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Do You Need a Referral for Laser Eye Surgery?

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Senior woman patient talking with female optometrist during a consultation.

If you deal with a vision issue like nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, you may need glasses or contacts to see better. And if you do, you may be frustrated with the constant cleaning and care they take. If any of this sounds familiar, you may have wondered about laser eye surgery and how you could go about getting it.

While you don’t need a referral for laser eye surgery, you do need to have a consultation with your optometrist first. They’ll perform a comprehensive eye exam before recommending what type of surgery may suit you best. 

Many factors determine if you’re eligible for corrective eye surgery. Speak with your optometrist to determine whether or not you qualify.

What Is Laser Eye Surgery?

Laser eye surgery is a high-tech, cutting-edge procedure designed to correct refractive errors and improve vision. The most common forms of this surgery include laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).

LASIK and PRK are performed by an ophthalmologist (an eye surgeon) using a laser to reshape your cornea. These surgeries aim to provide you with clear vision by reshaping your cornea to correct a refractive error.

The Importance of a Referral for Laser Eye Surgery

When considering laser eye surgery, obtaining a referral from your optometrist is beneficial. Although not mandatory, a referral allows your optometrist to perform a thorough eye examination. It helps them determine if laser eye surgery can help your vision issues and enables them to assess your eye health and potential complications, reducing risks associated with the procedure.

To determine your eligibility, your optometrist will assess:

  • Your overall eye health
  • The stability of your prescription 
  • The thickness of your cornea

During this evaluation, they can identify any other eye conditions or complications that may impact the outcome of the surgery.

Can You Skip the Referral for Laser Eye Surgery?

While a referral isn’t necessary, it is strongly recommended. If you’ve been seeing the same optometrist for a few years, they’ll know your eyes well and understand their changes. By assessing your eye health before surgery, your optometrist can identify factors that could affect the surgery results.

Additionally, your optometrist can recommend you to a trusted and skilled surgeon. They can also facilitate open communication between all parties so you can have reasonable expectations about your laser eye surgery results.

An optometrist pointing to an eye chart that their patient is reading

What to Expect at a Consultation for Laser Eye Surgery

When considering laser eye surgery, the first step is to visit your optometrist. They’ll perform a routine comprehensive eye exam and check out the overall health of your eye. They may perform a series of tests regarding your:

  • Visual acuity
  • Corneal thickness
  • Corneal shape
  • Your tear production

They’ll also take the time to screen your eyes for any possible eye conditions that could cause complications. Once these tests are done, they’ll walk you through the basics of the surgery and answer any questions you may have. It’s common for people to have concerns or questions about what to expect both before, during, and after the surgery, and your optometrist can often answer them.

They’ll be able to spend some time addressing your worries so you can have reasonable expectations about the outcomes of the surgery. Knowing the risks and other factors associated with corrective surgeries can help you feel more confident about the procedure.

Where to Learn About Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery is a complex procedure that must be performed by an experienced professional, and you may have concerns and questions about the process. While you don’t require a referral to pursue laser eye surgery, getting one from an optometrist can set you up for success.

Book a consultation with your optometrist to learn more about laser eye surgery. Here at Aurora 2020, we know you may have many questions about what to expect from corrective surgery, and we’re here to answer them. To learn more about laser eye surgery and get a referral, schedule an appointment with us today!


Written by Dr. Robert MacAlpine

Dr. MacAlpine graduated from Queen’s University, and attended the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA. He graduated in 1999 with clinical and academic honours and was recipient of the Alcon Award for Most Outstanding Contact Lens Clinician. His internships included Pediatric and Low Vision focused training, several Veteran Affairs Hospitals in the greater Boston area, and the Barnet Dulaney Cataract and LASIK Center in Phoenix, Arizona. After graduating, Dr. MacAlpine established a successful practice and optical store in the Boston area. Practicing in the United States allowed him privileges of treatment and prescribing for eye diseases that were not permitted to Ontario Optometrists until 2011. Robert was thrilled to return to his native Ontario in 2011 to raise his two daughters, Deanna and Ella with his wife Amy. He enjoys playing hockey and being active with his family.
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