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Laser In-Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK): Before Your Surgery

Cross section of the eye

What is LASIK surgery?

Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is surgery to improve how well you can see. It reshapes the outer part of your eyeball called your cornea. This can fix vision problems in one or both eyes. These problems include nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

To do the surgery, the doctor first cleans your eye and puts drops in it. The drops numb your eye. Then he or she uses special tools to keep your eye open and to put pressure on your cornea. With a blade or laser, the doctor cuts a flap in your cornea. With another laser, the doctor reshapes the cornea and then puts the flap back. Then the doctor puts more drops in your eye and covers it with a clear shield.

The surgery takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Before surgery, you may get medicine to help you relax. During surgery, you may feel pressure in your eye. After surgery, your eyes may burn or itch. You may feel like there is something in your eye. Your eye may also water more than usual.

You may see better as soon as the surgery is over. Or things may look blurry for a few days. You will probably be able to go back to work or your normal routine in 1 to 3 days.

For some people, it takes 3 to 6 months to see as clearly as possible. But most people no longer need glasses or contact lenses.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, including natural health products, such as vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The surgery will take about 10 to 20 minutes.
  • After the surgery, you will have a clear shield over your eye. You will be able to see with it on. But your doctor may tell you to keep your eye closed as much as possible for up to 24 hours.
  • You will get drops in your eye to help it heal.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.