What happens during LASIK?

Laser eye surgery has gone from a fairly uncommon procedure to a common one since it was created. If you’re tired of contacts or glasses, you might be interested in undergoing LASIK. But you probably have questions.

How does it work? Will it hurt? What are the risks? Here’s what you need to know about LASIK.

A LASIK overview

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is the most common laser eye surgery. It’s been studied in various forms since the 1950s but only really came to market in the 1990s.

If you’re going to get LASIK, the first few steps are making sure you’re qualified for the procedure. Most people are able to get the surgery but some aren’t qualified for one reason or another. An eye prescription has to be stable for at least one year before surgery, and some people’s pupils may be too large, corneas too thin or eyes too dry.

Once you’re qualified, you’re advised to stop wearing any soft contact lenses for a while—and hard contacts for much longer. Corneal neovascularization, or the growth of blood vessels into the cornea, is a side effect of contact lens wear and may affect the LASIK procedure if not allowed to go back to normal. The eye is then mapped, creating a guide for the laser reshaping process.

When you go in for the surgery, a soft suction ring is applied to the eye and a microkeratome or femtosecond laser is used to quickly cut a small flap in the cornea (the frontal lens of the eye). This flap is then hinged up like a trapdoor to allow access to the stroma, the middle section of the cornea underneath.The cut is incredibly thin, and because of numbing drops will be painless.

A laser is then used to reshape the cornea, with the layers being adjusted only micrometers at a time. Even if the eye moves in this step the laser will track with it. After the laser is used the flap is let back down and repositioned. No pain should occur during this part of the procedure, though the eye may be slightly uncomfortable due to being held open.

There may be some discomfort in the first few hours after the surgery, but it should wear off soon. The eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops, and occasionally a bandage contact lens will be required. Within a few weeks the eye should be back to normal.


LASIK allows you to be free of contacts and glasses long-term—or in some cases lower your prescription strength. Eight out of ten no longer need outside vision correction. It’s a great solution for most people, and a remarkably safe one. It has one of the highest postoperative satisfaction rates.

In addition, it’s an almost pain-free procedure and one of the safest surgeries you can undergo. It’s extensively studied and commonly performed. For most people it can provide a big increase in quality of life. If you’re interested in getting LASIK, call our office today and set up an appointment. We’ll help you get the vision care you deserve.