What happens during LASIK

Someone should come with you to the clinic on the day of your surgery.  Soft contact lenses should be taken out at least 24 hours before your surgery and gas permeable or hard lenses should not have been worn for at least a week.  You should also avoid wearing makeup.

Before the procedure starts, the surgeon will put some anaesthetic drops into the eye being treated.  That eye will also be cleaned with antiseptic, tape will be placed over the eyelashes and a special clip will be used to keep the eye permanently open.  Your other eye will be covered.

The surgeon will then place a suction ring on the eye before raising a small flap in the surface of the cornea to expose the underlying corneal tissue.  This has traditionally been done using a mechanical cutter called a microkeratome, but can now also be done using a type of laser called a femtosecond laser. This is not painful, but you will experience loss of vision for about 20 seconds. 
In a very small number of cases the flap is judged to be unsatisfactory so it is replaced without the laser treatment going ahead.  It is usually possible for treatment to take place after a wait of about three to six months.

If the flap is satisfactory, you will be asked to fix your eye on a flashing red or green light in the laser opening and the excimer laser treatment to reshape the middle layers of the cornea will start.  The laser is extremely accurate and the procedure usually lasts about 30 seconds.  You will hear a repetitive tapping noise as the laser treatment is given in a series of short pulses.  Laser eye surgery does not generate much heat, but you may be aware of a faint smell of burning, which is completely normal. The flap is then replaced and antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and steroid eye drops are given. A plastic eye shield is also applied to protect the eye and this should remain in place for up to 24 hours.

Because LASIK involves reshaping the cornea, the eye’s protective covering, none of the instruments used in the procedure actually enter the eye.  The risk of infection following LASIK is therefore very low.