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Introduction
Are You
a Candidate?

What to
Expect

Choosing a
Surgeon
Preoperative
Evaluation
Why do
LASIK Fees Vary?
Background
of LASIK
Background of
Blurred Vision
Steps of
LASIK
About
the Author

 

 

The Goal

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 vision-correction procedure.

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.

The Procedure

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 phase.

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?