LASIK & Laser Eye Surgery:
A Complete Consumer Guide
Refractive surgery is the term used to describe surgical procedures that correct common vision problems (nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia) to reduce your dependence on prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lenses.
Currently, a laser procedure called LASIK (LAY-sik) is the most popular refractive surgery performed in the United States. But there are other types of refractive surgery including other laser procedures and intraocular lens procedures that might be an even better choice for you, depending on your needs.
The articles below will help you learn more about your surgical options so you can better discuss them with your eye doctor if you are interested in elective vision correction surgery.
My LASIK Journey Guide - Sponsored Section
This useful guide provides the answers to all of your questions about LASIK, whether you're just starting your research or want information about the procedure and follow-up care.
How LASIK Works
What happens before, during and after surgery.
Custom Wavefront LASIK
What makes it "custom" LASIK?
Custom LASIK Q&A
A prominent U.S. Navy eye surgeon explains why he favors custom LASIK.
IntraLase "Bladeless" LASIK
This procedure uses a second laser, not a blade, to create the LASIK flap.
Debate: Blade Vs. Bladeless LASIK
Two experienced LASIK surgeons share their opinions on a much-debated topic: Should the flap-cutting device in LASIK be a microkeratome blade or a second laser?
Recommended For You
This procedure can reduce your dependence on reading glasses after age 40.
Ask the LASIK Surgeon
LASIK specialist Dr. Andrew Caster answered questions submitted by All About Vision site visitors.
LASIK Surgeon Directory
Read sponsored profiles of LASIK specialists in the United States and around the world.
More LASIK Topics
- LASIK Criteria for Success: How to know if LASIK is right for you.
- How to Choose a LASIK Surgeon: Credentials to look for, questions to ask.
- Which Laser Is Best? Read a review of all current LASIK lasers.
- LASIK Eye Surgery Cost: Read our 2014 update of average prices.
- How to Compare Laser Eye Surgery Prices: with 8 questions to ask your surgeon.
- LASIK Financing: Learn how you can afford LASIK surgery.
- LASIK Eye Surgery Results: Are you likely to see 20/20 after LASIK?
- LASIK Surgery Risks and Complications and how to avoid them.
- Dry Eyes and LASIK: You may still be a candidate.
- LASIK Enhancement: Do you need an additional surgery? Will you in the future?
- Contact Lenses After LASIK: Why some people need them.
- Can I drive home after LASIK?
- Can I get LASIK if I have thin corneas?
- Can I have LASIK after cataract surgery?
- Can I have LASIK if I have cataracts?
- Can I have LASIK if I'm pregnant?
- Can I wear contact lenses after LASIK?
- Can LASIK correct a lazy eye?
- Can LASIK fix astigmatism?
- Can LASIK hurt my night vision?
- Can LASIK improve reading vision?
- Can LASIK make you go blind?
- Do I have to be awake during LASIK?
- Do I need eye exams after LASIK?
- Does LASIK hurt?
- Does my eyeglass prescription qualify for LASIK?
- How long is the LASIK recovery time?
- How old do you have to be to get LASIK?
- How soon after LASIK can I resume normal activities?
- Is LASIK performed on both my eyes the same day?
- Is LASIK permanent?
- What happens at a LASIK consultation?
- What if I blink or move during LASIK surgery?
- When should I stop wearing contact lenses before LASIK?
Other Laser and Corneal Procedures
Some surgeons prefer PRK, the original laser eye surgery, especially for certain patients.
Answers to frequently asked questions about PRK (and LASIK).
This procedure removes only a thin layer of tissue from the corneal surface prior to laser treatment.
Another no-flap laser procedure often used for thin corneas.
Kamra and Presbyopia Implants
Tiny lenses inserted in a laser-created pocket in the cornea.
Corneal Cross-Linking (CXL)
A procedure that strengthens the cornea; used for keratoconus treatment and to prevent or treat LASIK-related corneal ectasia.
CK uses radio-frequency energy to reshape the cornea.
IOL Refractive Surgery
These implantable lenses avoid removing corneal tissue and are inserted into the eye in front of your eye's natural lens.
Refractive Lens Exchange
Replaces your eye's natural lens with an IOL of a different power to correct your eyesight.
LASIK is a surgical procedure that uses a laser to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and/or astigmatism. In LASIK, a thin flap in the cornea is created using either a microkeratome blade or a femtosecond laser. The surgeon folds back the flap, then removes some corneal tissue underneath using an excimer laser. The flap is then laid back in place, covering the area where the corneal tissue was removed.
With nearsighted people, the goal of LASIK is to flatten the too-steep cornea; with farsighted people, a steeper cornea is desired. LASIK can also correct astigmatism by smoothing an irregular cornea into a more normal shape.
If you are considering LASIK eye surgery, your first step is to choose a good LASIK surgeon who can evaluate whether LASIK is right for you. Your LASIK surgeon will examine your eyes to determine their health, what kind of vision correction you need, and how much laser ablation (corneal tissue removal) is required. The doctor will also ask about any health conditions that may disqualify you altogether for LASIK surgery.
If you are not a candidate for LASIK, you may qualify for another laser eye surgery such as PRK (similar to LASIK but without the flap), LASEK, or epi-LASIK. There are also non-laser vision correction procedures. Your prescription and eye structure will be considered to help determine which procedure is best for you.
LASIK is an outpatient procedure, so you don't have to stay at the surgery center overnight. The LASIK surgeon uses a computer to adjust the laser for your particular prescription. You will be asked to look at a target light for a short time while the laser sends pulses of light to painlessly reshape your cornea. The actual LASIK surgery usually takes less than five minutes.
[Page updated June 20, 2016]