The 11 Biggest Lies About Laser Eye Surgery

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Laser eye surgery is one of the most common and safest surgeries in the UK. It’s also hugely successful, with the vast majority of patients reporting positive results. 

Despite that, over the years, a number of laser eye surgery myths have formed on the back of misinformation and confusion. 

That’s why, in this article, we want to alleviate your concerns and tackle some of the biggest lies about laser eye surgery, head-on. 

Ready for a spot of myth-busting?

11 Myths About Laser Eye Surgery

The benefits of laser eye treatment are not permanent

One of the most common laser eye surgery myths is that its benefits won’t last forever. This is true, but not because laser eye surgery itself isn’t permanent. Laser eye surgery will permanently change the structure of your cornea to improve your vision. This change will last a lifetime and cannot be reversed.

That said, the cornea, just like any other part of the human body, will naturally change with age – and that’s not something laser eye surgery can prevent. This means that, as you get older, you might still experience changes in your vision.

This doesn’t mean that your laser eye surgery has ‘worn off’, however. It just means your eyes are ageing, as they would’ve done with or without the treatment. You could even get additional treatments to fix this if you want to hold off age-related concerns.

I’ve heard there’s a burning smell!

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Although you might notice a strange smell during your treatment, it certainly isn’t burning. That’s because the lasers used in laser eye surgery have next to no thermal effect on your tissue, which means they couldn’t possibly be burning anything.

The strange smell actually comes from the chemical reaction that occurs when the laser interacts with the cornea and releases carbon atoms into the air. This is totally normal and isn’t a cause for concern.

It won’t work as I’m too short-sighted

This is one of the biggest lies about laser eye surgery that, in most cases, simply isn’t true.

Laser eye surgery can treat 95% of all patients, including those who are very short-sighted.

Of course, there is a very slim chance that you might fall in the 5% of patients who can’t be treated. But even if that is the case, some clinics might still be able to help you, such as those who specialise in treating high prescriptions.

I will never need glasses or contact lenses again

That’s not always the case.

Regardless of whether or not you have laser eye surgery, your eyes will still naturally age as you get older. This is likely to lead to changes in your vision, due to your lens losing its elasticity. As such, you might still need to wear glasses or contact lenses for certain activities, such as reading or driving, in the future.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that laser eye surgery doesn’t make permanent changes to your eye – it just can’t prevent age-related change.

Laser eye surgery can cause blindness

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Thankfully, in the millions of laser eye surgeries that have been carried out, not a single patient has ever been fully blinded by it. That’s because laser eye surgery only affects the front surface of the eye, which makes major complications very unlikely.

That said, there are still risks to having laser eye surgery – no matter how unlikely they are – and you should take your aftercare seriously to prevent these.

The cheapest procedure will have the same outcomes as the most expensive

Of all laser eye surgery myths, this is probably the most dangerous.

If you find a clinic that’s offering laser eye surgery considerably cheaper than most, you need to ask yourself why.

  • What treatment type are they carrying out?
  • Do they offer the required aftercare?
  • Are their surgeons fully qualified and experienced?
  • Do they use up-to-date technology?

Whatever it is, there’ll be a reason why the clinic is so cheap – and that reason could be a serious red flag. For reference, most LASIK treatments in the UK will cost between £1,200  – £3,000 per eye, depending on the treatment type and clinic. If you’re tempted to book LASIK surgery for a price cheaper than that in the UK you need to be wary.

Most clinics will offer some kind of finance option, too, that’ll let you pay for your treatment over a period of time. That’s a much better (and safer) alternative to potentially putting yourself in danger.

Laser eye surgery is a long procedure

That’s not true at all.

Most laser eye surgery treatments can be completed in less than half an hour – and the laser will only be used for a tiny fraction of that time.

You’ll have to find time in your schedule for an initial consultation and follow-up appointments, but the surgery itself is one of the quickest surgeries you could have.

My eyes might blink or move during laser eye surgery

It’s very unlikely that your eyes will blink or move during laser eye surgery. Your surgeon will hold your eyes open using a special device called a lid speculum, and they’ll also administer eye drops that’ll numb your eyes and limit movement.

That said, even if you do manage to blink or move your eyes, it wouldn’t be a problem. The lasers used in laser eye surgery can follow your eyes far faster than you could ever move them. You could even move your eyes from left to right and the laser would still be able to track and treat them.

And don’t worry – if you do happen to move too much, the laser will stop automatically, so you can’t put yourself in any danger.

I am too old for laser eye surgery

Another of the biggest lies about laser surgery is that there’s an upper age limit on who can have it, which isn’t true.

Every patient is judged on a case-by-case basis and although many older patients won’t be suitable for laser eye surgery, some might be. A 60-year-old with a thick cornea, for example, might be a better candidate than a 40-year-old with a thin and damaged one.

Your surgeon will be able to determine what’s right for you – but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t at least consider laser eye surgery, so long as you’re over the age of 18-years-old.

The laser is hot

Actually, the opposite is true!

The lasers used in laser eye surgery emit a cold beam of ultraviolet light that can smooth out any irregularities in your cornea. It’s impossible for it to burn and you won’t feel a thing.

This has become one of the biggest lies about laser eye surgery because of the smell of carbon atoms released by the laser, which can often be mistaken for burning.

If laser eye surgery goes wrong, nothing can be done to correct it


The chance of something going wrong during laser eye surgery is around 1 in 1000 – but even if it does, you don’t need to panic. Most clinics will put right any mistakes or errors for no additional charge.

This might include offering an enhancement treatment, giving you extra eye drops to relieve any ongoing dryness, or even re-doing the full procedure if necessary.

Ask your consultant for their policy on this and what the likelihood is of something going wrong. Some patients are more difficult to treat than others and might need a few corrections. Make sure you know if that applies to you, so you can pick a clinic accordingly.