What you can expectBy Mayo Clinic staff
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|Illustration of LASIK eye surgery|
LASIK eye surgery is performed using a laser programmed to remove a defined amount of tissue from your cornea. With each pulse of the laser beam, a tiny amount of corneal tissue is removed. The laser allows your eye surgeon to flatten the curve of your cornea or make it steeper. Often, LASIK is performed on both eyes on the same day.
During a pre-surgical eye exam, your eye doctor takes a detailed medical history and uses specialized equipment to carefully measure your cornea, noting the shape and any irregularities.
To complete the assessment, your eye doctor uses highly specialized instruments to determine which areas of your cornea need reshaping. This allows your eye doctor to chart your eye and remove tissue from your cornea very precisely. LASIK eye surgery using wavefront-guided technology — a newer type of LASIK procedure — employs a scanner (aberrometer) that creates a highly detailed chart, similar to a topographical map, of your eye. Theoretically, the more detailed the measurements, the more accurate your eye doctor can be in removing corneal tissue.
LASIK eye surgery is usually completed in 30 minutes or less. During the procedure, you lie on your back in a reclining chair. You may be given medicine to help you relax. After numbing drops are placed in your eye, your doctor uses a special instrument to hold your eyelids open. A suction ring placed on your eye just before cutting the corneal flap may cause a feeling of pressure, and your vision may dim a little.
Your eye surgeon uses a special blade or cutting laser to cut a hinged flap about the size of a contact lens away from the front of your eye. Folding back the flap allows your doctor to access the part of your cornea that needs reshaping. Using a laser, your eye surgeon then adjusts specific parts of your cornea. After reshaping is complete, the flap is folded back into place and usually heals without stitches.
During the surgery, you'll be asked to focus on a point of light. Staring at this light helps you keep your eye fixed while the laser reshapes your cornea. You may detect a distinct odor as the laser removes your corneal tissue; some people describe smelling an odor similar to that of burning hair.
Immediately after surgery, your eye may burn or itch and be watery. You'll probably have blurred vision. You may be given pain medication or eyedrops to keep you comfortable for several hours after the procedure. Your eye doctor might also ask you to wear a shield over your eye at night until your eye heals.
You'll be able to see after surgery, but your vision won't be crystal clear right away. It takes about two to three months after your surgery before your eye heals and your vision stabilizes. Your chances for improved vision are based, in part, on how good your vision was before surgery.
You'll have a follow-up appointment with your eye doctor one to two days after surgery to see how your eye is healing and so that your doctor can check for any complications. Plan for other follow-up appointments periodically during the first six months after surgery as your doctor recommends.
It may be a few weeks before you can start to use cosmetics around your eyes again. You might also have to wait several weeks before resuming strenuous contact sports and swimming or using hot tubs. Follow your doctor's specific recommendations about how soon you can resume your normal activities.
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- Wavefront-guided LASIK. American Academy of Ophthalmology. http://one.aao.org/CE/EducationalProducts/FPSnippet.aspx?tid=0202397v&mid=fp029030a-1&sid=fp20080006&filename=fpv26-02903-01_modulediv.xml. Accessed Jan 6, 2011.
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