What happens on the day of surgery?

It’s only natural that you may feel a little nervous about the day of your laser eye surgery.  Rest assured that the procedures we use are among the safest and most successful in the world.

Prior to your surgery, our laser coordinators will clearly explain each step of the treatment so you know what to expect, but here you’ll find a guide to what happens before, during and after your laser treatment.

Preparing for the day of surgery

If you wear soft contact lenses you should stop wearing them for at least 3 days prior to laser eye surgery, or one month if you wear gas permeable or hard lenses. This is because contact lenses can change the shape of your cornea and can potentially introduce infection, so it’s vital you allow time for it to return to its normal curvature before your laser eye procedure.

Because your procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, you can eat and drink normally beforehand. It’s advisable to wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid wearing make-up, jewellery or any perfume.

After surgery you will be unable to drive yourself home, so be sure to make transport arrangements. We recommend bringing a friend or relative along to assist you returning home. They are welcome to watch your surgery or sit in our comfortable patient lounge. A DVD copy of the procedure is available upon request.

On the day of surgery

On the day of your laser eye surgery, you should arrive one hour before your procedure. This will give you plenty of time to relax or for discussion with our optometrists as well as any final measurements that may need to be taken before your laser eye procedure commences.

On arrival you are greeted by our friendly staff and taken into a comfortable consulting room. Here a laser coordinator explains the procedure in detail so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Each of your eyes is prepared for treatment with antibiotic and anesthetic drops. If you’re having Advanced PRK, a cold ice pack is held over the eyes for 10 minutes prior to surgery.

During surgery

Once in the laser suite, you are gently reclined in a chair. The lights are dimmed for your comfort and your head is positioned under an operating microscope with a cushion placed around it for stability.

The area around your eyes is cleaned. To prevent blinking, an instrument called a retractor (also known as a lid speculum) is placed in the eye to be treated first. This may feel tight but does not hurt. During the procedure your other eye will be covered with sterile material.

Our highly experienced surgeon, Professor Noel Alpins, ensures that you are comfortable and ready to proceed. The treatment to be administered by the laser is checked a final time by both the assisting optometrist and Professor Alpins.

During the treatment you are asked to look at a flashing red light for fixation. Professor Alpins, with the assistance of the pupil-tracking device on the laser system, ensures that the correct treatment is administered to the correct part of the cornea and will follow your eye should any eye movement occur.

As the surgery progresses Professor Alpins will talk to you throughout, clearly explaining the procedure at every stage.

With Advanced PRK

The superficial layer of the cornea, called the epithelium, is gently polished away.

The laser light pulses painlessly reshaping the cornea then a ‘bandage’ contact lens is placed on the eye for comfort and healing. (The ‘bandage’ contact lens is much the same as a normal soft contact lens but without a prescription).

The average duration of a laser treatment is approximately 30 seconds per eye and in most cases your other eye will be treated very shortly afterwards.


A suction ring is applied to the front of the eye to produce pressure that enables a flap to be created on the eye’s surface. This is carried out using a mechanical device called a microkeratome or by a laser (blade free). Both methods are equivalent with no difference to the result.

As the flap is created, your vision will fade out for a few seconds. This is normal and Profesor Alpins will let you know when this is about to happen. Once the flap is created, it is gently lifted and folded back. As the laser light pulses painlessly reshaping the cornea, you will hear a tapping sound but the laser light will not be visible. After the treatment, the flap is placed back into position where it remains due to the natural force of the corneal pump.

The average duration of the laser treatment is approximately 30 seconds per eye and in most cases your other eye will be treated very shortly afterwards.

Transparent shields are taped around the eyes to ensure you don’t rub or bump your eyes overnight. These should remain until the following morning when we will remove them prior to your post-operative check-up.

Immediately after surgery

After the treatment is finished you are taken into a recovery room where our optometrist will check your eyes and ensure that the contact lens is sitting correctly (after Advanced PRK) or that the flaps are correctly in place (after LASIK).

You are welcome to stay and rest for a while, enjoying the light refreshments that are provided.

We give you drops and instructions on their use, along with the answers to any questions you may have. A comprehensive list of Do’s and Don’ts is discussed and given to you in print. This includes no eye make-up or heavy exercise for one week, and no swimming for two weeks.

Once the anaesthetic wears off your eye may feel gritty and irritable for a few hours. We recommend that you have a restful day and evening following your laser eye treatment.

Analgesics and sleeping tablets are provided, along with full written instructions and a 24-hour helpline number direct to our laser optometrist.

Typically you can return home right away although you will need someone to drive you.

You should expect some blurry vision and haziness immediately after surgery. Your eyesight should stabilize and continue to improve over the next few days. With LASIK most people find vision improves immediately.

If you’re excited by the prospect of laser eye surgery, call us now or book an assessment online and take your first step to visual freedom.