What Actually Happens During A LASIK Procedure? A Step-By-Step Guide

If you’re thinking about scheduling a LASIK vision correction procedure, it’s normal to be a little bit nervous. While the process is painless, the idea of eye surgery can be scary. Understanding each step of the procedure can be a helpful way to ease any anxiety that you feel about undergoing LASIK vision correction.

Before Your Procedure

When you decide that you’d like to get LASIK, you’ll meet with your surgeon for a consultation for an eye exam and to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure. You’ll also get the chance to ask any questions that you have about LASIK. Before your consultation, you may be asked to stop wearing contact lenses for a few weeks, as they can change the shape of your eye.

Good candidates for LASIK procedures are usually:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Not pregnant or nursing
  • Free from certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma or extremely dry eyes
  • In general good health

It’s also important that your vision has remained the same for quite some time. Your LASIK procedure will correct your eyes according to your current level of nearsightedness or farsightedness. If your eyes change with age, you may find that you need another procedure or that you need to wear glasses or contacts. The changes your LASIK procedure makes to your eyes are permanent, but it’s normal for your eyes to change over time. Your doctor will talk with you about how long you can expect your vision correction to last.

The Day of Your Procedure

On the day of your LASIK procedure, you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. If you’re feeling nervous about getting LASIK, you can ask your eye doctor for a sedative or anti-anxiety drug to ease your nerves (you may want to bring this up during your consultation).

Your surgeon will give you eye drops to numb your eyes. When your eye is numb, your surgeon will use a femtosecond laser, or a device called a microkeratome to make a thin flap in your cornea. Then, they’ll peel back the flap and reshape the tissue underneath. Lastly, the put the flap back into place. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.


You’ll be given protective shields to stop you from unintentionally rubbing your eyes. If you have pain or burning, your doctor may tell you to use an over-the-counter pain reliever. You’ll also be given prescription drops to keep your eyes moist. Your first follow-up visit will be a day or so after your procedure so your surgeon can ensure that your eyes are healing properly.

While most people who have a LASIK procedure follow a similar set of aftercare instructions, it’s important to listen carefully to your doctor. You may have different needs from others and following your doctor’s instructions as closely as possible will help you to heal quickly and correctly.