Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

LASIK: What You Should Know


Am Fam Physician. 2010 Jan 1;81(1):48.

  See related article on LASIK.

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a type of surgery in which a laser is used to reshape the eye. This helps some people with vision problems see better. LASIK stands for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (KER-uh-toe-mi-LOO-sus).

How is it done?

A thin flap is cut from the front of the eye. Then a laser burns away tiny amounts of tissue in a special pattern. Finally, the flap is replaced.

Who can have LASIK?

Adults whose eyeglass prescription has not changed in the past year may be considered for LASIK. People who are not good candidates for LASIK include those who:

  • Heal slowly because of medicine use or disease

  • Have thin or unusually shaped corneas

  • Have frequent infections, swelling, or ulcers in the eyes

  • Have very dry eyes

  • Are pregnant or younger than 18 years.

How well does LASIK work?

Most people no longer need to use glasses or contact lenses after LASIK. Sometimes a second treatment is needed to get perfect vision. Some people who need very good vision, such as pilots or doctors, may still need glasses after LASIK. People who use reading glasses may still need them after LASIK.

Is LASIK safe?

Serious complications after LASIK are rare, and vision loss is very rare. Some people have dry eyes after LASIK. Eye drops or other treatments usually help, but some people can have this problem for a long time.

Other problems that sometimes happen after LASIK are hazy vision, trouble seeing at night, and seeing halos or starburst patterns around lights. These problems usually go away within six months after surgery.

The flap on the surface of the eye can be reopened if you hit your head or fall. People at risk of this kind of injury (such as boxers, skydivers, and racquetball players) should talk with their doctor about other options for vision correction.

Where can I get more information?

American Academy of Ophthalmology

Web site:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2010 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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