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LASIK Eye Surgery: How Does It Work?

LASIK Eye Surgery: How Does It Work?

Author: Dr. William Tullo
January 23, 2014

LASIK eye surgery starts and ends with your corneas and with a skilled eye surgeon (e.g., an ophthalmologist).

Here’s how LASIK eye surgery works:

1.  Numbing drops

First, your ophthalmologist applies numbing drops. He pulls down your bottom eye lid, administers drops and might add more later. They take effect in seconds and last 10 to 15 minutes. You might feel the device that holds your eye lid open, a sort of speculum special for LASIK eye surgery, but most people feel no pain.

2.  Flap

Next your surgeon creates a flap (using a laser or a blade). He lifts this flap and is ready to correct vision. When he creates and lifts the flap, your vision will dim and blur. This is normal.

3.  Laser reshaping (the famous part)

Your surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the stroma layer of your cornea. The laser removes cells according to your unique prescription. You look at a red or green light while a computer tracks eye movement, ensuring precision. You might hear a clicking noise and smell an odor. That’s normal too. If you’re getting custom LASIK eye surgery, your surgeon will correct for more than nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism.

4.  Flap replacement

Your surgeon replaces your flap with special instruments. He might apply more eye drops. Healing begins as you exit the laser suite. The surgery has taken about a half hour or less.

5.  Aftercare

Your eyes may water and feel irritated for a few hours. It’s recommended to nap and let your eyes rest. For a week you will apply drops (antibacterial, steroidal). Functional vision returns the night of surgery or the day after. Follow-up visits are dispersed throughout one year at increasingly long intervals (e.g., one day, one week, one month, three months) to track healing and to measure your prescription. Most patients reach 20/20 vision or better one-year out.


The information on this site is meant to complement and not replace any advice or information from an eye care or health professional. This website is sponsored by Health Care Marketing Services, LLC, a marketing company under the common ownership of The LASIK Vision Institute, LLC and TLC Laser Eye Care Centers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.