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.
Plan on being in the surgeon's office for about an hour and a half on the day of your surgery.
LASIK refers to Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, a type of refractive surgery. It alters the cornea (a transparent tissue on the front of the eye). As the name suggests, LASIK requires using a computer-controlled excimer laser (a laser device).
The LASIK procedure helps correct:
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What to Expect During Your Laser Vision Correction Procedure
A tool holds open your eyelids so the eye surgeon can work. First, your eye doctor places eye drops that contain a numbing agent in your eyes.
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. Many people report feeling a sensation of pressure during this part of the surgery.
The excimer laser gently reshapes your cornea. It is guided by a computer that has a map of your eye preloaded into it.
After the excimer laser finishes, the surgeon smooths the corneal flap back into place.
If you are getting both eyes operated on, the doctor will immediately repeat this on the other eye.
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 everyone.
Most side effects clear up within a couple of hours or up to 2 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:
- Light sensitivity
- 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 and consult the eye doctor. Re-operation may be necessary if eye measurements do not change.
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Factors That Affect LASIK Recovery Time
Recovery time will lengthen if an eye infection occurs. Factors that can increase the risk of infection or lengthen the healing process time include:
- Certain cosmetic products, such as creams, eye makeup, and lotions
- Residue and debris caught in eyelashes
- Contact sports
- Hot tubs
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.
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When Will I See Results?
Your vision should improve immediately after surgery. However, fluctuating vision may last for a couple of days. Complete vision stabilization may take 3 to 6 months.
A reported 99 percent of people who got LASIK achieve better than 20/40 vision. More than 90 percent achieve 20/20 vision or better after laser vision correction.
Some people, 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:
- Avoid driving until your vision stabilizes (at least a couple days)
- Avoid screens completely for the first day. Reduce screen time for the following week
- Do not rub your eyes for at least a month
- Wait a day to shower and wash your hair. When you do shower, keep the water, shampoo, and soap out of your eyes
- Use a protective eye shield for as long as recommended. Your eye doctor will provide this
- Avoid spas, whirlpools, hot tubs, swimming pools, and saunas for a few weeks
- Avoid strenuous activity (including exercise) for the first 2 to 3 days
- Wait a few weeks before playing sports. When you do, wear goggles for the first few months
- Wear sunglasses when in direct sunlight
- Stay away from dusty or dirty environments for at least a week
- Avoid using eye makeup, lotions, and creams near the eyes for 2 weeks. Be careful when using products like shaving cream or hair spray
- Use eye drops to prevent dry eyes
- Stick to the eye care plan provided by your surgical care team. Use any medications provided as directed
- Attend follow-up appointments. Discuss any questions or concerns with your eye doctor
If you are interested in undergoing LASIK surgery, discuss the procedure’s risks and benefits with an eye doctor.
With the proper eye exam and comprehensive consultation, you and your eye doctor can determine if LASIK is the right procedure for you.
LASIK surgery is a safe, effective procedure to improve vision. It takes less than 10 minutes per eye to complete and around 3 to 6 months for vision to stabilize after the procedure.
Following the advice of your eye care team and taking steps to protect your vision after surgery will ensure the best results.
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