What to Expect After LASIK Surgery

First approved for use by the FDA in 1998, LASIK has been gaining steadily in popularity. Every year, about 700,000 Americans have the procedure and the vast majority of patients are happy with their results. While LASIK has suited millions of patients worldwide, it is not everybody’s cup of tea. As a patient, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the surgery, the procedure’s advantages and risks, and what to expect after the procedure (LASIK surgery). As with all surgeries, there are risks associated with the procedure and some patients have experienced complications or side effects that have negatively affected their eyes and quality of life.

The basic purpose of this article is to make you understand the basics of the procedure and what to expect and what not after LASIK.

What Is LASIK?
LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) is an outpatient surgical procedure used to treat nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. LASIK is also being used experimentally to treat presbyopia, the age-related loss of close-up focusing power, which mainly affects near vision.

What happens during LASIK?
LASIK is performed in an outpatient surgical setting. With LASIK, the ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) uses a laser to reshape the cornea, which is located at the front of the eye. This improves the way the eye focuses light rays onto the retina, at the back of the eye, allowing for better vision.

What is the average recovery time after LASIK?
After LASIK surgery, you will receive eye drops to help prevent infection and inflammation during the healing process and to alleviate dryness. You must be sure to follow instructions from your doctor and return for follow-up appointments as directed. Also bear in mind that it may take three to six months for vision to stabilize completely.

How soon can you resume your work after LASIK?
Your doctor may advise waiting several days before you resume a normal work schedule. The doctor should advise you on how long you should wait before resuming sports, exercise, or strenuous activity.

Will you still need corrective glasses after LASIK?
LASIK allows many people to perform most of their everyday tasks without wearing corrective lenses. However, those hoping to achieve perfect vision and become completely free of the need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses run the risk of being disappointed. Everyone develops the need to wear reading glasses in their 40s or 50s due to presbyopia. If your vision is fully corrected for distance with LASIK, you will need reading glasses to correct for presbyopia once it has developed. If you are nearsighted and do not yet need reading glasses, having LASIK may mean you will need reading glasses at an earlier age than had you not had laser eye surgery.

Would you achieve 20/20 vision after LASIK?
According to careful estimates, more than 90 percent (at least) of people who have LASIK achieve somewhere between 20/20 and 20/40 vision without eyeglasses or contact lenses. As per the findings of a major analysis done in 2008 by the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, worldwide satisfaction rates for improved or better vision among LASIK patients was as high as 95.4 percent. However, you will need to keep the possibility in your mind that you might need a second surgery (“retreatment”) in order to attain your desired results, or that you might need to wear glasses for certain activities, such as reading or driving at night.

The greater your refractive error (that is, the greater your nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, or combination of these conditions), the more likely you would require retreatment or glasses. Similarly, if you have extremely thin corneas or are suffering from severe myopia and astigmatism, or who have had previous eye surgery, you do not generally have the average success possibilities of obtaining 20/20 vision like others.

Studies done on the quality of vision after LASIK
In a comprehensive report published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology Web site and which involved findings from 64 LASIK studies done since 2000, the following vision-related findings were shown:

Findings after LASIK in people with low to high myopia
According to the data compiled from 22 studies, as many as of 94 percent of eyes achieved 20/40 or better vision after surgery and did not require correction with glasses or contact lenses.

Findings after LASIK in people with low to moderate myopia
According to the same data compiled from those 22 studies, as many as of 99 percent of eyes achieved 20/40 or better vision after surgery and did not require correction with glasses or contact lenses.

Findings after LASIK in people with high myopia
The same studies showed that about 89 percent of the people with high myopia did not require correction with glasses or contact lenses after LASIK.

Can one need additional surgery after LASIK?
There are some rare cases in which some patients do not get a fully corrected sphere of vision after their first Lasik procedure. However, fortunately, the FDA statistics show that this happens in less than 3% of the people undergoing LASIK and an additional LASIK surgery is needed to improve vision.

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