LASIK eye surgery is the best known and most commonly performed laser refractive surgery to correct vision problems. Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) can be an alternative to glasses or contact lenses. During LASIK surgery, a special type of cutting laser is used to precisely change the shape of the dome-shaped clear tissue at the front of your eye (cornea) to improve vision.
In eyes with normal vision, the cornea bends (refracts) light precisely onto the retina at the back of the eye. But with nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism, the light is bent incorrectly, resulting in blurred vision.
Glasses or contact lenses can correct vision, but reshaping the cornea itself also will provide the necessary refraction.
Before going to Lasik eye surgery read Pritish Kumar Halder illustration.
Why it’s done
LASIK surgery may be an option for the correction of one of these vision problems:
Nearsightedness (myopia). When your eyeball is slightly longer than normal or when the cornea curves too sharply, light rays focus in front of the retina and blur distant vision. You can see objects that are close fairly clearly, but not those that are far away.
Farsightedness (hyperopia). When you have a shorter than average eyeball or a cornea that is too flat, light focuses behind the retina instead of on it. This makes near vision, and sometimes distant vision, blurry.
Astigmatism. When the cornea curves or flattens unevenly, the result is astigmatism, which disrupts focus of near and distant vision.
If you’re considering LASIK surgery, you probably already wear glasses or contact lenses. Your eye doctor will talk with you about whether LASIK surgery or another similar refractive procedure is an option that will work for you.
How you prepare
Steps you can take to prepare for surgery include:
- Know what surgery may cost you. LASIK surgery is usually considered elective surgery, so most insurance companies won’t cover the cost of the surgery. Be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for your expenses.
- Arrange for a ride home. You’ll need to have someone drive you to and from your place of surgery. Immediately after surgery, you might still feel the effects of medicine given to you before surgery, and your vision may be blurry.
- Skip the eye makeup. Don’t use eye makeup, cream, perfumes or lotions on the day before and the day of your surgery. Your doctor may also instruct you to clean your eyelashes daily or more often in the days leading up to surgery, to remove debris and minimize your risk of infection.
What you can expect
Before the procedure
Long-term results from LASIK tend to be best in people who are carefully evaluated before surgery to ensure that they are good candidates for the procedure.
If you wear contact lenses, which can change the shape of your cornea, you’ll need to completely stop wearing them and wear only your glasses for at least a few weeks before your evaluation and surgery.
During the evaluation, your eye doctor will ask about your medical and surgical history and give you a comprehensive eye examination to evaluate your vision and assess whether you can undergo the procedure safely.
Your doctor will look for signs of:
- Eye infection
- Dry eyes
- Large pupils
- High eye pressure
Your eye doctor will also measure your cornea, noting the shape, contour, thickness and any irregularities. Your eye doctor will evaluate which areas of your cornea need reshaping and determine the precise amount of tissue to remove from your cornea.
Before surgery, your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of LASIK surgery, what to expect before and after surgery, and any questions you may have.
During the procedure
LASIK surgery is usually completed in 30 minutes or less. During the procedure, you lie on your back in a reclining chair. You may be given medicine to help you relax.
After numbing drops are placed in your eye, your doctor uses an instrument to hold your eyelids open.
A suction ring placed on your eye just before cutting the corneal flap may cause a feeling of pressure, and your vision may dim a little.
Your eye surgeon uses a small blade or cutting laser to cut a small hinged flap away from the front of your eye. Folding back the flap allows your doctor to access the part of your cornea to be reshaped.
Using a programmed laser, your eye surgeon reshapes parts of your cornea. With each pulse of the laser beam, a tiny amount of corneal tissue is removed. After reshaping the cornea, the surgeon lays the flap back into place. The flap usually heals without stitches.
During the surgery, you’ll be asked to focus on a point of light. Staring at this light helps you keep your eye fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea. You may detect a distinct odor as the laser removes your corneal tissue. Some people describe smelling an odor similar to that of burning hair.
If you need LASIK surgery in both eyes, doctors will generally conduct the procedure on the same day.
After the procedure
Immediately after surgery, your eye might itch, feel gritty, burn and be watery. You’ll probably have blurred vision. You generally will experience little pain, and you’ll usually recover your vision quickly.
You might be given pain medication or eyedrops to keep you comfortable for several hours after the procedure. Your eye doctor might also ask you to wear a shield over your eye at night until your eye heals.
You’ll be able to see after surgery, but your vision won’t be clear right away. It takes about two to three months after your surgery before your eye heals and your vision stabilizes. Your chances for improved vision are based, in part, on how good your vision was before surgery.