LASIK, short for Laser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis, is a refractive eye surgery, one of several types of vision correction surgeries performed on the eye itself. LASIK uses an excimer laser, which applies ultraviolet light to reshape the cornea.
Vision can become blurry when the cornea, the clear front part of the eye, is shaped abnormally. Because of this abnormality, light doesn’t bend, or refract, properly as it reaches the retina in back of the eye. We call these refractive errors. They can include:
- Nearsightedness (myopia), where distant images seem blurry
- Farsightedness (hyperopia), where near images seem blurry
- Astigmatism, where close-up or distant images seem blurry
LASIK can correct these vision problems. In some cases, laser surgery for refractive errors may reduce or eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses.
The LASIK process, step by step
Before Your Surgery
At your LASIK consultation, your doctor will perform a series of sophisticated and painless tests to determine the unique shape of your eye. This allows us to personalize your procedure with remarkable precision.
LASIK surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means you will not spend the night in the hospital. The actual procedure takes less than 15 minutes, but plan for the appointment to last about an hour. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions, but here are some steps that are usually recommended:
- Arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery
- Do not wear contacts for 7-10 days before the surgery
- Do not wear any eye makeup, perfume, cologne or aftershave the day of the surgery
During Your Surgery
On the day of your surgery, we may give you low-dose anti-anxiety oral medication to help you relax. You’ll receive medicated eye drops that will help make you comfortable during the treatment.
The entire procedure takes less than 15 minutes and involves minimal discomfort.
The LASIK process involves two lasers: the first prepares your eyes for the surgery by creating a small flap in your cornea, the thin outer layer of the eye. Your doctor will use an eyelid retainer to gently hold your eye open so that you won’t have to worry about blinking. The second laser – a cool, ultraviolet laser that you can neither see nor feel – will reshape your cornea.
After the reshaping of the cornea is complete, the surgeon places your corneal flap back into position. During the procedure, it is common to experience hazy vision and flashing lights.
After Your Surgery
You will most likely notice an immediate improvement in your vision, even though it may be hazy. Expect three to four hours of eye-watering, scratchiness and sensitivity to light. We suggest you sleep during this time if you can.
The next morning, you will return for a postoperative check. Most patients are able to drive themselves to this appointment and notice significantly improved vision. You may experience some glare, halos or dry eyes, but they will improve dramatically as your eyes heal.
Surgeons recommend not swimming or using a hot tub for three weeks after surgery, and not wearing any eye make-up for at least two days.
Your eyes will continue to heal over the next 8-12 weeks. During this time, patients may experience some dryness, blurred vision, halos and glare.
Potential Side Effects
Side effects may include:
- Dry eye
- Glare, halos and ghosting images
Other rare risks, such as infection, inflammation and corneal ectasia (thinning) are possible.
Speak to your ophthalmologist if you have any questions or concerns.LASIK Q&A
I've read that pregnant or nursing women do not make good candidates for LASIK. Why?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you undergo hormonal changes that can affect the structure of your eyes. Doctors generally recommend that if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, or have breastfed within the last three months, to postpone LASIK until consulting with your physician.
Can I be too old for LASIK?
Will I have perfect vision after LASIK?
Ohio State’s Dr. Castellano says that more than 94 percent of Ohio State LASIK patients enjoy 20/20 vision or better after the procedure. Your doctor can explain the likelihood of LASIK correcting the specific circumstances of your vision, but most people no longer need to use glasses or contacts.
Is LASIK surgery painful?
Most people say the procedure is virtually painless. Anesthetic drops are applied to your eye before the procedure begins, and any postsurgical discomfort can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. That discomfort is usually limited to mild dryness or scratchiness for a few hours.
Can I have surgery on both eyes in one visit?
When can I go back to work and my regular activities?
Most people who have LASIK can return to work the next day, but you’ll first have a postsurgical follow-up that morning. Your doctor may suggest light workouts for a few days to keep sweat out of your eyes. It may be three to four weeks or more before you can safely return to swimming.
How long does LASIK last?
It’s possible that you may never need corrective lenses again, but as you age, you may require reading glasses, which LASIK does not correct.