LASIK Surgery – Before and After

May 31, 2022


Contributing Author: Reid Gardner, OD

LASIK is a form of corrective laser eye surgery that is one of the most popular elective procedures in the world today. With the highest patient satisfaction rate and relatively short recovery period, this safe and effective procedure can completely change the quality of your vision. LASIK is even considered far safer than daily contact use. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the risks of corneal ulcers are higher with daily contact use than from LASIK complications.

LASIK remains one of the most commonly performed refractive procedures in America, with approximately 700,000 LASIK surgeries performed each year. Since the FDA approved LASIK surgery in 1999, approximately 10 million Americans have undergone the procedure. 

Many consider LASIK as a life-changing experience as it greatly increases one’s quality of life. However, regardless of its high success rate, the idea of being under a laser with an eye wide open can be daunting for many. Some worry about accidentally moving and hurting their eye, while others are concerned about being awake for any surgical procedure. 

If you’re thinking about getting LASIK, knowing what to expect before and after the procedure will help you prepare for what’s ahead and clear any confusions you may have.

What to Expect Before LASIK Surgery

Although LASIK comes with a high success rate, the procedure may not be a viable option for certain individuals. Before undergoing LASIK surgery, patients must first meet with a qualified eye doctor for a consultation. This consultation helps eye doctors determine a patient’s candidacy for the procedure based on the current quality of their vision and ocular health.

During the LASIK evaluation, the eye doctor will conduct a corneal topography of the eyes. This mapping approach aids the surgeon in determining where corneal modifications are required. During the consultation, the  eye doctor will also discuss the possible side effects of LASIK and the alternatives to laser eye surgeries. 

If you have any concerns or questions regarding the procedure, take the opportunity to address them before signing the consent form. Each patient is responsible for comprehending the procedure, its advantages, and any potential negative effects. As a result, it’s critical to understand the following:

  • The type of refractive error and other factors that can influence the results.
  • Alternatives to LASIK such as PRK, RK, and intracorneal rings.
  • Understanding the limitations of LASIK depending on a patient’s age and severity of the refractive error.
  • Potential side effects and the risk of complications. 

It’s also important to find the best-qualified surgeon to assist you in achieving the desired vision correction goals. Therefore make an effort to find a surgeon that fits your requirements. As every LASIK surgeon is different, it’s important to determine what works best for you in terms of personality and approach.

According to the American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC), there are five main credentials to look for in a surgeon:

  • The surgeon should be experienced with ideally 10,000 or more successful surgeries under his or her belt.
  • The surgeon must meet industry standards with their LASIK screening process.
  • The surgeon should be willing to provide knowledgeable answers to any questions the candidate might have.
  • Candidates shouldn’t feel obligated to get LASIK, and the consultation shouldn’t feel like a sales pitch.
  • Surgeons should not over-promise results. LASIK aims to enhance vision, not to perfect it. The surgeon should be upfront with the patient about any limitations.

After finalizing LASIK surgery, It’s important to follow your surgeon’s pre-surgery instructions to ensure a successful operation. There are a few guidelines that patients will be required to follow before undergoing LASIK, such as:

  • Avoid wearing contact lenses for a few weeks before surgery.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking to enhance recovery.
  • Use eye drops as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Drink plenty of water and have a heavy meal before the surgery.
  • Avoid wearing makeup, lotion, or perfumes on the day of the surgery.
  • Wear comfortable clothes on the day of surgery.
  • Arrange for pet care and meal deliveries ahead of the LASIK procedure. 
  • Arrange transportation home after surgery.

What to Expect During LASIK Surgery

LASIK surgery usually takes 30 minutes or less to complete. Patients will be lying on their back in a reclining chair during the operation. The surgeon will use an instrument to keep the eyelids open after placing numbing drops in the eye. A suction ring is placed on the eye just before creating the corneal flap. This suction ring will cause a slight pressure sensation, discomfort, and blurry vision. 

