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What Happens During the LASIK Procedure?

Clip Number: 7 of 9
Presentation: Common Eye Conditions, Tests, and Procedures
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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When ready, a healthcare provider will begin preparing your eye for surgery.
To help reduce the chance of infection, the skin around your eye will be cleaned with a special solution. This may feel a little cool and wet.
A series of numbing eye drops will be placed in your eye. Once your eye is numb, a clear plastic eyelid drape may be placed over the eyelid that will be operated on, and the other eye may be covered with a plastic eye shield.
An eyelid speculum - an instrument used to open the eye for better viewing - will then be placed. It will look like this. Although your eye is numb, you may feel pressure on the eyelids.
Finally, your healthcare provider will mark your eye using a specially designed marker.
After you have been prepared for the surgery, you will lie underneath the laser in a reclining chair. Your doctor will ask you to look at a target that you will need to focus on during the surgery. Usually this is a small red or green light, and it is normal for the light to look blurry.
Next, a suction ring will be placed on your eye to hold it steady in one position. When the suction begins, you may feel some pressure on your eye and an aching sensation. Your vision MAY also become dim or dark. This is NORMAL.
While your vision is dark, a flap in the cornea will be created using the microkeratome. Once the flap is successfully created, the suction is removed and your vision will return. This entire process usually lasts less than one minute.
Your doctor will then instruct you to focus again on the target. The flap will be lifted up and your vision may become even more blurry, although the target may still be easily seen as a fuzzy light. As you continue to look at the center of the light, the laser will be applied.
The laser reshapes the tissue of the cornea under the flap so that light rays are bent at the correct angle to focus images on your retina.
The laser may make some loud tapping noises, and you may also notice a smell similar to burnt hair. If you should happen to move away from the target during the procedure, your doctor can temporarily stop the laser. The laser will then be resumed when you are able to watch the target.
When the laser is completed, the flap will be smoothed back into position and you may need to wait several minutes for the flap to seal down. Your doctor will then place some more eye drops on your eye, and remove the eyelid speculum and the sterile sheet. It is normal for your vision to be quite blurry at this point. Following the procedure, an eye shield may be placed over your eye to prevent you from rubbing it.
If you are having both eyes operated on and your doctor feels that the first eye was successful, the procedure will be repeated for the other eye. Each eye will take approximately 5 to 15 minutes. LASIK should not affect any other structure in the eye.

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