Woman with laser eye surgery system

The Day of Surgery

The individual steps of the treatment

Laser eye surgery is a quick procedure. The actual surgery lasts anywhere between a couple of minutes to half an hour, depending on the method.

Here is a guide for each step that occurs at the average surgery appointment: From arriving at the surgical center to walking out of the operating room.

Preparations on Surgery Day

Woman with glasses

On the day of your surgery, most doctors direct their patients to:

  • Not wear any make-up, perfume or lotion on the day of the procedure, as well as the day before. These products may leave debris around the eye and eyelashes, which increases the chance of infection.
  • Wear normal and comfortable clothes.
  • Eat a light meal and stay hydrated to ensure a stable circulation for the procedure.
  • Arrange for transportation home from surgery.

What to Expect in the Operation Room

Patient receiving laser eye surgery
Patients are conscious during surgery, but it is typically pain free. To ensure this, drops of anaesthesia are given to numb the eye. An eyelid holder is used so there is no need to worry about blinking during surgery.
Some patients report feeling slight pressure on the eye when the corneal flap is created or when the top cell layer is removed. When the laser starts, you might hear clicks as the laser pulses.
As the laser removes tissue to sculpt the cornea in LASIK and PRK/LASEK, it may smell like after using a hair dryer, depending on the laser device used.
The last step of laser eye surgery differs depending on the procedure. In LASIK, the flap will be placed back over the eye. For those undergoing PRK/LASEK, the doctor will place a supportive contact on the eye to help with healing.

After the Surgery

When leaving the operating room, patients may have a patch over the operated eyes for the first hours after surgery to protect them from accidentally being hit. Some patients report discomfort immediately after surgery. The eye may burn or have a foreign body sensation. If it causes too much discomfort, doctors might recommend a mild pain reliever. Vision will continue to improve and stabilize over the following days and weeks.