There are several things that will happen prior to surgery. Your doctor will perform a full eye exam and ask for your eye history to make sure your prescription has been stable for at least one year. During this examination, the doctor will determine whether you are a good candidate. In the days and weeks leading up to the procedure, patients will need to follow certain guidelines to properly and to ensure the best chance for success.
Pre-LASIK Eye Examination
Prior to surgery, your surgeon will perform a comprehensive eye exam to ensure that you are a good candidate for treatment. During this exam, a map of your eye will be created. This map will be used during the LASIK procedure so a precise amount of corneal tissue is removed, providing you with the clearest visual results possible. The pre-LASIK vision correction evaluation should include:
- Dilated exam to check for ocular irregularities
- Refractive error measurement
- Pupil and corneal thickness measurements
- Corneal topography map
- Tear function analysis
- Discussion of medical history, lifestyle, and expectations
This evaluation determines if the patient’s eye curvature is suitable for the procedure. If not, the surgery could result in tear problems or unstable vision. Additionally, the evaluation measures tear production. The eyes naturally produce fewer tears as we age and LASIK always causes temporary dryness. If a prospective patient has naturally dry eyes, LASIK vision correction may not a suitable option.
Tips – Preparing
After determining whether a patient is a good candidate, the ophthalmologist will thoroughly discuss benefits and possible complications. Your laser eye surgeon will then review an individualized treatment plan, including what to do in the days and weeks prior to the procedure. Generally, patients should follow the guidelines below:
The Weeks Prior to Surgery
Contact lenses should not be worn in the weeks prior to surgery. This is because the success of LASIK is dependent on accurately measuring the shape and curvature of your cornea, which can be affected by lenses. A period of time without contacts restores your cornea to its natural shape. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that patients adhere to the following guidelines:
- Soft contact lenses should not be worn for at least two weeks prior to surgery
- Gas permeable contact lenses should not be worn for at least three weeks prior to surgery
- Hard contact lenses should not be worn for at least four weeks prior to surgery
Following these standards will ensure that your refractive error is measured properly, resulting in an optimal surgery recovery period and superior vision correction.
The Day Before Surgery
On the day before surgery, patients should stop using any makeup, lotions, perfumes, or creams that may cause debris to get into the eye. Patients should also arrange transportation for after the surgery as it may take several days to adjust to the change in their vision. Surgeons may request patients thoroughly wash their eyes to prevent any chance of infection.
The Day of Surgery
On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before going to the eye surgeon and take any doctor-prescribed medications as normal. Do not wear any makeup or lotion, as they may increase the likelihood of infection. Also, do not wear any bulky accessories in your hair that may interfere with positioning your head under the laser. Patients’ eyes will be measured again before surgery and the surgeon will once again go through the procedure, making sure you have no additional questions or concerns. An anesthetic and any needed anti-anxiety medication will then be administered. If you are not feeling well the morning of your surgery, call the doctor’s office to determine if the procedure needs to be postponed.
Following surgery, patients can expect a short recovery period. You may be required to wear a protective shield over your eyes for the first night or two following the procedure. Your doctor may also instruct you to take antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, or moistening eye drops, and to wear dark eyeglasses if you experience sensitivity to bright lights.
Although LASIK complications can occur, most vision correction patients are able to return to work and other daily activities the day after the procedure. There is usually little to no post-operative discomfort and few side effects after surgery though follow-up exams during recovery are required to ensure that your eyes heal properly. It is recommended that you go to sleep right after surgery to reduce post-operative pain. When you wake up, you should already notice improved vision.
After surgery, you should lie down, relax, and close your eyes. Watching television, reading, or operating a computer should be avoided for the first 24 hours. The surgery recovery process requires your eyes to remain relaxed. To help with any pain or discomfort, medications may be prescribed following treatment; alternatively, you may be able to use over-the-counter pain medications to help alleviate irritation.
Do not rub your eyes. Protective eye shields should be worn for the first seven nights. Some patients report a mild burning sensation two to four hours into surgery recovery as the anesthetic wears off. The sensation resembles wearing an itchy or dirty contact lens.
To ensure a quick healing process:
- Wear sunglasses after surgery, rain or shine.
- Take baths instead of showers for the first 24 hours after surgery and be careful not to allow the shower to spray directly into your face for the first week.
- Use a face cloth and be careful not to rub your eyes.
- Avoid eye makeup and smoky or dusty environments for a week.
- Avoid alcohol consumption for 48 hours after surgery.
Your surgeon or ophthalmologist will schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your results and potential problems such as epithelial growth. Contact your physician immediately if you experience any complications.
Nearsighted patients who undergo LASIK surgery typically return to functional vision the day after the procedure. Although some patients experience difficulty reading the first few days, this is normal, as it may take one to three months for final vision to stabilize.
Farsighted LASIK surgery patients usually experience dramatic results the day after LASIK. Although distance optics may appear blurry, this is also temporary.
Generally, it is considered more difficult to correct astigmatism than farsightedness or nearsightedness. Nevertheless, LASIK statistics show that many astigmatism patients are still LASIK candidates and can achieve great results and dramatically improved vision.
Find a Surgeon near You
If you would like to know more about LASIK results or about the surgery recovery process, talk to a physician near you. Using DocShop’s directory of LASIK surgeons and ophthalmologists, you can find a skilled, experienced physician in your area.