Preparing for LASIK Surgery



The first step to a successful LASIK procedure is the qualification of the patient. Before the surgery, you will have a meeting with the doctor or doctor's assistant to discuss your particular scenario and what type of benefits you might experience after the surgery. It is crucial for the doctor to gather as much information about the patient's eyesight and for the patient to learn all he or she can about the pros and cons of LASIK. Understanding the risks and possible complications is important because the patient will sign a consent form before undergoing the procedure.

In addition to learning about your medical history, a complete and thorough eye examination will be done to assess the current state of vision (nearsighted, farsighted, astigmatism, etc.) and the overall physical health of your eyes. Most detrimental outcomes related to all different types of refractive eye surgeries can be traced to some problem or weakness within the eye itself which should have disqualified the patient if screened properly. The best eye surgeons employ the strictest screening criteria which makes sense because in the long run it will reduce the chances of having malpractice claims that result from bad outcomes.

preparation for lasik surgerySome of the more important characteristics the doctor will look for are overall corneal thickness and shape, pupil dilation and any preexisting conditions. The doctor will also utilize a procedure known as corneal mapping which can help analyze the refractive problems in more detail. The entire screening process will ultimately tell you whether or not LASIK is a good option when the benefits are weighed against the potential risks.

A common and early disqualifier is one of the various forms of dry eye disease. This condition, which can sometimes be severe and require regularly taken eye drops, must be resolved before LASIK can be performed. People with this condition will be most at risk for flap problems such as danger of dislodging the flap and very long healing times. In some cases the flap never heals which may result in the patient requiring the use of a special contact lens to keep the cornea in place for the rest of his or her life.

The mapping involves the use of a corneal topographer resulting in a 3D analysis of the cornea. The more advanced forms of LASIK feature what is called wavefront technology. This custom LASIK uses a sophisticated wavefront analysis in which light waves are projected through the eye to produce a better understanding of what types of aberrations are impacting the patient's vision. This is one of the most important factors in the improvement of refractive eye surgery since it reduces the possibility of overcorrection and under correction.

All of these pre-screening evaluation steps will help determine if the patient's overall health, eye health and corneal shape are acceptable for LASIK. Surgeries that proceed with one of these negative factors involved could possibly lead to very long recuperation times, problems with excessive tearing or even unstable or worse vision.

Weeks Leading up to the Surgery

Once it is determined that the patient is a good candidate for LASIK, there are several guidelines that must be adhered to in advance. For two to three weeks prior to surgery, depending on the doctor's orders, the patient should not wear contact lenses. Over time contact lenses can actually affect the natural shape and curvature of the cornea. The general guidelines are: soft contact lenses should not be worn for two weeks; and hard contact lenses should not be worn for three to four weeks leading up to the procedure.

The Day of the Procedure

On the day of the surgery be sure to eat a couple of hours before and make sure it is a moderate sized meal. For women, do not put on any eye makeup at all. Microscopic bits of eye makeup could potentially end up under the flap which could have negative impacts. Don't wear jewelry but do wear comfortable clothing. If you are sick with a cold or any other type of temporary illness it may be necessary to postpone the surgery.

It is important for patients to make prior arrangements for transportation to and from the surgeon's office. Most doctors will recommend that patients do not drive a car for at least three days and sometimes up to a week after surgery. It may be wise, depending on the type of work you do, to take a few days off from work for recuperation and rest. This can only help the healing process.

After the surgery, once the surgeon determines that there were no complications or surprises during the operations, the patient is provided with protective goggles to shield their sensitive eyes. The best advice is for the patient to relax after surgery with the protective glasses on. It is common to experience itchy eyes, but resist the urge to scratch or rub your eyes at all costs. Excessive rubbing can actually dislodge the flap and prevent proper healing. In the event that you have irritation, use the medicated drops provided by the doctor.

Since there are so many variables that will ultimately impact each and every LASIK patient differently it is important to maintain the schedule of post surgery visits as advised by your doctor. Between visits, it is up to the patient to immediately report to their doctor any unusual pain, excessive tearing or discharge, or vision that is becoming increasingly blurry.

Usually after a successful procedure, a patient can resume normal activity such as reading, watching TV and returning to work the next day. In most cases it is advised that you refrain from exercising for about a week. For intense exercise, contact sports and swimming patients should wait at least two weeks or wait for their doctor to give the go ahead.

Above all don't assume that your vision will somehow be 20/20 after LASIK. The procedure has a great track record and most people are satisfied with the results but those with unrealistic expectations are certain to be disappointed. Vision correction surgical procedures have the ability to improve vision and reduce the need for glasses, however in all likelihood, will not lead to perfect eyesight. A common outcome for most people adequately screened beforehand is to achieve a 20/40 end result, which is fantastic--especially for those who have realistic expectations going in.

  • Who is Eligible for LASIK? - All candidates for laser eye surgery must first go through a screening process designed to eliminate high risk profiles.




FDA Website for information on LASIK:

fda - US food and drug administration