Standing for laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, LASIK is a state-of-the-art surgical procedure used to improve vision. An effective treatment for myopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism, laser eye surgery provides patients with clearer sight without the need for glasses or contact lenses.

While most of us long for clearer vision, patients are understandably hesitant about undergoing surgery on such a vital and sensitive body part. Understanding what to expect before, during, and after LASIK eye surgery can help you decide if the procedure is right for you.

Before the Procedure

Before undergoing LASIK, you may be asked to stop wearing contacts for several weeks. Because lenses reshape the cornea, they may affect the surgeon’s ability to correct your vision. Additionally, the doctor may instruct you to avoid wearing creams, lotions, or eye makeup on the day of your LASIK procedure.

During your LASIK appointment, the doctor will apply numbing drops to prevent any pain or discomfort. He or she may also prescribe a mild sedative to help you relax during the surgery. Once you are comfortable, the surgeon will utilize an instrument called a lid speculum to hold your eyelids open and prevent you from blinking. The doctor will then use an ink marker to indicate the spot on the cornea where the flap will be created.

The Procedure

During your LASIK eye surgery, you will lie back in a reclining chair at your doctor’s office. The surgeon will first place a suction ring on the front of the eye to keep it in place. He or she may also ask you to focus on a point of light to keep your eye in place. Once your eye is in the proper position, the surgeon will use a tiny blade or laser beam to open a flap in the eye, allowing access to the cornea. After folding back the flap, the doctor will utilize a pulsating, pre-programmed laser to remove the corneal tissue gradually. Once the reshaping is done, the surgeon will fold the flap back into place and allow the eye to heal naturally without the aid of stitches or bandages.

The type of laser eye surgery you undergo may vary slightly based on your specific vision enhancement needs. Because near-sighted patients suffer from eyeballs that are too long compared to their eyes’ focusing power, the surgeon will flatten the cornea to correct this condition. On the other hand, far-sighted patients require a steeper cornea to improve vision close up. LASIK can also correct astigmatism by reshaping an irregularly formed cornea into one that is more desirable.

While you should not feel any pain or discomfort during your LASIK eye surgery, you may experience some light pressure or a temporary dimming of vision.

After LASIK

To ensure your comfort, the eye doctor will provide you with eye drops and a prescription for pain relievers after LASIK. Still, it’s important to note that most patients report only mild discomfort after surgery. For safety’s sake, LASIK patients should avoid rubbing their eyes, participating in contact sports, or using hot tubs for several weeks. While it may be a few months before your vision stabilizes, most patients go on to enjoy pristine vision for years to come.