Laser Vision Correction FAQs

Find your care

We offer a wide range of treatments, including laser refractive surgery.

How can I find out if I am a candidate for LASIK, PRK, or SMILE?

A free Screening Consultation with one of Our Doctors is required to determine if you are a candidate for corneal refractive surgery.

What must I do to undergo laser vision correction at UCLA?

If you pass the Screening Consultation, a Preoperative Evaluation will be scheduled. If no problems are found on that evaluation that would make you ineligible, then you could proceed to Scheduling Surgery.

How much do your procedures cost?

The Cost of Services at the UCLA Laser Refractive Center is detailed in a separate section of this web site.

How many visits must I make?

Here we must make a distinction between visits to the doctor’s office and visits to the Laser Refractive Center. The doctor’s office usually requires two visits before surgery can be scheduled. Those visits are outlined above. Usually, there is only one visit to the Laser Refractive Center, which is for surgery. However, some patients, especially those undergoing PRK, have their surgeries on different days. The number of postoperative visits varies from surgeon to surgeon. At a minimum, there are two postoperative visits.

How much time should I take off from work?

LASIK and PCRI/AK are usually associated with rapid recovery and most patients are able to return to work within 1 to 2 days, depending on their occupation. SMILE is associated with a slower visual recovery and most patients return to work with 2 to 4 days. PRK is associated the slowest recovery, but most patients are able to return to work within 1 week. Of course, there are variations in recovery time from person to person.

When will I be able to resume driving?

This tends to follow the same pattern as time off from work. Most patients undergoing LASIK and PCRI/AK can drive safely the following day. Those undergoing SMILE or PRK will likely experience blurred vision the next day.

Can I finance my laser vision correction?

No. UCLA requires payment in full before surgery. The Laser Refractive Center does not provide financing.

Does corneal refractive surgery hurt?

Most patients say the procedures are not bad. The eyes are anesthetized for surgery. Postoperatively, there is variable pain depending on the procedure. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol can usually manage it. The pain usually resolves within 8 to 12 hours for LASIKPCRI/AK, and SMILE. It may last up to 4 days with PRK.

When after surgery can I use my computer, tablet, and cell phone?

It will not harm your eyes or their recovery from surgery if you try to use your eyes immediately. However, most patients feel more comfortable closing their eyes for the first few hours after surgery. The following day, you should be able to use your electronics, however it is common to experience some blurred vision.

When will I be able to exercise (yoga, gym activities, running, etc.)?

It is recommended that you avoid water activities, contact sports, and heaving lifting for up to 2 weeks. You can resume mild exercise after 1 week but avoid getting water or sweat in your eyes.

When after the procedure can I lift my children or walk a dog?

Bending and lifting are not problems after surgery. Neither is walking a pet. However, you do not want to be hit in the eye immediately after surgery.

When after the procedure can I travel by airplane?

You will need to see your doctor the day after surgery. If you undergo LASIKPCRI/AK, or SMILE, you will be able to travel by airplane immediately thereafter. If you undergo PRK, you must return on the fourth postoperative day for bandage contact lens removal. Therefore, travel is not recommended until after 1 week has elapsed.

When after the procedure can I have sex?

It would be wise to wait 2 to 3 days after the surgery before engaging in sexual activities. If your eyes or eyelids are accidentally rubbed or bumped, there is a chance the flap could be displaced following LASIK or that the corneal epithelium could be disturbed following PRK.

Can I go in the water but not get my eyes wet right after surgery?

You should be careful not to get water into your eyes for 1 week, but you can wade into the water or sit in a Jacuzzi after a few days. It is highly recommended that you not open your eyes under water in a pool or the ocean for up to 2 weeks. You may shower the day after surgery but be sure not to get water in your eyes for 1 week.

When after the procedure can I deliberately get water into my eyes?

It is usually safe 1 week later. When drying the eyes with a towel, be careful not to rub. Light tapping only is recommended.

When after surgery can I swim?

It should be safe 2 weeks after surgery. It is best to wear swimming goggles to keep the chlorine or ocean water out of the eyes.

When can I safely rub my eyes?

You should not rub your eyes for 2 months after LASIK and PRK. You do not want to displace the corneal flap in LASIK or loosen the corneal epithelium in PRK. It should be safe to rub the eyes 1 month after PCRI/AK and SMILE.

When will my vision reach its full potential?

Most patients achieve stable and clear vision within 1 to 3 months of surgery; however, vision recovery varies from person to person. It is common for patients to experience fluctuating vision and halos around lights at night for the first few months.

What are the side effects of laser vision correction?

The most common side effect after laser vision correction is dryness and fluctuating vision. Some patients experience glare and halos while driving at night. This usually resolves after 1 to 3 months.

Do I have to put drops into my eyes after laser vision correction? If so, for how long?

Yes. You will be prescribed antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops. You may also be instructed to use over-the-counter artificial tears. Your doctor will prescribe the medications and he or she will instruct you on their use. Generally, the drops are instilled four times a day for one week following the procedure.

What are the complications of laser vision correction?

Under correction and over correction, infection, and inflammation are potential complications. Flap related complications and corneal haze are also possibilities.

Will I need to wear glasses after surgery?

Not everyone achieves perfect vision after laser vision correction. Enhancements are occasionally performed for those who do not achieve a satisfactory initial result. Despite a surgeon’s best effort, some patients will need glasses for best distance vision postoperatively. Patients who achieve good uncorrected distance vision will need reading glasses after age 40 to 45.

Can I wear colored contact lenses after laser vision correction?

We recommend that you wait at least 3 months before wearing colored contact lenses.

Is it true that refractive surgery only lasts a certain number of years?

Laser vision correction produces a permanent change in the eyes. However, if the eyes are changing currently, they will continue to do so after laser vision correction. It is important to wait for refractive stability before undergoing laser vision correction. Later in life, natural changes in corneal astigmatism or cataract can cause the refractive state of the eyes to change.

What if I need a touch up?

A small percent of patients will need to have touch ups or Enhancements for over or under correction. This is performed free at the LRC if performed within the first year following the primary procedure.

Can I have cataract surgery after laser vision correction?


Can I have laser vision correction after cataract surgery?


Are there any food, alcohol, or smoking restrictions before or after laser vision correction?

There are no restrictions; however, we encourage you to avoid smoking right after surgery.

When can I resume wearing eye makeup?

It is best to wait a week or two. Side to side rubbing should be avoided for 2 months.

Can I wear eyelash extensions?

We suggest you wait at least 1 month following surgery to avoid getting debris or glue in your eyes.

When can I have a facial?

We recommend that you wait 2 weeks following surgery to have a facial. It reduces the chance of infection or inflammation that can be caused from creams and oils. Chemical peels and laser facials should be avoided 1 month prior to and following surgery, as the intensity of these treatments can increase the risk of infection or delay healing

Do you have a 20/20 guarantee?

No. As with any surgery, we cannot guarantee outcomes. However, most of our patients reach 20/20 or better.