Learn about laser-vision correction surgery

You may rely on glasses or contact lenses to help you see, but laser vision-correction surgery can help improve your vision — without the daily hassle of frames or contacts.

Contact the UPMC Vision Institute at 412-647-2200.

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How Does Laser Eye Surgery Work?

There are two types of laser surgery: laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) and photorefractive keratectomy (PRK). Both surgeries correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

People usually recover quickly from these procedures — many experience noticeably improved vision as soon as the next day. Not everyone reaches 20/20 vision, but the surgery should lessen your dependence on glasses or contacts.

RELATED: Video: What Is Laser Vision Surgery?

Here’s how corrective eye surgery works:

  • For you to see clearly, images are focused in the back of the eye on the retina.
  • When you have blurry vision, it is usually because the cornea is curved too sharply or is too flat or uneven. This causes images to be focused in front of or behind the retina.
  • Using lasers, your eye surgeon sculpts the cornea to focus images back onto the retina.
  • The procedure is done in an outpatient setting and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes per eye.
  • There are no blades and no needles. You receive topical anesthesia through eye drops.

The LASIK procedure offered at the UPMC Vision Institute uses pulses of laser light to create a corneal flap, which is lifted to allow another laser to reshape the corneal tissue. The flap is then returned to its original position and acts as a natural bandage while the eye heals.

PRK, which reshapes the cornea’s surface and removes part of the central corneal thickness, may be a better approach for some people. Your ophthalmologist will determine which approach is best for you.

RELATED: Age-Related Changes in Your Vision

Who Should Get Vision Correction Surgery?

If you’re considering corrective eye surgery, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist. The surgery is permanent, but it doesn’t prevent age-related changes to your eyes.

Corrective eye surgery is recommended for healthy people over age 18 with healthy eyes. To be a candidate you must have stable vision with no recent changes in your prescription. People with a mild form of nearsightedness tend to have the best results.

If you have eye disease, an infection, or other eye disorders, the surgery may not be right for you.

Your ophthalmologist will perform a detailed eye exam and other tests to determine whether the surgery is right for you. Your doctor will also ask questions about your overall health. Some medical conditions can affect your recovery and increase the risk of complications.

Generally, laser vision correction surgery has few complications. Some people may have light sensitivity, dry eyes, or watery eyes right after the surgery, but these usually clear up quickly.


Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About UPMC Vision Institute

The UPMC Vision Institute is a national leader in the treatment of eye diseases and disorders. We seek to improve and restore your vision to help your quality of life, diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions in both children and adults. Our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We also offer routine eye screenings and have full-scale optical shops. Find an eye expert close to you.