Are you considering laser eye surgery? Here’s what you need to know



If you’ve spent much of your life struggling with contact lenses or wearing glasses, the appeal of

reconstructive laser eye surgery

is obvious: imagine waking up every day and seeing the world with clear, uncorrected vision! If you want 20/20 vision, laser eye surgery is worth considering – but like any health procedure, there are risks and benefits.

Basics of laser eye surgery

Reconstructive laser surgery reshapes the cornea for better vision. The cornea is the transparent lens that focuses light as it enters your eye. When not properly trained or exhibiting other errors, it changes the way light lands on your retina and, in turn, the quality of your vision. Laser eye surgery reshapes the cornea to change its focusing power.

You may know laser surgery as LASIK, which stands for

laser assisted keratomileusis in situ
. This is only one type of laser eye surgery, but it is the most common. Not all LASIK surgeries result in 20/20 vision, but it can generally reduce the need for corrective lenses.

Who can have laser eye surgery?

Just because you wear glasses or contact lenses doesn’t mean you are a good candidate for laser eye surgery. most

important criterion

is that your vision does not change anymore: you must be 18 or over (ideally over 21) and have not had any changes to your eye prescription for at least a year. You must be in good eye health, with thick corneas and a refractive error that can be corrected. People with cataracts, myopia or extreme astigmatism, or corneal damage cannot benefit from laser surgery.

Ultimately, you need to discuss laser surgery with your eye doctor and agree on the expectations of the surgery.

The basics of the procedure

If you and

your ophthalmologist

agree that you are a good candidate for laser surgery, the

the procedure itself is quite simple
. Well in advance, you will have a physical exam to test your vision, look for other eye problems, and measure both your cornea and your pupil. These precise measurements – including a detailed map of your cornea – are used to program the computer that controls the laser during surgery.

Laser surgery itself is an outpatient procedure which is usually quite quick. Your eye doctor will prepare your eye for surgery with numbing drops and eyelid holders. At this point, you are looking into the light as your surgeon uses a laser to quickly reshape the cornea. All in all, the operation only takes a few minutes.

Risks of laser eye surgery

Although laser eye surgery is very safe,

any medical procedure involves risks.

The vast majority of side effects are temporary: expect dry eyes and altered vision after surgery. It is possible, however, that other side effects such as discomfort, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and itchy eyes may persist for some time. And there is a small chance that blindness or worse vision could result from the surgery.

Overall, laser eye surgery is generally a safe option for adults who dislike wearing glasses or contact lenses and want an alternative that is better suited to their lifestyle. If you meet the basic criteria and think this is right for you, let your eye doctor know.

The information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not intended to replace advice provided by your own physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information in this document to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease, or to prescribe medication. If you have or think you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly.

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