by Woods M
(Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis)

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.


LASIK surgery uses a laser to reshape the cornea of one or both eyes. This reshaping changes focusing power and usually corrects vision.

Cornea of the Eye
nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Most people who get LASIK will still need reading glasses to correct for presbyopia. This is a normal decrease in focus that happens with age.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Under- or over-correction of the cornea shape
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Long-term dry or scratchy eyes
  • Permanent decrease or loss of vision that cannot be corrected with glasses or contact lenses
  • The need for more surgery

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Having certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma or keratoconus
  • Dry eyes
  • A thin cornea
  • Large pupil size
  • Problems with the immune system
  • Frequent changes in vision due to health problems like diabetes

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Whether you need to stop wearing contact lenses in the weeks before surgery
  • Arranging for a ride to and from surgery


The doctor may give:

  • A sedative—you will feel relaxed
  • Numbing eye drops
  • Description of Procedure

    The eyelid will be held open with a special device. A ring will be placed on the eye and pressure is applied to create suction. A blade will be attached to the suction ring. The blade will be used to cut a flap in the cornea. The flap will be folded back. A laser will be used to remove corneal tissue and reshape the cornea. When the laser is finished, the flap will be put back into place. Antibiotic drops will be put in the eye. A shield will be put over the eye.

    There are other ways to do this surgery. One includes using a laser to make the flap in the cornea. The other includes removing the top layer of the cornea with a special device or chemical, then using the laser.

    How Long Will It Take?

    Less than 30 minutes.

    Will It Hurt?

    Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. It is common to feel burning, itching, or a feeling that something is in the eye after surgery. It will also take some time before vision returns.

    Post-Procedure Care

    At the Care Center

    Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.

    At Home

    It will take about 5 days to fully heal. It will take 3 to 6 months for vision to become stable. Physical activity will be limited during recovery. You may need to delay your return to work for two days.

    Problems to Look Out For

    Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

    • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or discharge from the eye
    • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
    • Vision that worsens
    • New or worsening symptoms

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


    American Optometric Association 

    Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology 


    Canadian Ophthalmological Society 

    Health Canada 


    Corneal abrasian. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed April 12, 2022.

    Lasik-Laser eye surgery. Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: Accessed April 12, 2022.

    What should I expect before, during, and after surgery? United States Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Accessed April 12, 2022.

    Revision Information