Lasik eye surgery permanently changes the shape of the cornea (the clear covering on the front of the eye). It is done to improve vision and reduce the need for glasses or contact lenses.
What to Expect at Home
After you have surgery, an eye shield or patch will be placed over the eye. It will protect the flap and help prevent rubbing or pressure on the eye until it has healed (most often overnight).
Right after the surgery, you may have burning, itching, or a feeling that something is in the eye. This most often goes away within 6 hours.
Vision is often blurry or hazy on the day of surgery. The blurriness starts to go away by the next day.
At the first doctor visit after surgery:
- The eye shield is removed.
- The doctor examines your eye and tests your vision.
- You will receive eye drops to help prevent infection and inflammation.
Do not drive until you have been cleared by your doctor and your vision has improved enough to do so safely.
You may be prescribed a mild pain reliever and a sedative to help you relax. It is very important not to rub the eye after surgery, so that the flap does not dislodge or move. Keep your eye closed as much as possible for the first 6 hours.
You will need to avoid the following for 2 to 4 weeks after surgery:
- Hot tubs and whirlpool
- Contact sports
- Lotions and creams around the eyes
- Eye makeup
Your health care provider will give you specific instructions on how to care for your eye.
When to Call the Doctor
Call the provider right away if you have severe pain or any of the post-surgery symptoms worsen before your scheduled follow-up appointment. The first follow-up is most often scheduled for 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis - discharge; Laser vision correction - discharge; LASIK - discharge; Myopia - Lasik discharge; Nearsightedness - Lasik discharge
Chuck RS, Jacobs DS, Lee JK, et al. Refractive errors & refractive surgery preferred practice pattern. Ophthalmology. 2018;125(1):P1-P104. PMID: 29108748 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29108748/.
Cioffi GA, LIebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.
Probst LE. LASIK technique. In: Mannis MJ, Holland EJ, eds. Cornea. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 166.
Sierra PB, Hardten DR. LASIK. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 3.4.
US Food & Drug Administration website. What should I expect before, during, and after surgery?www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/SurgeryandLifeSupport/LASIK/ucm061270.htm. Updated July 11, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2020.
Review Date 2/25/2020
Updated by: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.