A Guide to LASIK Eye Surgery and If It’s Right for You

A Guide to LASIK Eye Surgery and If It’s Right for You

LASIK stands for “laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis” and is the most common type of eye surgery. It’s performed to treat patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

LASIK is similar to the other types of refractive surgery, in terms of the procedure where the cornea is reshaped to help it allow more light to enter the eye. [1] The procedure typically takes about 15 minutes for both eyes and in most cases, the procedure is pain-free. The result of the procedure is improved vision without the use of lenses is usually seen in about 24 hours.

Unfortunately, not everyone is the right candidate for the procedure; this can be determined by an eye doctor. However, there are several other vision correction surgeries that may be a good fit, such as PRK (photorefractive keratectomy), LASKEK, or Phakic IOLs (intraocular lenses).

How does LASIK work?

Step one of the procedure involves numbing the eye by using prescribed eye drops. You will be seated in a comfortable reclining surgical chair. The eye surgeon will then use a surgical tool called a lid speculum to gently prop your eyelids open. [2]

The second step requires the surgeon to use a device called microkeratome or a femtosecond laser to stabilize the eye. Although some people experience mild pressure, this is normal. Then he or she will create a thin flap in the cornea, which will then be folded back to reveal the underlying cornea.

The next step is reshaping the cornea by using an excimer laser, an instrument that uses ultraviolet rays to remove microscopic amounts of tissue that will help to reshape it.  The equipment will make a clicking sounds and you may feel light pressure. You will also be asked to look at a target while your eye is receiving the laser.

Depending on what is being treated, the excimer laser will be adjusted accordingly. For nearsighted people, the cornea will be flattened; with farsighted people that cornea will become steeper. For those with an astigmatism, the irregular cornea will be reshaped into a normal cornea. [3]

The procedure for each eye is done separately, with each eye taking approximately five to seven minutes.


Immediately after your surgery, you’ll be told by the surgeon to rest. Therefore, you will need to arrange a ride home because you’re not allowed to drive. You will also feel some discomfort after your surgery including a burning or itching sensation or watery eyes. This discomfort is part of the healing process and it will only last a short amount of time.

You should also not expect your eyes to be corrected right away as you will experience blurry vision at first. However, for most people, vision will become normal within eight hours and will continue to improve with time. Most people attain 20/20 right after the surgery, but results may vary. In fact, it may take several months before you’re fully recovered and reach 20/20 vision. [4]

During your recovery, you will have to make regular check-ups with your eye doctor, your doctor will also let you know when you’re okay to drive again. It’s important to follow the instructions of your LASIK surgeon, which will include rest and refraining from any strenuous activities.


The average cost of LASIK surgery in the United States is approximately $2,088 per eye. [5] This figure come from surveys of American ophthalmologists who routinely perform LASIK and other vision correction procedures.

It’s important to keep in mind that the above amount is just an estimated cost. The actual price you pay for LASIK surgery will depend on several factors including the eye surgeon you choose and the technology they used during your procedure.


  1. “What Is LASIK?” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, 11 July 2018, www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/SurgeryandLifeSupport/LASIK/ucm061358.htm.
  2. “What Should I Expect before, during, and after Surgery?” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, 11 July 2018, www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/SurgeryandLifeSupport/LASIK/ucm061270.htm.
  3. “LASIK – Laser Eye Surgery.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 12 Dec. 2015, www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/lasik.
  4. Boxer, Brian S. “The LASIK Procedure: A Complete Guide.” All About Vision, AAV Media, LCC., May 2018, www.allaboutvision.com/visionsurgery/lasik.htm.
  5. Segre, Liz. “LASIK Eye Surgery Cost.” All About Vision, AAV Media, LLC., 13 June 2018, www.allaboutvision.com/visionsurgery/cost.htm.