Refractive Surgery Step by Step

You may find it helpful to know more about the "typical" routine our patients experience when they have refractive surgery. Of course, you will see some variation depending on the type of surgery, but these guidelines should give you a good picture of the process and what to expect.

Preparing for surgery

  • Do not wear soft contacts for one week before surgery and hard or rigid gas permeable lenses for three weeks before surgery.
  • Do not wear make-up, including mascara, for one week prior to surgery.
  • Prescriptions for eye drops will be sent to your pharmacy a week prior to your surgery. Please bring these eye drops with you on the day of surgery.
  • Plan to spend approximately one hour at the Refractive Surgery Clinic.
  • Bring someone with you to drive you home.
  • Wash your face with soap and water before you arrive.
  • You may eat a light snack prior to surgery.
  • Avoid alcohol and medications that produce drowsiness.

Day of surgery

First you will meet with your surgeon, who will review everything that is going to happen during your surgery. You will be fully awake during the procedure, but you will be given a mild sedative to help you relax. Next the surgeon or assistant will administer antibiotic eye drops as well as anesthetic drops to numb your eyes. When you are ready, the procedure will begin. Typically, refractive surgery takes 10 to 15 minutes per eye. Most people say they feel a slight amount of pressure during the procedure, but no pain. When your surgeon feels that the flaps (if any) are adhering properly, you will leave the treatment room and walk back to the clinic for a brief examination. Your surgeon will place an eye shield over each eye.

Evening after surgery

Many patients feel as if there is something in their eye, although most do not feel much discomfort. If your ophthalmologist anticipates that you will be in pain, s/he will have prescribed pain medication. We recommend that patients spend a quiet evening at home.

Day after surgery

You will have an appointment with your surgeon to check your vision and the healing process. When your eye shields come off you will be able to see how your vision is beginning to improve. Most patients notice an immediate and significant difference. Typically, people return to their normal activities within days of surgery.

Follow-up care

You will see your doctor one week after surgery, and again in one month, three months, six months, and one year. Should you have questions or concerns during this time, please call the Refractive Surgery Clinic at 734.615.5274 or email us at lasik@umich.edu.

Questions? Ask Us

 We're always pleased to answer your questions by phone or e-mail: 734.615.5274 or lasik@umich.edu.