LASIK eye surgery: recovery
While most people who have laser keratomileusis in situ (LASIK) eye surgery notice an improvement in their vision immediately, or at least the next day, it takes about three to six months for the eye to fully recover and heal. .
To ensure a safe and complete recovery and to prevent complications, such as infection, it is important to follow your eye surgeon’s instructions as carefully as possible.
After LASIK eye surgery, it is important to follow up with your eye surgeon as directed.
Usually, you will have a follow-up appointment within 24 to 48 hours of your surgery. During this appointment, your healthcare professional will examine your eyes and test your vision. You may be given medicated eye drops (for example, an antibiotic or steroid) to help prevent infection and inflammation.
Over the next six months, you may experience fluctuations and blurred vision, most commonly dry eyes and night vision symptoms, such as glare or halos around lights. As a result, you will have several additional follow-up visits scheduled to check on the healing and recovery progress of your eyes.
Your follow-up appointments are essential to your full recovery and your vision. They should not be overlooked.
Resting your eyes and monitoring your symptoms within 24 hours of LASIK is essential. After being driven home by someone, your eye doctor will likely advise you to take a nap or relax in bed and avoid reading, watching TV, or using other screen devices. which can tire your eyes.
Symptoms that you may experience immediately after LASIK eye surgery include:??
- Eye discomfort, especially after the topical anesthetic wears off (numbing drops)
- Dry eye
- Eye irritation, itching or burning sensation
- Blurry or hazy vision
- Tiny areas of bleeding on the white of the eye
- Light sensitivity
- See contrails, reflections, star bursts, or halos, especially when driving at night
The above symptoms vary in severity from person to person. Eye discomfort or itching / burning usually only lasts about five hours after surgery.??
Other symptoms, including blurred vision, usually improve within the first week. In some patients, dry eye can last up to six to 12 months.??
When to call a health care provider
During your recovery, be sure to contact your health care provider immediately if:
- You experience severe eye pain
- Symptoms that are supposed to be temporary, such as hazy vision or eye burns, get worse
- You are hit or stung in the eye
In addition to resting for the first 24 hours, your healthcare professional will give you specific instructions to follow for the next two to four weeks. These instructions may include:
- Wear sunglasses during the day
- Wear a patch or visor at night (your eye doctor may place a clear visor over your eye at the end of the procedure)
- Avoid swimming and hot tubs
- Avoid smoky and dusty environments
- Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes
- Avoid applying lotions, creams, and makeup around your eyes
- Keep soap and shampoo out of your eyes when you shower
Your health care provider may also recommend certain medications to relieve your symptoms, such as:
Although you can usually return to your work and daily routine within one to three days after surgery, you should not be exercising or strenuous for one week after your procedure.
Other restrictions that your healthcare professional may advise for at least the first month after surgery or longer include:
- Avoid driving at night
- Avoid contact sports, such as soccer, for at least four weeks, and then wear sports goggles for a month after that
- Wear safety glasses when engaging in risky activities, such as working with power tools
Coping with recovery
Generally speaking, patients are happy and satisfied after LASIK surgery. In fact, the vast majority achieve at least 20/40 visual acuity (without glasses or contact lenses). Over 90% achieve uncorrected visual acuity of 20/20.
However, during the six month recovery period, some patients report and are potentially embarrassed by new optical symptoms (double images, glare, halos and / or stars) or dry eyes.
If this applies to you, talk to your eye doctor. They may be able to reassure you (that the symptom will go away over time) and / or offer treatment to relieve the symptom.
It is worth noting that some people may want to wear glasses or contact lenses after LASIK surgery due to temporary blurred vision or because they have a slight residual refractive error after surgery.
Although glasses can be worn, your healthcare provider will advise you to wait two to three months before wearing contact lenses to allow sufficient time for the eyes to heal.
If contact lenses are needed, your eye doctor will recommend gas permeable lenses, instead of soft lenses. Gas permeable contact lenses are rigid and, therefore, retain their shape on the anterior surface of the eye (which is now changed by surgery).
A word from Verywell
LASIK surgery often turns out to be a life changing experience. Most people notice improvement in vision immediately and feel almost normal the day or soon after the procedure.
This surgery, however, is not a guarantee for perfect vision. Your eyes will continue to change as you get older, to the point that several years after your surgery you may need to wear glasses or contact lenses again. With this in mind, it is important to continue to see your eye doctor for regular check-ups.