LASIK eye surgery is the most popular option for corrective eye surgery. The surgery itself is fast and pain-free. It also has a success rate of over 90% and the patient can see improvement in their vision immediately. As with all corrective eye surgeries, the cornea of your eye is reshaped so light traveling through it can properly be focused on the retina.
If you're interested in LASIK eye surgery, here's what you should expect before, during, and after the surgery.
The Surgical Procedure
Approximately 24 hours before surgery, stop using any makeup, lotions, creams, and perfumes as they can cause infection. Remember to have someone come with you to the surgery as you cannot drive yourself home afterwards.
The surgery itself will take only about thirty minutes. First, the doctor will apply eye drops to numb the area and may give you a mild sedative to reduce anxiety and involuntary muscle movements. He or she will use an instrument known as a lid speculum to keep your eyelids from closing. A circular suction implement is applied to the eye's surface to keep it still. You may experience some discomfort and pressure. You may also experience somewhat dimmed vision from this point until the end of the surgery.
The surgeon then makes a small flap approximately the size of a contact lens using a surgical blade or a laser. This gives the surgeon access to the cornea where the reshaping takes place. You'll see through this process, though your vision will have fluctuating clarity and blurriness. During the procedure, your surgeon will provide a target light for you to focus on.
Keep in mind that the laser's pulse will make a ticking sound. The laser reshapes your cornea by removing corneal tissue and as a result some patients report a smell similar to singed hair.
After the laser has reshaped your cornea, the flap will be replaced. You may be given a shield to place over your eye so you don't accidentally rub it. If full vision correction requires surgery on both eyes, each will be done separately but on the same day.
Preparing for the Procedure
Before LASIK eye surgery, your eye doctor performs an extensive eye exam to make sure you're a good candidate. He or she will take a look at the thickness and shape of your cornea, your pupil size, the moistness of your eyes, any refractive errors, and other eye conditions.
If you wear contact lenses regularly, you should switch to wearing glasses before this examination. Wearing contact lenses can change the shape of your cornea, and your cornea needs to be in its natural shape before the doctor takes any measurements. At the examination, the doctor will make a map of the cornea and determine which areas need reshaping.
Recovering From the Procedure
Immediately after your procedure, you may feel some discomfort in the form of burning, itching, or feeling like there's something in your eye. Your vision may also be blurry or hazy. No matter how much you feel like you need to rub your eyes, don't. This may shift the flap and require further treatment.
It takes anywhere from immediately after the surgery to a couple weeks for people to see an improvement in their vision. Full improvement takes several months. Doctors recommend you rest for a few days following the surgery and don't participate in any strenuous activity.
A follow-up appointment with your surgeon or usual eye doctor will be scheduled for a day or two after the surgery. This appointment is simply to check how your eye is healing, ensure there are no complications, and evaluate your vision to see if you can legally drive without contacts or glasses.
Throughout this whole process keep an open dialogue with your doctor, letting him or her know of any questions, concerns, or problems that may arise.