What To Expect Before, During and After Surgery - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

What To Expect Before, During and After Surgery

What to expect before, during, and after surgery will vary from doctor to doctor and patient to patient.  This section is a compilation of patient information developed by manufacturers and healthcare professionals, but cannot replace the dialogue you should have with your doctor.  Read this information carefully and with the checklist, discuss your expectations with your doctor.

Before Surgery
If you decide to go ahead with LASIK surgery, you will need an initial or baseline evaluation by your eye doctor to determine if you are a good candidate. This is what you need to know to prepare for the exam and what you should expect:

If you wear contact lenses, it is a good idea to stop wearing them before your baseline evaluation and switch to wearing your glasses full-time. Contact lenses change the shape of your cornea for up to several weeks after you have stopped using them depending on the type of contact lenses you wear. Not leaving your contact lenses out long enough for your cornea to assume its natural shape before surgery can have negative consequences. These consequences include inaccurate measurements and a poor surgical plan, resulting in poor vision after surgery. These measurements, which determine how much corneal tissue to remove, may need to be repeated at least a week after your initial evaluation and before surgery to make sure they have not changed, especially if you wear RGP or hard lenses.  If you wear:

  • Soft contact lenses, you should stop wearing them for 1 week before your initial evaluation.
  • Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses or hard lenses, you should stop wearing them for at least 3 weeks before your initial evaluation.       

You should tell your doctor:

  • about your past and present medical and eye conditions
  • about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and any medications you may be allergic to 

Your doctor should perform a thorough eye exam and discuss:

  • whether or not you are a good candicate
  • what the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the surgery are
  • what you should expect before, during, and after surgery
  • what your responsibilities will be before, during, and after surgery

You should have the opportunity to ask your doctor questions during this discussion.  Give yourself plenty of time to think about the risk/benefit discussion, to review any informational literature provided by your doctor, and to have any additional questions answered by your doctor before deciding to go through with surgery and before signing the informed consent form.

You should not feel pressured by your doctor, family, friends, or anyone else to make a decision about having surgery. Carefully consider the pros and cons.

Before Surgery, arrange for transportation to and from your surgery.  On the day of surgery, your doctor may give you some medicine to make you relax. Because this medicine impairs your ability to drive and because your vision may be blurry, even if you don't drive make sure someone can bring you home after surgery.

During Surgery
The surgery should take less than 30 minutes. You will lie on your back in a reclining chair in an exam room containing the laser system or systems. The laser system includes a large machine with a microscope attached to it, and a computer screen.

Several numbing drops will be placed in your eye, and the area around your eye will be cleaned. If you are having IntraLase (BladeFree Lasik), a suction ring will be placed on your eye and pressure will be applied to create suction to the cornea. Your vision will dim while the suction ring is on and you will feel the pressure.  You may experience mild discomfort during this part of the procedure. The IntraLase Femtosecond Laser is creating the flap during this time.

The suction ring is then removed, and the doctor will then repeat the procedure on the second eye if being treated.

Once both flaps have been created, the doctor will then position you under the Excimer laser, which is the laser that actually does the treatment.  He will then lift the flap and double check your alignment.  At this point in the surgery, you may become aware of new sounds and smells. The pulse of the laser makes a ticking sound. As the laser removes corneal tissue, some people have reported a smell similar to burning hair. A computer controls the amount of laser energy delivered to your eye. Before the start of surgery, your doctor will have programmed the computer to vaporize a particular amount of tissue based on the measurements taken at your initial evaluation. After the laser treatment is completed, the flap is then put back into position.

If your doctor is using a Microkeratome to create the flap, the procedure will be somewhat different.  You will experience significantly more pressure during the creation of the flap, and he will more than likely lift the flap and complete treatment of the first eye before creating the flap on the second eye.

After Surgery
Immediately after the procedure, your eyes may tear, burn, itch, or feel like there is something in them, and your vision will be smokey or foggy. It is usually suggested that you go directly home and take a short nap.   You will instinctively want to rub your eye, but don't! Rubbing your eye could dislodge the flap, requiring further treatment. In addition, you may experience sensitivity to light, glare, starbursts or haloes around lights, or the whites of your eye may look red or bloodshot. These symptoms should improve considerably within the first few days after surgery.  You should contact your doctor immediately and not wait for your scheduled visit, if you experience severe pain, or if your vision or other symptoms get worse instead of better.

You should see your doctor within the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery and at regular intervals after that for at least the first six months. At the first postoperative visit, your doctor will test your vision, and examine your eyes. Your doctor may give you one or more types of eye drops to take at home to help prevent infection and/or inflammation. You may also be advised to use artificial tears to help lubricate the eye. Do not resume wearing a contact lens in the operated eye, even if your vision is blurry.

You should wait one to three days following surgery before beginning any non-contact sports, depending on the amount of activity required, how you feel, and your doctor's instructions.

Strenuous contact sports such as boxing, football, karate, etc. should not be attempted for at least four weeks after surgery. It is important to protect your eyes from anything that might get in them and from being hit or bumped.

During the first few months after surgery, your vision may fluctuate.

  • It may take up to three to six months for your vision to stabilize after surgery.
  • Glare, haloes, difficulty driving at night, and other visual symptoms may also persist during this stabilization period. If further correction or enhancement is necessary, you should wait until your eye measurements are consistent for two consecutive visits at least 6 months after the initial operation.

Contact your eye doctor immediately, if you develop any new, unusual or worsening symptoms at any point after surgery. Such symptoms could signal a problem that, if not treated early enough, may lead to a loss of vision.For more information, contact Huntsville Laser Center at (256)704-EYES.

 

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