What to Expect Before and
After LASIK Eye Surgery

It’s the big day of your LASIK procedure and maybe you’re really nervous. Don’t be. Laser vision correction procedures like OptiLASIK® Laser Vision Correction only take a few minutes. It’s simple, quick, and virtually painless.

However, this is still a surgical procedure and with surgery there are risks. LASIK cannot be reversed once the procedure has been performed.

What to Expect During LASIK Surgery

Here’s what you can expect from professional and board certified doctors.

  • If you have chosen LASIK eye surgery, your surgeon will evaluate your sight with similar tests used to prescribe your eyeglasses or contacts. He or she will use this information to help determine how to reshape your cornea to correct your vision and where to direct the laser beam to accomplish that reshaping. If you’ve chosen OptiLASIK® Laser Vision Correction as your procedure, your surgeon will also use highly advanced scanning tools to create a personalized map of your eyes for even more precise results and safety.
  • Before OptiLASIK® begins, you’ll receive a series of anesthetic drops in each eye. These drops will numb your eyes and help ensure that OptiLASIK® is virtually painless—at most, you may feel some light pressure.
  • Once the series of drops has been administered and your eyes are numb, you’ll be asked to lie down on a table under the laser equipment. Throughout the LASIK procedure, you’ll be asked to focus on a small blinking light above you. Don’t worry if your eyes move a tiny bit. The Allegretto Wave® Eye-Q Laser uses sophisticated eye-tracking technology so it can keep up.
  • Your surgeon will begin OptiLASIK® Laser Vision Correction by pulling back a thin layer of tissue from your cornea, exposing the underlying tissue so your surgeon can more easily reshape it.
  • From there, your surgeon will apply small, very rapid—billionths of a second—bursts of the laser energy to carefully reshape your cornea, making your eye a more ideal shape for focusing light. Flat parts may be made rounder; curved areas may be flattened, etc.
  • The personalized map will help guide the laser so you get a precise procedure while maintaining an ideal, natural shape.
  • Once your eyes have been reshaped—which normally takes less than a minute—your doctor will lay the corneal flap back into place, where it acts like a natural bandage. No stitches are needed.


After LASIK Surgery

Many people sit up right after surgery and notice dramatically better vision.* Still, complete recovery can take time—weeks, or months even—and much of the responsibility will be in your hands. So, to get the most out of OptiLASIK® Laser Vision Correction, you need to know what to expect after surgery.
*Results may vary.

Immediately after:

  • Most people notice clearer vision right away, sometimes sitting moments after the surgery and finding that their eyes can already focus more accurately.
  • Others experience a few slight side effects, including watery eyes; a burning, scratchy sensation; or mild discomfort. These symptoms usually pass within the first few days.
  • Once your doctor confirms that everything is in order, you are ready to go home—just an hour or 2 after you arrived. However, you won't be able to drive yourself immediately following the LASIK procedure, so plan on having someone pick you up.
  • Make sure you bring dark sunglasses to block the glare of the bright sunlight outside, assuming your doctor hasn’t already mentioned that he will provide them for you. Some do.
  • Your surgeon may also prescribe medications to reduce swelling, discomfort, and to keep your eyes clean and infection-free. Make sure you fill any prescriptions before you return home.

During the healing process, your surgeon may ask that you:

  • Use prescription eye drops to prevent infection and reduce any swelling or irritation
  • Use an over-the-counter lubricant eye drop to keep your eyes moist and comfortable
  • Wear eye shields, particularly during sleep, to prevent irritation
  • Wear dark eyeglasses if you experience sensitivity to bright lights
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes for a few weeks after surgery

After the first week:

  • You should be able to return to normal activities very quickly, depending on how you feel and your doctor’s instructions.
  • While many people see clearly by now, in some cases, your vision may seem slightly hazy or blurry. You may be sensitive to bright light, see halos,   Halos: A visual effect, in which a circular flare or hazy ring of light may appear around a headlight or other lighted object.   or have trouble seeing in low light. Everyone responds differently, but usually, these symptoms clear up within weeks, if not days, as the eye heals. If you experience severe pain or your vision worsens, contact your doctor immediately.
  • The doctor should schedule a follow-up visit with you shortly after your procedure, typically a week or so later. On recovery visits, your surgeon will test your vision to assess the results and make sure that your eyes are healing properly.
  • Wait 1 to 3 days before participating in any non-contact sports, but wait at least 1 to 2 months before engaging in strenuous contact or water sports.
  • Continue gently washing around your eyes with a mild cleanser.
  • You could experience fluctuations in vision for up to 6 months after surgery. Be patient and talk to your doctor.1

In most cases, patients have excellent results and are not only free of any serious, long-term complications after their LASIK recovery; they're likely to see as well—or in some cases, even better—than they did with their eyeglasses or contact lenses.

The only major difference is that they're free of eyeglasses or contacts.

Next: LASIK Complications and Safety


  1. USA Eyes: LASIK Patient Advocacy Surgeon Certification. www.usaeyes.org/lasik/faq/lasik-tough-questions.htm. Accessed October 18, 2010.