What Can You See During Lasik?
Getting your vision corrected with lasik can be a very exciting time. But at the same time it can also be a little nerve-wracking. Understanding what you experience during lasik, however, can make going through the process just a little bit easier.
You will see some weird things during lasik. At some point at the start of lasik, your vision will fade away. Following that, you will see different shapes of objects approaching your eye. Lights in your vision will also bounce around and at times your vision will become blurry.
These visual sensations aren’t anything to be afraid of, but they do create a very bizarre experience. So let’s break down the procedure from beginning to end going over everything that you can see during lasik.
Vision Fading Away
The very first step of lasik uses a laser to create a lasik flap within the cornea. In order to create a perfect lasik flap, the laser has to ensure that the eye isn’t moving around.
To prevent the eye from moving around, the laser will actually suction onto your eye. When this happens, you will feel the pressure generated by that suction.
But pressure also affects your vision.
When we see, light hits the retina in the back of our eye. The retina sends this information through the optic nerve to our brain to process what we see.
But when the pressure of the eye increases from the suction of the laser, the retina and nerves can’t function as well. As a result, your vision fades away to black. It has the same feeling as if you have your eyelids closed over your eyes. While everything is black in your vision, you can sometimes notice a star-like sparkle coming from your peripheral retina and thus your peripheral vision.
When the suction begins, things won’t immediately fade away. It will take a few seconds for the function of these retinal cells to be affected by the pressure. And fortunately, this is a short-term effect. In total, the suction will be applied to your eye for roughly 30 seconds and following this, your vision returns back to normal.
Blurry Objects During Lasik
During lasik, your eye is open.
(As an aside, you don’t need to worry about keeping your eye open, an eyelid holder does the job for you).
And as your eye is open, during the rest of lasik you can see different things.
It is important to note that lasik eye surgery happens on the surface of your eye. For almost everyone, the eye can’t focus on things that up close. If you take your finger or other object and bring it towards your eye while looking at it (but without actually touching your eye), you will eventually reach a point where you can’t focus on your finger anymore and it becomes blurry. This is the same thing during lasik.
During lasik, we use tiny instruments to fold back and position that lasik flap. We also use tiny sponges to make everything clean. But these instruments are used too close to the eye for you to actually focus on. Instead, what you’ll see are "some blurry objects" near your eye. These objects will actually touch the eye (which you won’t feel since the eye will be numb) and you won’t be able to tell since the objects will just appear blurry. (But it is a strange sensation seeing these objects in your vision without actually feeling them).
There are some people in which things may be a little more clear. People who are highly nearsighted can focus very well on objects up close to their eyes. If when you brought that object close to your eye (with your glasses off or contact lenses out) and it never got blurry, you are someone who has a high amount of nearsightedness.
Lights Bouncing Around and Becoming Blurry
Finally, during lasik things will bounce around.
Much of the light that enters our eye is focused by our cornea. This is actually how lasik works. Lasik changes the shape of the cornea to correct your vision.
And in a normal setting, your vision doesn’t bounce around much because the cornea is stationary and smooth.
But during lasik, lots of things are happening to the cornea. The created lasik flap is folded back for the laser treatment and then repositioned. These steps will cause subtle movements and temporary changes to the shape of the cornea.
During lasik, you are looking straight ahead at a light in front of you. Looking at the light lines up your eye with the laser. (note: your ability to look at the light doesn’t affect the results of lasik. If you look away, the laser tracks your eye to adjust the treatment).
When the cornea moves around, it changes where it focuses light. You could be looking straight ahead at the light and all of a sudden if the cornea has a slight change in shape, the light is suddenly focused somewhere else on your retina! This gives the impression that the light is bouncing around in your vision. And this is normal with lasik.
When this light is bouncing around, you don’t need to worry about following this light with your eye. You basically just continue looking straight ahead where you were looking and eventually the light will return back to its original focus.
In addition to bouncing around, this light will become blurry during one step. This occurs when the lasik flap is folded back.
Normally, the cornea is smooth. When the cornea is smooth, there is nothing to scatter light and prevent it from focusing properly. The “skin” layer of the cornea called epithelium coats the cornea to create that smooth surface.
But when that lasik flap is folded back, the rough structural part of the cornea, called stroma, is exposed. Because the surface of this isn’t as smooth as the epithelium, light scatters more and your vision becomes more blurry. This all resolves once that lasik flap is repositioned back in place.
Lasik will cause you to have some weird visual sensations. Your vision can fade away to black in the beginning. You will see blurry objects approaching your eyes. And lights will bounce around and become blurry in your vision. In the end it just ends up being a strange bizarre light show.
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