The first step, ideally, is research. Feel free to phone or e-mail us to ask questions, and don’t forget to ask your optometrist for another opinion on available procedures.
If there are any general questions about the SmartSurfACE Laser Procedure (SLP) and what to expect, please check out our FAQ section here
Before going any further, you need to find out whether you qualify for SLP. The simplest way is to e-mail us at email@example.com. Please include the following information in your email:
Ideally, we require information on your corneal thickness. If possible, please get an optometrist to fax us your most recent eye exam along with this information, and let us know in the email. Our patient counsellors will contact you as soon as they are available.
We recommend that patients take at least a week away from work or studying. Keep in mind that you will not be able to drive for the first week after the procedure.
If you qualify and decide to proceed, the next step is to schedule an appointment. The cost for the procedure depends on your prescription, and you will be given a quote based on the information given to us. The cost includes your pre- and post-operative check ups, and a patient care kit. You must also arrange for follow up care with an optometrist. If your regular eye doctor unavailable, we may be able to help you find another. Note that follow up care with your optometrist is a separate cost; please inquire with your regular optometrist to determine their fees.
Before the procedure, two eye exams will need to be done. A full pre-operative eye exam with your optometrist, and another one with us here at Pacific Laser Eye Centre (PLEC). The exam with your optometrist will be valid for 3 months. It should be done as soon as possible, and no later than 4 days before the pre-op exam in our office, which will be done a few days prior to the procedure. Please note that contacts lenses tend to warp the cornea slightly, and time is needed for the cornea to relax into its natural shape to ensure maximum accuracy in the procedure. Hard or gas-permeable contact lenses must be removed at least 1 month before, toric lenses (these are soft contact lenses that also correct for astigmatism) 10 days before, and soft lenses (no astigmatism correction) must be removed at least 5 days before your pre-op at PLEC, and your procedure.
After the pre-op at PLEC, you will be given a precscription for some medicated drops, and a PLEC care package which contains some additional drops that are provided by us, some pre-op checklists and consent forms, as well as some post-op eye drop instructions. These documents should have been emailed to you already as well. Please read over the documents before the procedure, sign the checklists and consent forms, and bring the care package and the prescription drops with you on the day of the procedure. Before you leave, we will re-confirm the arrival time of the procedure day.
If there are any general questions about after the procedure, please check out our FAQ section here
Please arrive on time on the day of the procedure. When you arrive, please wait in your car, or the lobby, and call our office at (604) 736-2625. Our staff will pre-screen you for any COVID symptoms, and begin the sign-in process over the phone. After that, a staff member will check your temperature, get you to sanitize your hands, and bring you up into the clinic.
All consent forms and the full payment is due on the day of the procedure.
Next you are brought into the pre-operative room where you will be prepared for your procedure. Instructions and expectations will be reviewed by a patient counsellor. Antibiotic eye drops will be applied to the surface of your eye(s). Numbing drops will be placed later in the laser room. At this point, the doctor performing the procedure will meet with you, allowing you to ask any questions you may have about the procedure. You are then brought into the laser room, and positioned comfortably under the laser. An eyelid holder is put in place to help keep your eye open.
During the procedure, there is a flashing green light which you are instructed to look at. There are several key steps in the procedure, such as when the laser is firing, when it is especially important to look steadily at the flashing green light. The non-operative eye is patched to help you concentrate.
The laser tracker finds your correct eye position and the corneal surface is sculpted by the laser, completely touch-less! The laser makes a clicking or buzzing sound as it fires. There may also be a smell similar to burning hair. The amount of time the laser is fired is approximately 40 seconds, depending on the degree of correction. Even if your eye wanders during this time, the laser will still track your eye throughout the procedure to have a perfectly centered treatment. When the laser is finished, the doctor places a contact lens on your eye as a bandage, cools the eye down with iced saline, and then removes the eyelid holder.
If you are scheduled to have both eyes done on the same day, the second eye is done immediately after the first. When the doctor finishes the procedure, you are taken into a nearby examination room for an immediate vision check. A patient counsellor will then help you review the post-operative instructions.
Following the procedure, you are encouraged to go home and rest. The next day you will return for a post-operative exam at our office. If you do not live in the Vancouver area, we ask only that you stay overnight in Vancouver so we can monitor you the next day. (We can supply information on accommodations).
You may experience some temporary discomfort within the first 24 hours after the procedure. Your kit contains ophthalmic drops to promote the healing process. The drops should be taken as instructed in the instructions given to you, but it could vary with each patient. If there is any confusion in regards to the eye drops, please do not hesitate to ask a staff member.
Immediately after your procedure, the vision is remarkably functional! After the use of preservative-free lubricant eye drops, your vision is usually good enough to check your phone for emails and messages. For this week (while the bandage contact lenses are on), we recommend using the preservative-free lubricant eye drops before any screen time, and to limit screen time usage to 30-minute inervals to avoid eye-strain. You may also exercise today. The key is to avoid getting sweat in your eyes (usually a cap or sweatband works well).
Avoid poking or rubbing your eye(s). Also avoid getting any water in them as it may contain contaminants. When taking a shower, keep water-tight goggles on. We recommend drying your hair, face and rims of the goggles before taking off the goggles. This prevents tap water from getting into your eyes.
Your vision will be blurry and fluctuating throughout this week. Do not expect to see well enough to drive during this time. You should wear protective sunglasses outside during the daytime.
Your vision for the first few days will be functional with the use of preservative-free lubricant eye drops. However, blurriness, discomfort and light sensitivity is expected to get worse around the third or fourth day. Noticeable daily improvement usually begins around the fifth day, and continues for several weeks.
One week after the SmartSurfACE Laser Procedure, you must return to our clinic or visit your optometrist to have your bandage contact lens removed. We do not recommend removing the contact lens yourself because the newly-healed surface is still susceptible to possible infections. At this time, patients will begin a two month regiment of steroid drops to control the healing of your eye(s).
After SmartSurfACE Laser Procedure, it can take as much as three months for your vision to stabilize. Steroid drops must be taken strictly according to the prescribed regimen. Deviations from this regime may contribute to haze and/or regression.
You should see your doctor one month, two months, three months, six months and one year after your procedure. This is important to see whether the steroid drops are causing an increase in eye pressure, and to deal with this if necessary.
If you plan to go on vacation to a sunny/ tropical destination within 3 months after SLP, please give our office a call before departing on your trip. There is a chance that the doctors would like you to use resume some eye drops while you are away.
For most patients, this is the end of the story; complete freedom from, or less dependence on glasses or contact lenses.