Updated on 

May 6, 2022

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How Long Does LASIK Surgery Take?

How Long Does LASIK Take?

In general, LASIK eye surgery takes less than 30 minutes. The procedure is done on one eye at a time, and each eye takes 10 minutes or less to complete.

You should plan on being in the surgeon's office for about an hour and a half the day of your surgery.

LASIK refers to Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, a type of refractive surgery. The LASIK procedure helps correct:

It does this by altering the cornea (a transparent tissue on the front of the eye). As the name suggests, LASIK requires the use of a computer-controlled excimer laser (a laser device).

diagram showing six steps of lasik eye surgery

Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More

What to Expect During Your Laser Vision Correction Procedure

Step 1.

Your eyelids are held open with a tool so the eye surgeon can work. First, your eye doctor places eye drops that contain a numbing agent in your eyes.

Step 2.

The surgeon uses a small blade or special laser to cut a thin flap in your cornea. This is the part that may cause some discomfort for the patient. Many people report feeling "a sensation of pressure" during this part of the surgery.

Step 3.

The excimer laser gently reshapes your cornea. It is guided by a computer that has a map of your eye preloaded into it.

Step 4.

After the excimer laser finishes, the surgeon smooths the corneal flap back into place.

Step 5.

If you are getting both eyes operated on, the doctor will immediately repeat this on the other eye.

Step 6.

Your LASIK eye surgery is now complete. Once you're finished, your eye surgeon or a team member will provide you with an eye shield and detailed instructions for recovery.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From LASIK?

LASIK recovery time will not be the same for every person who undergoes LASIK surgery.

Most side effects clear up within a couple of hours or up to two days.

Immediately after surgery, you may note some discomfort or mild pain. A pain reliever may be prescribed.

Other symptoms that can arise after LASIK include:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Glare
  • Starbursts or halos around lights
  • Red or bloodshot eyes

By the time you attend your follow-up appointment, you should experience sharper vision with less discomfort. Your follow-up appointment usually takes place within 48 hours of surgery.

If these symptoms do not go away in the first week, request a follow-up visit to the eye clinic and consult the eye doctor. Re-operation may be necessary if eye measurements do not change.

Recovery time will lengthen if an eye infection occurs. Certain cosmetic products, such as creams, eye makeup, and lotions can increase infection risk.

The eye doctor will recommend avoiding such products before the day of surgery. Residue and debris caught in the eyelashes may also heighten the risk. 

Other factors, such as contact sports and hot tubs, can increase the risk of infection or lengthen the healing process time. 

Overall, a visit to the eye doctor within the next day of the surgical procedure and at consistent intervals will ensure a healthy, controlled recovery.

Questions about LASIK? Call NVISION to speak with an experienced Patient Counselor who can answer all your questions and set up a free consultation. No commitment required.

LASIK Surgeon Using Laser

When Will I See Results?

Your vision should be improved immediately after the surgery. Fluctuating vision may last for a couple of days.

Complete vision stabilization may take 3 to 6 months.

A reported 99 percent of LASIK patients achieve better than 20/40 vision. More than 90 percent achieve 20/20 vision or better after laser vision correction.

Some patients, especially those with strong refractive errors may still have to wear reading glasses, eyeglasses, or contacts for optimal vision.

Farsighted people may notice that results decline with age. This can happen due to presbyopia.

Wearing contact lenses before LASIK surgery can have detrimental effects. The cornea must return to its natural shape before surgery.

If it does not, the ophthalmologist may take inaccurate measurements that influence the surgical plan and lead to undesirable results. The surgeon will advise you on how long to stop wearing contacts before surgery.

Tips for Protecting Your Vision After Your LASIK Procedure

Here are 14 tips to help protect your vision after laser eye surgery:

  1. Avoid driving until your vision stabilizes (at least a couple days)
  2. Avoid screens completely for the first day. Reduce screen time for the following week
  3. Do not rub your eyes for at least a month
  4. Wait a day to shower and wash your hair. When you do shower, keep the water, shampoo, and soap out of your eyes
  5. Use a protective eye shield for as long as recommended. Your eye doctor will provide this
  6. Avoid spas, whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and saunas for a few weeks
  7. Avoid any strenuous activity (including exercise) for the first two to three days
  8. Wait a few weeks before playing sports. When you do, wear goggles for the first few months 
  9. Wear sunglasses when in direct sunlight
  10. Stay away from dusty or dirty environments for at least a week
  11. Avoid using eye makeup, lotions, and creams near the eyes for two weeks. Be careful when using products like shaving cream or hair spray
  12. Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes
  13. Stick to the eye care plan provided by your surgical care team. Use any medications provided as directed
  14. Attend follow-up appointments. Discuss any questions or concerns with your eye doctor

If you are interested in undergoing LASIK surgery, visit the nearest eye clinic to discuss all the procedure’s risks and benefits.

With the proper eye exam and comprehensive consultation, you and your eye care doctor can determine if this is the right procedure to improve your eye health.

Still not sure about LASIK? Talk with an experienced Patient Counselor at NVISION to find out if it's right for you.

Surgeon performing LASIK Procedure
2 Cited Research Articles
  1. “What Are the Risks and How Can I Find the Right Doctor for Me?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA - Center for Devices and Radiological Health, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/what-are-risks-and-how-can-i-find-right-doctor-me.
  2. “What Should I Expect before, during, and after Surgery?” U.S. Food and Drug Administration , FDA - Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/lasik/what-should-i-expect-during-and-after-surgery.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Anthony Armenta earned his B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, Irvine. After graduation, he decided to live abroad in Spain. Currently, he has spent the past 5 years working as a freelance health content writer and medical editor for different public hospitals in central Barcelona. He has covered different medical specialties from infectious diseases and pneumology to breast cancer and plastic surgery. His commitment to writing fact-driven, health-related content stems from the belief that such type of information can empower all individuals to take action and improve their health today.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/anthony/
Author: Anthony Armenta  | UPDATED May 6, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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