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How LASIK Eye Surgery Reshapes the Cornea

After you have been prepared for the LASIK eye 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 completely normal.
While your vision is dark, the flap in your cornea will be created using the microkeratome. You should not feel any pain when this happens, but you will have a feeling of pressure. You will hear and feel slight vibrations from the motor of 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 your 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 technique is completed, the flap will be smoothed back into position. You may need to wait several minutes for the flap to seal down. Your doctor will then place some more eyedrops 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 LASIK eye surgery will be repeated for the other eye. Each eye will take approximately 5 to 15 minutes. The procedure should not affect any other structures in the eye.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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