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Laser Eye Surgery – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Revitalize FAQ Laser Eye SurgeryFrequently Asked Questions

  • About LASIK
  • Getting advice about LASIK
  • What are the alternatives to LASIK?
  • Preparing for LASIK
  • Animation: How LASIK eye surgery is carried out
  • What happens during LASIK?
  • What to expect afterwards
  • Recovering from LASIK
  • What are the risks?



LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. It uses a computer-controlled laser to change the shape of your cornea. LASIK can be used to correct or improve

  • short-sightedness (myopia)
  • long-sightedness (hyperopia)
  • an irregular-shaped cornea (astigmatism)

These conditions are called refractive errors. This means that light coming into your eye doesn’t focus properly so your sight is affected.

To have LASIK you will need to be over the age of 21 and, apart from your refractive error, have healthy eyes. You will also need to have stable vision. This means that you have had less than a 0.5 dioptres change in your prescription over the last two to three years. Dioptres (D) are the unit used to measure how strong your lenses are. There isn’t an upper age limit for LASIK provided you’re in good health, your eyes are healthy and your sight hasn’t changed recently.

LASIK isn’t suitable if you:

  • have a condition that affects how your body heals, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

As you get older, it’s likely that you will find it more difficult to focus on objects that are near to you. This is called presbyopia and occurs because the lens in your eye becomes less flexible. It’s a natural part of the ageing process and can’t be treated with LASIK. Presbyopia can happen even if you’re already short- or long-sighted, so if you have LASIK to treat one of these conditions, you’re still likely to need glasses for tasks such as reading.

Getting advice about LASIK

You will meet with a surgeon who specialises in laser refractive surgery to find out whether LASIK is suitable for you.  Your surgeon will talk to you about the results you can realistically expect from LASIK, as these will vary from person to person.

If you use rigid, gas permeable contact lenses, you may be asked not to wear these for up to four weeks before your appointment. If you wear soft contact lenses, you will probably need to stop wearing these two weeks before your appointment. This is because contact lenses can affect the shape of your cornea.

During your appointment, you may have:

  • a test that ‘maps’ your cornea to determine if LASIK is suitable for you
  • a full eyesight test to look at how well you can see things close up and at a distance
  • tests to measure the thickness of your cornea and the size of your pupils in various light conditions

As well as examining your eyes, your surgeon will ask you about your general health. He or she will test the pressure inside your eye and make sure that you don’t have glaucoma. This is a condition in which your optic nerve is damaged.

What are the alternatives to LASIK?

There are a number of other surgical procedures that you can have to treat refractive errors – your surgeon will discuss these with you. Not all of these may be suitable for you and the risks and benefits of each will vary from person to person, so it’s important to talk them through fully with your surgeon.

The non-surgical alternative is to continue wearing your glasses or contact lenses.

Preparing for LASIK

You will probably have to stop wearing soft contact lenses at least a day before your operation. If you wear rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses, you may have to stop wearing them at least one week before. However, it’s important to check this with your surgeon. If you don’t take them out far enough in advance of your procedure, it may be necessary to delay it. This is because contact lenses can affect the size and shape of your cornea. Removing your contact lenses some time before your procedure also reduces the risk of infection.

LASIK is usually done as a day-case procedure. This means you have the procedure and go home the same day. LASIK is usually done under local anaesthesia, which means you will stay awake during the operation. You will have anaesthetic drops placed in your eye and these will block feeling from the surface of your eye. The procedure takes only a few minutes but you will usually need to be at the hospital for about an hour.

Your surgeon will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do by signing a consent form.

Your surgeon will explain how to prepare for your operation. For example, if you smoke, you will be asked to stop, as smoking increases your risk of getting a wound infection and slows your recovery. You may be asked to stop wearing any make-up about a day before your treatment so that there is nothing in your eye that could cause infection. You may also be asked to wash your eyes and eyelashes before the procedure to make sure any remaining substances are removed.

Female Doctor - Eye Exam - Revitalize ClinicsWhat happens during LASIK?

You may have the procedure done on both eyes on the same day, or on separate occasions. Your surgeon will have discussed this with you beforehand. If you’re only having one eye treated, the other one will be covered during the procedure.

