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LASIK surgery

4-minute read

What is LASIK surgery?

LASIK (laser in situ keratomileusis) is an operation that uses a laser to correct your vision by changing the thickness of your cornea.

The cornea is the transparent (clear), dome-shaped outer layer in front of the black pupil and coloured iris.

What are the benefits of surgery?

The aim of LASIK is to correct your vision so you do not need to wear glasses or contact lenses.

Illustration showing the iris and pupil of the eye.
The eye.

Are there any alternatives to LASIK?

Non-surgical alternatives

  • glasses
  • contact lenses

Surgical alternatives

  • natural lens replacement. The surgery is the same as cataract surgery
  • phakic intraocular lens implant. With this procedure, the natural lens is not replaced. Instead, an artificial lens is implanted in front of your natural lens
  • other laser eye surgery techniques (including LASEK, PRK and SMILE)

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a local anaesthetic given as eye drops. The operation usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

Your surgeon will use a laser to cut a flap in the two thin outer layers of your cornea. They will fold the flap back to show the thick middle layer (stroma). Your surgeon will use a laser to reshape the stroma according to your prescription. They will place the flap back in position. The flap will heal onto the stroma.

How can I prepare myself for the operation?

Preparing for the operation

Try to maintain a healthy weight. You have a higher risk of developing complications if you are overweight.

Regular exercise should help to prepare you for the operation, help you to recover and improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

If you have not had the coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccine, you may be at an increased risk of serious illness related to Covid-19 while you recover. Speak to your doctor or healthcare team if you would like to have the vaccine.

Keeping in the same position

You will need to lie still and flat during the operation. If you cannot lie still and flat, let your surgeon know.

The laser platform will be positioned above your face but there will be enough space for you to breathe. Let your surgeon know if you are claustrophobic (afraid of being in small spaces).

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious.

General complications of any operation

  • bleeding on the outside of your eye
  • infection
  • allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication

Specific complications of this operation

  • rarely it may not be possible for your surgeon to create the flap
  • swelling or inflammation of the cornea
  • under-correction or over-correction
  • droopy eyelid
  • ‘floaters’ or hazy vision
  • double vision
  • dry eyes, irritation or a burning sensation
  • light sensitivity and reduced ability to tell the difference between similar shades of light and dark
  • blurred vision, headaches and night vision problems
  • night vision problems in people with large pupils
  • unclear vision or problems reading small writing
  • differences between the two eyes (if only one eye is corrected)
  • irregular cornea shape
  • thinning of the cornea
  • retinal detachment
  • posterior vitreous detachment
  • infectious disease of the cornea, which can cause blurred vision, pain or eye redness

Consequences of this procedure

  • pain

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Your surgeon will tell you when you can return to normal activities.

Your vision should improve after 2 days but the final results can take up to 6 months.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.


LASIK is a surgical procedure to improve your eyesight.


The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you. Medical Illustration Copyright ©

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Last reviewed: September 2022

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