Skip to Content
LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a surgery that flattens the cornea. It is the
most common laser surgery for correcting
nearsightedness (myopia) and
astigmatism. LASIK makes a small
flap in the cornea and removes some of the tissue exposed by the flap. The
laser removes tissue from the
cornea very accurately without damaging nearby
LASIK is an
outpatient procedure. It is done under
local anesthesia in a surgeon's office or a same-day
surgery center. The operation on one eye takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The
entire process usually takes less than 2 hours, including preparation time,
care right after the surgery, and paperwork.
After surgery, you
may wear a patch or contact lens on the eye and get a prescription for pain
medicine. Someone must drive you home and then back to the surgeon's office the
next day. During this second visit, the surgeon will examine your eye and
prescribe eyedrops to prevent infection and reduce inflammation. More follow-up
visits are required, usually the next week and then throughout the first year
LASIK usually requires very little recovery time. Most
people who have the surgery see quite well the next day. There is little or no
pain after LASIK.
LASIK is an elective, cosmetic
procedure that is done to correct nearsightedness in otherwise healthy
LASIK surgery may be used to correct
mild to moderate
nearsightedness. It is also thought to be the best
procedure for correcting high nearsightedness (greater than 7
diopters), although the results of surgery become
harder to predict with higher amounts of nearsightedness.
The procedure may not be done for people who:
Over the short term, LASIK has been
shown to be very effective in reducing mild to moderate nearsightedness
(myopia). Almost everyone notices improvements in their
vision. But not everyone gets perfect 20/20 vision.
with myopia of less than 6
diopters, studies showed that after surgery,
For people with myopia between 6 and 12 diopters, studies
showed that after surgery, about:footnote 1
Doctors continue to improve the technique and to study the long-term results.
The risk of complications from LASIK surgery is
low and decreases with a more experienced surgeon. Look for a corneal
specialist or surgeon who does the surgery often.
and side effects from LASIK may include:
Serious vision-threatening complications are rare but may
LASIK has been approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1995. But
the procedure may have long-term side effects or complications that experts do
not yet know about.
If you are thinking about having surgery to
nearsightedness, consider all the options
(including LASIK, PRK, epi-LASIK, corneal ring implants, intraocular
lens implants, and radial keratotomy), and discuss them with your doctor. Ask your doctor
the questions that you have about surgery (for example, what are the risks, benefits, and possible outcomes), so that you understand your options and can make the best decision.
LASIK is being done more frequently than PRK, largely
because of the good results and the quicker visual recovery that LASIK offers.
There is no agreement about whether LASIK is superior to PRK or vice versa for
people with mild to moderate nearsightedness.
Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of
correcting both eyes on the same day compared with doing one eye at a
time on separate days.
Ask your eye doctor for your original eye measurements—the ones that he or she took before LASIK was done. It is important to
keep them with your other medical records in case you ever need cataract surgery. They help the doctor calculate future lens implants after cataract surgery.
To learn more about record-keeping, see the topic
Organizing Your Medical Records.
LASIK is a
cosmetic procedure. The cost of refractive surgery
varies in different locations, but it can be a big expense. Most
insurance companies do not cover the cost of refractive surgery.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Sakimoto T, et al. (2006). Laser eye surgery for refractive errors. Lancet, 367(9520): 1432–1447.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerChristopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Current as ofMay 23, 2016
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
© Copyright 2016 Rush-Copley Medical Center • 2000 Ogden Avenue; Aurora, IL 60504
Main: 630-978-6200 • Physician Referral & Information: 630-978-6700 or 866-4COPLEY (866-426-7539)