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What to expect from a Laser Treatment

For the laser treatment itself, please expect to spend  between 3 and 4 hours at the center.  However, it is impossible to predict how the routine on a specific day will unfold, so bring something with you that can help you while away the time, such as a book or magazine to read.

Step 1:

  • Arrive on time and wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to feel relaxed.  At the same time, please ensure that financial arrangements are in place with our admin office prior to treatment.
  •  Eat and drink normally on the day of the treatment.
  •  Dress warmly (the temperature in the laser theatre is kept between 18 and 20 °C).
  • Remove all eye make-up prior to your arrival.
  • Do not use any personal volatile substances on the day of the procedure, such as deodorants or perfume, as these may interfere with the laser.
  • Since your eyes will be covered after the treatment, arrange with someone to accompany you to and from the clinic, as well as for your first follow-up the next day.

It may be necessary to have another verification examination with our optometrists before the procedure, depending on Dr Potgieter's decision.

Step 2:

  • In the preparation area, you will receive eye drops to numb or anaesthetise the eyes.  No needles or intra-venous injections are used.  Meanwhile, before you enter the laser theatre, Dr Potgieter and his technicians will perform a checklist to ensure that the laser is properly set and that everything necessary is in place for your treatment.
  • After your eyes are prepared and cleaned, you will be comfortably positioned on the bed in the laser theatre.  The eye to be treated will be held open with a device called a speculum so that it will be properly exposed for the treatment.

Step 3:

  • The surface of your eye will be prepared.  In cases where a microkeratomeA microkeratome is a high-precision motorised scalpel used to make the flap for a corrective lasik treatment. (the instrument that makes a thin flap of protective tissue) is used, a suction ring is engaged to stabilise the eye.  Alternatively, if you are undergoing  the ‘bladeless' LasikLasik is one of several types of laser treatments to permanently correct refractive errors of the eye. See Laser Vision – Introduction to Laser Treatment. procedure, your eye will be docked to the patient interface, which links your eye to the femtosecond laserA femtosecond laser is the latest high-tech laser device used to make extremely accurate corneal incisions. See About Us – Our Technology – femtosecond laser..
  • During this time, your vision may become dim and you may feel some tightness in your eye.  This step takes less than a minute.
  • After the flap has been made, the eye tracker system will be engaged.  It enables the laser to accurately follow any involuntary movement of your eye during the laser treatment.  Next, the excimer laserAn Excimer laser is a high-tech laser device used to permanently and very accurately reshape the curvature of the cornea to treat a refractive error or corneal pathology. See About Us – Our Technology – Excimer laser. treatment is applied to reshape your corneaThe cornea is the clear, transparent 'front window' of the eye through which light enters the eye. It handles about two-thirds of the focusing power of the eye and is critical for good vision. See Info on Eyes – Anatomy..  This usually takes less than a minute, depending on the severity of your spectacle error.
  • The final step is to return the flap  to its original position, which marks the end of the procedure.

Step 4:

  • After the procedure, more eye drops will be applied to your eyes.  We normally patch your eyes in such a way that you will be unable to open them.  This is to ensure that your eyes are protected for the first couple of hours after the procedure, which is critical to speed up the healing process and for a successful long-term outcome.  It is, therefore, important to arrange for someone to assist you until you see us the next day for your follow-up examination.
  • After the procedure you will be sent home, with instructions to take a sleeping tablet so that you may rest for the remainder of the day.  It is advisable to sleep during this uncomfortable period, because your eyes may be slightly scratchy, teary and have a burning sensation, which is to be expected immediately after the procedure. 

Step 5:

  • The following day is your post-operative check-up, which will be scheduled before you leave the center.

What to expect after your treatment:

When you return the next day for your first check-up, the plastic shields will be removed by the clinic staff.  An eye test, computerised refraction and an eye examination by Dr Potgieter will be performed to ensure that all is well.

By this time your uncorrected visual acuity should already be within the level required to drive again (20/40).  Most patients are able to resume their normal daily activities within 2 to 4 days.

two sets of eye drops will be provided, which will ensure speedy recovery, prevent infection and reduce discomfort.

During the first week your vision will recover rapidly and after 4 weeks your eyes will be close to their optimal visual acuity.  It may, however, take 3 months before vision stabilises completely, depending on the initial refractive error.  If you  fall in the presbyopic age (40 to 45 years and older), you will require reading glasses shortly after surgery.  You can purchase ‘over-the-counter' reading glasses until your refractive error stabilises, after which you may have prescription reading glasses made if you consider it necessary.

Some of the restrictions after laser treatment include:

  • No mascara or eyeliner for two weeks (however, eye shadow may be worn after a week).
  • Extra care should be exercised when bathing and washing hair to avoid unnecessary soap and water in the eye for two weeks.
  • No swimming for six weeks.
  • No diving or water skiing for eight weeks.
  • No rubbing of the eyes (to ensure that the lamellar flap is not disturbed and stays in place).

You may drive as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.  Your night driving vision may take longer to recover than your daytime vision, due to a temporary halo and starburst effect, which you may perceive around lights.

For at least the first month, do not use any eye drops or eyewashes other than those prescribed by Dr Potgieter.

Follow up visits will be scheduled at day one, week one, month 3 and month six after the procedure to ensure that your vision and the physical condition of your eyes are recovering as they should.

What can you expect your early vision to be?

You may typically experience small fluctuations and blurriness in your vision for the first week to a few months as your eyes  continue to heal.  The time it takes you to heal will depend on the level of nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatismAstigmatism is a condition caused by a cornea that has more than one curvature, similar to a rugby ball. The same image, therefore, focuses on multiple points in front of, on and/or behind the cornea, creating multiple and ghost images. Astigmatism may also be found in association with either myopia or hyperopia, which complicates the condition substantially. See Info on Eyes, Optics and Refractive Errors - Astigmatism. that was treated.  It is common, however, for most patients to see enough to resume their regular activities very quickly.  Based on your specific set of circumstances, Dr Potgieter will advise you about what is best for you.