LASIK eye surgery is the most common elective procedure and is performed to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. In most cases, and completed within several minutes per eye. The results improve your vision to reduce and in most cases eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses, and the results of the procedure can usually be noticed within 24 hours. Like most types of Laser eye surgery, LASIK reshapes the cornea to allow the light entering the eye to be focused on the proper part of the retina to obtain clearer vision. There are multiple laser vision correction surgeries available, such as PRK, LASEK, Custom and all-laser Bladeless LASIK. An exam with our LASIK surgeon will determine if LASIK surgery is right for you and typically takes only 60 to 90 minutes of your time. After the exam you will know if your are potential LASIK candidate and the procedure recommended for you.
LASIK Surgery Pre Operative Exam
Your LASIK doctor will perform a dilated eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy for LASIK eye surgery. The surgeon will evaluate the shape and thickness of your cornea, refractive errors, pupil size and your general overall health to determine if you are a candidate for LASIK. The chance of developing dry eyes will also be evaluated, and a treatment plan may be recommended to reduce your risk of developing dry eyes after LASIK surgery.
If you are having Custom LASIK you likely will have a 3D image of your eye, referred to as Wavefront analysis, which creates a more precise map of overall aberrations affecting your vision. Because contact lenses alter the natural shape of your eye, you will be asked to stop wearing contacts for a specified period of time prior to your surgery date.
Typically the time to remove soft contact lenses is 1-2 weeks and hard contacts can be up to 4 weeks; your LASIK surgeon will advise how long to stay out of your contacts during your consultation.
LASIK Eye Surgery Explanation - How it Works
Prior to your LASIK eye surgery, numbing eye drops are used to alleviate any discomfort to the eye. Some surgeons may also prescribe medication to help you relax. LASIK requires only topical anesthetic drops, and no stitches are required to heal. Your eye will be positioned under the laser, and an instrument called a lid speculum is used to keep your eyelids open.
Your surgeon will use either an instrument called a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser to create a thin semi-circular flap in the cornea on the surface of the eye. The surgeon will then use the excimer laser to treat your specific prescription by utilizing a cool ultraviolet beam of light to reshape the cornea.
This allows light entering the eye to be refocused for more accurate vision. The surgery is painless; however, you may feel some pressure on your eyes. LASIK is performed on each eye independently with the entire surgery taking only several minutes. After the laser reshapes the cornea, the flap is repositioned and serves as a natural bandage for the healing process.
Risks and Complications from LASIK
With any surgical procedure there are potential risks involved. In the case of LASIK eye surgery, most risks and potential complications are not significantly vision threatening. In addition, most patients who experience LASIK complications can receive a retreatment or enhancement through a second treatment. Rarely do LASIK complications cause significant or permanent vision loss which results in the patient ending up with worse vision than prior to the LASIK eye surgery procedure.
LASIK Surgery Post Operative Information
After LASIK eye surgery, you will need someone to drive you home. You may experience a temporary itching sensation in your eyes and should expect some blurry vision or haziness immediately after the procedure, which generally lasts 8-12 hours. The next day your vision and clarity should continue to improve. Most people return to work and drive themselves to their follow up appointment the very next day.
Additionally, the majority of doctors request an additional follow up exam 2-4 weeks after the LASIK procedure and 1-3 months after the surgery. During your LASIK recovery, your doctor will likely want to see you 24 - 48 hours after your surgery to ensure your eyes are healing correctly. Most people can return to work the next day or within a few days of their LASIK eye surgery.
It is normal in the first few weeks after the Laser eye surgery, to feel a slight discomfort described as an “eye lash” in the eye which is also a normal feeling during your recovery time. It is important to keep your eyes lubricated with eye drops for the first few weeks to three months after the Laser procedure. Even when your eyes don’t feel dry, you should try to use lubricating eye drops 3-4 times a day to prevent your eyes from getting dry. Patients can also experience increased sensitivity to light and this is another reason patients are recommended to wear sunglasses anytime they are outside, even when it is overcast.
Each surgeon has a list and timeframe of restrictions for their patients. Your doctor might limit exercise, swimming, wearing eye makeup or any makeup for a few weeks. Contact sports, hot tubs and whirlpools can be limited for a few months. You should follow your doctor’s postoperative instructions during your LASIK recovery to help the healing as much as possible.
If you think you are having any issues during your LASIK recovery, you should call your doctor who has access to your complete medical history to confirm if your specific situation is within normal limits or if further postoperative care will be required.
2-3 Months After Laser Eye Surgery
It is common for the eyes to continue to heal for at least 3 months after LASIK surgery. Patients with more severe prescriptions can continue to heal for up to 6 months. Since everyone heals differently it is not possible to know exactly how your eyes will heal and in a few cases (3-5%) of patients will require an enhancement or “touch up” after their LASIK recovery has passed and their eyes are stable.