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How Long Will My LASIK Procedure Take?

tight shot of a teal clock

Okay, okay, I want better vision, but please if you're going to do stuff to my eye, make it quick please, please, please...

We get it. You’re sick of the hassles of glasses or contacts, but that doesn’t mean you’re without reservations about getting LASIK. Any kind of medical procedure is a little scary, especially when it involves your eye. The quicker you can be in and out and onto recovery, the better.

So how long does LASIK take exactly? Well, let’s break it down for you:

Advanced LASIK involves two lasers

The first is called a “Femtosecond laser.” It preps your eye for the vision correction part, and takes about 10 seconds per eye. For the science geeks out there, the Femtosecond laser itself — as far as lasers go — is fast. Each pulse lasts 700 femtoseconds, and one femtosecond is one trillion times faster than the speed of a housefly flapping its wings one time.

Once that’s over with, you meet laser number two: the “Excimer laser.” This is the one that actually reshapes your cornea to correct your vision. It makes corrections as small as 0.25 microns at a time. That’s 4,000 times smaller than a grain of sand. It’s precise.

The Excimer laser takes one to two minutes per eye.

So while you can expect to be at the surgeon’s office for about an hour, the actual procedure time, if you’re getting both eyes done, is less than 5 minutes.

How am I going to keep my eyes open and still during the procedure?

With help.

First, a small device will be used to hold your eyelids open, which prevents you from blinking. But don’t stress. Eye drops will also be applied to numb your eyes and reduce your impulse to blink.

As for keeping your eye still while the laser is active, an “eye tracker” monitors the position of your eye and compensates for any small, involuntary eye movements, ensuring that each correction is delivered to the exact right spot.

Ok, this helped some, but I still have questions

Yeah, of course you do!

You can ask any question about LASIK here, but the best resource for information is actually a qualified LASIK doctor. In fact, many of them can even speak from personal experience, as many doctors who perform laser vision correction have had it done themselves. You can find one near you here, and many do free consultations.

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Indication:  LASIK (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis) is a laser surgery procedure that permanently changes the shape of the cornea to reduce or eliminate nearsightedness, farsightedness, or mixed visual irregularities due to an abnormal curve in the cornea (astigmatism). Only an eye care professional trained in laser vision correction can determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. The iFS® laser is a surgical laser that can be used to create flaps for use in LASIK surgery.

Contraindications: You should not have LASIK if you have collagen vascular (such as rheumatoid arthritis), autoimmune, or an immunodeficiency disease because they affect the body's ability to heal. You should not have this procedure if you are pregnant or nursing, show signs of corneal thinning, or take medications with eye-related side effects, such as Isotretinoin (Accutane®) for acne treatment or Amiodarone hydrochloride (Cordarone®) for normalizing heart rhythm.

Warnings: LASIK is not recommended if you have diabetes, a history of herpes simplex or herpes zoster keratitis, significant dry eye, or severe allergies.

Precautions: Your doctor will examine your eyes to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure. Talk to your doctor about any eye-related conditions, injuries, or surgeries you have had, as well as any changes to your vision in the past year. These may result in poor vision after LASIK. Tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. After surgery, you may find it more difficult to see in conditions such as dim light, rain, snow, fog, or glare from bright lights at night. LASIK is for patients 21 years of age and over.

Side effects: Possible side effects include dryness, which may be severe; loss of vision or the possible need for glasses or contact lenses after surgery; and visual disturbances such as halos (hazy rings around lights), glare, starbursts, double images, and other visual irregularities that may be debilitating. Possible complications resulting from LASIK flap creation include swelling, inflammation or pain in your eye, infection, or flap-related complications. Mild to severe light sensitivity occurred in 1% of patients between 2 and 6 weeks after surgery. Some patients (0.03%) noticed a temporary spoke-like band of light in their peripheral vision.

Please consult with your eye care professional regarding the potential risks and benefits of this procedure. Results may vary for each individual patient.

The iLASIK® platform utilizes the STAR S4 IR® Excimer Laser System, WaveScan WaveFront® System, as well as the iFS® Advanced Femtosecond Laser during the LASIK procedure.

Caution: U.S. Federal Law restricts these devices to use by practitioners who have been trained in their calibration and operation, and who have experience in the surgical treatment and management of refractive errors.

For U.S. Consumers Only