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How Long Does LASIK Take?

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An extreme close-up of an eye with different-shaped circles around it, illustrating scanning the eye in preparation for LASIK.

Imagine a world where crisp, unaided sight awaits you each morning, where there is no need to fumble for glasses or struggle with contact lenses. This world could exist thanks to LASIK surgery, a relatively quick procedure with long-lasting vision benefits. 

If you’re considering LASIK, you probably have many questions, including how long the surgery takes. It’s a short procedure and often completed within 30 minutes for both eyes. However, with paperwork and surgery prep, expect to be at the surgical centre for at least 2 hours. 

What Is LASIK? 

Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) isn’t just a mouthful of medical jargon; it’s a procedure that reshapes the cornea, the eye’s outermost lens, to correct vision. LASIK addresses several common refractive errors, like astigmatism, myopia, or hyperopia. 

How Does LASIK Work?

  • LASIK begins with a numbing agent to ensure your comfort. 
  • We then create a small flap in the corneal tissue to access the underlying corneal bed—the part that needs reshaping. 
  • We then use a computer-controlled laser to vaporize a portion of the corneal tissue according to your unique refractive error. 
  • We then reposition the corneal flap, which heals naturally without suturing.

How Long Does the Surgery Take?

The entire LASIK procedure—from entering the operating room to the completed surgery—typically takes about 30 minutes, but the actual laser time (i.e., when the corneal reshaping occurs) is 60 seconds or less per eye. However, be prepared to be at the surgical centre for 2–3 hours for pre- and post-surgical preparation and follow-up. 

What Am I Going to Feel During LASIK?

The precision of the laser, the technology, and your surgeon’s experience all work together to make sure you feel little to no discomfort during the procedure. 

The experience is designed for optimal comfort, and many patients note that the anticipation of the procedure was more daunting than the experience itself. The room will be well-lit, you’ll be reclined in a comfortable position, and the surgical team will be on hand to support you.

Discomfort during the procedure is rare, especially with anesthesia, and any sensation felt is usually mild pressure. Some people report feeling the sensation of someone pressing on their eyelid during the procedure. 

What Is the Recovery Time for LASIK? 

LASIK recovery time should be brief. Your eyes will start healing immediately after the surgery, and your vision should stabilize over 2–3 months. Most people can resume normal activities the day after surgery.

What Am I Going to Feel After LASIK?

It’s common to experience mild discomfort in the hours following LASIK, including a gritty sensation and burning or watery eyes. You’ll experience changing and blurry vision the first 48 hours, with symptoms subsiding. 

A patient undergoing LASIK surgery lying on a table wearing a blue gown. A doctor in white gloves prepares a surgical instrument.

What Do I Need to Know Before LASIK?

While the surgery is quick, preparing for LASIK is essential. Your preparation will include scheduling a consultation with an ophthalmologist, medical evaluation, and discussing outcomes and potential risks.

How Do I Know If I Can Get LASIK?

LASIK candidacy relies upon a few crucial factors: 

  • Your age. LASIK is recommended for those at least 18, but we prefer that you’re over 21 to ensure your eyes have completed their natural growth. LASIK also can’t correct presbyopia, a vision change caused by the natural aging of your eye, which usually develops over 40. 
  • A stable prescription. Your eyesight should remain mostly the same over a year. An unstable prescription means that the LASIK could be less effective. 
  • Your refractive error. LASIK can correct astigmatism, myopia, and hyperopia but not presbyopia. 
  • Your eye must be otherwise healthy. LASIK is risky for those with thinning or scarred corneas, diseases like keratoconus or glaucoma, or cataracts. 

During your consultation, your ophthalmologist will consider these factors and help you decide if you should continue with LASIK. 

How Do I Prepare for LASIK? 

Before LASIK, you should not wear contacts for several weeks, as they can change your eye shape. 

Refrain from wearing makeup for at least a few days before surgery, as makeup can get into the eye’s tissues and increase the risk of infection. 

Make sure you have a ride home from the procedure and the next day for your follow-up visit. We won’t allow you to drive yourself home because your vision will be blurry and unstable after the surgery. 

How Long Does LASIK Last?

The outcomes of LASIK surgery are intended to be long-lasting, and many people experience stable vision for many years. However, everyone’s eyes are different, so you might need additional vision correction, and your eyesight will likely change as you age, so you might need reading glasses later in life.

Why Follow-Up Appointments Are Vital

Post-operative care is crucial for ensuring the longevity and quality of your LASIK vision. Care includes:

  • Attending all follow-up appointments.
  • Adhering to your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Protecting your eyes from potential irritants.

How to Have a Successful LASIK Experience

Preparing for LASIK is more than just showing up on the day. It’s about being informed, organized, and ready to welcome a new chapter in your well-being. Follow your surgeon’s instructions, ask questions, and approach the experience calmly and with an open mind.

LASIK can change how you see the world. At Vector Eye Centre, our team is here for you every step of the way. Schedule your consultation today, and enjoy your LASIK journey

Written by Dr. Jamie Bhamra

Dr. Jamie Bhamra is an ophthalmologist with advanced training in cataract and corneal surgery, including refractive surgery, corneal cross-linking, external disease, ocular surface disease, and dry eye disease. He practices comprehensive ophthalmology in Calgary, Alberta.
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