After LASIK Eye Surgery: 10 Things to Expect During LASIK Recovery

LASIK eye surgery is an extremely safe procedure that provides suitable candidates with clearer vision and an improved quality of life. The most common questions patients have are how long is the LASIK eye surgery recovery time, does LASIK recovery hurt and what can I expect during my LASIK recovery time? Providence Eye & Laser Specialists takes a few minutes to discuss the 10 most common things LASIK patients may experience during their LASIK eye surgery recovery, and some tips to help you get through the recovery time.

1. Mild Pain & General Discomfort

Almost everyone experiences some level of burning, tearing and light sensitivity during LASIK eye surgery recovery. This can range from barely noticeable or quite bothersome, depending on the type of technology used and how your eyes react, however it should only last 2-4 hours. After your LASIK eye surgery, it is important for someone else to drive you home, so you can take a long nap. In many cases, individuals wake up without much discomfort at all. However, be prepared to feel like there is something in your eye. It is important to remember during your LASIK recovery time, do NOT rub your eyes as this could dislodge your corneal flap.

2. Redness

Some people will have some redness during theirLASIK eye surgery recovery. It is completely normal to have dark red spots on the whites of your eyes for several days. Similar to bruising, it will take a few weeks before these spots disappear completely.

3. Use of Prescription Eye Drops & Artificial Tears

Another post-op symptom is ocular dryness, which roughly 50% of patients experience post-LASIK eye surgery. Like the above symptoms, dry eye usually only lasts for a few days after your procedure. Your LASIK surgeon will require you to purchase preservative free artificial teardrops, which you will use regularly after LASIK and slowly taper off. In addition to using artificial tears for possible temporary eye dryness, your LASIK specialist will also prescribe prescription eye drops to prevent inflammation and infection. Be sure to only use these eye drops prescribed by your LASIK surgeon.

4. Follow Up Appointment

One day after your surgery, you will visit your LASIK specialist for your first LASIK post-op appointment to have your vision checked and to verify that your corneas are healing properly. At this time, you can also discuss with your LASIK surgeon any post-op symptoms you are experiencing. Your eye care doctor will schedule regular checkups during your LASIK surgery recovery time, usually at one month, three months and six months when visual stabilization is complete. At Providence Eye, Dr. Mozayeni makes it a priority to meet with every LASIK patient to ensure the eye surgery has provided them with clearer, higher-quality vision.

5. What to Avoid

For the first week you should avoid dust, smoke, yard and garden work, and eye make-up. Also, during this first week you should keep soap and water out of your eye, however you may bathe normally. For the first two weeks after your LASIK eye surgery, you should not swim, use a hot tub, or submerse your head in water. During these first two weeks, it is likely your eyes will be dry, and if you use a computer this can exaggerate this feeling. Therefore, Dr. Mozayeni recommends frequent breaks and lubricating your eyes with artificial tears.

Anxious to start working out and exercising with your new vision? No problem! Dr. Mozayeni says after about two days you can begin your normal exercise routine, but you should wear special eye protection with racquet sports and be extra cautious with your eyes when playing contact sports or sports with a ball. Your LASIK specialist will provide you with post-LASIK instructions, so you will know exactly what you should and shouldn’t do.

6. How Long to Wear Eye Shields at Night

LASIK eye surgery causes your eyes to be especially fragile during the healing period. Immediately after your procedure, clear plastic shields will be taped over your eyes to protect them and to prevent you from rubbing them. Except to administer your drops, leave these shields on until the next morning. Wear your eye shields for the first four to five nights during your LASIK surgery recovery time. If you allow pets or small children in your bed while you sleep, it is recommended that you sleep with your shields on for ten nights.

7. No Eye Makeup or Eye Creams

As part of LASIK eye surgery preparation, patients should not apply eye makeup one day before LASIK and one week afterward. Putting on makeup or applying lotions around the eye area can put too much pressure on the operated eye and increase the chances of getting those materials in the eye. This could increase inflammation and possibly cause pain, infection or post-op damage.

A good way to stay moisturized, instead, is to drink lots of water. While this is always a good practice, any time your body is in stress, like when you’re sick or after a surgery, you should boost the amount of water you drink by a few glasses per day. This should help the areas around your eyes stay nice and hydrated!

8. No Swimming or Hot Tubbing

As difficult as it may be, fight the urge to jump in the pool or unwind in the hot tub. Dr. Mozayeni recommends waiting two weeks before swimming after LASIK eye surgery. Chlorinated water irritates the eyes and has the potential to cause post-op issues.

9. Blurred, Hazy, or Cloudy Vision, and Visual Fluctuations

Although you should see well the day after your procedure, it is normal for your vision to be a bit blurry or hazy for one to two weeks. The higher your original prescription, the longer it will take for your vision to clear during your LASIK surgery recovery time.

Do not be surprised or worried if your vision fluctuates after LASIK eye surgery. Your LASIK surgeon should tell you what to expect for your specific situation. It is important to understand your reshaped corneas must stabilize completely before your new, clear vision is stabilized. This means symptoms such as glare, haloes and difficulty driving after sunset may occur for the first days, week or sometimes months after LASIK eye surgery. Always communicate clearly to your doctors what you are experiencing, even if you think it is minor. 

10. How Long is the LASIK Surgery Recovery Time?

We saved this one for last, because there is no exact recovery time. As we’ve hinted at above, it all depends on a variety of factors like your original prescription, the technology that was used for your LASIK surgery and how your body reacts to the surgery. Taking everything else into account, your eyes should start to heal immediately, and with our post-op schedule, you should be on your way to feeling better in no time! For more information, see our blog post about the average LASIK recovery time.

In learning what you may experience during your LASIK eye surgery recovery time, take your newfound knowledge to your eye care specialist’s office, so you can better discuss everything related to laser correction during your initial consultation.

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