Preparing for Laser Eye Surgery
Okay. Let's say you've been referred to a great doctor. You've saved your money and/or picked a great payment plan. Now what? What can you expect? What will the actual procedure be like?
Weeks Before Surgery
Of course, before you have your surgery, you'll have your initial evaluation by your doctor to determine if you're a good candidate for laser eye surgery and to discuss your options. If you wear contacts, it's a good idea to stop wearing them a few weeks before you first go see your doctor. Contacts change the shape of your cornea, and your doctor will have to examine the shape of your cornea to come up with a good surgical plan. Wear your glasses instead in the weeks leading up to your first visit. Stop wearing soft contacts two weeks before your first visit, gas permeable lenses three weeks, and hard lenses four weeks.
During the visit, be prepared to tell your doctor about your medical history and any allergies you may have. If you're not sure, look it up before you go so you'll have that information on hand and not waste more time. Your doctor will give you a thorough eye exam. She'll also discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery and which of the various corrective surgeries is best suited for your sort of problem. This is also your time to ask any questions you have. Make sure any questions you have are answered before surgery and before signing consent forms.
Just Before Surgery
You should stop using creams, lotions and perfumes the day before surgery. These products can increase the risk of infection. The doctor may also give instructions (and sometimes a special soap product) to use to scrub around your eyes in the day(s) before surgery. Follow his/her instructions in that regard. Arrange for transportation to and from the clinic for the day of the surgery and also for your follow-up visit. You may not need it for the follow-up, but it's good to have it in place.
The actual procedure should not take long. (Laser eye surgery can take less than a minute per eye.)
The doctor will place a drop of numbing anesthetic in your eye. An instrument called an eye speculum will hold your eye open. You will be asked to keep your eye focused on a fixed object, usually light in the machine, while the doctor performs the procedure.
Patients report some discomfort during the procedure, but you should not feel pain. Oddly enough, depending on the surgery, you will be able to smell the laser burning your cornea, a smell that some compare to that of burning hair.
You may experience some discomfort after your surgery. Your doctor will likely suggest an over-the-counter or mild prescription pain reliever. Most patients notice an immediate improvement in vision after surgery. But your eye may feel as though there's something in it. You will probably be tempted to rub your eyes, but don't! You may also experience some sensitivity to light and visual disturbances such as starbursts, halos, etc. These should diminish in the days after surgery. Your doctor will give you an eye shield to wear immediately after your surgery and at night for a few days or weeks. Follow his directions regarding the shield. You should go for your first follow-up visit within a day or two after your surgery.
Avoid the following activities for the stated period after surgery
- Eye make-up - Two weeks
- All sports - Three days
- Strenuous or contact sports - Three weeks
- Swimming, whirlpool or hot tub - Eight weeks
In addition, while driving at night you may experience some glare, so it's a good idea to hand someone else the keys as much as possible at night for a few weeks after your surgery. It can even take a period of up to three to six months for your vision to stabilize entirely.
If Things Go Wrong
Most people who have laser eye surgery are happy with their procedure: 85 percent can set aside their glasses a few days after.
But what do you do in the event that you're one of the unlucky ones? What do you do if something goes wrong?
First and foremost, if in the days or weeks after your surgery, you feel that you're developing any unusual, unexpected or painful symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
If you feel that you're a victim of malpractice or negligence, you may need redress through the legal system: http://www.lasikinfocenter.net/.