Preparing for the LASIK Procedure

LASIK is a surgical procedure used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. During LASIK, your LASIK surgeon uses a beam of light from an excimer laser to reshape the front portion, or cornea, of your eye. The surgeon creates a flap on the surface of the eye. The flap is then peeled back, allowing the excimer laser to reshape your cornea. LASIK is usually a quick procedure with little or no pain involved. If you are scheduled for LASIK, you may be wondering what all is involved in the procedure. The following will explain the steps involved in a typical LASIK procedure.

Anti-Anxiety Medication

Most patients are first given a mild anti-anxiety medication such as Valium to reduce any pre-surgery jitters and nervousness. This medication is usually given by mouth and allows you to relax while not making you so sedate that you cannot participate fully in the surgery and follow all of the surgeon's instructions.

Eye Drops

Your surgeon or surgical assistant will instill several eye drops into your eye. Because different surgeons have different protocols that they feel comfortable with to achieve the best outcome, you may or may not have your eyes dilated. Most of the eye drops instilled are numbing drops so that you will feel very little or no discomfort during the procedure. After your eye is numb, you will be asked to lie down close to the excimer laser. When you are comfortable, a special tool will be used to hold your eye open. Your surgeon will only be operating on one eye at a time, but in most LASIK procedures both eyes will be completed within minutes of each other.

Corneal Flap Creation

A sterile drape will be applied over the eye area to ensure a bacteria-free work area. Your cornea will then be marked with special surgical ink. Depending on the type of laser procedure you are having, your surgeon will cut a corneal flap of tissue and use either a microkeratome (automated surgical blade) or a femtosecond laser. A suction ring may be applied first to help stabilize your eye by increasing your eye pressure temporarily.

Corneal Reshaping

After the corneal flap is created it will be gently lifted. One area of the flap will be left untouched. This "hinge" tissue keeps the flap attached to the eye so that it may be gently reapplied later. An excimer laser will then be used to reshape your cornea so that light rays focus perfectly on your retina without the need for corrective lenses. You will be asked to hold very still and fixate your eye on a target. Your surgeon will use a computer to track your eye so that the laser will move carefully with your eye if you make small micro-eye movements. You may hear a series of clicking sounds while the laser fires. You may also smell an odor while the laser ablation removes corneal tissue. Depending on your prescription, the laser will be applied for as little as 10 to 60 seconds. The higher your prescription, the longer the procedure will take.

Corneal Repositioning

The corneal flap will be placed carefully back onto your cornea and smoothed out. A special solution called balanced salt solution will be used to help re-float the flap for proper placement. Your surgeon will be sure to position the flap perfectly. Your surgeon will also check for any air pockets or loose debris that could hinder your healing process.

A Word From VeryWell

LASIK has become a very common laser surgery procedure. Many people have had wonderful results after having LASIK. In fact, most people say that their overall quality of vision after LASIK is what they expected, better, or much better than they expected. Try not to be afraid before your surgery begins. Several safety measures will be taken during the procedure. Your surgeon has complete control and can turn the laser off at any time. For example, if you move too much, the laser will automatically shut off. Overall, very few people experience complications from LASIK. Most people who have had a LASIK procedure admit that they would have the surgery again or recommend it to others.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • LASIK-Laser Eye Surgery, EyeSmart. American Academy of Ophthalmology, 12 Dec 2015.