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Patient Surgical Information

So, you've decided to go ahead with your LASIK surgery. The benefits outweigh the potential risks for you, and you've scheduled your surgery day with your doctor.

Use this page to help you understand what you can expect, or should expect to do before, during and after your surgery.

Before

You'll need a complete eye examination by your refractive surgeon. If you wear contact lenses you will most likely be asked to leave the contacts out prior to your examination, because contacts can temporarily change the shape of the cornea. Your cornea should be in its natural shape the day of testing. A preliminary eye exam may be performed by a referring doctor (Eye MD or optometrist). Take your eye prescription records with you to the exams. Your doctor should:

  • Dilate your pupils to fine-tune your prescription.
  • Examine your eyes to make sure they're healthy. This includes a retinal exam.
  • Take the following measurements:
    • The curvature of your cornea and your refractive error.
    • The topography of your eyes to make sure you don't have an irregular astigmatism or a cone-shaped cornea - a condition called Keratoconus.
    • The pachymetry - or thickness - of your cornea. It is important to ensure that you will have a sufficient amount of corneal tissue left untouched after surgery.  This untouched tissue is what will help the cornea remain stable over time.
    • Zywave or similar testing may be performed if your doctor thinks you might be a candidate for Zyoptix.
  • Ask you to sign an informed consent form after a thorough discussion of the risks, benefits, alternative options and possible complications. Review the form carefully. Don't sign until you understand everything in the form.
  • If your doctor doesn't think LASIK is right for you, you might consider getting a second opinion; however, if the opinion is the same, believe it.
  • If you qualify for surgery, your doctor may tell you to stop wearing your contact lenses again for a while before the surgery.  Your doctor also may tell you to stop wearing makeup, lotions or perfume for a few days before surgery. These products can interfere with the laser treatment or increase the risk of infection after surgery.

During

LASIK is an outpatient surgical procedure. The only anesthetic is an eye drop that numbs the surface of the eye. The surgery takes 10 to15 minutes for each eye.  Usually both eyes are treated on the same day, although there are some situations that the surgeon may prefer to treat only one eye.

The Surgical Procedure

In LASIK, a special device creates a hinged flap of thin corneal tissue off the outer layer of the eyeball (cornea) and the flap is folded out of the way. The laser reshapes the underlying corneal tissue, and the surgeon replaces the flap, which quickly adheres back to the eye, without bandages or stitches in the majority of cases.  In very rare cases the surgeon many need to use a temporary bandage to help ensure that the flap heals smoothly to the eye.  Shields or special goggles are worn to protect the flap while sleeping.

PRK reshapes the surface of the cornea after the surface cells (epithelium) have been removed.  There is no flap in this procedure.  The surgeon will remove the very top layer of the cornea, "the surface skin", using either an alcohol solution or a special device.  The laser is then used to reshape the tissue in the exposed corneal bed.  After the laser treatment is complete, the surgeon will insert a bandage contact lens.  This contact will stay in the eye until the surface tissue has healed underneath it, usually taking 3-7 days.  Once the surface has healed the surgeon will remove the bandage contact lens. 

After

Healing is relatively fast, but you may want to take a few days off after the surgery. Be aware that:

  • You may experience a mild burning or sensation for a few hours after surgery. Do not rub your eye(s). Your doctor can prescribe a painkiller, if necessary, to ease the discomfort.
  • Your vision probably will be blurry the day of surgery, but it will improve considerably by the next day when you return for a follow-up exam especially in  LASIK surgery.  PRK patients experience more fluctuation in the vision over the first week after surgery.
  • If you experience aggravating or unusual side effects, report them to your doctor immediately.
  • Do not drive until your vision has improved enough to safely do so.
  • Avoid swimming, hot tubs and whirlpools for two weeks after surgery.
  • Remember that PRK healing will take longer than LASIK. 

If you have any questions at any time during the entire process -- before, during or after -- please be sure to ask one of the LaserView of CNY staff OR your ophthalmologist.