What is lasik?

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LASIK for farsightedness: Overview

Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is the preferred procedure for correcting farsightedness (hyperopia). It changes the shape of the eye. In LASIK, a thin flap is made on the cornea using a blade or laser. The flap is lifted, and a laser is applied to the central corneal tissue. The laser makes contact with the cornea in a circular pattern around the central optical zone. This changes the profile of the cornea, making it steeper. The laser removes tissue from the cornea very precisely. It doesn't damage nearby tissues. The flap is then replaced, allowing for rapid healing.

LASIK is performed in a surgeon's office or same-day surgery center. It does not require a hospital stay.

This procedure may not be available in all areas, but it's done in most large cities.

How can you care for yourself after LASIK?

Activity

  • Ask your doctor when it is okay to drive.
  • Your doctor may advise you to sleep when you get home from surgery. Keeping your eye closed may help it heal.
  • Wear your eye shield at night for up to 2 weeks.
  • You can shower or wash your hair the day after surgery. Keep water, soap, shampoo, hair spray, and shaving lotion out of your eye, especially for the first week.
  • Do not rub or put pressure on your eye for at least 1 week.
  • Ask your doctor when you can wear eye makeup again and get your hair colored.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for when you can exercise and return to contact sports such as boxing or football. You may need to wear eye protection when you return to contact sports.
  • For 1 to 2 weeks, avoid swimming, hot tubs, gardening, and dusting.
  • Wear sunglasses on bright days for at least 1 year after surgery.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for when to use eyedrops. Always wash your hands before you put your drops in. To put in eyedrops:
    • Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops or ointment move around.
    • Do not touch the ointment or dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions for taking pain medicines.

How well does LASIK for farsightedness work?

Over the short term, LASIK has been shown to be effective and consistent in reducing mild to moderate farsightedness.

LASIK is better at treating lower levels of farsightedness than higher levels.

How do you prepare for LASIK?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What are the risks of LASIK?

The risk of complications from LASIK surgery is low and decreases with a more experienced surgeon. Look for a corneal specialist or surgeon who does the surgery often.

Complications and side effects from LASIK may include:

  • Clouded vision (clouding of the cornea caused by inflammation during healing). This usually goes away on its own. But your doctor may give you medicine or do a procedure to relieve the inflammation.
  • Night vision problems, such as halos. (These are often described as a shimmering circle around light sources such as headlights or street lamps.)
  • Glare, or being more sensitive to bright light.
  • Double vision (diplopia), usually in one eye.
  • New astigmatism caused by wrinkling in the corneal flap or other flap complications.
  • Loss of best corrected vision. (This is the best possible vision you can achieve using glasses or contact lenses.)
  • Overcorrection or undercorrection.

Serious vision-threatening complications are rare but may include:

  • Infection of the cornea (keratitis).
  • Elevated pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) leading to glaucoma.

After LASIK: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have a sudden loss of vision.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of an eye infection, such as:
    • Pus or thick discharge coming from the eye.
    • Redness or swelling around the eye.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worse eye pain.
  • You have unexpected vision changes.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

What can you expect as you recover from LASIK?

After surgery, you may wear a patch or contact lens on the eye. You will also get instructions on how to manage your pain. Someone must drive you home and then back to the surgeon's office the next day. During this second visit, the surgeon will check your eye and prescribe eyedrops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. More follow-up visits are required, usually the next week and then throughout the first year after surgery.

  • Your eye will feel irritated and scratchy on the day of surgery. Your eyes may water a lot.
  • Recovery is usually quick, with only mild discomfort. You may return to your normal activities within a few days.
  • Dry-eye symptoms are common but usually temporary.
  • You may need to wear an eye shield for a few days after surgery.
  • Your vision may be hazy or blurry for a few days or a week after surgery. Do not drive until your vision has cleared.
  • Avoid vigorous sports, eye makeup, and activities that may get water in the eye for as long as your doctor recommends. You should shower before the surgery and then avoid showering for a day or two afterward.

LASIK usually requires very little recovery time. Most people who have the surgery see quite well the next day. There is little or no pain after LASIK.

After LASIK: Overview

Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is surgery to improve your vision. The doctor used surgical tools to keep your eye open and to apply pressure to the outside layer of your eyeball (cornea). The doctor used a special blade or laser to cut a flap in your cornea. Another laser was used to remove or reshape your eye tissue. Then the doctor put the flap back, added drops to your eye, and placed a clear, protective shield over your eye.

Your eye may burn, itch, be teary, or feel like there is something in it for 3 or 4 days after surgery. But it's important not to rub your eye. Rubbing your eye could damage it.

You will probably be able to return to work or your normal routine 1 to 3 days after surgery. For a few days, you may have blurry vision or watery eyes. Your eyes may be bloodshot for up to 3 weeks. This is because LASIK surgery can cause small blood vessels in your eye to break. Some people also find that they are sensitive to light or see starbursts or halos for 1 to 3 weeks after surgery.

If you have eye pain, your doctor may prescribe drops or medicines. You can expect your eye to get better each day, but it may feel dry for 1 to 3 months after surgery. Over-the-counter or prescription eyedrops can help with dryness.

For some people, it takes 3 to 6 months to get the full benefits of surgery and to see as clearly as possible.

What happens on the day of your LASIK?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The surgery will take about 10 to 20 minutes.
  • After the surgery, you will have a clear shield over your eye. You will be able to see with it on. But your doctor may tell you to keep your eye closed as much as possible for up to 24 hours.
  • You will get drops in your eye to help it heal.

Why is LASIK for farsightedness done?

LASIK is a procedure done to correct mild to moderate farsightedness in otherwise healthy eyes. It doesn't work as well for severe farsightedness.

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