LASIK eye surgery is a safe procedure option for patients who wish to reduce or eliminate their need for glasses or corrective lenses. LASIK is the most common type of refractive surgery (surgery that changes the shape of your cornea).
LASIK eye surgery can be an option to correct vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia. The end result with LASIK is to bend, or refract, light rays to focus more precisely on your retina rather than at some point beyond (farsightedness) or short (nearsightedness) of your retina.
Preparing for LASIK
Your doctor may have specific guidelines for you to follow before the procedure, but the following provide some common best practices to follow before undergoing LASIK:
- Stop wearing your contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, you’ll need to switch to glasses full-time for a few weeks before your surgery. Contact lenses can distort the shape of your cornea, which could lead to inaccurate measurements and poor results from LASIK.
- Don’t wear eye makeup. You will be asked not to wear eye makeup or use eye cream the day before and the day of your surgery. This will help minimize the risk of infection.
- Have a friend or family member pick you up. You will not be able to drive after surgery. You might still feel the effects of the medicine given to you before surgery and your vision may be blurry, so you will need to arrange a ride home.
- Know what the surgery will cost you. LASIK surgery is considered elective surgery and is not covered by most insurance.
What Happens During LASIK?
LASIK eye surgery is performed with a laser that is programmed to remove a defined amount of tissue from your cornea. The laser allows your eye surgeon to flatten the curve of your cornea or make it steeper. Your surgeon will take measurements of your cornea and note any irregularities that need to be reshaped prior to your procedure.
You will be given numbing drops in each eye before the procedure. You may also be given medicine to help you relax. Your surgeon will use an instrument to hold your eyes open. During the surgery you’ll be ask to focus on a point of light, which will help keep your eye fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea.
Your surgeon will use a special blade or cutting laser to cut a flap about the size of a contact lens to allow the doctor access to the part of your cornea that needs reshaping. Your surgeon then uses a laser to reshape your cornea. After finishing the reshaping process, the flap is folded back in place and usually heals without stitches. The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes.
What Happens After LASIK?
Immediately after surgery, your eyes may burn or itch and be watery. You’ll be able to see, but your vision will probably be blurry. Your doctor will give you pain medication and eye drops to keep you comfortable.
It takes about two to three months after your surgery before your eye heals and your vision stabilizes. You will have a follow-up appointment with your doctor one or two days after surgery to check and see how your eye is healing.
What Are the Risks of LASIK?
As with any surgical procedure, LASIK eye surgery has some risks. Be sure to talk to your doctor about these risks before the procedure.
- Sensitivity to glare
- Seeing “halos” around bright lights
- Double vision
- Dry eyes
- Problems with the flap after surgery such as infection, excess tears and swelling