LASIK allows individuals greater independence from glasses or contacts by enabling
them to have functional natural vision. LASIK has changed the lives of thousands
of people (myself included), freeing them from their dependency on contact lenses
and glasses. However, one needs to be realistic about the limitations of the
It is impossible to guarantee exact results due to the unique healing factor
of each patient and potential variability of surgical technique, eye measurements,
and equipment. Excellent surgeons can largely control the latter three variables.
Individuals should not expect "perfect vision" even though surgeons
will aim for it. Although over 50% of patients can achieve 20/20 vision, it
is not essential to be 20/20 to be satisfied and functional in most, if not
all, daily activities. The success rates can be as high as 90-97% with patients
achieving 20/30 vision or better (20/25, 20/20). Such patients can function
most if not all times without their glasses or contact lenses. If the vision
is less than 20/30, then an enhancement LASIK procedure, glasses or contacts
are options for additional improvement in vision.
It is important to have realistic expectations of vision improvement to maximize
your level of satisfaction.
You should expect the procedure to be relatively quick, usually under
15 minutes per eye. Powerful numbing drops are used, but there can be some temporary discomfort. Immediately after the surgery,
your vision may be fuzzy. This is normal.
Typically, it takes six to eight hours to notice the initial recovery in vision,
so it is important to be patient. The day of the surgery it is important to
keep your eyes closed after surgery to allow for proper lubrication of
the eye's surface during recovery. Before you leave the clinic to go home, your
eyes should be examined again (usually 15 minutes to an hour following
the procedure) to ensure that the flap is in good position. Valium (or an equivalent
medicine) may be given as a sleeping aid.
It is normal to experience some stinging or foreign-body-in-the-eye sensations
after the procedure and patients should expect to use anti-inflammatory and
antibiotic drops for the first four to seven days following the surgery.
Frequent use of artificial tears (minimum of one drop four times a day)
over the first month is helpful to lubricate the surface during the healing
By the next morning, patients should notice a dramatic improvement in
vision. Patients are often thrilled to be able to read the alarm clock and look
out the bedroom window and see trees or houses. The quick recovery of functional
vision is impressive and often described as miraculous.
Patients should have up to an 80-90% improvement in vision by the next morning
after LASIK and can return to most routine activities promptly.
It is not uncommon for patients to experience glare and halos at night
during the first few weeks after surgery. This typically improves within the
first three months following surgery and should not interfere with nighttime
activities. The glare and halo effect may be more pronounced in those with greater
degrees of myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.
Additionally, patients must wear a shield or patch while napping or sleeping
during the first week. The shield is important to protect the eye from being
accidentally touched. It is essential to avoid rubbing or bumping the eye
during the first month following surgery so as not to displace the flap.
To monitor healing, patients should see the doctor the day after surgery, again
at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and one year following the surgery. If a
retreatment is required, this is typically determined after the three-month
visit, when the eye is fully stabilized. (In some cases stabilization may
require more than three months).
ASK YOURSELF: If you do not know what to expect, how can you be comfortable
with the procedure and recovery period?