality assurance than those in place at Ultralase.
So, whilst the risk of encountering a complication with your treatment may not exactly be zero, everything possible is geared to keeping any risk as small as possible, a focus set by professionals here whose sole job it is to work on reducing that small risk still further.
Here are some examples of how Ultralase work to make safety second nature to the way in which we do things:
The tests at your eye surgery consultation are designed to provide our specialists with a great deal of diagnostic data so you get expert advice on the safest, most effective and most appropriate vision correction treatment for your unique eyes.
The Ultralase team make these decisions from twenty years of experience, and from contributing to the most up-to-date published data from around the world so you know you have all that expertise helping your eyes see better, unaided.
The results of all vision correction treatments are recorded after treatment day. This information forms part of a quality control process analysing over one million individual data items every year.
These results are used to produce individual customised records for each Ultralase surgeon so we can maintain the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment, all with the aim of continually improving for your benefit.
Each of our laser eye surgeons is accredited against rigorous recruitment requirements so that your eyes can be seen to by the very best.
Each Ultralase vision correction clinic is subject to regular inspections, both by internal company specialists and also by external agencies such as the Care Quality Commission. Clinic management use the feedback from these to ensure that laser eye surgery procedures comply with established best practice and that the quality of service and care in the clinic meets the highest standards.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) sets out some very strict guidelines for laser eye surgery providers. Ultralase is consistent with the procedural guidelines, and exceeds the efficacy provisions in respect of accuracy of procedure and quality of vision.
The first few days after treatment.
Despite our best efforts, and stemming from our promise of care to you, we must still advise you that any treatment carried out on the body will stimulate the natural healing process, and the common temporary effects that arise from this. These include slight dryness, sensitivity to bright lights, haze around lights and a gritty feeling not unlike that experienced with an old contact lens.
These are minor and quick to pass for most patients. Ultralase supply lubricating eye drops in your aftercare pack and advise patients to use these, plus to wear tinted spectacles on the day of surgery to help relieve any discomfort caused by these effects.
At your FREE eye surgery consultation, your specialist will give you a customised summary of what the initial post-operative period is likely to be for you.
In the first days following LASIK laser eye surgery, vision improves to near-normal levels but is still prone to some fluctuation due to the healing process. The eyes are separate organs and they will heal independently of each other.
The healing process means that there is a little more water than usual in the cornea, and that is what causes a little mistiness and haze around lights in the short term, particularly at night.
Sometimes things might appear to be in soft focus and there may be the odd “bad eye day” where your vision in one or both eyes is not as good as you remember from the day before. As healing moves on, the body absorbs this excess water and the symptoms disappear.
LASEK laser eye surgery patients may experience a dip in their vision and a little discomfort on the 3rd or 4th day. This is a normal part of the healing process and resolves quickly. Any initial healing symptoms soon pass as the healing process moves on, and serve to show that it’s important not to judge the outcome as final too soon.
In the early days, it is important not to rub your eyes, as there is a possibility that this may move the flap out of alignment. If this does occur, the outlook is good so there is no need to panic. Just contact Ultralase immediately.
We support you with a 24-hour emergency phone number that you can call in the rare event that this or any other complication may occur. You may need to return to the treatment room for your surgeon to re-align the flap, and it will mean starting the drop regime from the beginning again, but the situation can easily be rectified.
Just as individuals don’t all have the same height, shoe size or hair colour, rates of healing vary as well. In some cases, the body over or under-heals so that an enhancement of the treatment is required to achieve your objective.
Ultralase’s statistics show that only 4% of patients require an enhancement of their treatment.
Laser eye surgery risks
As with any other medical procedure, laser vision correction carries some risk of complications. However, it is very rare for these to be serious, and it is reassuring to know that there has never been a case of permanent blindness reported with the all-laser LASIK techniques used at Ultralase.
Our patients have told us that the areas of risk they would like to know most about are:
- Persistent dry eye
- Persistent night vision problems
- The need for a retreatment
- LASIK flap complications
We have outlined these five areas but at consultation, your experienced Ultralase clinician will be able to give more detailed explanations and answer more specific questions.
It is as well to keep one over-riding fact in mind; whilst it would not be possible for any surgeon to guarantee that their practice will be complication-free, it is possible to design procedures and protocols to reduce risk to an absolute minimum.
Ultralase have in place stringent safety measures which are proven to be above and beyond the guidelines set by regulatory bodies. In the hands of Ultralase’s expert and experienced specialist surgeons, patients can enjoy the dual comforts of smooth, safe procedures and the experience to handle confidently anything arising during treatment.
