Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.
In this article
The FDA approved the first laser for LASIK in 1998.1 Since then, over 20 million LASIK procedures have been performed on eyes in the United States.2,3
LASIK is an elective, self-pay procedure that can correct:1
Thinking about LASIK? Start a conversation with an experienced Patient Counselor to find out if laser eye surgery is right for you. Learn More
Many people are scared of the idea of laser eye surgery. But LASIK is actually a very safe procedure.
The Refractive Surgery Council is an organization of top vision experts. They work together to assure patients have access to up-to-date and accurate information on vision correction.
In 2016, the Refractive Surgery Council published the results of their annual meeting.4
They found that:
Of course, all surgeries come with certain pros, cons, and risks. We’ll go over them now.
LASIK has helped millions of people improve their eyesight.
Here are the pros of LASIK eye surgery:
In studies reporting on patient satisfaction, 98.8 percent of patients were satisfied with their LASIK results.5 This makes it one of the most successful elective procedures in the world.
The entire LASIK procedure should take less than 30 minutes. Each eye takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. So you’ll probably be in and out of the doctor’s office in under 2 hours.
99 percent of patients achieve vision that is better than 20/40. According to the Refractive Surgery Council, there has never been a case of blindness from LASIK.3
Most people experience improved vision within a few hours. Fluctuating vision is common but usually resolves itself within a couple hours.
Sometimes it can last up to 48 hours. If it lasts more than a week, see your doctor.
Over 90 percent of patients achieve 20/20 vision after surgery. These patients usually don’t need to wear contacts or glasses anymore.
Over 99 percent of patients achieve 20/40 vision. These patients may or may not need glasses for reading or driving.
Even if you don’t get perfect vision, your reliance on glasses or contacts should be decreased dramatically by LASIK.
Like all surgeries, LASIK comes with risks and side effects. It’s up to you and your surgeon to determine whether you are a good candidate and how you can minimize risks.
Here are some potential cons of LASIK:
One of the biggest barriers that prevents people from getting LASIK is the cost. The average cost of LASIK is $2,200 per eye or $4,400 for both.
Because LASIK is an elective procedure, insurance companies typically don’t cover LASIK. Neither Medicaid nor Medicare pays for LASIK.
Dry eye is the most common side effect of LASIK. About 30 percent of patients report dry eye symptoms 3 months after surgery. This usually improves within the first year.4
Other common side effects of LASIK include glares or halos in your vision, especially at night.
Most side effects clear up within 48 hours. If they last longer, make an appointment with your eye surgeon. They can help you manage or, if necessary, treat side effects.
The laser creates a small incision, or “flap,” on your cornea during the LASIK procedure. This flap needs to heal properly to help avoid complications after the surgery.
This flap starts healing almost immediately after surgery. However, it can take a few weeks or a few months for the deep layers of the cornea to heal fully. During this time, it’s important not to rub your eyes or play any contact sports.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate for LASIK. We’ll cover who should and shouldn’t get LASIK in the next section.
Here are 7 criteria that good candidates for LASIK should meet:
If you have any eye conditions that affect your cornea, you might not qualify for LASIK. Your surgeon will give you a thorough eye exam to determine if you qualify for LASIK.
Any temporary eye infections, abrasions, or inflammation should be resolved before surgery.
If you don’t have any preexisting eye conditions and are in good overall health, you should qualify.
Excimer lasers have been FDA-approved to correct approximately:
However, each LASIK surgeon has their own limits on what types of vision they will correct.
LASIK requires making a cut in your cornea. Therefore, you need to have at least an average thickness to your cornea to qualify for the procedure.
You have to be at least 18 to get LASIK. However, it’s best to wait until at least your mid-20s. There is no upper age limit for LASIK.
The average age range to get LASIK is approximately 20 to 40. Speak with your eye doctor to confirm whether you qualify.
You should have stable vision for at least 1 to 2 years before getting LASIK. This reduces your chance of vision regression.
Previously, doctors linked large pupils to additional side effects. However, with modern technologies, pupil size might not matter.
LASIK success rates are very high, but expecting perfect vision may not be realistic. Your surgeon cannot perfectly predict how your eyes will heal after surgery.
Also, it’s possible you might need to wear glasses after surgery, especially for reading or night driving.
NVISION Eye Centers offer custom LASIK, affordable pricing plans, and a lifetime guarantee. Learn More
Here are 6 criteria that probably disqualify you for LASIK:
Fluctuating vision is common during pregnancy. Also, medications for LASIK might not be safe for babies. It’s best to get LASIK before pregnancy or after breastfeeding.
People with certain medical conditions, such as autoimmune or immunodeficiency diseases and diabetes, are at higher risk for healing complications.
LASIK is usually not recommended for anyone with cataracts. Your eye doctor may recommend cataract surgery instead, which will correct your vision and remove your cataract at the same time.
If you play contact sports, LASIK might not be a great option for you. Speak with your doctor about possible outcomes.
Certain drugs are not safe to use before or after LASIK. These include:
Your eye surgeon will tell you how long you need to discontinue the medications before surgery.
Previous eye injuries or surgeries can increase your risk for LASIK complications. Be sure to give the eye surgeon your complete health history.
In this article
All Vision Center content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed optometrist to ensure the information is factual and meets industry standards.
We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from recent scientific research, scholarly articles, textbooks, government agencies, optometry websites, and medical journals.