What Happens Before, During, and After Laser Eye Surgery?

laser eye surgery processWhen people first consider laser eye surgery, they’re often hesitant simply because they don’t know what will happen.

Fear of the unknown is a given in any surgery – on the eyes or anywhere else. Knowing what will happen before, during, and after your laser eye surgery can be a great help, and can help you determine whether or not laser eye surgery is for you.

Before Laser Eye Surgery

Before anything is done, a full examination will be done on the eyes. The eye surgeon will look to see if the eyes are healthy; how much of the cornea needs to be reshaped, and how big of a laser prescription will be needed.

During this examination the surgeon will also look to see if there is any presence of chronic dry eye syndrome. If there is, this will need to be treated before laser eye surgery is performed.

Getting a corneal topography of your eye is probably going to be done if the surgeon finds that your eyes are in good condition for laser eye surgery. This involves using wavefront technology that is used in custom LASIK. This creates a map of your cornea and shows the surgeon where exactly the corrections need to be made.

Lastly, the surgeon will take to you about your general health and about any medications you’re taking. Some medications may interfere with laser eye surgery and with some, you may have to wait until you’ve stopped taking the medication.

During Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery, of pretty much any type, is an outpatient procedure. You’ll show up at your appointment at the surgeon’s office, have the surgery, and be on your way anywhere from five to fifteen minutes later.

You should have someone take you to the appointment that can also drive you home, as you will be unable to do this yourself afterwards.

Because you will be awake the entire time, the surgeon may begin by giving you a mild sedative. Drops containing a local anaesthetic will also be applied to the eye so that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery. You will then lie down flat with one eye positioned directly underneath a laser.

A device will be placed on your eye to keep it open during the entire procedure and this isn’t usually uncomfortable either. A target light will be turned on and you’ll be asked to look at this light throughout the entire procedure.

Depending on the type of laser eye surgery being performed, the surgeon will then make his flap, pocket, or marks along the cornea.  While the laser is making its incision, you will hear a rapid clicking noise and may even smell something unpleasant.

This is normal, and nothing to worry about. It’s also important to remember that your surgeon has complete control over the laser during the entire procedure. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, you can tell them and they’ll switch it off and make you more comfortable.

After Laser Eye Surgery

The surgeon may prescribe an over-the-counter medication for pain afterwards but generally no painkillers are needed. However, it’s important to remember to strictly follow every post-operative instruction that your surgeon gives you.

Getting plenty of rest is important after laser eye surgery and taking all medication properly and as instructed is equally important. As well, always make sure that you let your surgeon know immediately if you have any problems or extreme pain after eye laser surgery.

Once you get home, you should rest for at least a few hours. Sometimes you may be able to go back to work the next day but often surgeons will recommend that you take one or two days off after laser eye surgery.

Usually it’s also recommended that no heavy lifting or excessive exercise is done for up to a week after surgery, as this can tear the delicate corneal flap and cause complications. You should also avoid rubbing your eye, as this can also cause the corneal flap to come loose.