LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a surgery that flattens the cornea. It is the
most common laser surgery for correcting
nearsightedness (myopia) and
astigmatism. LASIK makes a small
flap in the cornea and removes some of the tissue exposed by the flap. The
laser removes tissue from the
cornea very accurately without damaging nearby
What To Expect After Surgery
LASIK is an
outpatient procedure. It is done under
local anesthesia in a surgeon's office or a same-day
surgery center. The operation on one eye takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The
entire process usually takes less than 2 hours, including preparation time,
care right after the surgery, and paperwork.
After surgery, you
may wear a patch or contact lens on the eye and get a prescription for pain
medicine. Someone must drive you home and then back to the surgeon's office the
next day. During this second visit, the surgeon will examine your eye and
prescribe eyedrops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. More follow-up
visits are required, usually the next week and then throughout the first year
You will feel irritation and scratchiness in
the eye on the day of surgery. Your eyes may water a lot.
is usually quick, with only mild discomfort. You may return to your normal
activities within a few days.
Dry-eye symptoms are common but
You may need to wear an eye shield for a few
days after surgery.
Your vision may be hazy or blurry for a few days or a week after
surgery. Do not drive until your vision has cleared.
For 2 weeks
after surgery, avoid vigorous sports, eye makeup, and activities that may get
water in the eye. The surgeon may recommend that you shower before the surgery
and then avoid showering for a day or two afterward to keep from getting water
in the eye.
LASIK usually requires very little recovery time. Most
people who have the surgery see quite well the next day. There is little or no
pain after LASIK.
Why It Is Done
LASIK is an elective, cosmetic
procedure that is done to correct nearsightedness in otherwise healthy
LASIK surgery may be used to correct
mild to moderate
nearsightedness. It is also thought to be the best
procedure for correcting high nearsightedness (greater than 7
diopters), although the results of surgery become
harder to predict with higher amounts of nearsightedness.
The procedure may not be done for people who:
Have not had stable vision for at least 1
Are younger than age 18.
Are pregnant or
Have a disease or abnormality of the cornea, such
as keratoconus or corneal edema.
Have an uncontrolled
autoimmune or connective tissue disease.
How Well It Works
Over the short term, LASIK has been
shown to be very effective in reducing mild to moderate nearsightedness
(myopia). Almost everyone notices improvements in their
vision. But not everyone gets perfect 20/20 vision.
with myopia of less than 6
diopters, studies showed that after surgery,
67 to 72 out of 100 had 20/20 vision or
95 to 96 out of 100 had 20/40 vision or better.
For people with myopia between 6 and 12 diopters, studies
showed that after surgery, about:footnote 1
48 to 64 out of 100 had 20/20 vision or
89 to 94 out of 100 had 20/40 vision or better.
Doctors continue to improve the technique and to study the long-term results.
The risk of complications from LASIK surgery is
low and decreases with a more experienced surgeon. Look for a corneal
specialist or surgeon who does the surgery often.
and side effects from LASIK may include:
Clouded vision (clouding of the cornea as a
result of inflammation during healing). The inflammation usually goes away on its own. But your doctor may give you medicine or do a procedure to relieve the inflammation.
Night vision problems, such as halos (often described as a
shimmering circle around light sources such as headlights or street lamps).
Glare, or increased sensitivity to bright
Double vision (diplopia), usually in one
astigmatism caused by wrinkling in the corneal flap or
other flap complications.
Loss of best corrected vision, which is
the best possible vision you can achieve using glasses or contact lenses.
Serious vision-threatening complications are rare but may
Infection of the cornea
Elevated pressure inside the eye (intraocular
pressure) leading to glaucoma.
LASIK has been approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1995. But
the procedure may have long-term side effects or complications that experts do
not yet know about.
What To Think About
If you are thinking about having surgery to
nearsightedness, consider all the options
(including LASIK, PRK, epi-LASIK, corneal ring implants, intraocular
lens implants, and radial keratotomy), and discuss them with your doctor. Ask your doctor
the questions that you have about surgery (for example, what are the risks, benefits, and possible outcomes), so that you understand your options and can make the best decision.
LASIK is being done more frequently than PRK, largely
because of the good results and the quicker visual recovery that LASIK offers.
There is no agreement about whether LASIK is superior to PRK or vice versa for
people with mild to moderate nearsightedness.
Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of
correcting both eyes on the same day compared with doing one eye at a
time on separate days.
Ask your eye doctor for your original eye measurements—the ones that he or she took before LASIK was done. It is important to
keep them with your other medical records in case you ever need cataract surgery. They help the doctor calculate future lens implants after cataract surgery.
To learn more about record-keeping, see the topic
Organizing Your Medical Records.
LASIK is a
cosmetic procedure. The cost of refractive surgery
varies in different locations, but it can be a big expense. Most
insurance companies do not cover the cost of refractive surgery.