Your LASIK Experience
Submitted by Dr. Dean Dornic on Sun 06/17/2012 - 12:38
If you decide to have LASIK eye surgery to correct your vision, what will you experience? It’s important to know that different patients mave have different perceptions of the LASIK procedure and the immediate recovery period because of differences in anxiety level or different levels of discomfort tolerance. Patients are often apprehensive about the actual LASIK procedure and while we can’t give you specifics about your particular case we can provide you with some generalities.
After you have arrived, registered and filled out any necessary paperwork, your surgeon may want to have certain tests performed or repeated to insure accuracy. Most patients become very nervous just before the procedure. You may be offered a medication such as Valium to help calm you. Valium is not essential but it’s calming effect may make the procedure much more pleasant. We find that anxious patients often have heightened sensation and may report normally innocuous events such as putting drops in the eye as extremely unpleasant. Valium may take a few minutes to take effect but if you are convinced that the Valium has had no effect it is certainly accceptable to ask for a little more. You will have antibiotic drops instilled into the eye before the procedure in an effort to “sterilize” your eyes and prevent infection. After donning a paper bonnet, you will be led into the laser room and be asked to lay flat on your back in a reclined chair.
Usually there are one or two technicians in the room to assist the surgeon during your LASIK procedure. You may hear the doctor confirming the treatment settings with the technicians. Anesthetic drops are instilled into the eye just before starting the procedure. They may sting a bit and will take effect almost immediately. Anesthetic drops can prevent pain but will not eliminate temperature or pressure sensation. Also your eyelids will not be “numb”.
The first step of the LASIK procedure is creation of a LASIK flap. A suction ring is placed on the white part of the eye to prevent your eye from moving while the flap is made. You will feel pressure on your eye and your vision will dim for 15 to 30 seconds while the flap is made. When your vision returns it will be foggy. The same procedure then takes place on your second eye.
Now it is time for the second part of the procedure: the vision correction. Your chair will be rotated and you will be placed under the second laser. A lid speculum or lid holder is used for the eye to be treated first while a patch is taped over the other eye. The lid speculum will prevent blinking so you don’t need to make an effort to avoid blinking. Let the lid speculum open your lids without squeezing to insure maximum comfort. Cold saline (water) may be squirted on your eye to flush out mucous or debris before the procedure proceeds. You will be directed to look at an orange (amber) light. Try to note the direction this light is coming from so that if vision fogs during the procedure you will continue looking in the same general direction. Some time may be spent positioning your head correctly and, once again, you may hear the doctor verifying information on your treatment with the technician. Do not be alarmed by statements such as “not verified” or “negative”: your treatment will not proceed until everything is exactly as your surgeon wishes. Your vision will fog as the treatment starts as you will hear a loud “clacking noise” as the orange fixation light blinks. The blinking light may appear to move around during the procedure. Try to continue looking in the general direction of the light but you don’t need to worry about “chasing” it. The surgeon may stop the procedure to realign or dry the eye. This is common and so don’t be concerned. You may also notice a smell like something burning. This is the laser flume and this is also normal. At the conclusion of the case, Your lids will be released from the speculum. Do not squeeze the lids tightly or rub the eyes as this could cause the flaps to displace or “wrinkle”. If your eyeglass prescription was very high, you may notice that the vision is better immediately. Most patients describe the vision as foggy like “looking under” water immediately after the procedure.
Small hemorrhages on the white part of the eye from the suction ring are visible on most patients. They do not affect results and usually resolve in 2-3 weeks. The anesthetic drops wear off within a few minutes. Most patients notice burning, tearing and a “foreign-body sensation” as if there was sand or gravel in the eyes for 5-6 hours after the procedure. Keeping your eyelids likely closed (as if sleeping) may aid in comfort. Napping is great if you are able. Make sure you wear protective shields or goggles over your eyes if you plan on sleeping so you don’t forget and rub the eyes. Vision and comfort are usually dramatically improved (but not perfect) the next day. Your surgeon will see you the next day to insure that everything is as desired and offer you advice on drops and other measures to insure a successful outcome.
One of the great things about LASIK is the speed and relative comfort of the procedure as well as the quick recovery. More details on the postoperative period can be obtained from your surgeon and in future blog posts.