What Happens During LASIK?

LASIK is the most popular elective medical procedure you can undergo, and for a good reason. It’s a low-risk and highly effective vision correction procedure that can provide you with total visual freedom.

Most patients that have LASIK no longer need to use glasses or contact lenses to see.  Over 95% of patients who get LASIK report satisfaction with their results.

Are you worried that you won’t qualify as a good candidate for the procedure? There’s an excellent chance you will, as about 85% of patients who had a LASIK consultation qualify for LASIK. Not only is it the only way to find out if you qualify for LASIK, but a LASIK consultation is also a zero-commitment way to see if LASIK may be right for you.

But what does getting LASIK entail, and what is it like to undergo?

There are a few critical steps for preoperative prep, the procedure itself, and recovery to have LASIK safely. Keep reading to find out what happens during LASIK and if it may be right for you!

Evaluation and Consultation

Before you can get LASIK, a LASIK surgeon from New England Eye Center needs to make sure that you’re a good candidate. Technically, LASIK is FDA-approved if you’re 18 or older.

But most LASIK surgeons prefer patients to be in their mid to late twenties before having LASIK. Being in this age range increases the likelihood that you’ll have a stable prescription and that your eyes will not change after having LASIK.

A LASIK consultation and evaluation ensures that LASIK will be safe and effective, so you won’t have to worry about complications. If you’re a good LASIK candidate, the risks involved in undergoing it are very low.

Because LASIK is a surgical procedure, there are some, but they’re very unlikely. Your risk of developing complications after LASIK is significantly minimized when you choose a surgeon with plenty of experience performing LASIK.

10-15% of patients get screened out of having LASIK for one reason or another, like corneal thickness or dry eye syndrome. Still, there may be alternative vision correction procedures that those patients may qualify for, like PRK or refractive lens exchange. Talk to your eye doctor about what alternatives they offer and whether they recommend them if you don’t qualify for LASIK.

If you do qualify for LASIK, the next step is scheduling your surgery. You’ll usually schedule the procedure for a few weeks out as you need to take a break from wearing contact lenses before you can have LASIK.

On the day that you have LASIK, make sure you have someone to drive you there and back. Although you will go home the same day since LASIK is an outpatient procedure, you won’t be allowed to drive.

Numbing Eye Drops

The first step of LASIK surgery is an anesthetic that’s in the form of numbing eye drops. There’s no general anesthesia used during LASIK.

If you’re nervous, your eye doctor may offer you a mild sedative like Valium to help you relax. You’ll receive the numbing eye drops before LASIK begins that will cover the whole surface of your eye.

After the drops have been applied, you’ll blink to distribute the substance all over your eye. Within minutes, your eye will become completely numb, ensuring you won’t feel any pain.

Creating a Corneal Flap

What makes LASIK so effective and easy to recover from is the corneal flap. The corneal flap is a flap created in the cornea.

The cornea is the clear part of your eye that’s reshaped during LASIK. Reshaping the cornea corrects refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

After LASIK, the flap acts as a natural bandage to protect your eye while it heals. Eventually, it’ll fuse back with your eye without any need for stitches or sutures to hold it in place.

To create the corneal flap, your New England Eye Center surgeon will place a suction ring over the eye that they use as a guide to form the flap. Although your eyes are numb, you may feel slight pressure while the flap is being created. It shouldn’t be painful and only lasts a few seconds at most.

Using a Pre-Programmed Laser

After creating the flap, your surgeon will move on to reshaping the cornea. A pre-programmed laser, called an excimer laser, is used to reshape your cornea and correct your refractive errors.

The excimer laser is exact and removes tissue from the cornea without causing any damage. Only areas that are targeted are treated during this process.

LASIK takes only a few minutes for each eye, and you’ll have both eyes corrected at the same time. Because the eye is numbed, most patients can’t feel anything when the excimer laser is used.

Once the cornea is reshaped, your surgeon will replace the corneal flap, where it will heal on its own. There’s no need for stitches, concluding your LASIK procedure. You’ll be able to go home after sitting in the recovery room for a few minutes.

Recovering After LASIK

On the day that you have LASIK, it’s recommended to rest. You may experience some slight discomfort, like burning, itching, or dryness. These feelings of discomfort will go away on their own, usually after about a week.

Most LASIK patients find that they can go back to work the day after having their procedure, but it can depend on the individual. You may find that your vision starts improving almost immediately after having LASIK and only continues to get better in the days and weeks after.

You will need to take prescription eye drops for inflammation and to prevent infection as directed. Make sure to attend all follow-up appointments with your eye doctor.

Your first appointment will be 24-48 hours after having LASIK to ensure that your eyes are healing correctly. You’ll also need to avoid all bodies of water for the first month, like hot tubs, pools, the ocean, lakes, and streams.

Water can carry bacteria, and your eyes will be more susceptible to infection while they are still healing. You’ll also need to stop wearing eye makeup for the first week after the procedure.

To keep your eyes safe, do not participate in any contact sports that may result in getting hit in the face or head for a few weeks. If you have any questions about what to expect, make sure to ask your eye doctor during your LASIK consultation.

Having LASIK is a life-changing event. Find out if it could be right for you by scheduling a LASIK consultation at New England Eye Center in Boston, MA, now!

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