Will I feel pain?

Your comfort and relaxation are important to both you and your care team. Your surgeon will numb your eyes with anesthetic drops. You might get a mild sedative, such as diazepam (Valium), to help you relax. It is common to be startled when the suction ring is placed on your eye. You may feel pressure on your eye during the procedure but it is not painful. Your care team will take care of any pain or discomfort. Tell a member of your care team if you are uncomfortable in any way.

What are the risks and potential complications of LASIK?

Complications during and after LASIK are not common, but surgery involves risks and the possibility of complications, which may become serious in some cases. A potentially serious complication is a problem with the device that cuts the cornea to produce a flap. Although very rare, it is possible to accidentally cut through the cornea instead of making a hinged flap. This may lead to permanent damage to the eye.

Other potential complications include:

  • Bulge in the cornea
  • Corneal scarring
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Infection of the cornea
  • Over-correction or under-correction of your vision 
  • Permanent vision loss or reduced vision
  • Visual distortions such as halos, glare, or double vision

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery. This may include not swimming and doing certain other water or sports-related activities for up to several weeks.
  • Keeping all scheduled postoperative appointments
  • Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as severe eye pain or worsening vision 
  • Refraining from rubbing or itching your eyes after surgery as directed, as this may disturb the healing corneal flap
  • Taking your oral and topical medications exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies

How do I prepare for LASIK?

You are an important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can significantly improve your outcome after the procedure. You can prepare for LASIK by:

  • Answering all questions about your medical history and medications you take. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
  • Arranging for someone to drive you home after the surgery
  • Getting preoperative testing as directed. Preoperative testing will include a thorough eye exam and other tests as needed. Discontinue contact lens wear before the preoperative exam.
  • Not wearing contact lenses, eye makeup, and face lotions on the day of surgery
  • Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed

Questions to ask your doctor

Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns or questions before surgery and between appointments.

It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your preoperative appointment. Questions can include:

  • Why am I a good candidate for LASIK?
  • Why do I need LASIK? Are there any other options for correcting my vision?
  • Do you use a laser approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
  • How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
  • How will you manage my pain?
  • How many times have you performed LASIK? (Complications are reduced the more times a surgeon has performed LASIK.)
  • What kind of assistance will I need at home?
  • What kind of restrictions will I have after the surgery, and when can I return to work and other activities?
  • What medication plan should I follow before and after the surgery?
  • When should I follow up with you?
  • How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular hours.
  • Will a doctor provide my preoperative and postoperative care?
  • If so, which doctor will provide my preoperative and postoperative care?
  • How much vision correction can I expect? Will I still need glasses or contacts after surgery to completely correct my vision or will I need another surgery?