During the operation, you will be asked to lie flat. Your surgeon will place anaesthetic drops into your eye and may use an eyelid clip to stop you blinking. How much you can see and how clearly will vary throughout the procedure.

Your surgeon will place a suction ring over your eye to keep it in place. This may be a little uncomfortable and you may feel some pressure.

Your surgeon will use either a very precise instrument with a blade or a laser to cut a thin flap in your cornea, which will then be folded back (like opening the cover of a book). You will then be asked to keep staring at a light for between 30 seconds and two minutes. This may be red or green and it may be flashing.

During this time your surgeon will use the computer-controlled laser to shape your cornea. You may hear a ticking sound from the laser and possibly feel a tapping sensation. You may also notice a slight smell of burning.

Your surgeon will then reposition the flap and may wash out the area. Your eye will be left to dry and the flap will settle back into place through natural suction and bond to the rest of your cornea. This happens within about five minutes. You won’t need any stitches but your surgeon will apply some eye drops to reduce inflammation and prevent infection. He or she will then put a pad or plastic cover over your eye to protect it.

What to expect afterwards

After the procedure, you may have some mild pain or itching. Your eye may also feel uncomfortable or as though there is something in it – this shouldn’t last for more than about a day. You may find trying to sleep for a couple of hours helps to reduce this irritation. If you need painkillers, take paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

You may also find that your vision is blurred, which can make you feel disorientated. This should gradually improve after a day or so and your sight will stabilise within a few weeks or months. How long this takes will vary from person to person and will depend on a number of things including how much your cornea needed to be corrected.

After your procedure you will need to:

  • wear a protective shield over your eye for about 24 hours
  • wear sunglasses or a hat when you leave the hospital or clinic as your eyes will be sensitive to the sun
  • arrange for someone to drive you home
  • have a friend or relative stay with you for the first 24 hours, especially if you have had both eyes treated
  • use eye drops to prevent infection and promote healing – your nurse will give you advice about how to use them before you leave

You will be given a date for a follow-up appointment with your surgeon.

Recovering from LASIK

You will need to wear sunglasses if you go out in the sun for about three months after LASIK eye surgery. Don’t do any contact sports for at least four weeks, and don’t go swimming or use a hot tub for a couple of months. It’s a good idea not to drive for about a week.

For the first few days after having LASIK eye surgery don’t:

  • have a shower – if you can, have a bath instead
  • wash your hair
  • touch, rub or screw up your eyes, and try not to get anything in them – you might find that sunglasses help
  • wear eye make-up

You should be able to go back to work after two to three days.

If you have more than mild pain, or you have any problems with your vision or increasing redness of your eye, contact your clinic or hospital.

What are the risks?

As with every procedure, there are some risks associated with LASIK. We have not included the chance of these happening as they are specific to you and differ for every person. Ask your surgeon to explain how these risks apply to you.


These are the unwanted, but mostly temporary effects you may get after having the procedure.

After LASIK you may have the following side-effects.

  • Dry eye(s) – your eye may not produce enough tears or tears may not spread out over your eye properly. This usually gets better within a year but sometimes it can be permanent. You can use drops to relieve the symptoms and you may be able to have further treatment if the condition is more serious.
  • You may find that your vision is hazy or there is a glare that causes a ‘halo’ or ‘starburst’ effect. This can make it difficult to see in the dark, especially if you’re driving, but it doesn’t usually last for more than six weeks.
  • Your eyelid may droop but this should get better within a few weeks.


This is when problems occur during or after the operation.

Specific complications of LASIK are rare but can include:

  • minor undercorrection or overcorrection of short-sightedness – this is the most common problem after LASIK and you may be offered another operation to improve it
  • mild or moderate haziness or scarring of your cornea
  • some return of short-sightedness
  • growth of surface cells underneath your corneal flap
  • infection in your cornea
  • problems with the flap that is cut in your cornea, such as wrinkling
  • weakness of your cornea – this can cause it to bulge forwards and affect your vision

How much your eyesight improves will depend on a number of things including how severe your refractive error was. If the operation doesn’t achieve the result you hoped for, you may be able to have further LASIK treatment.

Very rarely, serious complications can lead to reduced vision or blindness.

Acibadem Hospital Group

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