LASIK: Process and Recovery

LASIK Surgery suite

LASIK surgery is a powerful procedure, offering patients an opportunity to say goodbye to a lifetime of poor vision and hello to a level of maintenance-free vision they previously could only dream of.  What is the LASIK experience like?  Below is a brief road-map for what patients often experience with LASIK surgery.

The LASIK Procedure

When patients present to the LASIK suite, eyedrops are instilled to help prevent infection and to numb the eye(s) for surgery.  Valium is administered to help calm the patient’s nerves (it’s normal to be nervous!).  Once in the laser room, patients are positioned on the comfortable operating bed and a device called a speculum is placed to gently hold the eyelids apart.  The first of two lasers, the femtosecond laser, is used to make a thin flap on the cornea.  The second laser, the excimer laser, is then used to precisely reshape the cornea to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism.  The whole procedure typically takes about 20 minutes to treat both eyes.  It’s not uncommon for patients to comment “Is that it?” once the surgery has been completed.

First 24 Hours

Immediately after surgery, the eyes are typically scratchy, light sensitive, watery, and a bit irritated.   This is normal and short-lived, typically persisting only a few hours.  Eyedrops are provided to help reduce these symptoms. Patients will need a driver to take them home. We encourage patients to take it easy for the remainder of the day and to take a nap if possible. Though the period of scratchy irritation is brief, it’s great if patients can sleep through it.

By the evening of surgery, most patients’ eyes are reasonably comfortable and the vision is already markedly improved.  Patients typically get a good nights’ sleep, thanks in part to the Valium given pre-op.

First Week

Patients are seen the day after surgery to make sure the healing process is off to a good start. Antibiotic drops are typically used for the first 5-7 days to prevent infection.  Lubricating drops are necessary for the first few weeks as well as the eyes can be dry during the early healing period.

Public water should be avoided as it could cause infection, so stay away from swimming in pools, hot tubs, lakes or rivers for 2 weeks. Don’t use any sort of eye makeup for the first 10 days or so.

For the first month, avoid any sort of sports that could cause physical injury to your eyes. Your eyes are still healing, so sports like soccer, racquetball, and water skiing should be avoided.

Three-Six Months

Patients generally will have 2-4 additional visits over the first several months postop to monitor and steer the healing process.

The vast majority of patients enjoy a quick recovery after LASIK and enjoy high quality “20/happy” vision.  If you have any questions, give our experienced staff at Capitol Eye Care a call at (573) 635-0115.