The rate of serious infection is 1 in 10 000, which means, in context, that evidence suggests that there is a higher risk of infection from contact lens solution than from laser eye surgery with Ultralase.
Infections can be dealt with effectively, provided they are treated promptly. Contact Ultralase without delay in cases of infection.
Persistent dry eye
All patients having LASIK vision correction will experience some degree of dry eye in the early stages following treatment, and this is managed with some simple eye drops. As the eye heals, dryness returns to the level experienced prior to treatment.
It is true that with Ultralase’s modern all-laser techniques, only 1.77% of patients report persistent dry eye lasting 6 months or more, which is very greatly reduced from the rate with traditional LASIK.
Persistent night vision disturbance
During the healing process, the tissues of the eye have a higher water content which can lead to glare from lights, particularly at night. Wavefront treatment was specifically designed to address glare, but it is important to understand that during the early healing phase, it is usual to experience some light sensitivity.
The chance of this persisting to 6 month stage is 0.18%. In most cases these will be patients who experienced glare before treatment, and there is evidence that even in these patients the phenomenon is reduced to manageable levels after treatment.
The need for a retreatment
Each eye is a separate organ and it heals in an individual manner. Surgery is planned to take healing into account, so that the best results are seen at the end of the healing process and so that these remain in place permanently. Inevitably, however, some eyes experience an over- or under-response to treatment, meaning that a further treatment is needed to achieve the best possible result.
LASIK flap complications
The major reason that Ultralase adopted all-laser LASIK exclusively in 2008 was the proven track record that the procedure had for improved safety and much reduced complication rate.
Compared to traditional blade LASIK, the complication rate with the all-laser procedure is reduced by 10.5 times to 1 in 2750. Ultralase’s evidence also shows that even where a complication occurs, the modern procedure means resolution will be swifter and the outcome will be better than with the blade method.
Intra-ocular lens safety and risks
Intra-Ocular Lens (IOL) treatment is safe and highly effective. However, all surgical procedures carry an element of risk and although the risks associated with IOL treatment are small, you are able to discuss them further by contacting your specialist IOL optometrist. It is our policy to give you all the information you need to help you decide whether or not to proceed with the treatment.
We have outlined the principal risks of treatment below. If there is anything at all that you do not understand, or would like us to explain in more detail please ask us about it. We never perform treatment on the same day as consultation, so don't worry - we won't pressure you and there'll be plenty of time to think about all the information we give you.
IOLs have been regularly used in surgery for over 20 years and the evidence of studies demonstrates that vision corrections retain an excellent degree of stability
Experience shows that it is possible to predict the likely outcome of IOL treatment with remarkable accuracy. However, because no two eyes are the same, there can be variations in the healing process, not only from person to person, but from eye to eye. In the same way that your eyes may well have slightly different vision before treatment, they may also be slightly different afterwards.
The aim of IOL treatment is to reduce or eliminate a person's dependence on their distance glasses or contact lenses. For a small fraction of patients treated, there may be some prescription remaining after treatment or individual variations in the healing process and so, for their sharpest vision, they may still need to wear some form of eye correction. Usually, any residual prescription can be treated with an additional laser treatment, which your surgeon will discuss with you.
IOLs risk of complication
All surgical procedures carry an element of risk; however, in the case of IOL treatment, these risks are low. Ultralase has performed more than 4,000 IOL treatments, and our complication rates compare very favourably with other published figures in ophthalmic literature and relevant, peer-reviewed, scientific journals. We will have discussed these risks in detail at your surgeon assessment at which we also have given you a copy of our Consent Form to take away and read at your leisure.
Whilst every precaution is taken all the way through your procedure at Ultralase, problems may arise after IOL treatment which may lead to a reduction in the quality of the best possible performance of the eyes, even if corrected with spectacles or contact lenses.
Remember, the vast majority of Ultralase patients go on to achieve an excellent result from their treatment. For your peace of mind, we operate a rigorous and fully inclusive aftercare programme, which includes your check-up appointments in the first few days after treatment as well as follow-up visits at regular intervals. In the unlikely event of problems or complications, our aftercare appointments are designed to ensure that these are detected and treated at the earliest possible time.
As we reach our mid-40s, most normally-sighted people start to need reading glasses (a condition known as presbyopia), even if they have never worn glasses or lenses before. IOL treatment cannot prevent or delay the onset of presbyopia.
You may choose to have only your distance sight corrected and use reading glasses after your treatment, in common with every normally-sighted person in their 40s and over. However, there are highly sophisticated IOLs available which not only correct your distance vision but give additional help with reading vision, meaning that you will be able to manage without spectacles for most everyday activities. Your surgeon will discuss the range of correction options with you to decide which suits your lifestyle.
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Pros and cons
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