More LASIK eye surgery is performed in the US with each passing year. From the time the procedure was first FDA-approved in the late nineties to today, over 19 million people have benefited from laser eye surgery.[i] With the popularity of LASIK on the rise, chances are good that you already know someone who has invested in LASIK and is happy with the results. If you’ve thought about getting LASIK yourself, you probably have questions about the process and what you can expect. We’ve gathered the top five questions about LASIK eye surgery (and their answers!) for you.
What is LASIK?
LASIK is an acronym for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. This phrase refers to the process of creating a flap in the cornea (the front of the eye), which is the first step of the surgery. After the LASIK surgeon creates the flap, he will gently lift the flap to access the area just beneath the surface of the eye. This is where the true vision enhancing treatment occurs. Next, the surgeon will use a computer-guided laser to reshape the cornea. The corneal flap is put back into place, and the healing process begins.
How do I know if I’m a candidate for LASIK?
To determine if you’re a good candidate for a LASIK procedure, start by talking to your regular eye doctor. You can also request a free consultation with a LASIK specialist to discuss your vision concerns.
Laser eye surgery can be used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
You must be at least 18 years of age to receive LASIK; however, because vision can change more often at young ages, most patients will not receive LASIK until they are at least 21+ years of age. Your prescription should ideally have been stable (meaning, your prescription has not changed) within the previous year.
In general, you and your eyes should be healthy before considering LASIK. If you have an eye infection or glaucoma, you would not be a good candidate for LASIK. If you have an autoimmune disease or other health issue that would affect the healing process, you also may not be a good candidate.
Will it hurt?
Anytime you contemplate a surgical procedure, it is normal to worry that it might hurt. The good news is that LASIK eye surgery is a fairly painless procedure, as drops are used to numb the eyes. Some patients report feeling some pressure during the surgery.
How long is the recovery period?
The LASIK procedure will not take long, and you will be able to go home the same day. Most patients will experience clearer vision after the first 24 hours, and their vision can continue to improve for up to 3-6 months as the rest of the healing process occurs.
For the first day after surgery, you should rest your eyes and be sure to avoid strenuous activity. Most patients can typically resume their normal activities the following day. In the first week, some patients experience side-effects such as tearing up, light sensitivity, halos, and puffy eyelids. These should naturally subside.
Your LASIK specialist will be able to create a recovery plan with you and advise you on what to expect based on your vision correction surgery.
Does LASIK last?
Many people wonder if LASIK will last forever, or they worry they will need a repeat procedure in the future. LASIK eye surgery corrects your vision prescription at the time of the procedure. However, this does not mean that your eyes will not continue to change. As we age, our eyes age. If you have your nearsightedness treated with laser eye surgery, your nearsightedness may still continue to advance in degree, leading you to eventually consider having a follow up procedure (called an enhancement). It’s important to continue your annual eye exams to stay on top of your prescription and evaluate any changes to it.
If you have more questions about LASIK and would like to speak with a LASIK specialist, schedule a free consultation at a location near you.
[i]American Refractive Surgery Council. (2019). How Does LASIK Work? Everything You Need to Know About Laser Eye Surgery. Americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org. Retrieved from https://americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org/everything-you-think-you-know-about-lasik-eye-surgery/