What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Laser Eye Procedure

February 23rd, 2018
eye doctor consulting patient

Before opting for laser eye surgery, it’s important to understand exactly how it works. To help you learn more, we’ve outlined the entire process from start to finish.


While laser eye surgery is one of the most common medical procedures in the United States, many prospective patients don’t fully know what it entails. To help you better understand the process, we’ve broken down the preparation, procedure, and recovery.


Preparing for Surgery


During your initial consultation, your eye doctor will conduct a baseline evaluation and perform a thorough eye exam to ensure that you’re a good candidate for laser eye surgery. You’ll want to thoroughly review any past or present medical and visual conditions at this time and disclose any medications you take, even if they’re over-the-counter.


All patients are required to sign a statement of informed consent before undergoing laser eye surgery. Before you can do so, your doctor will discuss the procedure with you in detail, letting you know exactly how it works, what the risks are, and what you can expect from it. Carefully consider its benefits and disadavantages before you commit to it.


The Day of the Procedure


In the days before the operation, be sure to follow any preparations or precautions your doctor gives you. Some common pre-operative measures include taking prescribed eye drops, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and artificial tears. On the day of the procedure, you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from the clinic or treatment facility, since your vision will likely be too blurry for you to drive safely.

Laser eye surgery is a relatively quick procedure, with most operations lasting about 30 minutes. To begin with, the surgeon will insert numbing eye drops into your eye, clean the area, and then use a tool called a lid speculum to hold the eyelids open.


The surgeon will then create a thin flap in the cornea with a mechanical tool or a laser, fold back the flap, and then use an excimer laser to reshape the cornea. Once the cornea has been properly shaped, the thin flap is then laid back in place and allowed to heal naturally.


Immediately Following the Procedure


LASIK is a minimally invasive procedure. It relies only on topical anaesthetic drops, and the eyes don’t need to be dressed with bandages or stitches. Your surgeon, however, will likely ask you to wear a shield to protect your eye and ensure that the flap on the cornea does not become dislodged or irritated. You’ll need to wear this shield to prevent you from rubbing your eye or putting pressure on it while you sleep, and to protect your eye from accidentally being hit or poked until the flap has healed. Take care to follow the exact instructions given to you by your surgeon.


You should expect some discomfort immediately after surgery, with most patients experiencing a slight burning or itching in their eyes and slightly hazy or blurry vision. These symptoms should quickly subside within the first few days after surgery, but some patients may take a few days off of work until they subside. If these symptoms don’t resolve themselves or you notice a glare from or halos around lights, be sure to mention it to your doctor in your follow-up appointment.




Most patients need to make some temporary lifestyle adjustments while recovering from laser eye surgery. Most doctors recommend that patients avoid non-contact sports for the first few days after surgery and more strenuous contact sports such as boxing or football for at least a month.


To protect your eyes from harmful infections, you should also wait around two weeks after the procedure before using lotions, creams, or eye makeup. You should also refrain from swimming or using hot tubs for one to two months after the surgery.


While most patients recover quickly from laser eye surgery, it may take as long as six months for your vision to fully stabilize. As soon as it does, however, you should enjoy clear vision for years to come. Indeed, most people need to receive laser eye surgery only once during their lifetime.


If you’re interested in laser eye surgery, the talented team of surgeons and professionals at Icon Eyecare can help. We provide full service and care from the initial consultation to your final follow-up, ensuring that your vision improves as greatly as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.