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Things to Know Before Getting Laser Eye Surgery

By Emily Lockhart

Laser eye surgery, also known as LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a popular surgery that corrects vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or those who have astigmatism. Those who have the procedure will no longer have to use glasses or contact lenses which is one of the main benefits.

According to WebMD, LASIK has been around for 25 years and about 96-percent of patients have success afterwards. In fact, most will achieve 20/25 vision or better! Anyone who is considering laser eye surgery has likely been fully briefed by their medical team on what to expect as far as the basics—surgery cost, risks, recovery time—but there are a few surprisingly unknown aspects most patients don’t know about before, during, and after the procedure.

So, as someone who’s “been there-done that”, here are ten things to know before getting laser eye surgery…

1. The importance of following pre-surgery instructions

Your eye doctor might tell you to forgo contact lenses and makeup the week pre-surgery, but he or she may not explain exactly why and how serious the consequences are if you ignore this advice. Wearing contacts actually alters the shape of the cornea and you want it to return to its natural shape before your surgery. And makeup, lotions, or perfume should be forgone prior to surgery to reduce the risk of infection post-surgery.

2. The eye drops cost extra

If you’re getting laser eye surgery, you will be provided with a list of drops to take both prior to and following surgery. In most cases, these drops are not included in the bulk cost of your procedure and you will need to fork over a few hundred dollars for them. But whatever you do, for the love of your vision, you can save money and do the surgery without the drops.

3. Only minor anesthetic; no stitches

Laser eye surgery is considered an outpatient surgical procedure, which means you’ll be awake during the surgery and you’ll only get eye drops as anesthetic to totally numb the surface of your eyes—depending on if both eyes are scheduled for same procedure or just one with a return surgery for the opposite eye. There are also no stitches.

4. Surgery is very quick and painless

Laser eye surgery only takes about 10 to 15 minutes for each eye. During the procedure the surgeon will place a suction cup ring on top of your eye to keep it from moving. The laser will cut a thin flap in your cornea (the outer layer of tissue), lift the flap and reshapes the tissue underneath. The flap is replaced to adhere to the eyeball and protect the altered eye tissue.

5. Vision may improve immediately after surgery

The most amazing aspect of my surgery was the fact that I was able to see without glasses immediately following my surgery. Mind you my vision was terrible prior surgery, so bad that I couldn’t walk from my bedroom to bathroom without glasses. Following surgery my vision was fairly close to 20/20 but it took at least a week to see 20/20 (which is not always the case with poor vision).

6. You will experience light sensitivity

Following surgery, the most important thing you can do is protect your eyes. You will be provided with plastic wrap around glasses for day use and plastic eye patches and tape to protect you from rubbing and dislodging the surgical flap made during surgery for between 3 days to one week after your surgery. However, an extra pair of dark sunglasses can come in handy—both for protective showering, daytime and even nighttime driving post surgery. Things will be very bright.

7. The eye drop schedule is lengthy

You will need to use the eye drops several months post-surgery at the advice of your eye doctor or the laser surgery clinic to prevent infection and speed the healing process. Follow the eye drop schedule provided by the clinic like it’s the law.

8. You pay for follow up check ups

Typically, your follow up eye consults with your eye doctor will also not be covered by your bulk surgery cost. This extra cost will ensure that your eyes are healing properly and that there is no sign of infection. They will be scheduled in the first 2 days following surgery and continue over the next month or two, depending on your healing process.

9. You will need to take a few days off

The miraculous thing about laser eye surgery is that healing time is extremely quick—3 to 5 days. However, during the healing period (particularly 3 days post-surgery) you will need to take time off work due to the fact that you won’t be able to drive. Typically, vision will be blurry for a few days following surgery. Your eyes will also burn and be sensitive to light and being open for lengthy periods of time.

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Emily Lockhart


Emily Lockhart is a certified yoga instructor and personal trainer. She believes that being healthy is a lifestyle choice, not a punishment or temporary fix to attain a desired fitness or body image goal. Anna helps her clients take responsibility for their own health and wellness through her classes and articles on ActiveBeat.

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