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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

How It's Done

Your doctor will ask you to stop wearing makeup, lotions and perfumes for a day or two before surgery. You will not be able to drive after your LASIK procedure. Make arrangements for someone to drive you home.

On the day of the procedure, your doctor may give you a mild sedative to help you relax. You will enter the operating room and lie down in a reclining chair.

The area around your eye will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Next, numbing eye drops will be placed in your eye so that you will not feel pain or discomfort during the procedure. An instrument called a lid speculum will be inserted into your eye to keep your eyelids open. The doctor will use special ink to mark the surgical area on your cornea.

Next, a ringlike suction device will be placed on the front of your eyes to hold your cornea in place during the procedure. This suction ring will cause a sensation of pressure, but no pain.

Then, a delicate cutting instrument called a microkeratome will be used to slice a tiny, hinged flap of tissue from the front of your cornea. You will not see or feel the microkeratome cutting your cornea.

Once the cutting is done, the surgeon will remove the suction ring from your eye, and fold back the hinged flap of cornea. Next, the laser will be moved into position, and you will be asked to stare at a light. Staring fixes your gaze and keeps your eye from moving.

Once your eye is steady, the doctor will use the laser to vaporize portions of your cornea. This vaporization is guided by a computer. It is based on precise eye measurements that were made during your presurgery examination. As the laser works, you will hear a clicking sound, and you may notice a smell similar to burning hair. These sounds and smells are normal.

When your laser treatment is finished, the doctor will reposition the hinged flap of cornea. No stitches are necessary. The doctor probably will cover your eye with an eye shield to protect the corneal flap as it heals.

After your surgery, you must be careful not to touch or press your eye. For a few hours, you may feel slight discomfort or a burning sensation in your eye. In most cases, you can relieve this with over-the-counter pain medication.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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