The surgeon will proceed to use a laser to create a thin flap in your cornea. The suction ring is then removed. Folding back the flap allows the surgeon to access the part of the cornea that needs to be reshaped. 

The eye surgeon will then reshape portions of the cornea with a programmed laser. A small amount of corneal tissue is removed with each pulse of the laser beam. The surgeon repositions the flap after reshaping the cornea. 

Because no stitches are used to hold the flap in place, an eye shield is worn when sleeping to avoid rubbing or putting pressure on your eye and protect your eye from being accidentally damaged or poked until the flap has healed.

What to Expect After LASIK Surgery

Visual recovery after LASIK is reasonably fast since the corneal flaps begin healing immediately after the procedure is completed. Soon after surgery, you may feel some discomfort, such as itchiness, slight pain, or the feeling of something in your eyes. A mild pain reliever can address these initial symptoms.

Your vision will likely be hazy or blurry soon after surgery. But this usually subsides within six to 12 hours. However, this varies from person to person. While one patient’s vision may improve immediately following surgery, another may take a little longer.

You may also notice light sensitivity, glare, starbursts or halos surrounding lights, or the whites of your eyes appearing red or bloodshot. Within the first several days after surgery, these symptoms should significantly improve. Some patients may find it helpful to take a few days off of work until the symptoms subside. a few days off work until the symptoms subside. If you suffer significant pain, or your eyesight or symptoms worsen rather than improve, you should contact your doctor immediately rather than wait for your scheduled appointment.

Within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery, a follow-up consultation is required. These postoperative consultations must continue at regular intervals for at least one month. To prevent infection and inflammation, your doctor may prescribe one or more types of eye drops for you to use at home.

During the early stages of healing, it’s important not to cause any irritation to the cornea. For this reason, you will be given an eye mask or protective goggles to provide additional protection. Ensure to arrange for transportation home after the operation, as you will not be allowed to drive yourself home.

Plan to rest your eyes for the rest of the day once arriving home safely. It’s always a good idea to take a nap when you get home. It’s advised that you sleep on your back the first night while wearing the protective eye mask. You should be able to resume most of your usual everyday activities over the next 24-48 hours. 


How to Take Care Of Your Eyes After LASIK Surgery

Follow-up appointments with your surgeon, a recovery plan for you to follow, and specific guidelines to keep in mind are all part of post-LASIK care. In general, post-LASIK care refers to how you care for your eyes after surgery to achieve the desired results. It’s critical to look after your eyes during the healing process to reduce the risks and complications associated with LASIK surgery. Here are some simple guidelines to follow:

  • Do not take a shower till 24 hours after surgery. And avoid shampoo, shower water, and soap around your eyes.
  • Limit screen time during the first week, and avoid all screens for the first day or two.
  • Avoid spas, whirlpools, hot tubs, saunas, and swimming pools for a few weeks.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol for a few weeks after the surgery.
  • Refrain from rubbing your eyes for at least a month.
  • Sleep with a protective eye shield during the first week.
  • Avoid vigorous physical activity such as contact sports and exercise.
  • Avoid driving until vision stabilizes.
  • Protect the eyes from the harmful effects of the sun and dust by wearing sunglasses.
  • Wait up to two weeks after surgery before applying lotions, creams, or eye makeup.

Taking care of your eyes before and after the LASIK surgery is extremely important to avoid discomfort and reduce side effects. You can speed up the recovery process by following a regular eye care routine for several months after the procedure to get the best LASIK  result in the shortest possible time.

Schedule Your Free Consult Today

Here at OOMC, our patient’s well-being is our priority. Our dedicated team of surgeons and staff always makes an effort to create a safe and secure environment where you can easily access care comfortably and confidently.

Contact one of our centers nearest to you for further information.

Corneal Associates of New Jersey

Kremer Eye Center

Ludwick Eye Center

Omni Eye Services

Phillips Eye Center

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