The day of the surgery
We will perform a complete eye health examination to ensure your eyes are suitable for the procedure. We will assess and measure:
- - how well you can see with and without glasses (visual acuity)
- - the thickness of your cornea
- - the shape of your cornea
- - pupil size
- - presence and degree of any dry eye
- - your prescription, also known as your 'refractive error'
- - short-sight (myopia)
- - long-sight (hyperopia)
- - astigmatism
- - presbyopia (loss of reading vision)
- - any other eye problems
It is important to assess the level of tear lubrication of your eyes (dry eyes). LASIK and other forms of laser eye surgery are known to make the eyes temporarily drier for 3-6 months, so you need to have adequate tears prior to any treatment. Additional drops, supplements or other measures may be recommended to improve your tears prior to the procedure.
You should leave out any contact lenses 3 days before your consultation. We can determine most patients suitability at the first visit, although you may be asked to leave your contact lenses out for a longer period to be reassessed.
However, prior to surgery, you should stop wearing lenses for three days (for soft lenses, and longer for other types – we will advise you), as contacts can alter the natural shape of your cornea thus altering your prescription. We will remeasure your true prescription, as well as performing all the scans, on the day of the treatment.
Anaesthetic eye drops will be applied to fully numb the surface of your eye to ensure there is no pain during the procedure. If you are very nervous, we can provide a tablet to help you relax, though most patients manage perfectly well without the need for a sedative.
Your skin on the face and around the eyes will be cleaned and you will have a paper hat to keep your hair away. You will lie down on the laser bed and positioned so that you can see a small blinking green light.
A small speculum will be used to keep your eye open. While it is in place, you cannot feel it and you can blink as normal. It will feel exactly as if you are blinking, even though the eye does not close. There is no need to try to keep your eyes open.
Dr. van Aswegen will then create a corneal flap. You will feel a sense of pressure for about 25 seconds.
After the flap has been gently folded to the side, the excimer laser will correct your vision, usually in just 5-10 seconds. You simply need to look at the green light.
the laser treatment itself takes 5-10 seconds per eye and is painless
LASIK is performed on each eye separately, usually on the right eye first followed by the left eye. Each eye is completed in 4-5 minutes.
You will rest for 10 minutes, or have a cup of tea, whereafter you will be ready to go. The person who came with you can escort you home. You will not be able to drive yourself until we have confirmed your vision meets the legal requirement at your next day checkup.
Your eyes will feel watery, gritty and/or heavy for around 3-4 hours after your procedure. Anaesthetic drops are supplied in your take-home pack, which you may want to use once or twice.
Vision is initially slightly misty. By around four hours later, you can expect your eyes to settle and for the eyes to feel fairly normal.
Many patients may be able to go back to work within two days, after you have had your first follow-up eye examination. At this appointment, we will measure your vision and confirm that healing is progressing as planned. Most patients have better than 20/20 vision by this time.
We will supply an instruction sheet for various do's and don'ts. We recommend that you refrain from exercise for one week, to avoid any risk of injury to your eyes.
After your first day check, we will see you at one week and one month after treatment. Additional checks are usually then at 6 months and 1 year after correction.
The speed of recovery depends on your initial prescription. For most people, vision improves greatly in the first few hours. Short-sighted treatments settle very quickly and remain good, as do those with astigmatism.
Long-sighted treatments, especially those of higher amounts, may take several weeks or months to fully stabilise.
For most patients, we assess at the six-month time point to confirm the outcome of the procedure. In a small percentage of cases, re-treatment may be needed (less than 1% for most short-sighted prescriptions).
As with any other type of surgery, always follow our instructions and take any medication or drops as prescribed. it is important to avoid rubbing your eyes putting undue pressure on the flap before it has properly healed.
Before your appointment we need you to please:
- - Not wear your contact lenses at least 3 days before the appointment
- - We will arrange a Pentacam and Oculyzer scan at the Cape Eye Hospital
- - If you know your contact lens script, please bring it with you